Bacolod artists draw the line between art and crime

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THE fight to rid the City of Smiles from vandalism has fell into the hands of volunteer artists from the Association of Negros Artists (ANA).

ANA in the past few years has actively pushed for the creative expressions by pushing through an artistic activism.

Senior Supt. Jack Wanky, Bacolod City Police chief, has tapped ANA as their partner in their campaign against vandalism.

Wanky realizes that the police could only cover the vandalized walls with a fresh coat of paint which would only encourage the vandals to paint the clean walls all over again.


The police city director said it is better to paint beautiful murals on the walls even, if it would need the police force to paint over, to repel the vandals and beautify the city.

So, they invited the leaders of ANA for a special meeting identifying areas considered as vandal “hot spots” and agreed to take immediate action on these walls.

“This will be an ongoing project all throughout the year until these walls we have identified are cleaned of unsightly graffiti,” Wanky said.

The group has successfully completed dozens of street arts and mural paintings. One most notable mural created was a 20 feet high and 40 feet wide painting of the face of Jesus Christ surrounded by children on the walls of Bacolod Evangelical Church Learning Center in Rosario-San Juan Streets. It is also considered the biggest mural painting in the city.

Joan Honoridez, ANA president, said vandalism is prevalent in Bacolod City citing the public’s “lack of awareness and its education.”

“These days, vandals send random messages, mostly for the thrill of it – but they are still voices that need to be heard,” Honoridez said.

She added, “However, graffiti is different from vandalism which is the outright defacing of someone else’s property.”

Vandalism, an action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property is commonly confused with graffiti.

Graffiti, on the other hand, are writings or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed on a wall or other surfaces in a public place. Graffiti is considered art if expressed with legitimacy over a particular territory. But it can be a violation of the law if it begins to damage or deface public or private property.

By pushing for anti-vandalism, ANA is opening doors for art to be enforced without disrespecting the law. It noted that proper expression of creativity can be driven with the correct channeling of artists by engaging in mural paintings, art workshops, exhibitions, trainings, and art sessions.

“This is a purely voluntary act from our group and we are aiming for Bacolod City to become an art destination in the country, our gift to our community,” Honoridez said.

The collaboration encouraged the BCPO to help out at beautifying the city, encouraging artists to prosper through legitimate means and provide an avenue for these artists to visually voice out their expressions.

According to the police, some of the violators they have apprehended were minors who barely knew what vandalism is, and once caught, authorities encourage them for community services especially those ages 15 –18, while parents or legal guardians shoulder the civil liability of those violators aged 15 and below.

Because of the intervention of the Pangilinan Law or Republic Act 9344 promoting the welfare of youthful offenders, Honoridez suggested that programs such as educational campaigns and workshops be held in order to channel the creative energy of the youth into more productive pursuits.

“We can successfully tap the youth through massive educational campaigns and not rely on the RA 9344, commonly known as the Pangilinan Law, which protects a minor of its penalties to a crime,” she said.

For their first tandem project, the Bacolod Police Community Relations team and ANA painted the vandalized wall on the City Public Library beside Rizal Elementary School with a large mural of Dr. Jose Rizal, a day before the hero’s 156th birth anniversary last June 19.

Police patrol units keep watch as the artists worked on their piece to prevent any untoward physical reaction from the vandals.

The following week, the artists headed towards Lacson Street to paint large portraits on the wall between 19th and 20th Streets and a series of giant Mandala patterns on the wall near 18th Street.

The police in their respective stations have approached and talked to the wall owners who willingly cooperated with the anti-vandalism drive.

This created quite a stir among the vandals who claim to be graffiti artists waging a tag war on Facebook by posting pictures of two ANA murals they defaced with their street names on them.

On July 1, Ernie Mallorca, a faculty member of La Consolacion College–Bacolod Senior High School posted on Facebook in Ilonggo dialect: “The beautification of Bacolod through mural paintings and the painting over of vandal writings were given by Bacolod [police]to the Association of Negros Artist (ANA). We braved rain and sun just to make the people of the city happy with what with they see on the road…There are people who really enjoy vandalizing…ZERK, you’re an artist too, right? Stand by it… If you want to express yourself, come with us, not destroy what others have labored for.”

The post has since garnered 1,500 likes and 568 shares as of this writing and has launched a lively online and offline discussion on vandalism.

Penalties for vandalism violators has now been increased to as much as P5,000 and imprisonment of up to one year under an amended city ordinance.

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