Activist Artist One of CCP’s ‘Thirteen Artists’ Awardees

A major part of his portfolio is collaborative work with colleagues in Ugat Lahi Artist Collective, his organization since 1990s. Among these works are effigies, murals and installations that usually show up in mass actions.

For his exhibit for the Thirteen Artists Award, he came up with “Symphony of Destruction,” a collaborative installation art with Ugat Lahi.

Overcoming individualist tendencies does not mean losing indivuality. “There is a huge amount of individuality that an artist puts in his creations, in terms of aesthetics and style,” he said.

Iggy’s forte is pen and ink. He sees his own work as a mirror of the human drama, of uplifting human spirit and illustrating the human life.

He also said that an artist produces work depending on the event, venue and target audience. What is constant though, Iggy said, is the “political and class stand of the artist.”

The artist at work. (Photo by Terence Krishna V. Lopez /

An activist since college at the University of Santo Tomas, Iggy is now the acting chairman of Sining Bugkos, an alliance of national-democratic cultural organizations in Metro Manila. The alliance groups Aklas Sining, Musicians for Peace, Dulaang Katig, Tudla productions and Ugat Lahi Artist Collective, among others.

Window of Opportunity

Iggy is aware of the state’s track record of attacking activists as he himself has been a victim. But being awarded by the government through the CCP is not something he considers as ironic.

Iggy considers this award as a “window of opportunity” for someone who works for the national-democratic mass movement. “Although I was selected based on my body of work and not because I am an activist, my body of work speaks of my political and class stand,” Iggy said.

He added that although CCP is an arm of the government, it has a certain level of independence. “This is a chance to propagate the voice of the marginalized masses,” he said of the award. “This is one venue where we can deliver our vision.”

He prizes this award for offering him a chance to be utilized at a certain level — to inspire, influence and encourage other artists to take part in the people’s movement.

Iggy urged his fellow artists “to continue creating for the people” and remain “conscious that our real arena is not the closed galleries but the streets, among the people and with the mass movement.” (

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  1. “There is, in fact, no such thing as Art for Art’s Sake, Art that stands above Classes, Art that is detached from or independent of Politics.” – Chairman Mao

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