Manila Zoo(M) Creation in Quarantine

Eisa Jocson

Every Wednesday since April the Manila Zoo team of 5 Filipino Artist: Russ Ligtas, Joshua Serafin, Bunny Cadag, Cathrine Go and I, have been meeting on zoom. The first few sessions was checking in on each other and exercising alone together (doing our own physical exercise at the same time on zoom).  Confined in our own homes, physical exercise has been an important activity during this global pandemic. The repetitive movement reminds me of the hamster running on the wheel and the repetitive stereotypic behaviour of animals in the Zoo.

In Animal Behaviour, A stereotypy is a term for a group of phenotypic behaviours that are repetitive, morphologically identical and which possess no obvious goal or function. These behaviours have been defined as ‘abnormal’ as they exhibit themselves solely to animals subjected to barren environments, scheduled or restricted feedings, social deprivation and other cases of frustration, but do not arise in ‘normal’ animals in their natural environments. (wikipedia)

I don’t know where to start with our situation in the Philippines. Corruption, remarkable ineptitude, blatant disregard for human rights and pandemic opportunism is rampant in our government. In this time of pandemic, the president’s priority is to secure power and wealth. He is fast tracking the approval of Anti-Terrorism Bill setting the stage for state suppression. The daily injustices, killings, systemic violence of this government are too many, too depressing, too frustrating to enumerate here. It is exhausting to be Filipino but we continue.

To continue to live, to create despite conditions is an act of resistance. The work has been refuge, release, and respite. (Russ Ligtas)

I am grateful to my collaborators and the artistic community for the collective persistence, care, dive, sharing, listening, creativity, generosity, time, energy, space and fight. We continue to create, to perform and transform our collective rage to demand change. To continue to fight with compassion.