"You Will See the Fish in Manila Bay Getting Fat. That is Where I Will Dump You." Artists Statement

 “You Will See The Fish In Manila Bay Getting Fat. That Is Where I Will Dump You.” [1] 

     The Philippine “War on Drugs” has resulted in the police and extrajudicial killings of at least 5,500 to upwards of 20,000 suspected drug dealers or users with great support and encouragement of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. [2] This was extremely troubling for me to learn about, being both a Filipino and a former substance abuser. The threats of health problems and death are ever present for drug users, and instead of offering assistance and treatment to those in the throes of addiction, the Philippine Government largely only provides death, or imprisonment for a lucky few. 

     “You Will See The Fish...” incorporates elements of both Filipino heritage and drug cultures. It consists of 9 drawings behind piña cloth veils, and pineapple plants. The fine-line drawings are based on photos taken on a family vacation to the Philippines and depict Filipino culture and traditions. They are slightly concealed by a veil of piña cloth. This is a direct reference to the Philippine piña weaving tradition, in which fibers of pineapple leaves are harvested by scraping away the pulpy matter of the leaves that are then individually tied and woven together with added silk. I grew my own pineapple plants for display and to harvest for leaf fibers, used for embroidering drug chemical structures onto the piña veils. The pineapples were grown in compost that contains remnants of cannabis plants, under the same lights used to grow the cannabis.


     “You Will See The Fish...” reestablishes a connection between me and my Filipino heritage. My grandmother was born in the Philippines and eventually became a United States citizen, fully embracing American life, inadvertently leaving my family with little Filipino cultural knowledge. A few years before her death this changed, and she took my family on a trip to the Philippines for us to be immersed in Filipino culture and life. Her passing, alongside other deaths of loved ones were difficult for me to deal with, so I continued to find some temporary solace in substance abuse. “You Will See The Fish...” communicates the personal growth that has occurred in me since beginning work to overcome this self-destructive behavior, something thousands of Filipinos will never have the chance to experience under Duterte’s hostile presidency. 


[1]: This stems from a quotation from Rodrigo Duterte prior to his election. Full Quote: “If by chance that God will place me there, watch out because the 1,000 [people allegedly executed while Duterte was mayor of Davao City] will become 100,000. You will see the fish in Manila Bay getting fat. That is where I will dump you.”  

 Human Rights Watch. “‘License to Kill’: Police Killings in Duterte’s “War on Drugs’.” Humanrightswatch.org. March 2, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs.  

[2]: Julie McCarthy, Philippine President’s War On Drugs Criticized As Crimes Against Humanity, NPR, NPR.org, July 19, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/19/743351006/philippine-presidents-war-on-drugs-criticized-as-crimes-against-humanity.