The Filipino root word agam captures the human condition in the new realities of rising seas and stronger storms. But a question we all ask is, can we look to the future with something other than foreboding?
Embracing uncertainty, spontaneity, and fierce compassion, Agam confronts the havoc that society feeds by sowing narratives in the social debris.
Uncertainty and Chance: How Agam Works
Agam is as much about what we don’t know as it is about what we think we know.
The work of bringing Agam into the world begins with only one certainty: for people to engage with new, precarious realities, we need to talk with people rather than at them. For this, we need art, both image and words, to share felt fear but also to affirm that the world referred to in all the chatter, is our world.
In 2014, Regina Abuyuan, Honorio de Dios, and Renato Redentor Constantino set to work putting together a Filipino literary anthology that would do just that. The Agam team distributed images from Filipino photojournalist Jose Felipe Soriano to some 30 writers to use as prompt. The writers were given a list of prohibited words: climate change jargon and buzzwords that they were not allowed to use in their contributions. Until the very end of this process, the outcome was unknown and unpredictable.
The result is Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change, a powerful collection of 24 narratives and 26 images, using eight Philippine languages and unique literary forms such as the su’al maka jawab.
The people who, outside the world of experts, thought about climate and worried about it, welcomed the book. In it, diverse readers saw themselves and each other, and the beginnings of new ways of speaking and communicating the changes afoot. Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change garnered three Philippine book awards: A National Book Award for Best Anthology, and two Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) Awards for Design and English Literature respectively.
Now we embark on a new, Agam International journey on three continents, with diverse voices, images, words, and collaborative creation.
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