I was in awe of the spoken word artists. One by one they took their place on center stage then disclosed their heartbreaks and struggles. More than the showcase of talent, I admired the display of courage to speak of subjects often silenced by shame, mockery, and ignorance.
Suicide. Depression. Anxiety.
How many people are willing to discuss them? How many truly comprehend what they are? No, it’s not just drama, it’s not just arte, it’s not about being weak and it’s not going to be fixed by saying okay lang, kaya mo ‘yan! Naayos ba ng okay lang, kaya mo ‘yan ang stroke, cancer, at diabetes?
ALAB recognizes the need to correct misconceptions and shatter stigma. Through its series of events called Padayon Sessions, the volunteer group of artists and educators aims to raise awareness on suicide, depression, and anxiety.
This particular rainy evening at Exile on Main Street in Katipunan opened with an informal lecture by Ateneo de Manila University guidance counselor Marilou Borje and Assumption Antipolo guidance counselor Marissa Jusay. They answered the whats and the whys of suicide. It was inspiring to see genuine interest from the audience. Knowing that the group will walk out of the restaurant better informed was reassuring.
But what took my breath away was the open jam. The performers stood there, bravely opened their lives and shared their stories. I could not applaud loud enough for the vulnerability that blared through the speakers. They were not merely beautiful words strewn together, but personal experiences. Pain, fear, and anger reverberated through the room but in between the lines was a general plea for understanding and acceptance. The audience complied. Nobody judged, nobody dismissed the things said, nobody laughed, nobody dictated that we all just move on. Everybody extended respect and compassion. Puede naman pala ‘yun.
JM Espiritu of Loudmouth Collective who was diagnosed with depression a few months back, summed it up well when he closed his poem with a suggested dialogue to friends. “I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I want you to know that I really want to understand and I am here to try to understand”. That’s really all you need to say to someone with depression and anxiety. Of course, you have to mean it too.
To see the event photos by Maud Javier and for updates on the next Padayon Session, visit the Facebook page of Alab at https://www.facebook.com/alabsessions/