I have been watching a lot of Japanese television lately. But that doesn’t explain why the Tsunami of March 11, 2011 should carry the weight of this issue. Truth be told, it fascinates me that two Filipinos from different locations in the Diaspora sat down and focused their energy and passion on the cherry blossoms in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami.
Journalist Rey Ventura lives and works in Yokohama, Japan. His narrative of the 2011 disaster comes from a deeply felt affinity for the Japanese cherry blossoms and particularly one tree in faraway Fukushima where the perceived damage must have prodded him to at least find out if the trees would still be standing after the deluge. His road adventure with his friend, Professor Wheatfields who did the driving, was plagued by an unreliable “navi-chan” (GPS, to our familiar ears) and other setbacks. From that pilgrimage he offers us: A blow-by-blow recall of his anxieties, fears, minute observations, as well as his joy and discovery at the end of his journey.
Imagine the days and nights spent creating (as if painting some Sistine Chapel ceiling) and discarding sheets of images to form what would become a tapestry. Photographer Paul Tanedo had captured images of floating blossoms clinging to the edges of the Potomac River. What hours spent cropping, photo-shopping, enhancing and playing with the color schemes! Not to mention the hours of light and shadows to capture all angles of where blossoms and debris had merged.
An artist or a writer basks in Time the way most mortals don’t. They confront the raw material of memories and images until one or the other speaks to them. Time is the intangible gift by which they stew and ponder, muse, fantasize, fume—all the while patiently creating. Whether the finished work is a poem, a sketch, a novel, a short story or a film – all these are subject to the uncounted hours devoted to making the piece whole. Time alone and days of it frees the mind from the clutching hold of daily cares, heartaches, anxiety, and diminishing health. For an artist, or anyone devoted to the creative medium, Isolation often becomes one’s vocation.
When the words provoke you, dear reader, when the artwork makes you pause, think of what was carved out of that artist’s body. Think of how much was drained of their sweat and blood. Then wonder how their words or their art may have changed the course of human history. By their creations, they offer epiphanies which altered their beings—epiphanies that lighten the load of the world.
June 21, 2014