Part III: Rally at "Artist Interaction" in Ayutthaya
on the links to view photos!
1/ EVENT #3: RALLY AT "ARTIST INTERACTION" IN AYUTTHAYA
Early in the morning of August 3rd, the youth hopped on a bus and headed towards the historic city of Ayutthaya, an hour away from Bangkok. According to reliable sources, Philip Morris would be hosting an Artists Interaction within the citys historic ruins. We planned to have a presence at the event by rallying outside of it. On our way to Ayutthaya, however, we were informed that the artists would in fact be processing by elephant to the event! As luck would have it, our bus arrived at the elephant mounting location just behind the buses transporting the artists, Philip Morris employees, and journalists. An ASEAN Art Awards billboard, a troupe of Thai dancers, and a row of elephants were there to greet us.
elephants sported large ASEAN Art award logos on their foreheads
Apart from the tobacco control advocates who tagged along, the procession was made up of roughly 1/3 artists, 1/3 journalists, and 1/3 Philip Morris employees from throughout South East Asia. Conveniently, they were all wearing ASEAN Art Award badges that clearly identified the country they were from and whether they were an Artist, Journalist, or Philip Morris employee.
donned their grim reaper costumes, unfurled their banners, grabbed their
signs, and rushed to join the procession. Photos: 1,
of the Virginia-based tobacco company Licensed to Kill
was seen enthusiastically greeting Philip Morris executives from throughout
region, praising them for excellence in the art of selling death,
and inquiring whether Licensed to Kill might be able to co-sponsor the
ASEAN Art Awards next time around.
we reached the final destination for the elephants, where one
of the grim reapers posed next to the Artist Interaction welcome
sign. The theme this year? "Ancient roots; modern bridges."
The youth spread out near an entrance to a pavilion that Philip Morris organizers instructed us we could not pass without a badge
But there was a huge expanse and not enough Philip Morris employees to block us from coming through. Dr. Hatai announced defiantly to the visibly frustrated coordinator of public relations for Philip Morris (Thailand) that the top public health official of Ayutthaya was with us and the company could not stop us from proceeding further.
artists were greeted at the entrance to the Historic ruins by two rows
of Thai drummers
they couldnt stop us from entering through a different gate,
particularly since the area they were trying to prevent us from entering
is open to the public!
artists were sitting under a large canopy, listening to various speeches.
The governor of Ayutthaya, who had been invited to attend, was not present
presumably in response to a letter sent to him by the Thai Health
Promotion Institute which strongly discouraging him from attending.
It was a
hot and sticky day. The Philip Morris organizers - perhaps realizing that
they couldnt get rid of us and wanting to further emphasize the
companys generosity for the journalists present brought
cases of cold water over to the rally participants. At the same time,
they tried to give us misinformation about how long the event would be
4th, the ASEAN Art Awards ceremony was held at the Shangri La Hotel in
is a Bangkok Post article about ceremony (features photo of the Grand
also did a story on one of the Jurors Prize winners from Vietnam. His
painting, which features mass death, a grim reaper, and a man holding
lots of cash, makes a statement against drugs -- somewhat ironic, given
the main sponsor of the awards! Check
out the story and a photo of the painting
An article on the Artist Interaction in the Straits Times Interactive (Malaysia) reported on the rally in Ayutthaya:
What Philip Morris executives said privately about the youth rally is what we'd really like to know!
The events around the ASEAN Art Awards represented a true cross-border collaboration. A special thanks to Thai Health Promotion Institute for making the events possible and to all the Thai youth who came out for them. Special thanks are also due to the following individuals who contributed time and energy to the events:
THAILAND: Hatai Chitanondh, Lakkhana Termsirikunchai, Naowarut Charoenca, Nithat Sirichotiratana, Rohman Taowato, Steve Hamann, Pronvimol Kularach, Sukulya Suchan, Jaruek Chairak, Thitinob Gomolnimi, Juthimarch Suksai, and many others!
U.S.: Andrew Dahlgren, Chris Blitz, Kara Johnson, Ken Dahlgren, Kristina Dahlgren, Travis Muntz, Nicole Sutton
SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS: Thai Health Promotion Institute, Essential Action (US), Reality Check (US)