Emulate the Late Papo: Artist, Activist, Revolutionary

Habi Arts Statement Commemorating Papo de Asis’ 5th Year Death Anniversary

Habi Arts joins our Filipino compatriots, friends, and supporters in commemorating the life and works of one of our organization’s founders, Danilo “Papo” de Asis. He passed away five years ago today, after wholeheartedly serving the people in the Philippines and here in the United States for many years. Even after half a decade, his legacy has remained alive in the hearts and minds of those whom his memory continues to teach and inspire.

Papo was a well-known artist, but foremost, an activist and revolutionary. As early as 1973, Papo was already in the midst of the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. He was active in Sining Bayan, a group of artists who propagated patriotic and progressive art. Afterwards, he also became involved in NPAA or Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artists-Arkitekto (United Progressive Artists-Architects), Mabini Artists, and other artist groups fighting for social change in the Philippines. In 1990, he immigrated to the US and continued his involvement in the community.

Papo was instrumental in leading and developing various organizations in Southern California. He worked with various sectors: workers, youth and students, cultural workers and artists. In 1986, he founded the group People’s Artists, which created artwork that spoke to the issues faced by Filipinos in the Philippines, Filipino immigrants, Filipino Americans, and other oppressed and exploited peoples in the US. In 2003, along with other concerned artists, he founded Habi Ng Kalinangan or Habi Arts.

Throughout his life in the US, Papo worked with many people and a multitude of organizations. The one lesson that he imparted to all of them, by example, is his commitment to genuine social change and service to the masses. Particularly in Habi Arts, he had instilled the importance of educating, organizing, and mobilizing the broad masses of Filipino compatriots, allies, and other oppressed peoples around human rights, immigrants’ issues, basic civil rights and welfare, and linking those issues to the basic problems of the Philippines—foreign intervention, landlessness, and corruption (also referred to as imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism).

As an immigrant himself, he understood and had compassion for those who had just arrived from the Philippines and from any country. He fought against Proposition 187 (an anti-immigrant initiative prohibiting access to public services) and supported justice for immigrant campaigns. He understood that the issues faced by Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the US are inextricably connected with the issues faced by his people back home. Thus, he also propagated and organized around Philippine issues such as state violence, repression, corruption, and economic devastation. He condemned human rights violations in the Philippines, and called for genuine independence and democracy in Philippine society. Until his death, Papo poured his heart and soul into working towards a better and brighter world.

In commemorating the fifth anniversary of Papo’s death, we do so not with tears in our eyes and grief in our hearts, but with fists raised high and a united determination to surge forward in the struggle to which Papo had dedicated his life.

Habi Arts calls on all progressive artists, Filipino immigrants, Filipino Americans, and other oppressed peoples to celebrate and learn lessons from the life and struggle of Papo de Asis. Let us emulate his commitment to social justice. Let us take the side of the immigrants, the victims of human rights violations, the workers and peasant masses. Let us take the side of the oppressed and exploited—just as Papo had done.

Long live Papo de Asis!
Justice for victims of human rights violations in the Philippines!
Justice for immigrants in the US!
Onward with the struggle for genuine independence and democracy in the Philippines!
Long live the Filipino people!

Related Pages:
In Memory of Papo de Asis
Papo de Asis Gallery

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