The silhouette of a dead soldier hanging from a telecommunications tower after he was shot by a sniper was the first memorable image I saw on TV. It was the People’s Power Revolution. I was 9 years old, and the only thing that I was concerned about was the story behind the picture. While I heard a voiceover reporting the news, I still thought the story was incomplete. So I imagined scenarios of what could be behind the picture I just saw. Most of all, I wanted to play a part in the telling of that tale.
This curious desire to tell stories I inherited from my mother, Glory, who taught me the power of communicating with words, sound, and pictures. Every night, packed like sardines in the small room of our apartment in Dumaguete, we would listen to her tell of her experiences as an activist, masked as bedtime tales, of the Martial Law years. Mornings, she taught us how to draw and paint with watercolors, and encouraged us to create our own illustrated storybooks. These stories we adapted as scripts for Sunday presentations on a makeshift stage inside our apartment with our parents as audience.
Those memories of my childhood are what drive me to practice storytelling in various ways, and most of all, to study the dimensions and possibilities it can offer. If Steven Pinker opines that our lives can be a narrative, then storytelling is my leitmotif, which is why I sought to come up with Stories Beyond platform.
Over the years, I have learned not to take the power of story for granted. Reynolds Price said it well: “A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens–second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day’s events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths.”
If we were to consider dictators as psychopaths then the constructs that shape their narratives should be seen as equally powerful as our own narratives. Let us use story to subvert the spectacles that rock our lives. Turn our backs at the siege of soldiers planning to break our protests (metaphorically speaking) and win the battle of the story.
It is also important that we continuously take into account how alternative storytelling can inform, inspire and influence communities. In an increasingly mediated world, it is a challenge for storytellers and media practitioners to also problematize the ways we clarify, intensify, and interpret reality in the media. More than ever, the power of storytelling through pictures, words, and sound still holds to this day, just like the way the image of that soldier on TV was etched in my mind forever.