Art provides us with opportunities to re-experience or re-inhabit the places and objects around us. Art allows us to feel and to connect with objects or landscapes in ways we may have not done before. And in this discovery and new experience, we create new "spaces". Through art, we can make the "invisible" visible with a new "lens", or with a new symbol, or with a new life experience. Through art, we might be able to redraw what once we thought has been fated. Through art, we might be able to emancipate ourselves.
As a student of geomorphology, I am interested in studying how rivers change and behave. I find it useful for art pieces to help us understand processes in our landscapes, and help us measure parameters for these studies. The boulders that have been painted at the Salvacion River, Daraga, Albay, Philippines have been mapped. In a flood event of certain magnitude, tracing where these painted boulders could get deposited will provide us with some information on the carrying capacities of the Salvacion River. The information that we collect can be used to plan effective mitigation strategies and help us assess flood hazards.
Art Work Title: “Tendered.”
Dimensions and materials: various sized riverbed boulders, permanent Latex paint, metallic gold spray paint
Location: Salvacion River, approximately 600m above sea level, Brgy Salvacion, Daraga, Albay, Philippines
Narrative: Softening of landscape, disaster risk communication, resilience, transcendence
Tendered. This is how I have become after spending some time in a place of imminent danger and imposing majesty. The almost perfect symmetry of the volcano's silhouette, the excitement and energy of birds and insects and plants in the gullies and ridges of the Mayon… they can humble any human being. I am equally overwhelmed to be among people who toil, who survive, and who thrive in what could be very frightening circumstances.
I wandered through sand, gravel, and boulders on a dry ephemeral river bed. As I followed the narrow incision of the gully, I found myself more and more enamored by the banks that rose up at least 6 meters from where I stood.
I remember vaguely walking around here as a child, around the communities living on the slopes of the Mayon volcano, and hearing their haunting stories of survival and loss, of floods, of lahar, of lava, and of fire. I remember with fondness, their stories about quirky beetles, funny crickets, and flying coconuts (!) in whirring typhoon winds, and stories of love and family told with a nervous humor that must be borne out of surviving a landscape of prettiness and peril.
Because life goes on and time makes most things tender.
I reflect on the massive rocks that lie on the banks, the bed, and the ones that loom on the levees, and thought: they too will get tender in time. When they move in their time, they can cause great damage and heartbreak to so many people.
Although these boulders of rocks seem menacing, I refuse to succumb to its fatalistic stare. These boulders look innocent while they are steady. Up close, each of the boulders look like lottery balls waiting to be drawn out by the hands of fate. I refuse to be content with the inevitability of the suffering that they might bring.
Tenderly. I wish I could make these rocks to move tenderly.
If only I could transform these boulders into masses of joy and liberation that could lift spirits up in a deluge…
I painted for days, hearts and swirls on massive boulders. With each brush stroke I was hoping to soften the sharp edges, and tenderize the hard rocks. I was also whispering a small wish:
“To the people who one day might grieve because these boulders came down on them, remember that thoughts, well wishes, and prayers came with these… May you find the strength and courage to perceive past the agony. These gifts came from the most beautiful volcano in the world. May you find tenderness, solace, and peace in that thought.”
Installations in Brgy Salvacion have been permitted by the local Brgy Council. The author invites the Provincial Tourism Office of Albay to promote and integrate art and disaster risk management in tourism programming and development. Trina and friends would love to be of help.