Books & Art

Garapata Art Reveals the Funny and Weird Things Filipinos Do During Lockdown

Artist Dex Fernandez turns the lockdown stories of Filipinos into a lighthearted comic strip series.
IMAGE Dexter Fernandez
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Like many in the country, artist Dex Fernandez has been spending his days indoors, keeping tabs on the latest COVID-19 news on the radio, Internet, and social media, and maybe going a little stir crazy.

“It's sad to hear and see how our country's status is getting worse every day,” says Fernandez, “but it's very inspiring [to know] how our frontliners are doing their best to help save our fellow Pinoys [in] this health crisis.”

Moved by the heroes doing life-saving work, the artist wanted to help, as well, and the best way he knew how was through his many-legged friends. Last Saturday, the creative, who is known for the alienesque garapata art you see on bags, stickers, and walls, took to social media and asked people to share their quarantine stories, which he promised to turn into a comic strip.

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“As an artist, I have to do my role in our community. I want to contribute in my own small way—as small as a garapata,” says Fernandez. By sharing the lockdown experiences of Filipinos in his signature arachnid style, he hopes to add a bit of sunshine to uncertain days.

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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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“It's like saying, ‘Come on, we're having a hard time now, but cheer up, people. Check out these humorous stories and see how really witty we can be in midst of this crisis,’” he adds.

And so there is the garapata cashier who has to deal with garapata hoarders in the supermarket, the garapata mom who peeled off the labels of canned goods so that family meals will be a surprise, and our favorite, the garapata pretending to be on the beach by watching the ocean on TV. 

Can you relate to any of these?

Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.

Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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Fernandez uses his Microsoft Surface to bring the stories to life, enhancing the funny and weird anecdotes but making sure “not to ruin the essence,” and then posts the finished works on his social media channels.

“It takes a while to think how the visual will look like, but when I have it, the visual art is super fast to draw,” explains the artist, who also points out how he’s keeping the sources of the stories a secret right now, but will eventually credit them at the end of the project.

Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.

When asked how he is faring during the quarantine, Fernandez shares his story is not as funny as his lockdown art. The artist is currently alone in his apartment, trying to fill the long days with things to do much like everyone else.

Aside from the comic strip project, he paints on canvases while listening to podcasts. He also watches films and documentaries to clear his mind, works on becoming more healthy, and plans to organize his stuff in the apartment (“but so far I am still too lazy to start that clean-up project”).

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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.

Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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“During this experience, I am trying to be helpful, considerate, and remain environmentally aware, Fernandez adds. “Since I'm living alone in my apartment with no reason to go outside, the whole time I am just wearing underwear. This helps me save water and soap by limiting the clothes I need to wash.”

That may be a good comic strip idea, too.

For now, as we wait for this madness to end, Fernandez will continue the garapata comic strip project, reminding us to smile and not let sorrow win.

Photo by Dexter Fernandez.
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Photo by Dexter Fernandez.

See more of his work on Instagram and Facebook

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About The Author
Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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