Makibaka: Struggle

By Niki Esko

A brother named Ed Jr. M. Arimboanga, who I know simply as JR, showed me love and warmth at a poetry reading last spring called Flip Da Skript. It was an open-mic at San Francisco State University's Rigoberta Menchu Hall, and put on by the League of Filipino Students. The room was filled with young activists, musicians, and poets of color. It was the new "Art and Soul of the Struggle," a mirror image of the famous Striker's place of refuge.

After I read a few poems, JR got on stage and asked, "Where are all the strong Pinays in the house tonight?" while pointing in my direction. Fists shot up in the air. They were all around: intelligent, beautiful, and outspoken Pilipinos. Later that week, after networking and getting to know new folks, I stayed in contact with several through email and messaging, and came across JR's photo album on myspace (you may have heard it).

JR's black and white photos caught my eye immediately. They sing songs of history, living injustices, hopes, and solidarity. This is what art is: a tool, a weapon, that educates and informs, unites and divides people, grasps and transmits experience.

"Eye Hotel"
Where our Manongs, Chinese and Japanese and black and other brown brothers, and student youth came together to fight. It is a symbol of gentrification and racism in San Francisco.

It is not a matter of who suffered more but that we have all suffered enough.

MABUHAY ANG SAMBAYANAN PILIPINO- and all that know the cold grasp of imperialist chains.

Photos courtesy of Ed Jr. M. Arimboanga & his online albums

Contact Ed Jr. M. Arimboanga, check out more of his photography, and wish him a happy [early] birthday.

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