Carmen Angela Yandoc follows a long historical tradition of artists who have wielded art as a weapon against tyranny and oppression, believing that art cannot be separated from what the artist is living through. Through her artwork, she seeks to transmute her indignation with the current political affairs of her country, the Philippines, into action with the conviction that creative visual expression can be at the forefront of political engagement.
Yandoc’s work Kwentong Bayan, is in response to the relentless depravity, injustice, corruption, and plunder that has pervaded the Philippines since the 2016 presidential election, a response that has only grown more urgent as the country’s despotic political dynasties have mobilized to form coalitions for the 2022 election. In dissecting her work, she writes:
“‘Kwentong Bayan’ means folktale or folk story. In Filipino folk literature, [they] are used as entertainment and as didactic stories…to moralize, [to] legitimize social control, and for intraclass social criticism. It also alludes to the expression 'Story of my life', underscoring the repeating cycle of oppression in the country.
The artwork serves as an exhortation for the general voting public to consider carefully their choices, especially in the backdrop of historical revisionism, propaganda and fake news. “But rather than simply showing dichotomies of good versus evil, I wanted to examine the role of the people in their own oppression. Thus, I decided to articulate a shared, relatable observation, an inventory of common Filipino expressions that reveal a defeatist attitude. Phrases that reinforce ‘Bahala na’ or ‘Come what may,’ a Filipino socio-cultural value and an expression typifying fatalism within this context. I’m linking these expressions with the socio-psychological make-up of Filipino society, expressions that impact their voting behavior and, ultimately, the politics of our culture.”
“Culture informs language, language reflects the values and beliefs of a culture. The oft-repeated phrases of submission, insidiously and unknowingly impact the collective narrative…For political change to happen, it is necessary to shift the culture.”