How Filipino Artists are Responding to President Duterte and the ‘War on Drugs’

File 20171117 7536 1lm73xd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
In This Here. Land, a performance by Filipino and Australian artists in Sydney, the audience is asked to participate in a recreation of one of the Philippines’s drug killings. Jade Cadeliña

Anna Cristina Pertierra,
Western Sydney University

November 27, 2017

Along one long wall on the side of Manila’s Baclaran church, visual artist Emil Yap has been working for two years on a mural that depicts the cosmology and history of the Philippines.

Yap collaborates with others on the mural, which uses different sculpture and mosaic techniques. Recently, he trained volunteers who were victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declared “War on Drugs” – which is estimated to have led to more than 13,000 killings – to work on the mosaics for several months while seeking refuge in the church.

Yap is among a small but growing number of cultural producers whose work addresses the effects of Duterte’s presidency. Several of these artists seek to involve members of communities most affected by the upsurge in killings – which are mostly in low-income urban neighbourhoods.

Alwin Reamillo places images of President Duterte on everyday objects. Photo: Alwin Reamillo

Not far from Baclaran Church, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, performance-maker JK Anicoche collaborated with young widows of the drug war to perform Zumba as part of a performance entitled 15 Minutes of Your Time. A response to self-declared drug addicts across Manila being made to participate in mass Zumba sessions as part of their rehabilitation process, the dance-based exercise form now has a somewhat macabre presence in contemporary Philippine life.

Anicoche and Yap are part of an loose extended network of artists who have been working under the banner of the RESBAK collective (Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings). RESBAK members make zines, hold film screenings, and produce videos for circulation on social media as part of their diverse efforts to protest.

Their launch video in December 2016 played a famous Filipino Christmas song as a backdrop to protesters silently holding cardboard placards that call to mind the homemade signs often left beside slain bodies.

Cultural projects such as these can offer tools for violence-affected communities to work through their trauma. Among the victims most deeply impacted are children. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has published a children’s book, Si Kian, narrating the story of teenager Kian de los Santos, whose fatal shooting by police in August 2017 led to protests.

Journalist Kimberley de la Cruz, who had been covering the nightly killings for some months before meeting Kian’s family at his wake, collaborated with author Weng Cahiles and illustrator Aldy Aguirre to produce Si Kian within a matter of weeks. The illustrated book aims to provide a resource to teachers seeking resources for young students experiencing deaths like that of Kian’s within their neighbourhoods.

Shifting alliances

Like other Filipinos, artists are coming to terms with the tensions emerging between Duterte’s supporters and detractors. Some artists had been among those optimistic for change when President Duterte formed alliances with some leftist groups and promised to shake up elitist politics.

But as curator and academic Lisa Ito-Tapang has noted, over the past year Duterte’s alliances have steadily shifted, including a more prominent alliance with the family of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and “a lot of the positionings of artists also reflected those kinds of shifts”.

For example, a 2016 recent exhibition at the University of the Philippines, Dissident Vicinities, featured works by the militant leftist group BAYAN among other activists and artists. The group is known for making effigies of politicians to be burned at rallies.

However, during Duterte’s first State of the Nation address in 2016, BAYAN instead produced six “Portraits of Peace” murals, inviting Duterte to address pressing challenges across the Philippines. But a year later, BAYAN returned to making effigies in protest at the political repression.

The view from the diaspora

Beyond the Philippines, political tensions are also reflected in the work of artists in the diaspora. At Western Sydney’s Blacktown Arts Centre – Filipinos are the largest migrant community in Blacktown – glimpses of Duterte could be seen across many works in Balik Bayan, a recent exhibition of Filipino-Australian artists.

Underneath a house built by artist Alwin Reamillo, a toy Japanese cat waved welcome. With Duterte’s face plastered over the cat’s head, the wave looks increasingly like the president’s signature fist-pump. Alwin has been adding Duterte’s head to different items (matchboxes and wooden pieces) for several months, and plans to keep reworking Duterte’s image in upcoming exhibitions. Alwin is openly critical of the consequences of Duterte’s Presidency upon Philippine society.

Marikit Santiago’s images present Duterte in ways both religious and profane. Photo by Jade Cadeliña

In the same exhibition, Marikit Santiago presents an image of Duterte at once religious and profane. Although Santiago says she does “not have a strong political voice”, her work was prompted by conflicting opinions on Duterte within her own extended family, where political discussions had not previously been common.

In Sydney this October, the LabAnino collective of Filipino and Australian artists performed a new work, This Here. Land. It reflected political differences held within the collective, where members were variously supportive and critical of Duterte.

In the piece’s culmination, outgoing audience members participated in a recreation of the most famous photographic image to emerge from coverage of Manila’s late-night killings. Incoming audience members, meanwhile, used their phones to illuminate and document the recreation of the image. All are complicit in the witnessing, debating and disputing of new political realities.

Across the political and geographic differences that mark Filipino communities at home and abroad, artistic initiatives may be creating small spaces in which people can attempt to bridge increasingly tense divides.

The ConversationThese may offer hope not only to those caught up in its violence, but also to other Filipinos seeking ways beyond the political realm to make sense of their circumstances.

Anna Cristina Pertierra
Senior Lecturer
Cultural and Social Analysis
Western Sydney University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.


The signing for the State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative.  Pictured: (rear l-r)Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee (former chair), Lt. Gov. Matt Michels,  (front l-r)Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (vice chair) and Jay Dick with Americans for the Arts.

PIERRE – Last month, Lt. Gov. Matt Michels was selected to serve as chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association during the organization’s annual meeting in Nashville, TN. As chair, Michels announced the group’s initiative for the year would be to focus on connecting veterans with opportunities in the arts.

Now, in partnership with the Michael J Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home, the South Dakota Arts Council and Arts South Dakota, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is working to design comprehensive arts residency programming for the State Veterans Home and community of Hot Springs. The veterans arts program will be designed around a central storytelling component and include professional artists-in-residence from all arts disciplines.

“I’m excited to begin working on this program, as are all of our partners,” said Michels. “We’ve already developed a concept for the program, and it will take some time to get it designed and implemented. But this will be a wonderful investment to help our state’s honorable veterans share and celebrate their stories.”

Arts South Dakota, funded entirely by donor contributions and grants, is a non-profit, non-partisan corporation whose primary purpose is to advance the arts in South Dakota through service, education and advocacy.

An office of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council’s mission is to provide grants and services to artists, arts organizations and schools across the state with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state of South Dakota.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

THE MATTHEWS OPERA HOUSE AND ARTS CENTER to Host The 38th Annual Winter Art Show,


An all age, all media, art show in The Matthews Art Gallery

December 23, 2016

SPEARFISH, SD –  In its 38th year, The Matthews Art Gallery will play host to the annual Winter Art Show, Jan. 18-26.  The show is open for public viewing during gallery business hours, 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday. The artist reception and awards ceremony takes place 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19, in the gallery. These events are free and open to the public.

“The Winter Art Show is a community tradition and a chance for artists of all media to be recognized,” according to Mary Deichert, gallery manager at The Matthews. “It is an opportunity to showcase the great talent we have in our area. An added bonus is that many times we find new gallery artists during this show. We encourage artists of all ages to either stop in the gallery to get an application, or go to our website and download the form.”

This popular event is open to any artist, amateur or professional, who wishes to participate. The categories are divided by age ranges from pre-Kindergarten, grade school, high school, through adults. Show registration is not limited to geographical location.

Deichert adds, “This year we have lowered the application fee in several categories in order for more students to be able to submit their work. Even better, we’ve increased the cash prize in the Best of Show and High School categories!”

Cash prizes are awarded to first place in each age category. Other cash awards are Best of Show and People’s Choice. The visiting public are encouraged to cast their votes for their favorite works of art. On the final day of the show, Jan. 26, the People’s Choice award winner will be announced.

The judges for the 38th Winter Art Show are Ann Porter, BHSU art professor; Bonny Fleming, photographer, and Jim Knutson, retired BHSU Art professor.


10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday, Jan. 11-14, in the art gallery. No late entries will be accepted. Winter Art Show applications are available online or in the art gallery during business hours, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The next event at The Matthews is a live concert by The Ennis Sisters on Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. This is a subscription series event. Tickets may be purchased individually at the Matthews Art Gallery or online at For more information or to learn about upcoming events, visit



New Selection of Artwork Now on Display in “WWI: American Artists View the Great War” Exhibition




WASHINGTON – A new selection of 28 posters, prints, drawings and photographs is now on display in the ongoing Library of Congress exhibition “World War I: American Artists View the Great War.”

The exhibition opened in May 2016 and is on view through Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017 in the Graphic Arts Galleries on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.  It is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Tickets are not needed.

In the new rotation of art, notable themes include the vilification of the German enemy; trench warfare and the use of poison gas; the service of Red Cross nurses and volunteers; and the aftermath of the war and recovery.  Artists represented include George Bellows, Kerr Eby, Charles Dana Gibson, Gordon Grant, Edwin Howland Blashfield and Samuel J. Woolf; poster artists Frances Adams Halsted, James Montgomery Flagg and John Norton; cartoonists McKee Barclay and Otakar Valasek; and photographer Lewis Hine.

The works of art are drawn from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division collections.  In addition to the 28 new items on display, a monitor slideshow highlights another 60 items.

The exhibition examines the use of wartime art for patriotic and propaganda messages—by government-supported as well as independent and commercial artists.  Many of the artists worked for the federal government’s Division of Pictorial Publicity, a unit of the Committee on Public Information.  Led by Charles Dana Gibson, a pre-eminent illustrator, the division focused on promoting recruitment, bond drives, home-front service, troop support and camp libraries.  In less than two years, the division’s 300 artists produced more than 1,400 designs, including some 700 posters.

Heeding the call from Gibson to “Draw ‘til it hurts,” hundreds of leading American artists created works about the Great War (1914–1918).  Although the United States participated as a direct combatant in World War I from 1917 to 1918, the riveting posters, cartoons, fine art prints and drawings on display chronicle this massive international conflict from its onset through its aftermath.

“World War I: American Artists View the Great War” is made possible by the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, and is one in a series of events the Library is planning in connection with the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.  An online version of the exhibition is available at  Katherine Blood and Sara Duke from the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress led the division’s curatorial team.  Betsy Nahum-Miller from the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office is the exhibition director.

The art exhibition complements the upcoming major exhibition “Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I,” which will open Tuesday, April 4, 2017.  “Echoes” will feature more than 200 items and will draw from a wide array of original materials from the Library of Congress, which has the most comprehensive collection of multi-format World War I holdings in the nation.  In combination, these exhibitions reveal the extraordinary stories of this turbulent time in our nation’s history and the powerful global forces that war unleashed.

Now through April 2017, the Library of Congress is featuring twice-monthly blogs about World War I, written by Library curators who highlight stories and collection materials they think are most revealing about the war.  The blogs can be viewed at  In 2017 and 2018, the Library will offer lectures, symposia and other programming on World War I, produce educational materials, publish a book about the war, and plant Victory Gardens in the front beds at its Jefferson and Adams buildings.

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division holds nearly 16 million photographs, drawings and prints from the 15th century to the present day.  International in scope, these visual collections represent a uniquely rich array of human experience, knowledge, creativity and achievement, touching on almost every realm of endeavor: science, art, invention, government and political struggle, and the recording of history.  For more information, visit

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at

Italian Art of Papermaking Is Subject of New Library Publication

Italian Art of Papermaking Is Subject of New Library Publication

Washington, DC – When the Arab art of papermaking by hand came to the Italian peninsula in the 13th century, the city of Fabriano was well-positioned to become the heart of the artisan craft.

Published by the Library of Congress in association with Oak Knoll Press, “Fabriano: City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking” by Sylvia Rodgers Albro describes the role that this Italian city played in the craft.

Albro, a senior paper conservator at the Library of Congress, details technical advancements introduced in Fabriano, including machinery and equipment, use of watermarks and improvements in the physical processes of papermaking. As a result of these innovations, Fabriano and other centers in Italy developed along similar lines. Italian hand-made paper was unrivaled in Europe from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The lustrous white sheets were favored by merchants and artists like Michelangelo, princes and popes and a growing international clientele. Many books, prints and manuscripts made with Italian paper from this time period have survived in remarkably pristine condition, retaining qualities still imitated by modern papermakers.

Albro analyzes the conditions that have kept Fabriano’s papermaking industry successful since the medieval period, while other areas ceased production. More than half of the book’s 230 illustrations—from rare books, prints, drawings, maps and manuscripts from the 13th to 19th centuries—are from the Library’s collections.

“Fabriano” was published with support from the Library’s first John W. Kluge Staff Fellowship and a publication grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

“Fabriano,” a 216-page hardcover book with 230 illustrations, is available for $95 in the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557 or The book is published on Onyx paper—a high-quality, uncoated paper made of ECP (elemental chlorine free) pure cellulose pulp—fabricated and donated by the Cartiere Miliani Fabriano-Fedrigoni Group of Fabriano, Italy.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at

Showcase Your Talents At The South Dakota State Fair


Over 1,100 Ways to Enter the SD State Fair

(Huron, SD) – There are 1,171 ways to showcase your talents at the South Dakota State Fair by entering in the open class static exhibit divisions and the registration deadline is right around the corner.

Some contest areas include: canning, needlework, baking, quilting, table and place settings division, garden crafts, flower arrangements, art and photography.

“Whether you have an intricate quilt, upcycled furniture item, perfectly round and red tomato, or a table and place setting you are dying to show off, check out the premium books and see where you might fit in,” said State Fair manager Peggy Besch. “This year, an online entry process is available and exhibitors are encouraged to use it. To find the online entry forms, log onto, find the competitive events tab at the top of the page, and click on ‘static’ in the drop down box.”

The static entry deadline is Sunday, July 31. Entries postmarked on that day will be accepted. Remember to include payment and completed W9 form (include SSN) with your entry. Other upcoming deadlines include open class livestock on Monday, Aug. 1. Late fees will apply to entries received after the deadline.

The 2016 SD State Fair will run from Thursday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 5. Channel Seeds Preview night will be Wednesday, Aug. 31. This year’s theme is “Thrills, Squeals and Ferris Wheels.” For more information on State Fair events, contact the fair office at 800-529-0900, visit or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park Sampling

A sampling of items that were available this weekend in Spearfish at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park.

Kitzan Family Farms of Nisland were selling products from sheep that were raised on their farm at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park in Spearfish, SD. Pictured L-R Heather Kitzan and Gwendolyn Kitzan. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Shannon and Gail Macklin of Macklin’s Sculpture from Flagstaff, Arizona were doing a brisk business with their unusual hand crafted copper and driftwood fountains at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park in Spearfish,SD. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


A conference is held to decide what to see next at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park in Spearfish, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


John Werbelow displaying his decorative and functional pottery at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park in Spearfish, SD. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


The group “6 Mile Road” entertains Saturday afternoon at The Matthews Opera House and Art Center’s 39th Annual Festival in The Park in Spearfish, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

The Tiny Book Show Coming to Custer County Library Saturday July 16, 2016

The mobile exhibit will include hundreds of miniature books and a free art workshop


How would you exhibit miniature artist books so that people all over the U.S. can see them? For the owners of Creativity Caravan they use a 50-year-old Covered Wagon travel trailer named M.A.U.D.E. (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone) and take to the road. Custer Area Arts Council and the Custer County Library are excited to announce the visit of M.A.U.D.E. to Custer. Come see M.A.U.D.E. and The Tiny Book Show, a mobile exhibit of miniature books (none larger than 3 inches in size) at the Custer County Library Saturday, July 16, from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. At each of the Creativity Caravan stops visitors will experience a unique, hands-on bookmaking opportunity as well as see the this unusual traveling caravan of books. The Tiny Book Show features 320 handmade books by 142 artists from 29 states and 4 countries.


The exhibition and workshop are being brought to Custer by poets and educators Maya Stein and Amy Tingle, founders of the arts outreach organization, Creativity Caravan. Creativity Caravan offers workshops, online classes, school programs, and special events focusing on creativity, collaboration and community. Headquartered in New Jersey, Stein and Tingle are crisscrossing the country this summer to bring their collection to more than 30 cities, from Chicago to Portland, and from Los Angeles to Atlanta, as well as to Custer. In August the Tiny Book Show will be featured at the annual conclave of the Miniature Book Society in McKinney, Texas. Tingle and Stein estimate they will cover 7,858 miles during their summer journey.

Families and guests of all ages are encouraged to attend.


For more information about The Tiny Book Show, visit For information about the exhibit and workshop in Custer, contact Camille Riner 673-4650.