In Memory of Papo de Asis

In memory of Papo de Asis

December 16, 1949 – January 8, 2005

Brief Bio

Papo de Asis was born on December 16, 1949 in the small town of Dumangas, Iloilo, Philippines. He has been creating socially conscious artwork since the 1970s. When Martial Law was declared in the Philippines in 1972 during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, his art took on a much deeper, political meaning and the artist became an artist/activist.

In 1975, Papo together with fourteen other artists formed a social realist group called Kaisahan (Unity). Until the day Marcos fled the country ten years later, the group painted murals protesting the dictatorship and helped strengthen the alliance with workers and peasants using creative efforts. All this transformed Papo to paint new subject matter, vividly portraying the ongoing injustices such as military atrocities, salvaging and rampant human rights violations.

When Papo immigrated to the United States in 1990, he continued to be active in the artist and activist community. He has led many art workshops and contributed numerous murals and banners for demonstrations, conferences and political forums. His art became well-known amongst both artists and social justice activists throughout the U.S. He was one of the founding members of People’s Artist in 1996 and participated in many community-based activities and artist workshops. In the past couple of years, he founded Habi Ng Kalinangan (also known as Habi Arts), a collective of artists in Los Angeles committed to political and artistic empowerment for progressive social change.

Papo is known world-wide for his artwork and has received numerous awards. He has participated in various solo and group art exhibitions in the Philippines, France, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Australia, Korea and the United States (See Curriculum Vitae). His paintings are in the collections of the Philippine National Museum in Manila and in various private collections in the United States, especially in Los Angeles. He recently was elected as Vice President of Lantern of the East, Los Angeles (LELA).

Papo died of a massive stroke on January 8, 2005. In the United States, he is survived by his fiancée, his son and daughters.

To submit statements, stories, and/or pictures, please email All submissions will be compiled and forwarded to Papo’s family. Your emailed submissions may be posted to this site unless given instructions not to do so.

Extensive Bio

A life, artistic… political… cultural…

Ang mahaba at maikling buhay pampulitika at pansining ni
Papo, isang kaibigan, kapatid at kasamang tunay!

Danilo “Papo” de Asis (born December 16, 1949 and died January 8, 2005)
Son of Nicholas de Asis and Manuela Hubbero of Dumangas, Iloilo, Philippines

Papo was an engineering student in his home province of Iloilo. He believed that engineering will improve his family’s life but his artistic inclination made him sneak aboard a ship going to Manila and he landed among the artists in Mabini Street. In those times, days in the city were in turmoil. The heat of student activism made him think and he answered to the call of the times.

Papo was one of the first artists in Mabini Street organized when Sining Bayan (People’s Art) was reestablished during the early part of Martial Law. Sining Bayan is a group of patriotic artists formed before Martial Law was declared in 1972. The group was connected to the group based in Los Banos, Southern Tagalog (ST). The group held regular meetings and discussions on the political, economic and cultural situation.

He was one of the founders of Kaisahan (Unity), a group of nationalist artists from schools and out-of-school youth. They were able to exhibit social realist artworks in different art galleries. Papo held intensive studies in social movements and political and economic theories. He and one of the artists tried to revive the NPAA or Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artists-Arkitekto (United Progressive Artists-Architects) another nationalist group of artists before Martial Law. Papo continued to work and organize among the Mabini artists.

He helped through his skills in visual arts in the District 4 area of the Manila-Rizal region. He was contacted by an artist comrade from Tondo who also had a special task in printing press. He became an artist staff of Liberation, the official newsletter of the National Democratic Front (NDF). He also helped in the formation of an artists mass organization.

He led the formation of Mabini artists in several Universities in Manila. He was instrumental in the formation of alliance of artists from out of school and fine arts students from UST, UP, UE, FEATI, Mabini Group and individual artists. Through this alliance a group of muralists, streamers and banners were maintained.

Papo immigrated to the US.

Together with about 50 members of Teatro ng Tanan, a community-based theatre group in San Francisco, created 14 giant puppets and paraded along Market Street for the Philippine Independence Day Parade.

One of the founding members of People’s Artists, a Los Angeles-based organization of progressive and nationalist artists. Papo led the People’s Artists in painting murals depicting significant events in Philippine history and exhibited in several venues in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Papo led the People’s Artists L.A. in collaborating with the Philippine Forum of New York City in creating nine giant puppets or “higantes” to march along Madison Avenue in New York City. More than 80 members of the community joined together in a three-week production of the giant puppets at the Brecht Forum.

1999 (March)
Papo was a speaker at the Filipino Inter-Collegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND) Spring Conference (“Where Do We Go From Here?”) at Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts. He also led and facilitated a mural-making workshop with the FIND delegates. The completed mural was unfurled at the closing ceremonies of the weekend-long conference.

1999 (April to June)
Papo was one of the lead artists and organizers for “Art of Resistance”, a ten-week art exhibition in New York City organized by the Philippine Forum. This was held at the Puffin Room in SoHo, New York City. He was instrumental in bringing together 43 social realist painters, sculptors and multimedia artists from the Philippines and the United States.

In Southern California, Papo was instrumental in strengthening many mass organizations by working with workers, youth and students, cultural workers and artists.

He has led many art workshops and contributed numerous murals and banners for demonstrations, conferences and political forums. His art became well-known amongst both artists and social justice activists throughout the U.S.

He was the founder of Habi Ng Kalinangan or Habi Arts in Los Angeles, a collective of multimedia artists whose mission is to promote artistic and political empowerment for progressive social change. Papo’s works can be viewed in Habi Art’s website at

As part of Habi Arts, Papo was one of the organizers of two film showings held in Los Angeles, the “Echoes of Bullets,” about the current human rights violations in the Philippines; and “The Enemy,” about the unequal and dominant relationship of the United States with the Philippines.

Papo had a stroke on the early morning of January 8, 2005. His body was cremated on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at Rosehills. Papo is survived by his fiancée, son and daughters.

Curriculum Vitae


1993 Fifth One Man Show, “New Works” – Anastasia Asylum, Santa Monica, CA
1992 Fourth One-Man Show Onyx Cafe & Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Third One-Man Show, Philippine Center, New York
1990 Two Man Show with Rey Zipagan, Philippine Consulate General, L.A., CA
1983 Second One-Man Show, “Images of the Land” – Gallery Genesis, Philippines
1982 First One-Man Show, “Landscapes” – Rear Room Art Gallery, Philippines
1980 Two-Man Exhibition, Rear Room Gallery, Manila, Philippines

1996 “USC 16th Annual Latino Unity Art Auction” -The Hyatt, Los Angeles, CA
Tatewari Gallery, Sedona, Arizona
” L.A. Art” – Special Event for The California Gift Show, L.A. Convention Center, CA
” Divergent Similarities”, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
” Faces of Reality”, El Pueblo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
” Downtown Lives 96!”, Los Angeles, CA
” Love For Frida”, El Pueblo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1995 “Inner City Arts’ Gala Art Auction” – Century Plaza Hotel, CA
” Rain Forest Benefit Art Auction” – Rain Forest Action Network, CA
” Viva La Raza Juried Art Exhibition” – El Pueblo Gallery, CA
” Brewery Art Walk” – Los Angeles, CA
” Portraits and Impressions” – Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA
” DADA Art Tours” – Los Angeles, CA
” The Pulse of L. A.!” – El Pueblo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1993 “MASA” – International Group Exhibition, El Pueblo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
” The Struggle of Our People” – Galeria Olvera, Los Angeles, CA
” First Los Angeles Bennial Juried Exhibition” – Juror: Henry T. Hopkins, Director of the Armand Hammer Museum, Barndalls Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (Sponsored by Los Angeles Cultural Affairs)
” Art Attack! The Paradox of Reality” – El Pueblo Gallery, CA
” Complex Realities” – Richard Robles Gallery, Whittler, CA
” Transcend AIDS” – Juried Group Exhibition, Me Groarty Art Center, Tujunga, CA
(Sponsored by Los Angeles Cultural Affairs),
” Dia De Los Muertos” – El Pueblo Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
” First Annual Downtown Lived” – Los Angeles, CA
Art Facilitator – Instructor for Mural Workshop for Graffiti Taggers, Sponsored by the City of Baldwin Park, CA

1992 “Alegria!” – El Pueblo Gallery, Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA

1990 Dumangas Artist’s Group, Vargas Museum, UPDiliman, Philippines Invitational Group Show, National Museum, Philippines
” Arte Ethnika” – National Museum, Philippines

1989 “Artists’ Response to the Ecological Time Bomb” – Sining Kalikasan Art Gallery, Ninoy Aquino Park, Q.C., Philippines
Continuation of “Arte Ethnika” – Kalayaan Hall, Malacanang Palace, Philippines
” Ecology” – Philippines Center, San Francisco, California, USA

1988 “Arte Ethnika” – Manila Museum for the Arts, Philippines
” Arte Ethnika” – Manila Museum for the Arts, Philippines
” 1st Diners Club Connoisseurs’ Choice” – Manila, Peninsula

1987 National Museum, Philippines
” Portraits of Beauty” – Intercontinental Hotel, Philippines

1986 Cultural Center of the Philippines
Metropolitan Museum, Philippines
Liongoren Art Gallery, Phillipines
Museum of Philippine Art (MOPA)

1985 International Art Ehibit: “A Tribute to the Worker” – New Manila, Philippines
Art Hall, Pitts Catholic Church, Sydney, Australia
Attended the Christian Youth Conference of Asia in Korea as Art Facilitator
” Hiroshima Gotiburg” – sponsored by International Artist Brigade, Sweden
Group Exhibit Sonolug Building, Munich, West Germany
Mural workshop facilitator participated by German artists Munchen, W. Germany

1984 Represented the Philippines: Japan Afro- Asian Latin American Artist
Association’s International Ehibition, “Third World and Us”
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
National Council of Churches of Japan, Tokyo, Japan
Bunka Center, Osaka City, Japan
Attended the Christian Youth of Asia as Workshop facilitator of mural making, New Delhi, India
Cultural Tour, Shanghai, China and Hongkong

1983 “Dumangas Artists” – Rear Room, Manila Garden, Philippines
” Three Generations” – Garden Gallery, Philippines
” Images of the Filipino” – Gallery Genesis, Philippines

UP Institute of “Social Workers and Community Development”, Philippines
” Tanghal Sining Makabayan” – Arts & Sciences, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

1980 Restorer of Juan Luna’s Paintings (Philippine Art Master) at Heroes Hall, Malacanang Palace under Prof. Antonio Dumlao

1979 – Gold Medal as “Best Entry” – AAP Water Color Competition, Philippines

1975 -1980

KS Art Gallery, Philippines
Hildalgo Gallery, Philippines
Young Artists, Ayala Museum, Philippines
Binhi Artists, National Library, Philippines
AAP Annual Group Exhibition, Philamlife Building, Philippines

Habi Arts Statement

The Habi Arts collective would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Papo de Asis. The passing of Papo due to a stroke on January 8, 2005 marks a great loss of a man who meant so much to his family as well as to the artist and activist communities. As a fiancé, father, brother, friend, artist, social justice activist and community organizer, Papo was an inspiration to all who met him.

Seldom does one encounter a man like Papo with such humor, intelligence, talent, and warmth of heart. He was generous and always humble–always willing to help out. His contributions to the arts is revolutionary both in its content and scope. He combines his skill as an artist with a dedication to speak the truth about conditions of humanity and in the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines.

He used his brush and canvas to express what we could not always do with words. He has dedicated his life to the cause of social justice and for that the people will always be grateful. It is indeed a difficult farewell to a man that has given so much of himself to the world but also for those in the world that have become his family, his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us.

ILPS/INPS Statement

January 12, 2005

To the Beloved Family of Papo de Asis,
His Closest Comrades and Friends
Through Habi-Arts

We share your grief over the passing away of Papo de Asis. We feel a personal sense of loss because we knew Papo as one of the artists most active in the Free Jose Maria Committee in the period of 1982 to 1986, the years of growing mass unrest leading to the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship by the people in 1986.

All of us who have known the political and artistic commitment, work and accomplishments as well as all the exemplary personal qualities of Papo are saddened. But at the same time we are all comforted by the fact that he has left to us and to the entire Filipino people a significant and inspiring body of works. We are glad to know that his family, comrades and friends are starting to consolidate this legacy.

Papo will always be remembered and honored as an outstanding revolutionary cadre and artist who studied Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Philippine society and revolution, who propagated and practised social realism and who contributed to the advance of the new democratic revolution in the Philippines through his artistic works and through his indefatigable efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize the artists and other cultural workers to serve the people.

Papo was ever eager to know better the workers and peasants that he depicted in his works. He either lived with them or he renewed his links with them through visits and serious social investigation. He was able to go to so many places in several regions in the Philippines, where the revolutionary forces and people had grown in strength. He worked for one underground publication after another.

In summing up the life of Papo, it is necessary to have a chronology of his place of work and residence, his artistic works and the major political and artistic organizations and events that he initiated or joined. But to be most interesting and enlightening, it is necessary to show his resoluteness, courage and militancy against terrible forces and tremendous odds and his gentle persuasiveness, humility, style of hard work and helpfulness to comrades and friends.

Certainly, it took extraordinary conviction and bravery for Papo to be a revolutionary activist and artist under conditions of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. He was a real comrade in arms and not a mere fair weather friend. He was not afraid of organizing the Mabini artists and the artists in universities along the national democratic line. He made manifest his position on social reality not only in the relatively cozy art galleries with framed paintings but also in street mass actions with huge murals and gigantic figures.

We are happy to know that wherever Papo was, in the Philippines, in the United States or elsewhere, he was always a revolutionary dedicated to the struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy as well as to that of the people of the world against imperialism and reaction. He looked forward to the eventual victory of the proletariat and people in the struggle for socialism.

Papo de Asis will always live in our hearts and minds and in the struggle of the Filipino people for national and social liberation against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

–Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

–Julieta de Lima
Executive Director
International Network of Philippine Studies

BAYAN USA Statement

BAYAN USA pays tribute to Danilo Hubbero “Papo” de Asis–people’s artist, revolutionary, and kasama in the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines.

Born on December 16, 1949, in Dumangas, Iloilo, Philippines, Papo’s service to the people began in the 1970s when he joined the group Sining Bayan (People’s Art) during the early days of Martial Law. In 1975, he became a founder of Kaisahan (Unity), a group of young nationalist artists who portrayed the movement for national liberation through primarily social realist paintings and other artwork exhibited in different art galleries.

In the early 1980s, he organized among the Mabini artists and was instrumental in the formation of an alliance of artists including fine arts students from UST, UP, UE, FEATI, as well as other artists.

When he immigrated to the U.S. in 1990, Papo continued fighting for the cause of the Filipino people. He helped to form collectives of people’s artists committed to promoting the struggle against imperialism and for national liberation, democracy, and social liberation. His participation in dozens of exhibits worldwide such as “Tribute to the Worker,” “MASA,” “The Struggle of Our People,” and “Third World and Us” demonstrated his commitment to wielding art as a tool in this struggle. He also contributed numerous murals and banners for demonstrations, conferences and political forums and his art became well-known among social justice activists throughout the U.S. Most recently, Papo was the founder of Habi Arts or Habi ng Kalinangan and the Vice President of Tulong Sa Bayan, all based in Los Angeles.

May Papo live on in our collective memory as one of those artists who remained true and faithful to the cause of the Filipino people, and may his dedication to the struggle inspire artists and organizers to continue fighting for the liberation of all people from the grips of imperialism.

MIGRANTE Europe Statement


It’s not the manner of death
That makes someone a hero.
It is the meaning drawn
From the struggles against the foe.

There is the hero who dies in the battlefield,
There is the hero who dies of hunger and disease,
There is the hero who dies of some accident,
There is the hero who dies of old age.

Whatever is the manner of death,
There is a common denominator
A hero serves the people
To his very last breath.

(from Prison and Beyond by Jose Maria Sison, 10 December 1977)

Nagpapaabot ang MIGRANTE Europe ng pakikiramay sa mga mahal sa buhay, kaibigan, kapanalig at kasama ng yumaong PAPO DE ASIS.

Other Memorial Links
Olvera Street

Artist Statement
November 28, 1992


It would be very difficult for an artist to probe into the depths of his soul and psyche, when the machination of half of his brain was forced into subjugation by the western colonial masters…the other half laid to a pitiful state of lethargy by “cultural amnesia.”

Yet the need to express what to us is a constant source of torment and suffering remains a very painful necessity.

For me, to express is to be free. For freedom is a fundamental element of life, art an expression, a tool to realize freedom.

My art is my way of exposing the kind of suppression that had been employed by not only the historical imperialistic conquerors, but also the ever-emerging oligarchs and the corrupt social classes they spawned. They presently dominate the state-political-economic power.

Hence, my paintings yearn to be the anguished expression of a people long denied of justice and equality.

The convoluted reality of my historical past wrote the scenario to my present sources of sorrow.

The muffled whimper of a frightened baby whose father was abducted by a para-military unit, the deseperados. The torture of political detainees. The massacre (“salvaging”) of the farmers and workers—both the innocent victims and those who worked for change.

I hear their “cry in the wilderness.” I feel responsible in portraying how they were dehumanized. Precious lives cheapened by brutality. Barbarism.

A play of colors, textures. The drama of lights and shadows. I let a certain feeling flow to my audience. Open their hearts and mind to the injustice of justice-Philippine-style.

The composition usually depicts contradiction. Juxtaposition. Cause and effect. Victims. Perpetrators. Order. Chaos.

The form is direct. Sometimes surrealistic. Not a mere expression but a grand visualization of feelings. Transformation of pain into figures. A grand delusion? Emphatically, no. The form will take roots from my aboriginal tradition.

My concepts rooted in contemporary values.
An exciting discovery of a technique that can
capture the moment…of pain and anger…
the unity of idea and form.
Color. Textures. Anger.

Papo de Asis
Los Angeles, California

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