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This floating art exhibit is all about fisherfolk rights 

Agriculture is not only about farming, it’s about fisheries too.

Advocacy group Sama-samang Artista Para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) led a protest art exhibit for Manila Bay’s fishing community at Bacoor, Cavite on December 14. The exhibit “Against the Stream” calls attention to the fencing off of several fishing zones that has made it harder for fisherfolk in the area to ply their trade. The group claimed that corporate interests have used arson and reclamation to ease them out of the community’s fishing grounds. 

In the floating exhibit, artists and organizers tackled the daily struggles of fisherfolk to earn a living, as well as their resiliency against efforts to turn their primary livelihood into a profit center for big corporations. Artists placed powerful statements in their respective boat flags, such as “Bacoor Reclamation ibasura,” “pag-agos laban sa dahas” and “imperyalistang pandarambong ng tsina sa West Philippines Sea, labanan.” 

“Seven artists created sail-shaped images to condemn the deluge of policies and programs that destroy mangroves, shorelines, riverbanks, and marine resources in the name of selective progress,” says SAKA. “Printed ‘against the stream’—not just thematically but literally, on material commonly used for protest streamers—these artworks pay tribute to our fisherfolk who stand against the stream of violence attempting to drown out the call for the recognition of fishing rights as human rights.”

Twelve artists joined the exhibit, namely Archie Oclos, Tamer Karam, Jonas Camposarado, Bhajan Bernabe, Patricia Ramos, NNARA Youth, Ian Marinda, Ara Villena, Cian Dayrit, Gelai Manabat, Kean Mendez, and Nina Martinez. The exhibit was a follow up to the Nov. 21 protest mounted against the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to mark World Fisheries Day. 

Ronnel Arambulo, secretary general of Pamalakaya (National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines) commended the artists who participated in SAKA’s latest exhibit. He noted that artistic efforts to serve the masses are important in building solidarity among different sectors.

The exhibit runs the whole month of December and will later tour different fishing communities with more artists calling for genuine fisheries reform in the country. The works on exhibit can be viewed here.

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Photo from SAKA


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