Photo essay for the Special Initiative “From Fear to Resilience: Visual Storytelling of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia” by SEA Junction and Partners.
|Title:||Creative Recovery of Women Farmers|
|Storyteller/Photographer:||Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives|
|Place:||Lambunao, Iloilo Province, Philippines|
|Time:||December 2020 – February 2021|
The pandemic crisis has taken a toll on the livelihoods of farm folks and most specifically the women as the restriction on movement disrupted the agricultural logistics and access to seeds. They were not able to sell or sell but with less income. The women were likely to get stressed more due to increased domestic and care work during lockdowns. Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives hopes to address the need for supplemental creative livelihoods in the farming community. While reducing stress, its activities attempt to develop skills and empower social entrepreneurial work. It is with high aspiration that this particular sector will continue to remain resilient and strengthened to be able to work together.
Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives has facilitated a Creative Skills Exchange with the women farmfolks of Caninguan, Lambunao in Iloilo, Philippines for three months since December 2020 as a pioneer Creative Recovery Initiative. The intensive workshop was held with a focus on creative recovery through social entrepreneurship and craft-making with 30 women farm folk participants from age 26 years old to 72 years old. It was the first time for this group of women to experience a dedicated workshop activity that spawned excitement in newfound skills in painting, printing, and crafting.
The crafted bags and painting pieces as the workshop outputs were showcased in the exhibition “Sa Una nga Butlak” (For the First Sunbeam) in February 2021. As it was set up in a little market place turned into a gallery space in a barangay located on the outskirts of town, the show came as an attraction to many visitors. The exhibition highlighted the stories and livelihood of women farmers, told by themselves through their first-time art production. The artworks were then marketed online with a sold out sale. Their eco tote bags were sold to different places in the Philippines and also an international order in the United States. Their paintings were also sold to an art collector to be included in a private museum in Manila. This has shown a great experience to the women who never thought of doing something creative and let alone sell their artistic works – they’ve truly felt “seen, valued, and appreciated”.
Overall, this empowering project can help reduce stress of women farmers during the pandemic while the creative skills can also generate supplemental income in addition to their farming. The participants are primarily women who’ve never encountered a relaxed space in the art-making process – of holding a brush and paint; or embroidering the veins of thread on the canvas. “The workshop has given a spaciousness to relieve stress and anxiety from the pandemic. The painting session gave a sense of peaceful stillness,” said Felicitas F. Lozada, aged 72, woman farmer. Currently, the project is growing and the same group is working on more bags and painting. Those who are interested in supporting their creative works may get in touch on Facebook Page: Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives.
Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives
Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives exists to help co-create a space for artistic awakening and expressive healing through interactive, intentional, and innovative ways. “Balangaw” means “rainbow” – our mission is to help activate the unification of all colors of the rainbow streamlined through the heart of each human beings. We take pride in working with our fellows in the rural communities and supporting the reawakening of their artistic spirit from within them. The described activities were undertaken with seed support by SEA Junction’s Small Grant Staying Resilient Amid the Pandemic in Southeast Asia. More information at https://baryobalangaw.org/.
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction