Sandata is the Filipino word for weapon or arms. Weapons are held sacred in many indigenous Filipino communities. These are passed down through generations and are symbols of honor. Filipino weapons were not only used as offensive tools, these were designed primarily to defend communities.
In 2016, a handful of Filipino artists and researchers decided to work together as a response to the growing trend of social media-led disinformation and the brutal Philippine Drug War. By collaborating across different fields, we compliment each other's skills in creating art informed by facts and presenting data in creative and accessible ways. We named our group Sandata, and utilize the collaboration of arts and research as our weapon.
Sandata is comprised of progressive Filipino activist rappers BLKD and Calix, playwright and screenwriter Mixkaela Villalon, and development workers and researchers Tanya Quijano, Abbey Pangilinan, and Ica Fernandez.
We have been active in the field, interviewing families of Drug War victims and gathering data. We can share stories from the streets, and personal narratives that most media outlets don't or can't cover. We have published articles on these topics and have released songs that are backed by hard data. Currently, we also working on a music album entitled Kolateral, a 12-track album featuring various artists wherein each track is directly inspired by real accounts and cases of victims of the drug war.
We have also been holding a series of fundraiser concerts with various local music collectives (hiphop, punks, and metalheads) in Metro Manila where all proceeds are used for psycho-social services and micro-entrepreneurial opportunities for the families of the victims of the Drug War. At every gig, Sandata takes the time to address the mostly millennial crowd where we break down Drug War statistics and play audio recordings of some of our interviews.
In recent months, Sandata has had talks in Philippine universities such as the University of the Philippines, Diliman and Baguio campus, and the Ateneo de Manila University. We aim to engage with as wide an audience as possible in order to show that creative forms of activism are possible and starts with whatever sphere of influence a person has, no matter how small.
We have done these things mostly out of our own pockets and with no political backing. We are, however, resolute in our decision to keep telling the truth regardless of any threat or challenges.
This April 20-May 6, Sandata has been given the opportunity to speak at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard Kennedy School and will be in the US on those dates. While these institutions have generously offered to give partial support for the team's lodging, including support from Columbia University for the research team, we still need a significant amount to cover our cost of living and travel expenses. The current economic situation in the Philippines and the rapidly dwindling value of the peso are also added challenges as we travel from coast to coast in America.
Funds raised for this campaign will be used for Sandata team's flights from the Philippines to the United States ($4,600), travel expenses within the US ($1,700), Visa Fees ($650), living expenses for three weeks ($2,550) and cost of events with our partners ($500).
During our stay, we hope to engage with Filipino American communities and music collectives not just in the academic setting. We want to reach out with other activists and communities to share experiences and learn from each other on how best to tackle ever-shifting modern social issues. We want to be able to set up events, talks, and gigs with local communities in San Francisco and Boston. In order to do this, additional funding would greatly help in covering costs for such events.
UPDATE: Through the help of supporters and progressive organizations, Sandata will also be heading to New York for talks and performances. Your interest in our work and continuous donations will help us reach out and start meaningful dialogue with as wide an audience as possible.
OTHER PAYMENT OPTIONS
If you would like to donate, PayPal allows you to register your credit card or debit card to go through with the transaction. If you don't have PayPal or prefer to do a bank transfer (over the counter or online/mobile banking), this option is also available! You may deposit to BPI Savings Account Nastassja Quijano (0469 3866 78) or BDO Savings Account Marianne Mixkaela Villalon (107-015-2623 or 00-107-015-2623 for online/mobile transactions).
In order for us to track this, we request that you send us a photo of the deposit slip or transaction screenshot to Sandata's Facebook page via a message. For Online/Mobile bank transfers, please tag and label the transfer as a "Donation For Sandata Team".
Thank you very much!
Photos by: Keanu Gutierrez Reyes, J Rex Chiu, and Fonzy Gonzaga