SONA 2021

From murals to mascots, SONA 2021 protesters get creative with their dissent

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From murals to mascots, SONA 2021 protesters get creative with their dissent

Activists display colorful posters and costumes as they march towards the Batasan Pambansa to protest during President Duterte's final SONA on July 26, 2021. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Several protesters show their dissent through large comic book covers bearing the title 'Wakasan na!'

Just like with the viral “tumindig” artwork, various Filipinos got creative in expressing their dissent and depicting the issues that hounded the current administration on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address.

From murals to mascots, protesters showed off different protest art during the People’s SONA along Commonwealth Avenue on Monday, July 26.

Effigies and higantes

During the protest, art collective Ugat Lahi’s “Duter-tuko” effigy served as this year’s centerpiece. It depicted the President as a gecko holding on to power beyond his term. Duterte has been floating the idea of a possible bid for vice presidency in order to stay in power and escape lawsuit. 

Straying from tradition, the effigy was not burned, given the threat of COVID-19.

KAPIT-TUKO. Ugat Lahi’s “Duter-tuko” giant effigy paraded down Commonwealth Avenue

Another artist collective also created a 14-foot effigy representing the plight of Filipino farmers. “Digna,” designed by Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA), portrays a female farmer wearing a sash with the words “Duterte Wakasan” (End Duterte).

The piece was inspired by the Higantes of Angono, which were historically used by farmers as effigies in protests against oppressive landlords.

DIGNA. A mixed media sculpture calls out the dire state of Filipino farmers
Photo by Anakbayan Party-list

Demonstrators also marched towards Batasang Pambansa with Duterte’s crowned head, bearing the words “ENDO King,” skewered on a bamboo pole. Ending contractualization was one of Duterte’s failed campaign promises.

ENDO KING. Protestors create a tableau to call for higher minimum wage and ending contractualization.
Photo by Angie de SIlva/Rappler
Comics and murals

Aside from effigies and higantes, several protesters also showed their dissent through large comic book covers at University Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City before marching to Batasang Pambansa.

Bearing the title “Wakasan na (End it)!” the comic book covers were created by artists and comic book creators from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines. The pieces showed their interpretation of Duterte and the people’s fight for their rights.

WAKASAN NA! Comic covers for the SONA
WAKASAN NA! Comic covers for the SONA

The Alliance of Health Workers also marched with an artwork criticizing Duterte’s medical response during the pandemic.

POOR COVID-19 RESPONSE. Health workers join the protest to slam Duterte’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis

Other critics mocked his “imperialist” policies through an artwork that depicted him aboard a boat with military officials, sailing away from the Filipino people. 

BAPOR NG MGA INUTIL. Duterte sails away from the Filipino people
‘Tumindig’ and other mascots

Meanwhile, what started as an online phenomenon that mobilized artists to be involved in the nation’s issues, found its way to the streets as a symbol of solidarity. 

Groups created physical mascots of their #Tumindig icons. The original “tumindig” fist was created by satirical cartoonist Tarantadong Kalbo, and the image has gradually evolved into a call for individuals and organizations across the nation to stand up for what they believe in.

TUMINDIG. A more 3D approach to the phenomenon
Photo from Karapatan
BEYOND ONLINE CAMPAIGN. A protester marches along while carrying a #Tumindig icon

Human rights group Karapatan also paraded the “Duterte Maligno,” a mascot whose chains bear the names of the victims of extrajudicial killings. They called on Filipinos to hold Duterte accountable and to fight against tyranny.

CHAINED. Protesters drag a chained Duterte mascot along Commonwealth Avenue
Photo from Karapatan

One protester also depicted Duterte as an “online seller” selling ancestral lands, territories, and the Philippines’ sovereignty to foreign governments and corporations.

ONLINE SHOPPING. A protester portrays President Duterte selling Philippine land
Photo from Int’l Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation.

Another artwork depicted Duterte as an octopus, with his tentacles symbolizing the foreign policies he has implemented and the ties he’s built with other countries over the past years. 

CALL FOR SOVEREIGNTY. Duterte’s nose serves as an octopus head in an artwork during the People’s SONA
Cosplay and costumes

Members of the Makabayan bloc continued the tradition of coming in protest wear made by local artists from different sectors. House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate wore a barong highlighting the need for cash aids and vaccines amid the pandemic.

PROTEST ATTIRE. Members of the Makabayan bloc pose for a photo during the SONA protest action in Quezon City

Students and activists also came in imaginative costumes.

OUST. Students in costumes join the protest against President Duterte’s final SONA
RED. Activists in costumes joined the protest

Several youth groups also took to the streets wearing school uniforms as they called for a safe return to school and P10,000 cash aid for students.

Aside from the massive protest along Commonwealth Avenue, Filipinos in different parts of the country staged their own protests in a bid to show the state of the nation from the perspective of locals. – Billie Asuncion and Kristel Ogsimer/

Billie Asuncion is a Rappler volunteer and a fourth-year studying Political Science at Ateneo de Manila University.

Kristel Ogsimer is a Rappler intern from the University of Santo Tomas taking up a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism.

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