In November 2020, San Miguel Island was devasted by the 315 kph Super Typhoon Rolly. Hundreds were homeless; infrastructure destroyed; fishing boats wrecked. No water and power for almost four long months. Community art murals have been positively linked with social, cultural, economic, and health benefits. These public artworks are the examples of the “broken window theory” in reverse – a well-cared for community enhances peace and development and improves quality of life. It is for this reason that the City Government of Tabaco engaged 28 Tabakkurit artists to use the 90-meter long PPA wall at the Maritime Complex as their canvas. Tabakkurit – The Art Within Tabaqueños, composed of 100 amateur local painters, sketchers, and illustrators officially became a group on January 10, 2020. Most of their members met in competitions and art exhibits. The group’s name was coined from two Bicolano words: Tabak, which means bolo or machete, and Kurit or guhit in Tagalog, which means to draw or to sketch. “It was a dream project for me”, says April Joy Bronia, a member of Tabak Kurit. The 19-year-old Mining Engineering student turned her hobby into an opportunity to earn extra income through commissioned art works.
The wall paintings depicted some of Tabaco City’s finest products – tabak, banig (mat), the famous pili nut (java almond), and the padyak or pedicab, the most common means of transportation of locals. These mural artworks are akin to the sun peeking through clouds after a terrible storm even as they inspire faith, hope, and love.
One striking mural design is “Love Conquers All”, inspired by the biblical passage Proverbs 10:12. It depicts two people kissing with their colorful masks on portraying unwavering love despite all odds. Always hopeful, Tabaco City – the Asian City of Love – heralds the coming of the sun amidst this challenging season of our lives.