CARACOL is my meditation upon a slug. Caracol, Spanish for snail is also Filipino term for a devotional ritual dance-procession in a spiral trail. A big snail turned up after the first gentle rain on my edible garden which I started during a hopelessly dry spell. Presence of a pest instantly gave joy to announce the earth was moist and fertile. That spelled hope! Soon the rains fell stronger, inundating my garden. A whole slew of snails came; hope turned into threat and desperation. I struck tragedy on the caracol, crushing most or trapping them in salt to prevent their ravaging my greens. I photographed their movements, preserved and collected some. Shells found their place beside my easel and on the drawing table.
Beholding the rhythmic, coiling patterns of caracol brings me in and out of a spiritual vortex as I swipe impastos and toss sand and twigs onto my canvas. The swirling, whirlpool of the universe is captured in the delicate shell of the gentle, silent caracol. The energy is powerful, creative, and hopefully transformational.
Soon, El Niño, a complex climatic disturbance that affects the equatorial Pacific, came. The already hot but humid weather and parched earth became even hotter and drier. I began to recall the sight of burnt, darkened, eroded, lifeless earth, cracked with sinkholes, contaminated by chemicals from industrial debris and mining. I tried to imitate their textures onto my canvas, adhering plaster bonded remnants of torn katcha and fallen petioles from my neem tree. Ironically, El Niño’s twin opposite, La Niña which spells rains and floods commenced sooner than I could complete this series of paintings. Caracol speaks: be gentle, be slow, be quiet. Begin, proceed, end where you started and begin again; live, die, and live again. Like the caracol that comes out of its shell, my creative process is thinly separates my inner realm and the outer world.
This metaphor of my personal contemplation on aging, legacy, and climate change confronts me: What do we pass on to our grandchildren, as this baby-boomer generation has caused the devastating acceleration of climate change? Thinking of my own grandchildren should make climate emergency a personal mission in me and each one of us. My art flashes a ray of hope into an elegy for our abused, parched earth. Terrestrial and aquatic effects of climate change already batter our archipelago which will be first to suffer rising sea levels in our planet. Caracol moves us to hope and act.