The curation of the exhibit made it seem like the makeshift craft were are actually floating in floodwater. Photos by  ISABELA A. MARTINEZ

DESPITE the eyesore that tropical storm Ondoy brought in 2009, beauty was still found in the resilient spirits displayed by Filipinos amid disaster. This was uniquely captured by Advertising alumnus Mark Salvatus in an installation art exhibit titled C_rafts at the University of the Philippines (UP) Vargas Museum from June 17 to August 17.

The exhibit features seven improvised watercraft made of everyday materials that could supposedly transport people in floodwater.

One in particular is a thick Styrofoam board, which is supported by empty plastic containers that are tied using industrial rope. This mechanism would give the board buoyancy, making it an emergency flotation device. On top of the floaters was a ruined door sans its bar lock, with a hole where its knob used to be. Placed on the door and in lieu of seats were empty softdrink carriers, large water bottles and tin cans that could store food.

A simpler installation is an inflated airbed that could carry more people. Placed on this are two empty woven bags made of recycled plastic.

Other pieces were designed to carry one passenger. One of these featured a big, black life buoy as its floating component. Stuck in the middle of the floater was a bucket and what appeared to be an alternative oar—an inch-square thick, wooden stick. Sticking out of the main compartment was an empty biscuit can tied to an umbrella. This would not only allow a person to sail through the flood, but would prevent him from getting soaked with rainwater as well.

Salvatus even thought of a child-friendly craft that would be kept afloat by two thick pieces of Styrofoam whose original purpose was industrial packaging. The piece also consisted of plywood, a smaller life buoy, and child’s monoblock chair, complete with a cartoon print on the seat itself.

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Another complex design had three floaters installed beneath a long piece of plywood. Spread on top of the wide piece of wood were makeshift seats such as chairs made of wood scraps, empty beer cases, and biscuit tins.

The makeshift vessels were widely spread across the art space, making it seem like they were floating. Viewers were given the chance to visualize a real-life scenario, where the craft would actually carry people affected by the flood. In reality, some would not even float, but it is the concept of how Filipinos cope with day-to-day toil that is imprinted on the viewers.

It is through this exhibit that Salvatus was able to stress on how Filipinos have learned to live with having to make do with remnants and scraps just to make ends meet.

Just as striking as the display itself are the words that accompany the exhibit, seen on one of the museum walls. The paragraph closes with, “The makeshift crafts are buoyant, barely.”

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