Toym Imao: Voltes V and Martial Law

toym imao

Posted by Toym Imao on Facebook:
When the evil forces of Historical Revisionists invade social media with the intent of infecting the Filipino People with a plague of amnesia and ignorance armed with deadly Brain Washing Blasters and Cluster Bombs of Lies, It is time to pull out the "Sword of Heaven" aka "Lazer Sword" and strike down those who threaten our sense of decency, common sense and pursuit of justice for all those who were wronged in the past. LETS VOLT IN!!! (Photo by Albert Labrador)

Photos and article excerpts about this installation art are from Manila Times, Interaksyon, and


According to the artist, he pulled the idea of the carroza from his childhood memories of processions during the Holy Week.

“It also plays around the idea of something put into a pedestal,” Imao further explained as he gave a brief guided tour at the exhibit’s launch this week.

On this pedestal is an assemblage of figures that contributed greatly to Marcos’ rise to power. It features an effigy of the dictator’s head with the Malacañang Palace atop it, and the Batasang Pambansa and Bataan Nuclear Power Plant along the sides. Also on top of the former president’s head is San Miguel, protected by the Voltes V armor, brandishing a sword to show the effects of Martial Law through the lines of riot police below.

Along the bottom of the carroza are images of Voltes V’s villains, characters from Planet Boazania that tried to conquer Earth. It is symbolic of how the military tried to control the freedom of Filipinos in the past. Finally, the Latin words “Nunquam Rursus” are written at the top of the installation, to mean “Never Again.”

The 13-feet installation took Imao about a year to complete. Due to budget constraints, the artist had to work alternately between commissioned projects and the completion of “Last, Lost, Lust”. He employed two extra pairs of hands at a time for the first version of the carroza, while it took another dozen helpers to put the this upgraded and updated version together,

As iconic as Voltes V may have been during his time, Imao recognizes the fact that today’s generation may not be too familiar with the ‘70s Japanese animated series, and in the same vein, what took place during Martial Law. He also lamented revisionist statements on Facebook where the younger generation is made to believe that the Marcos’ dictatorship had actually been “the golden age of Philippine history.”

Nevertheless, it is Imao’s hope that his installation will “generate questions” among the youth that will compel them to uncover the truth behind the darkest period of the Marcos regime.

“That martial law is a machine that invades our normal lives,” he concluded.

(Toym Imao, ‘Voltes V’ and the ills of Martial Law, Manila Times)

toymimao voltes

A large-standing installation compels people walking around Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Streets to step back and take a glance. The installation at the front of Ayala Museum made of brass, galvanized iron, and fiberglass stands at 396.2 cm high or around 13 feet, and is composed of imageries of Martial Law, referenced from the popular Japanese mecha anime series, Voltes V.

Created by multimedia visual artist Toym Imao, the artwork entitled “Last, Lost, Lust for Four Forgotten Episodes,” the carroza-like installation is a reflection of his ire when the last four episodes of Voltes V were cut off from broadcast by the Philippine government in the 1970s due to its alleged “excessive violence.”

“I wanted to do something that is whimsical on the outside but as we go through the details of the particular work, there are a lot of imagery embedded,” shared Imao, during the press launch of Ayala Museum’s newest outdoor gallery, the Open Space, where his work is first featured work.

“The humble goal of this work is to generate questions and inquiry; to encourage discussion. It doesn’t seek to represent an entire history but rather for a number of people to be curious about, or happen to experience this particular event.  It starts a conversation between a child and his parent, a child and his uncle, a friend, a lolo, or a kuya,” he added.

Imao explained that the installation is set on a carroza or carriage transporting religious icons during a parade—a spectacle that amazed him when he was a child. Seeing this image during Holy Weeks, he incorporated the carroza in his installation and used it as a pedestal for his work.

He represented former president Ferdinand Marcos as Prince Zardoz of Boazania, the main antagonist of the mecha series iconically known having a horn. At the back of the Marcos’ image was a representation of Malacanan Palace. Surrounding his image were also institutions like the Bataan Nuclear Powerplant, and Cultural Center of the Philippines—”institutions, that have been appropriated by the state to propel certain programs and interest that is perceived with the concept of new society  of the former president,” as expressed by the artist.

Imao also incorporated the image of the San Miguel bottle art, where Archangel Michael is depicted donning a costume reminiscent of Voltes V’s armor. Paying homage to the original artist of the bottle art, Fernando Amorsolo, this scene also depicts the classic battle between good and evil.

Hovering above Archangel Michael’s image is a latin phrase that reads, “nunquam tursus,” which translates to “Never Again.”

The installation used galvanized iron, a metaphor to the “iron fist” implemented during that period. Imao shared, “The entire motif is in a very distressed iron as visual metaphor of the iron fist implemented that time.”

First lady Imelda Marcos is also depicted at the back of the carroza as Zandra, the love interest of Prince Zardoz.

Having a rich imagery in his installation, Imao still plans to add more specific details throughout the duration of the exhibit at Open Space, which is six weeks. Imao plans to do this for the people to see that the work is “growing.”

(Memory and anger rekindled in Toym Imao’s installation art on Voltes V and Martial Law, Interaksyon)