Not Another Mother and Child

Orange Project, Bacolod City, Philippines・2019

A common farewell phrase, “mag-halong ka” (you take care), articulates an unspoken bond and deep love when spoken by a mother to a child.

In response to the title posed at this exhibition, two images came to my mind. First was the halo of the Virgin Mary and saints. The ‘halo’ was used as a visual device in religious imagery throughout history and across many forms of worship to symbolize holiness, innocence, spiritual power. The second was the iconic newspaper image of a mother coddling her dead son in the drug war shootout with police. It looked so much like the Pietà, a sculptural work by Michelangelo. It was as if it lacked the ‘halo’ on the mother and a suit of armor on the son. This loss of life did not need to happen.

I am no stranger to gun violence and traumatic loss. There is no logic that can explain a sudden and tragic loss from a seemingly senseless shooting. When one loses a loved one from gun violence, one never really recovers from the trauma. It lives with you forever. I empathize to the mothers who despair knowing that their child is never coming home again. Incorporating elements from a local drug bust crime scene, ‘Halong Ka’ series was a way to envision the protection every mother wishes she can bestow on her child.