Academic Papers

Graffiti’s Revolutionary Blessing and Street Art in the Philippines

Edsel Yu Chua, a fourth year undergraduate, wrote two essays on street art in the Philippines for an Anthropology of Media class. These were written in collaboration with StreetKonect, a non-profit dedicated to street art, and other street art organizers.

Ang Biyaya ng Rebolusyong Graffiti: Graffiti’s Revolutionary Blessing

by Edsel Yu Chua (4th year, UBC Anthropology)

Biyaya Cavite 2012 Graffiti

Biyaya in English translates to blessing and the work was done by BLIC x CHESHIRE in Kawit, Cavite in the Philippines. As a province, Cavite’s motto is “be a part of the revolution”, which solidifies its historical role as being the place where the Philippines declared its independence from Spain in June 12 1898. According to Durmuller, graffiti functions as a “written cultural phenomena, making use of both symbolic and iconic language” (1988), by looking at this interpretation Biyaya celebrates the hardworking people of Kawit that makes a living by gathering clams, but the positioning of the work in a trash dump symbolizes the people’s disregard of the environment and way of life. The figure in the work is projected as both praying and crying, polarizing the irony that is experienced by the people of Kawit.

In a country that has experienced more than three hundred and fifty years of Catholic-Castilian Spanish colonization, fifty years of being an American colony, and hegemonic control of the political Oligarchy, issues of agency, influence of ritual prayer, blessings from the divine, and ideas of who or what is divine are on-going discourses in the sociocultural framework of the Philippines. The importance of Biyaya’s placement in a public space is “it allows concerns and conflicts to be visible to all that pass-by, which encourages collaboration and potential participation in sociocultural discourses” (Rodriguez and Clair 3:1998). Maybe Biyaya can capture and bless the people that pass-by it and inject a little revolution in them.


The “Keep Thinking” photo was taken by Edsel at Vancouver Downtown 2010, projected here as “the other side of the coin” for fun 🙂

[Download the complete essay]

Pilipinas Aruarian Koneksyon: Exploration of Street Art in the Philippines Motivation-Movement

by Edsel Yu Chua (4th year, UBC Anthropology)

Intramuros Graffiti 2010 Kill Your Demons

I write this paper in solidarity to the Filipinos and Filipinas that are struggling with the social conditions they continue to experience in the streets back home and are active in creating and organizing social movements to address the conditions they are facing, through ground-level social programs, politics, the sciences, academic discourse, and the arts. When I refer to home I mean the Philippines, and I recognize my position and privilege as a Filipino man of colour living in Canada on the other side of the geographic, political, social, and cultural wall that separates and constructs clear boundaries between Third and First-world nations.

As a scholar of anthropology I am fascinated with the issue of movement and migration, why people move, what are the desires that fuel human movement, and how do people move. In this era of globalization and the rise of the Internet, it is not difficult to get in touch and learn about the experiences and conditions people face across borders. The Internet act as tool which connect separate bodies together into one virtual space and place of interaction through the technology of computer and mobile monitors, which creates a structural system of monitoring social conditions that were separated by walls and borders in previous generations. It also functions as a technological tool that challenges permanence and temporality with regards to dissemination of information through its allowance for swift movement of information across temporal spaces (Appadurai 1990:518). Further, the Internet challenges physical and social structures that were established in previous regimes through its permeable characteristic that facilitates transference of information from one matter to another.

My fascination for topics about human migration, particularly movement from Third to First-world environments led me to works that discuss power dynamics of people that are living in the said environments. Having experienced migration myself as a scholar from the Third-world studying in the First-world, I endeavor through my academic work to understand the dynamics that fuel human flows and how the discourse of migration is represented in academia and popular media […]

[Download the complete essay]

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