Marikit Na: Portrait of A River

Teo Esguerra

January 12 - February 11, 2023


Living just a stone’s throw away from Marikina River gave the artist a first hand view of how special and, at the same time, bizarre the river is. His 30 years of life gave him the opportunity to see the change in the river and the change it constantly brings to the people living around it.


Marikit-Na, as it was called during the Spanish colonial era, its river was an important transportation route during its prime years but development and innovation made roads and the river now serves a different purpose. The area is peppered with all sorts of interesting scenes, a place that gives off obscure, mystic vibes, and also a glimpse of the quality of life in the rural areas while being at the edge of Metro Manila. But as time passed by, deforestation in the uplands, among other factors, had contributed to the river’s siltation. This is why Marikina floods when there are heavy rains brought about by the storms or monsoons, or when dams release water to prevent overflow.


The artist was drawn to how it is both a source of living for many people around it, and how it also takes away so much when it swells up. Working on the exhibition, the elements of mud and concrete started pushing and pulling each other. These elements represent the current state of the river and the area around it. A constant push and pull between development and destruction. Building walls, barriers, bridges and the river yearly swelling up, with mud and garbage, a perfect example of nature versus man. This is not to give a bad look on city developments, but to give attention to another problem.


We often miss the state of the nearby mountains. Trees pulled out of its roots and minerals dug from the ground. Men pushing nature, unaware that nature could push back too. Metal beams, gigantic concrete posts, enormous walls, waves of sludge, blobs of mud, these are what composed the current portrait of Marikit-Na.


The state of the river is constantly changing and the artist feels the importance of documenting and creating works from it but he also hopes that these will serve as historical and cultural preservations. What started out as a rough documentation of his life around Marikina River might become a lifelong project.


Natasha Esguerra