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Garcia, Michelle

“Defend Academic Freedom”


Last January 15, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attempted to unilaterally terminate the UP-DND accord, raising the alarm for not just the UP community, but also for activists and other state universities around the country. It was as if current events echoed those of fifty years ago. It was this parallel that I wished to show in my work, Defend Academic Freedom.

Although Lorenzana was not completely successful, reports circulated of military roving around the Diliman campus some days later. These personnel harassed residents, vendors, and other members of the UP community present in an attempt to get information on students’ tambayans, living areas, and other whereabouts. Red-tagging also continued, with the AFP accusing certain colleges—such as the College of Fine Arts—of being hotbeds of CPP and NPA activity. Meanwhile, outside campus, the killing of activists did not stop either, and the Anti-Terror Law still looms over the populace.


UP has always been a safe space for critical thought and activist work, and we will fight for this space time and time again. This work is also a homage to the courage of the UP community, as they do not hesitate to tackle such threats head on throughout history.

Michelle Garcia graduated with a degree in Information Design from Ateneo de Manila University, and is currently majoring in Painting in UP Diliman. One day, well before 2020, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffered a manic episode with psychotic features, wherein she was utterly convinced that Duterte was about to declare martial law over the entire Philippines. Although she has since reached a stable state and prevented any relapse, she still makes art about her mental illness as well as social issues and how they sometimes intertwine. She loves using acrylic, charcoal, and vector drawing programs, with work ranging from the personal to the political. She also sometimes freelances as a graphic artist to get by, although is always happy to do work that involves painting or illustration.