Starting as a sole undertaking of a young Kapampangan five years ago, Project Saysay has evolved into a collaborative project that introduces the teachings of freedom fighters to students around the country
ANGELES CITY—In 2013, Ian Alfonso made posters for schoolchildren to help share the words of wisdom of four Filipino heroes.
Alfonso, who was 22 years old then, donated his first set of artworks to a Gawad Kalinga village school in Tarlac City 10 days before Independence Day.
Soon his initiative, Project Saysay, ceased being a solitary undertaking when creative teams composed of 34 historians, educators, cultural workers, language experts and artists joined Alfonso in introducing young people to the insights of great Filipinos.
Saysay is derived from “kasaysayan” (history). But to Alfonso, it also meant Filipino heroes remained relevant (may kwenta), valuable (may halaga) or beneficial (may pakinabang) to new generations.
Supported by benefactors, Project Saysay has generated 4,363 posters that feature the teachings, images and brief life stories of 25 great Filipinos. These posters graced 2,055 classrooms and libraries of 182 schools, as well as Philippine embassies and consulates abroad.
The latest posters use the portraits of heroes painted by Bulacan-based visual artist Mark Villanueva, who was commissioned by a timepiece company, Ibarra Watches.
Portrayed in the Ibarra posters are Villanueva’s renditions of Emilio Jacinto, Gregoria de Jesus, Fr. Jose Burgos, Apolinario Mabini, Andres Bonifacio, Hadji Butu, Mariano Ponce, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Rizal, Clemencia Lopez and Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio.
Also featured are the paintings of Marcelo del Pilar, Gregorio del Pilar, Antonio Luna, Pio Valenzuela, Valentin Ventura, Artemio Ricarte, Juan Luna, Marcela Agoncillo, Felipe Agoncillo, Jose Ma. Panganiban, Macario Sakay, Emilio Aguinaldo, Miguel Malvar and Martin Delgado.
The posters come with short biographical notes written by Alfonso and Juan Paolo Calamlan.
These posters are also embedded with QR (quick response) codes through which students can access online data about those great Filipinos.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts financed the printing expenses of the first 600 new posters.
Project Saysay recently embarked on an animation project to introduce schoolchildren to Philippine history.
On Nov. 9, it previewed the seven-minute “The Nameless Hero” film by nine Holy Angel University (HAU) students: Cheyenne Calara, Abigail Kristine Castro, Kimfher Gulapa, Dainnielle Angelo Magat, Myron Justine Sangil, Rose Maricar Sigui, Ashley Shane Salunga, Marc Richard Louise Santos and Van David Reyes.
It tells the story of a Pampanga chief who led 2,000 fighters in resisting Spanish colonizers in the Battle of Bangkusay on June 3, 1571, an account contained in the marker that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines put up to correct current records. Previous accounts credit Rajah Soliman, nephew of the rulers of Manila and Tondo, for leading that battle.
The Spaniards consigned the Pampanga leader to anonymity by not recording his name, said Alfonso, a native of Macabebe town.
“He was the Filipino who died defending freedom,” said Robby Tantingco, director of HAU Center for Kapampangan Studies.
For the next three years, Project Saysay and HAU, through multimedia director Oswald Santos, will collaborate in developing free and shareable animated Philippine history materials, Alfonso said.
“This synergy between two different disciplines—animation and history—is a worthwhile experience on how the two may help the Filipino imagine and remember,” he said.