Art for Society

Filipino writer Salvador P. Lopez, in his essay Literature and Society sent the message that writers have a duty to the society. Their duty is to write about the society. It is the writer's responsibility to display the dirt and filth of corruption, the beauty and glory of a history and culture, and things that must be done to remedy the "social cancer". 

In the Philippines, one of the utmost harrowing issues that began since time immemorial is the unjust killing of the press people: the journalists, reporters, etc. In Cagayan de Oro City, the Press Freedom Monument was erected and constructed by multi-awarded artist Eduardo Castrillo. This monument was erected in honor of the courage of the press whose lives were snatched away because they had done their duty to society.  

"A Tribute to the Slain Members of the Press" The Press Freedom Monument by Eduardo Castrillo
"A Tribute to the Slain Members of the Press" The Press Freedom Monument by Eduardo Castrillo

Felix Hidalgo and Juan Luna are just some of the painters who have depicted the issues of society during the Spanish colonization. Luna's The Spolarium portrayed the injustices of the Spanish regime. In the realm of writing, there are also names that have sparked change: Voltaire who had greatly influenced the thinkers of American and French Revolution, and Jose Rizal whose two novels sparked the Philippine revolution, among many others.


Jose Rizal
Jose Rizal
Franois-Marie Arouet or Voltaire
Franois-Marie Arouet or Voltaire

But starting a revolution with literary and artistic works are not the only things one can use his artistic skills for society. The simple documentaries, art exhibits, photo exhibits, and articles can be simple ways to poke the sleeping citizens of the society.

One such artist who has touched me and a lot of people with his works and his documentaries is the late Joey Velasco. His documentary "Sa Kambas ng Lipunan" (On The Canvas of Society) does not only show an artist's masterpiece depicting society, but the artist's very soul: his musings, his doubts, his frustrations, and gratefulness. In "Sa Kambas ng Lipunan", Joey Velasco has portrayed the very essence of art and literature - to expose the core of humanity. Art should not be for art's sake. Art should be the tool of change and truth as much as the artist is the instrument of art.

On the Canvas of Society

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