1. paying tribute to Chief Magsalos for his environmental advocacy. On the stage with Ma'am Norma Liongoren (owner of Liongoren Gallery)
2. photo with my co-researchers for this project, from L-R: Me, Hemer Dimacale, my assigned honoree (Chief Magsalos), Lori Palma and Christina Pangan. We're all students from UP Diliman.
3. lastly, the mixed media installation of Goldie Poblador (assigned artist to honor of the Police Chief's environmental advocacy)
So here it its, my feature essay on Chief Magsalos and Goldie Poblador for the 8 Filipina 2011. Hope you'll like it and you'll learn something from it :)
Simple Words and Simple Deeds
Gimena, Aliana Grace Z.
(on Chief Magsalos and Goldie Poblador)
Fat, big stomach, frightening – these are some of the stereotypes associated with a policeman. Senior Superintendent Romeo Magsalos breaks all these labels and proves through his action and appearance – formidable, tall, upright posture, well-toned muscles - that he is not your stereotypical policeman. Born in the province of Bukidnon, Chief Magsalos has worked very hard to be the man who he is now. For years, he has been serving our country which is evident in the different positions he held as a policeman. He became the Chief of Police of different PNP Stations like in Candon City, Narvacan City, Marikina and now Bicutan.
Aside from his commitments as a police, Chief Magsalos rendered his service inside the academic institution. He served as the Vice President for Administration and Finance and Vice Chancellor for Mindanao State University System Main Campus in Marawi City.
However, the most interesting fact about this Police Chief is his artistic side. Way back into college, he was a theatre group scholar. This theatre group “traces its origin from PETA as introduced originally by Mr. Frank Rivera, whose pioneering works catapulted Mindanao State University’s Sining Kambayoka as for once the Best Theatre group of the Philippines coming from various awards and recognition.” As a stage performer, he appeared in several original plays and various adaptations of renowned dramatists, both local and foreign. The stage was not his only platform as a performer; he also ventured in the film industry may it be main stream or independent. He had an appearance in the movie “SIG 357 Baril Mo Ang Papatay Sayo” by Val Iglesia. Of course, his character was a Chief of Police. In addition, he played a part in a CineMalaya Film by Eman dela Cruz entitled “Ang Gabon”. Whether in the field of law enforcement or in the stage or film domain, Chief Magsalos stood out in all aspects. Indeed, he is a polymath.
But what is more striking about this Police Chief is his soft heart for the environment. Veering away from the typical responsibilities of a policeman, he advocated an environmental campaign when he was at the Marikina PNP Station. Known to everyone, Marikina was one of the severely affected cities during the Ondoy typhoon. “Ondoy (international code-name Ketsana), killed about 500 people (believed to be higher), damaged PHP11.2 billion worth of crops and infrastructures and wrecked nearly 154 000 houses.” He himself and the whole police station were victims of the said typhoon. In my interview with him, he recalled the damages that this disaster has caused in the whole police station. He showed me the marks left by the flood inside the station and he narrated to me that during their rescue operation, all he can see are countless plastics floating all over the place. This catastrophe spurred Chief Magsalos to act. “I felt we had to do something.” In his PowerPoint Presentation, he showed a list of the most wanted people in Marikina but on top of the list is not a person, but “plastics”. From there on, he considered plastics as the number one public enemy.
Chief Magsalos’ words were translated into actions which resulted to the strict implementation of an anti-plastic campaign at Marikina PNP Station. “A policeman caught bringing a plastic bag into the police station will have to do 20 push-ups as penalty. Jail visitors on the other hand, are stopped whenever the desk officer spots food carried in plastic bags.” Everyone in the station is encouraged to use alternative containers when going to the market or grocery stores. Instead of using plastic bags, old newspapers are transformed into trash cans.
Even though he is a higher authority he did not take his position for granted. He knew the defining lines of the implementation of this campaign. Starting with himself and banking on a multiplier effect via all 300 policemen and other workers inside the Marikina PNP Station made his campaign raging in action. His advocacy shows that it is possible for government employees to exercise political will and set an example.
Goldie Poblador, an artist who is a graduate from the UP College of Fine arts, honors the Police Chief’s exemplary work. Instead of doing a portrait, she drew on her preferred medium of installations grounded on collecting and ephemerality. In her early works, she collected scents and then she moved on to making and collecting jars. Poblador interprets Chief Magsalos’ work by setting up an installation made up of 12 jars of waste and 12 jars of flora collected from the environs of Marikina. The waste materials like the plastics that clog our drainages is a representation of the garbage we amass; the ephemeral flora collection, which will go through the process of deterioration during the exhibit run, reminds us of the inevitability of decomposition. On the other hand, the glass jars also remind us that the ecosystem is fragile and is in fact steadily weakening amidst our wasteful and indiscriminate ways. Therefore it should be handled with care.
The example of handling nature with care set out by Chief Magsalos - nn engaging person and a policeman at his best – which could be the start of an ordinance for Marikina, has inspired other policemen. Police Officer 2 Dhonnie Deladia said “We were told that change must start from us, and we must also teach our children to do the same.” If Chief Magsalos’ simple deed was able to influence over 300 policemen, why not an ordinary student like me? I admit I am guilty in using plastics. It’s just so hard to resist using these materials because they are readily available. But after witnessing Chief Magsalos’ work and Poblador’s interpretation, I was awakened by my wrongdoings. They left a striking image on my mind and that image is something I should work on. It shall not remain as purely thoughts but should be laid into actions. Artist and honouree embolden us to become vigilant eco-vanguards, mindful of the ways by which catastrophes like Ondoy can be minimized by simple words and simple deeds that simply say: “No to Plastic”.
Chief Magsalos and Goldie Poblador are one of the pairs featured in the 2011 Walong Filipina: Parangal sa Alagad ng Kalikasan, which opened at Liongoren Gallery last March 25 and will move to Pinto Gallery in Antipolo in May 22 to ____. This edition also commemorates the life and works of two stellar historical figures: Jose Rizal, the unheralded environmentalist, whose 150th year of birth we are celebrating this year, and Leonard Co, the botanist who was slain while in the field, allegedly because he was caught in the crossfire.
Walong Filipina (Eight Filipinas) is an annual project by Liongoren Gallery, and has shown the works of close to a hundred women artists and other notable women from various disciplines from the time it was first held in March 1990. In 2010, the project honored the contributions of eight Filipina environmentalists, whose life and works were portrayed by eight male artists. (http://walongfilipina.wordpress.com/). This time, it is the other way around: eight female artists honoring eight male environmentalists.
The seven other honorees are: Fr. Augusto Albor, forest conservationist; Mr. Gonzalo Catan, inventor and advocate of organic products; Dr. Metodio Palaypay, zero waste management worker; Lutgardo Labad, cultural worker; and former Marikina Chief of Police; Andy Orencio, artist and gardener; Dr. Warlito Laquihon, sloping land technologist; and Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, former secretary of Health, herbalist and traditional medicine practitioner.
The seven other women artists who paid tribute to these exemplary men are: Lena Cobangbang, Marika Constantino, Marina Cruz, Hermogena Borja “Nene” Lungay, Jeannie Tan, Josie Tionko and Pam Yan-Santos.
Continuing the practice started in 2010, eight researcher-writers composed of University of the Philippines art studies students, their professor and Walong Filipina co-curator Flaudette May Datuin and guest writer Malen Dulay team up with each pair. I am one of the student-writers.
There will also be an essay writing contest, details of which are to be announced later.
For updates and more details, log on to: http://walongfilipina.wordpress.com/ or call Liongoren Gallery 9124319.
 Online material sent by PSSUPT Romeo Magsalos. 30 April 2011.
 Datuin, Flaudette May. The River Project. “For the Birds”.
 Interview with PSSUPT Romeo Magsalos. January 2011.
 Niña Calleja. Inquirer.net. “Plastic bags banned in Marikina cops’ headquarters”. Accessed 28 April 2011. http://services.inquirer.net/print/print.php?article_id=20101119-304202