A Space for Remembering — 09.17.2020
When I first became acquainted with Green Papaya, I had no idea what an “artist-run space” meant, let alone what it meant to be an artist. It was only later that I realized the latter had something to do with living precariously. However, the former seemed to me more interesting and significant, as it grew to be a house for precarious people to keep living and sustaining themselves.
But when I say house, I don’t mean the physical kind. Every person who performed, lectured, danced, interacted, talked, laughed, drank, and breathed in this space are the glue that holds it together wherever they might go. I guess this is what you could call the essence of community.
This essence… I felt most when it collided with something bigger than itself, when it converged with other communities. When it took on the task of challenging history by being a space not just for living, but also for remembering…
Around this time last year, Green Papaya hosted a gig, initiated by the Defend Negros-Stop the Attacks network, to remember the Escalante Massacre of 1985. That night, we remembered the 21 farmers and sakadas killed by state forces on September 20 of that year, when thousands marched to demand for justice for victims of the Marcos dictatorship.
We remembered the furthering impunities on Negros Island. We remembered Sagay 9, who were strafed on their bungkalan—on the very land they were cultivating to make up for food scarcity during tiempo muerto. We remembered the year after that, when 14 peasants were killed and 12 were arrested in a so-called “anti-criminality campaign” by police and military in Negros Oriental, where the only crime of the people is fighting for genuine land reform.
Then there was Escalante 8, which happened only two days before that gig. Eight cultural workers and activists were arrested while preparing for their own Escalante Massacre commemoration event. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which the police themselves had planted.
And today, we remember Zara Alvarez. And we shall never forget.
Though the rain poured on that night of the gig, people flocked and huddled together in solidarity. A night such as that situated the Papaya community’s precarious position within the larger context of cruelty and oppression in the country. We remembered that we as artists are part of larger communities of marginalized peoples, and that we have a responsibility to respond to injustice against our own. We remembered our duty to expand our systems of care and inclusion. We continue to remember that these are things we should never forget, never again.
September 17, 2020
#StopTheAttacks #StopTheKillings #JusticeForZaraAlvarez #JunkTerrorLaw #DefendNegros #NeverForgetNeverAgain