Filipino artists

Tarantadong Kalbo’s next goal: Convince more Filipinos to register to vote

Pia Ranada
Tarantadong Kalbo’s next goal: Convince more Filipinos to register to vote

TAKE A STAND. Comic artist Kevin Raymundo wants Filipinos to choose their leaders wisely.

Artwork from Kevin Raymundo/Tarantadong Kalbo

'Pagod na pagod na sila sa kapalpakan ng government,' says comic artist Kevin Raymundo about why his fist people have spread like wildfire on social media and the streets

Kevin Raymundo’s illustration of “fist people” is fueling an online movement about taking a stand against blind, unquestioning faith.

But now Raymundo, also known as Tarantadong Kalbo, wants his art to stand for something new: pick someone to believe in, but pick well.

“Ang gusto ko na goal doon sa Tumindig (What I want for Tumindig) is to get people to register to vote and to vote the right people this time,” said Raymundo on Tuesday, July 27, in a Rappler Talk Newsmaker interview.

Asked what kind of leader he would vote for in the 2022 elections, Raymundo said, “‘Yung hindi natutulog sa kulambo…. I just want a leader who works. ‘Yung wala siyang masyadong ebas.”

(Not someone just always sleeping under a mosquito net. I just want a leader who works, who doesn’t broadcast what they accomplish.)

He was alluding to photos of President Rodrigo Duterte in his bed that go viral every time he is perceived as missing in action – like when he was absent from important meetings on powerful tropical cyclones Rolly (Goni) and Ulysses (Vamco) in 2020. The photos often accompany the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo.

“Gusto ko lang ‘yung ginagampanan lang niya ‘yung role niya, hindi niya kailangan magpasikat or magcredit-grab ng nagawa ng iba,” the 35-year-old comic artist added.

(I just want someone who fulfills their role, no need to seek fame or grab credit for the work of others.)

Raymundo said he has received messages from people telling him they registered to vote because of his Tumindig artwork. Some even said they now openly discuss their political differences with relatives.

“Kumbaga, mayroon nang conversation na nangyayari and hindi na tayo stuck doon sa kanya-kanyang echo chambers,” said Raymundo.

(In other words, there is now a conversation happening and we aren’t stuck in our echo chambers.)

As of June 26, 2.3 million have registered to vote for the first time. Voter registration ends on September 30. (Read Rappler’s collection of voter registration guides here.)

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‘Pagod na pagod na sila sa kapalpakan’

Raymundo never expected his digital illustration to spread like wildfire on social media, with people creating their own versions of themselves as fist people and using these as their profile photos.

Tumindig even made its way to the streets, as groups made mascots of fist people for the rallies preceding President Rodrigo Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address.

Asked why he thinks his art caught on, Raymundo said it’s because many people have reached their breaking point.

“May mga nagme-message sa akin na dahil five years na, ‘di ba, pagod na pagod na sila sa kapalpakan ng government, pero wala silang makitang outlet to express ‘yung frustration nila. So noong nakita nila ‘yung artwork ko, nag-latch on sila doon. Ito ‘yung way nila to show na hindi na sila natutuwa sa pamamalakad ng gobyerno,” said Raymundo.

(There were people messaging me that because it’s been five years already, they’re so tired of the government’s failures but they have no outlet for their frustration. So when they saw my artwork, they latched on to it. This is their way of showing they aren’t happy with how the government is running things.)

He himself got more political in his comic artworks because of his frustration over the government’s pandemic response – especially what he believes were border restrictions implemented too late.

The question

Raymundo was prepared for the bashing he would get for being so vocal – and visual – with his political stance. But it’s that defiance that inspires others to take a stand, he said.

For this reason, his original Tumindig artwork shows one fist person kneeling like the others, but looking up towards the one fist person standing.

“That character represents people who are on the fence. I know many who are apolitical, they want to play it safe. I want to show that if you become an example, when you show people that this is my stand regardless if you agree with me, that will have an effect on people around you,” said Raymundo in Filipino.

He wants people to view “tumindig,” not as a declarative remark, but as a question.

Kumbaga gusto ko siyang itanong, ibalik sa tao, para saan ka tumitindig?

(I want to ask, I want to bring it back to people, what would you stand up for?) – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.