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Your Days are Numbered

Art and written piece by Patch Ortega (@pahtch)

“The Revolution would not be televised. But on God, there will be fancams” I’d joke.

Everything is Political. If a flight attendant asked if there’s a doctor onboard then my dad nudges me “that should’ve been you” I wouldn’t say “Not now, dad” I would’ve said, “Well if universal healthcare exists then we wouldn’t be facing this problem right now. Sucks for him, though.”

Before going to college, my choices were diverse and I wanted to try out Journalism or Agriculture in our state University. But my mother was so scared of me enrolling there because it might turn me into an activist. A very silly thing to look back at at now. So as a teenager who did not have enough angst to disappoint my parents and growing up in a Catholic education, I was not exposed to information that much.

College came and I went to art school. I wasn’t that good at it because all I did was write legibly in my highschool notebook and doodle one realistic eye when the lessons were boring. I had a fresh start though, since I lived in the province and started to get familiar with the city. Each year I would notice the class divide. Each year I see rallies, strikes, things that my mother would consider dangerous for me to be a part in. In our Philippine Literature class we were assigned to interview sex workers as our finals and I saw how unfair it was to be exploited that way just to make ends meet. My mother would tell me “you’re lucky”

Thing is, I don’t wanna be lucky. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to be lucky just so I could eat three times a day.

Then I started being somewhat good at art and I got better at it because I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to prove myself to my family that I would not get a career out of it.

Proving a point. That’s where it usually starts. You want to prove a point, you want to fight for something. Initially my goal after I graduate was to see my work in billboards or my packaging design at the grocery store but as I grow older and see all the bullcrap going through Politicians mouth, slowly learning the gameplay of the system. I wanted my art to make an impact.

To quote the iconic J.Lo on the movie Hustlers (2009) “The game is rigged, and it does not reward people who play by the rules.” It was one of those small quotes that would radicalize you. How do you destroy a system thats been existent for years because different generations have came at peace with it?

It’s officially almost one year since the lockdown here in the Philippines and everyday our Government has like a checklist on “How do we exploit and make money out of the people?” The healthcare money from our taxes got a corruption expose, The war on drugs, Anti-terrorism law where the police can get away with planting evidence, red taged people and kill activists because it is what they’d call “against the administration” It was the 1970s again. Everyone is in their houses, It’s defacto Martial Law.

It’s a very difficult time, this quarantine, you can’t go out because you don’t want to expose yourself or your family to the virus but at the same time the Governement is not doing anything about it, abusing it even. I have so many feelings about it that it frustrates me because I don’t think I can handle another person who can be stuck in their privileged bubble and be apolitical right now.

That’s the beauty of art, it gives you a leeway to express what you feel, share it with others and make them feel what you feel. I started joining small rallies, I would make placards that say “Never again to Martial Law”, “Bigas, hindi bala” (Rice, not guns), Stop the Killings(An ode to killing of farmers, activists and Indigenous people. Rallies give you a sense of community, unionisation and hope. I also made some anti-admin pieces against Police Brutality and the Governments accountability in regards to the Pandemic. Petitions and Encouragement of people under 18 to register and vote to fight this government but again, it all goes back to the system. Somthing thats hard to fight because even if we overthrow one, another corrupt official will replace it. I know. Petitions and Elections is never gonna be effective as an uprising.

Then I made a calendar. It was initially just dated to May 2022, our elections. The Message saying “Hindi na Petisyon o Eleksyon, Ang sagot lang talaga ay Rebolusyon” translating to Not petitions, not elections. The only answer is a revolution.

Subcopies translate to a whole rant on how the Government keeps fucking us over everyday and they’re not even hiding it anymore. Another is enumerating every issue that was revealed to be corrupted under the pandemic alone, which is just less than a year.

Different typhoons came in and since our budget was pocketed by the corrupt officials, a lot of indigenous farmers and families in certain provinces got really affected. Our taxes were gone. We were all just helping each other out, so I started to make a mass print of the calendar, sell 500 copies nationwide and donate the proceeds to the victims.

For all my years in art, 2020 was the year I finally got to prove my point and gave me my biggest achievement so far: Have my work give impact on people. Because not only did it help out Indigenous farmers and families, it also sent out a message of hope that we all can manage to unionise and see things clearly now.

Because thats why corrupt officials get the audacity, they know they protect one another and as long as they give power to the police, the masses would not stand a chance. Truth is, they’re scared. A government would not exist without people and once we all unionise for something and educate one another and send out one message, they’re fucked.



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