Friday August 17, 2018

Local artist urges Oro churchgoers: No to vote-buying

CAGAYAN DE ORO. With a cooking pot and a ballot box as his main props, local artist Nicolas Aca stages a performance art outside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro, hoping to catch the attention of the Roman Catholic devotees not to sell their votes. (Jigger J. Jerusalem)

BRAVING the heat of the morning sun, Cagayan de Oro-based multi-artist Nicolas Aca has religiously campaigned for a clean and honest election in the locality.

Through his performance art outside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday, May 13, Aca urged churchgoers to refuse accepting money from political candidates.

Aca, 48, brought with him a black cooking pot and a ballot box as his main props.

He positioned himself at the church’s grounds, hoping to catch the attention of the people attending the Holy Mass.

Written in red chalk on the pot was “my vote is not for sale,” the message that Aca has been trying to send to the city’s voters for the past four elections.

At present, Aca is the resident artist and art gallery curator at Capitol University’s Museum of Three Cultures.

Aca called his performance “Boto, Goto” essentially summing up many of the Filipinos’ attitude during election where they will likely vote those who hand them out money.

The ballot box symbolizes “boto” (vote), and the cooking pot for “goto” (beef congee).

“You can buy goto from a few pesos that you receive from politicians during the election season. Sure, it will fill your stomach for a day. You’re contented, but what’s next? Is your vote just good enough to buy goto?” he said.

Through his art, Aca wants to stir the conscience of the people in the hopes that they will think twice before accepting money from candidates seeking elected posts.

“This is my contribution to the efforts to have a clean and honest election,” Aca said after his two-hour performance wound up.

While he acknowledged that vote-buying and vote-selling have now slowly become the norm in the country, Aca emphasized that he wants people to know that there are still individuals like him who want to change the system.

“People nowadays wait for the ‘ulan-ulan’ on the eve of the election day. I think this attitude will not change overnight, but at least I am doing my part to let them know that it’s not the right way,” he said.

“Ulan-ulan” (drizzle) refers to the act of giving money by political candidates to voters before the election day.

While a few Roman Catholic devotees took notice of his performance and nodded signifying that they got his message, most of the church goers just ignored him.

“It’s expected. Many will take my performance for granted. There were even others who ridiculed me,” Aca said, adding that one of the cathedral’s resident priests even asked him to leave the premises as he was causing traffic congestion.

“I didn’t argue with the priest. I figured that the priest will always win over the artist in that situation. But it cut-short my performance and the message I was trying to convey was lost,” he added.