Interrupt This Program

Interrupt This Program: Manila — Creating in spite of fear

'I think the biggest challenge of any artist is to not be afraid. get over the fear, because it doesn't control you.'
A performance artist, a pole dancer, a rap battle champion, a visual artist and a painter create in a city in the grip of a government engaged in a brutal drug war. 0:48

Manila, a giant Asian metropolis with traffic-laden roads, towering skyscrapers and sprawling informal settlements, has become a dangerous place.

Watch the full Manila episode online now!

Or watch Interrupt This Program: Manila Sunday March 5th at 9PM on CBC TV.

A new president, Duterte, was elected in June 2016, vowing to crack down on the drug trade. Since then, extrajudicial killings have led to the deaths of over 3500 people by vigilantes; his approach is reminiscent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1965 to 1986. In this climate of terror, artists find ways to create and survive, at times adopting subtle artistic techniques to address the political realities facing the country.

The role of the artist in Manila is to provide hope, to provide new ways of looking at things, because the new government has struck fear inside a lot of people's hearts.- Christina Dy, performance artist, pole-dancer, and visual artist

In this episode, we see a performance artist using alter egos to channel social concerns, a pole-dancer challenging mainstream taboos on women's sexuality, a Canadian-Filipino painter and sculptor seeking to bridge identities, a renowned battle rapper with politically charged word rhymes, and a visual artist whose provocative work challenges notions of femininity. All are struggling to survive and to continue engaging with the residents of Manila as they face an increasingly uncertain future.

I'm trying to create sanctuaries for thought, for feeling, for meaning. The artist needs to create moments that help us breathe and smile, because Manila has become dangerous and sinister.- Russ Ligtas , performance artist
Art is all about freedom, and to snuff freedom out... you might as well be dead.- Patrick Cruz, painter

I think art is the best tool to teach women to say I'm not a piece of meat.- Nikki Luna , visual artist
We got colonized by the Spanish, Japanese, Americans. We kind of lost our identity as a country. Rap is the only place that you can hear unfiltered truth.- Loonie, rapper

I think the biggest challenge for every artist is to not be afraid. Just get over the fear, you know that it doesn't control you.- Russ Ligtas
Comfort is what kills an artist. If you get too comfortable then whatever's in you is going to die. So you have to be hungry, even physically hungry sometimes.-Loonie, rapper
Dancing is a call for freedom. It's when I dance that I feel most free. You can express so much with a look and a gesture. Then you don't have to censor yourself.-  Christina Dy
The Philippines is known to be very polite, and that's one of the reasons that rap battle has its effect here.- Josef, Loonie's manager
Manila is like an organized chaos. It has a mind of its own. It's very organic, but it's also very industrial and developed and loud. It's almost post-apocalyptic.- Patrick Cruz

Art as political protest, as a means of survival, as an agent of change, as a display of courage and delight. Interrupt This Program explores art in cities under pressure. 

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