By: Ma. Leriecka Endico
Women issues are valid issues” said Rae Rival, a Gantala Press founding member and a creative writing teacher at Philippine High School for the Arts when asked about her newly published zine entitled Talak. Rae was just one of the many female local artists who participated the Gandang Ganda Sa Sariling Gawa! (GGSSG), a free admission book/zine/art fair dedicated to celebrate International Women’s Month, on March 24, 2018 at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). In collaboration with CCP Intertextual Division, GGSSG art fair was created by Gantala Press, a women’s press that provides creative writing space for women.
It has been a long-standing struggle in our country where women has to fight for equality. Along with this were misconceptions about Feminism such as the most common false idea that feminism is just about women who want dominance over men. And apparently, until today our society has not yet reached the point to properly understand what these women are fighting for. While it may be a turtle-like phase, the fight shall continue.
Arts has been an underrated avenue in fighting this issue. With the help of Gandang Ganda Sa Sariling Gawa! Art Fair, women who use this medium of protest had the opportunity to show their solidarity through their art. During the event, artists were lined up on their respective tables to sell their artworks such as stickers, zines, books, postcards and accessories.
About 30 female local artists participated and sold their artworks. They were Batis AWARE, The Youth & Beauty Brigade, Berna Sastrillo, Katrina Tankeh, Jules Ruizol, Cat Gablin, Christine Silva, Cubaohaus, Czyka Tumaliuan, Sophie Tumaliuan, Gantala Press, Dead Balagtas, Haliya Publishing, High Chair, Katrina Stuart Santiago, Hubon Manunulat: West Visayan Writers, Labyu, Majora, Magpies, Makô, Zeempleng Tao, Nagmamahal, Maria Clara, Philippine High School for the Arts, Power in Her Story, Project October, Rayji de Guia, Lian Sing, Romance Class, S A K A, So Ayun, Studio Soup Zine Library, Teaching Exhibitions Zine, The Cabinet, Tulaan sa Liwasan and ZEEN NOT ZIGN.
As a member of Gantala Press, Rae encourages Filipinas in general and female local artists as well, to go outside of the special box constructed for women. “Kailangan lumabas tayo doon sa standards na siniset ng most institutions that are very male-dominated” she said, in order to express what you wanted to express. She also advised aspiring Filipina artists that they can start doing zines to express themselves as it is less intimidating and more playful form of art.
Meanwhile, Jesh Alberto, an artist behind ZEEN NOT ZIGN believes that women can overcome these issues if they first understand the reason behind the dominance of men in our society. Moreover, another female local artist under the name Marianie has a message to all aspiring Filipina artists, “Don’t think of you, being a woman, as a hindrance in doing your art” she said “Show them that you can and show them that you will”. Marianie manages Nagmamahal, Maria Clara, an online Filipina feminist platform which was a product of their thesis.