Contemporary visual artists who have been mostly affected by the pandemic have taken to art to bring attention to their plight and advocacies and inspire people to act collectively and spark change.

Consumer rights group Rights Action Philippines (RAP) goes the art route to stage “Consumer Rights in the State of Pandemic” an exhibit featuring over 80 works, opening Dec. 16 through March 10, 2022.

Started in 2019 but formally organized this year, RAP prioritizes “gut issues that directly affect people’s rights, targeting causes such as better education, improved transportation, affordable housing, fuel and cheaper basic goods and services, efficient and corruption-free bureaucracy and clean environment.”

Serenity by Nick Dulay
Free our Mind – It’s our Choice, We are not criminals by Rey Dulay

RAP chairman Rey Dulay says they started organizing upon noticing there is a lack in groups who speak for the ordinary consumers and their everyday issues. Coincidentally, most of RAP members are artists who need an outlet to voice out their plight and their opinion on consumer rights.

“Our goal is to generate awareness, understanding, and protection of consumer interests and rights from an artist’s perspective,’’ says RAP chairman Rey Dulay, “This is also our unique way of giving artists a platform at a time when the visual arts sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Veggie Stall by Dyna Quizon Ondoy
Basic Commodities by Rembrandt Vocalan

Through this initiative, the multi-sectoral organization aims to address the information gap and understanding of various consumer issues and encourage people to act and make a stand in protecting and fighting for their rights that are otherwise overlooked, violated, or ignored.

Among the participating artists are Geronimo Santos, Romualdo Caliñgo, Rembrandt Vocalan, and Dyna Quizon Ondoy, Matthius Garcia, MJ De Jesus, Pol Mesina, Rey Dulay, Lauren Jascha Tolentino and Nick Dulay.

Vocalan’s “Basic Commodities”, for instance, depicts three items – cigar, red floor wax, and beer — described as “products that are always bought and found in sari-sari stores and are perceived to have negative impact on the health and lifestyle of consumers.”

Artificial Flavors by Geronimo Santos
Munting Nakayanan by Romualdo Calingo

Dulay’s artwork entitled “Free Our Mind! It’s Our Choice, We are not Criminals!” shows a man smoking a cigarette. “Oftentimes they are taken for granted making them the government’s milking cows for much-needed taxes,” Dulay explains.

Congress Special Committee Chair on Creative Industries and Performing Arts Rep. Christopher V.P. De Venecia lauded the initiatives of RAP for empowering artists and promoting awareness and understanding of Philippine consumer rights.

“People’s rights, particularly consumer rights, should be defended, and that the people need to voice to champion their causes,” De Venecia said.

Usok sa Dilim by Matthius Garcia

“I take pride in the advocacies emanating from Right Action Philippines because it aligns with my own advocacies for the arts and culture, as well as the creative industries and I am more than convinced that this virtual exhibit will not only increase consumer rights awareness but also highlight the talent of our Filipino artists,” he added.

To coincide with the art exhibit, RAP is conducting an online learning series to highlight various concerns such as Legal Rights of Consumers, Consumers Movements Around the World (benchmarking on best practices), Case Studies on Successful Consumer Rights Cases, and Unfair Practices in the Art World. These can be accessed through their Spotify channel.

“We believe that people should be supported in the exercise of their rights and freedoms, which should result to better living conditions and enable them to function as more productive individuals. RAP will be the voice to champion their causes,” says Dulay.

Among advocacies RAP is targeting are consumer rights, commuter rights, smokes and vapers’ rights, artists rights, and rights of taxpayers.

To know more, visit RAP’s website, https://rightsactionph.org/ and FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/rightsactionphilippines and https://assets.artplacer.com/virtual-exhibitions/?i=2039.

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