A Filipino artist has painted 35,000 dolphins across the Philippines. AG Sano, an environmental and artist activist undertook these paintings after watching ‘The Cove’ and became so overcome with emotion that he quit his job and dedicated his time to protecting these dolphins by painting one wall at a time.
Sano said of ‘The Cove’:
“I could not sleep after seeing ‘The Cove’ because of the images we saw. I tapped into the emotions flowing the next morning, looked for spare paint, asked a friend if I could paint his wall and he said yes”
Images of Sano’s work were posted on Facebook, and a stranger rang Sano offering his house as a canvas and this is when the campaign was born! Soon invitations flooded in and Sano travelled across the country to paint the images of dolphins, as curiosity grew so did peoples participation.
“Everyone who walked by – whether policeman, businessman, politicians, street cleaners – would stop, watch for a while and then start asking questions. I would explain my advocacy, offer them a paintbrush, and soon they would start helping me”
A year later and this awareness campaign has lead to 35,000 dolphins painted on more than 200 walls with more than 25,000 volunteers. Ric O’Barry made a visit in 2012 and painted a dolphin with Sano, Sano said at the time of O’Barry’s visit:
“Having him here to support the local campaign against captivity with the intention of bringing the issue to the international arena is the most important thing that has happened to our advocacy. Once his brush touches the wall I shall call him our MVP – most valuable painter.”
Sano credits British graffiti-artist Banksy as an influence. Banksy also uses public art as a way of sharing his ideas.
“Painting dolphins on public walls to raise awareness was an instinct based on his influence. To meet one’s hero would be awesome. To paint a dolphin with him in the streets of London would be out of this world!”
The artists’ original idea was to paint one dolphin for each of the 23,000 dolphins killed at Taiji, Japan. However, he was asked by the department of natural resources to create the Philippines’ longest wildlife mural, a project designed to raise awareness for the need to protect the world’s oceans. In May 2012, 1000 volunteers joined Santo to paint a 1075m long ‘Biodiversity Wall of Nature’ in Quezon city, showcasing over 200 species of marine and mammal life in the Philippines.
AG Sano still continues to paint murals wherever requested. However, he now concentrates on ending captivity of dolphins in the Philippines, many of whom are believed to have come from Taiji.