Artists portray “Bayaning Inday”

Published March 16, 2019, 11:56 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Hanah Tabios

Classic Filipino films have used the overrated name Inday as movie titles for decades. In fact, veteran actress Maricel Soriano has long proven herself as the actress fit for portraying some famous roles in fantasy-comedy films such as Inday Bote in 1985, Inday-Inday sa Balitaw in 1986, and Super Inday and the Golden Bibe in 1988. These stories have introduced the lead character as the innocent barrio lass who later turned into a superhero.


“This [is] the iconic way of calling the women there [in Visayas]…not the kaluoy Inday, not the kawawa Inday house made, house help, or domestic helper but the Inday as a very resilient [woman] who knows how to survive, who is very empowered, who makes decision from herself, and who is actually a winner—a bayani in their own right,” said Rosa Zerrudo, a multi-media artist currently teaching Fine Arts at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.

Zerrudo is the curator and lead artist of Bayaning Inday, a traveling collaborative art exhibit displayed at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) gallery in Intramuros, Manila this Women’s Month until April 3.

It was a product of Zerrudo’s four-year brainchild Hilway Art Project, a social justice-based art practice employing the female inmates of the Iloilo City District Jail Female Dormitory through a series of handmade art such as knitting, bead working, cross-stitching, among others.

“I found out that there were 237 women in 700% congestion in this prison supposed to be only for 30 women. But they are 237. It’s like one of the worst in the world,” she said while narrating the situation at the jail facility.


These artists behind this masterpiece were all incarcerated women aged 18 to 69 years old. Almost 95% of these individuals are facing drug-related charges for committing violations prohibited by the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Despite living behind bars, they were constantly providing financial support to their families primarily to their children.

“This is the ironic part that these women are incarcerated for two to three, ten years. In some situations, they’re just on trial. All these women are on trial sa holding cell. So to live in this kind of congested space, maybe two- three weeks fine but if you’re talking of trial for six years, two years, this is unthinkable,” Zerrudo explained in mere disbelief.

Inday Dolls as art pieces

The exhibit highlights Inday Dolls intricately made out of fabric. Like the world-famous Barbie dolls, it has also traveled across the country and even abroad, but the designs were made in such a way that it mirrored their lives.

“This particular inverted triangle you would notice, you have this one particular woman that already have a generation on top of her shoulder. So that particular woman, the loss of that potential is the loss of the generation,” she said referring to the Inday dolls displayed at the leftmost corner of the gallery.


The piece highlights the potentials of a woman capable of being the prime mover of society. According to Zerrudo, dolls in colors black, red, and pastel conveys a powerful message that even during their darkest times, they were able to recreate and reinvent their lives.

In fact, Inday dolls in pastel colors were crafted by their children.

“When they visit, they teach them. They tell the narratives about their mothers, their sisters in prison,” she added.

The rag portraits, on the other hand, originated from handwritten reflection papers and later turned into graphic images transformed by her student volunteers.

“My students put it together into a graphic design; brought it back with them and so okay is this what you want? Is this what you like? And then, let’s do it,” she said.

The portraits were made out of strips of cloth and tightly tied in frames.

Other art works include the Inday Badiday in Terno which hopes to explore potentials of Visayan fabric; Hilway and Inday Borda tapestries; beaded hammock; and Hugot sa Punda, a binded book made from upcycled pillowcase with heart-warming messages from the inmates.

Despite space and time constraints, Zerrudo is proud that these women deprived with liberty were able to showcase their skills and discover their individual talents while earnestly waiting for their release.