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Lutong Bahay

Enkindling Hope Through Charcoal and Pans

Fires happened frequently in Brgy. Addition Hills situated in Mandaluyong city from June to July 2020. In a span of two months, three incidences of the said calamity struck the community, leaving the residents no time to recover from the first. In a place where houses were built one on top of the other, with little to no support given by the local government, it comes to no surprise that every incident or warning to this sort of happening should terrorize a destitute neighborhood. How can you see fire in a redeeming light once more?

Artletics, along with resident artist Roger Mond of the Linangan Art Residency program took the lead in responding to this predicament by organizing Project Lutong Bahay [Homecooked] initiative with the Makabuhay Movement, a group of friends who organized themselved to respond to the needs of the community they grew up in by providing cooked meals for 170 victims of fire in Addition Hills. During this period, the potential and symbol of fire as a life-giving source through cooking was reignited in the efforts of this group.

.A joint project entitled, Ulilling, took place to provide further aid to the victims. Uliling is a combination of the Tagalog words uling, meaning charcoal, and kuliling, from the ringing of bells, the same sound that announces a fire. The art project enjoins artists to raise alarms for this tragedy that affected the communities razed by these close successions of fire. Bereft of safe shelters compounded further by quarantine measures being implemented in the current coronavirus pandemic, what’s left of years of dedicated toil – books, clothes, plates, beds, furniture, letters, photographs, radios, TV sets, medals - has turned to dust and charcoal, mementos of destruction seeking transcendence through artistic creation.

The project gathered 48 artists to make works from word prompts that have been collected from survivors of the fire. These word prompts : Manalig, Pag-asa, Paglaban, Buhay, Pagbangon, Benevolence, Pamilya, Takot, Alab, Memorabilia, Kalinga, Evacuation, Tapang, Tibay [to have faith, hope, to fight, life, to rise, benevolence, family, fear, blaze, memorabilia, care, evacuation, courage, perseverance] – act as mantras and testimonies of their survival throughout such a calamity.

111 pieces of artworks were collected and exhibited on the Artugon Instagram and Facebook pages. Part of the proceeds of the sale went to Artugon working closely with the Makabuhay Movement in Project Lutong Bahay. The project was able to amass enough funds to provide for 50 families packs of Go Bags each containing a hygiene kit, disaster kit, health kit, first aid kit, standard relief (containing Rice, Noodles, Sardines and Monggo), a fire safety zine and an emergency plan. 20 organic gardening kits, 20 pieces of fire extinguishers, and 100 gallons of water were also distributed.


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