Kalapati Retrograde is Making

Social Changes Happen Through

Their Progressive Art

by Maria Romero, June 20, 2019 4:10pm

Art by Dani Elevazo


Kalapati Retrograde is Making Social Changes Happen Through Their Progressive Art

by Maria Romero, June 20, 2019 4:10pm
Art by Dani Elevazo

The statement “Print is dead!” plays like a broken record in this digital age. But truth be told, print is never dead—nor will it ever die. It is thriving and is continuing to evolve in modernized forms. For instance, newspapers and magazines transformed into online news and magazine sites. Print and online media now co-exist to serve a generation of readers who cannot have their phones away from them. But zines, a longstanding print medium, remains strong in the print landscape despite the challenges toppling it down like the advent of online publishing.

Short for magazines, zines are usually about topics mainstream media is too skeptical to touch. Any person or organization who aspires to call into attention their advocacies can utilize a zine’s power to promote social change. And this is what exactlyKalapati Retrograde, a Manila-based collective of writers and artists, does to promote their advocacies.

Writing for the people

Established in 2017, Kalapati Retrograde aims to explore the possibilities of independent publishing and creative expressions through zines. Although a small collective with a relatively small network, they are still eager to explore the possibilities of how zines can become an inclusive form of liberation.

Kalapati Retrograde wants to give a spotlight on the underappreciated art of zine-making while breaking barriers to tell true stories. More than anything, they want to use the power of art to uphold freedom and power. Two years in making their advocacies be heard, Kalapati Retrograde has released six zines available online.

After Orgy Zine. Photo by Dani Elevazo/Inside Manila


Each zine is their response to an idea, theory, literary form, and movement. They have published zines like Retrocore Sadwave, a collection of short memoirs with the sole intention to tell personal stories. Another release is called After Orgy, a zine inspired by “all we can do is simulate the orgy”—a line from Jean Baudrillard’s essay The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena.

Currently, the group is working on the proper logistics of producing multiple zines at once.

Keeping the tide of Philippine’s political climate at bay

On April 26, they released their latest project, Self-Care: reflections by women, a collection of writings and artworks of women that explore and recount their own personal struggles in taking care of themselves. Kalapati Retrograde’s Self-Care zineis the group's effort to counteract with the current political climate that enables a culture of macho-fascism under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration that oppresses women.

Self-Care starts the conversation on how the notions of "self" and "care" are not static and are bound by an array of socio-political factors and fundamentally, by class struggle. It also highlights the stories of urban poor women of Sitio San Roque in Quezon City who are currently facing threats of demolitions and displacement—a proof that women aren’t just the light of the home but the face of a community, too. The zine’s concept was prompted by an invitation for UP Writer Club’sLit UP, a bi-annual small press expo with women’s voices through art as the theme.

Kalapati Retrograde reached out to the San Roque community to hear and document the stories of the women of the urban poor and how they confront these struggles. Through the Self-Care zine, the group vowed to fight for the urban poor’s “Community Development Plan,” which will assert their right to the city. Proceeds for the Self-care zine will go to the campaign fronted by the Save San Roque Alliance.

Self-Care Zine. Photo by Dani Elevazo/Inside Manila


Serve the people; write for the people

Some prints may run ads and some markets dictate the content but Kalapati Retrograde is breaking the machination and gatekeeping that exist in mainstream Philippine literature. The group works independently to expand their reach and make their zines accessible to everyone.

As the collective continues to plan and conceptualize ideas to produce more zines, they are openly extending their support to organization, events, and movements that fight the long struggle for the liberation of poor people, workers, women, and everyone under the oppressive force of our state—by using their current medium, no less. With this, they remain open to collaborate with artists across all sectors to help this cause.

Print media is here to stay

Now, the once underappreciated form of writing and art has become a powerful weapon to start social changes and it’s more resilient now more than ever. With zine festivals like “Better Living Through Xeroxography” (BLTX) and “Munzinelupa” and publications like Kalapati Retrograde, these small published works are shaking the mainstream media—Zines are now dominating force where different disciplines can exist in the same space.

Kalapati Retrograde writes so that people would have something to read and to be inspired by. And despite print media experiencing a decline in readership, zines continue to strive and revisit its roots, where write-ups and arts are recognized for what they are for and not by its worth in peso. This progressive group of writers and creatives expresses their art independently with hopes of leaving lasting social changes.

Kalapati Retrograde may be small but it does the big work of making significant social changes. They use the power of arts and imagination to overthrow class struggles, fascism, and oppression. With only their passion and nationalistic hearts, what Kalapati Retrograde does is crucial in making transformative revolutions—something our crumbling country needs to get out of its bleak state.


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