Art and artists in martial-law Manila

It was November 1972. Martial law had been inflicted upon the land, following the fake ambush of Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. My magazine the Graphic had been padlocked, along with the rest of the magazines and newspapers, except for the crony paper Daily Express. I was out of a job, like many in media.

A few months later, while trying to earn a living translating lachrymose Spanish-language comics into Tagalog, courtesy of Morita Roces, I learned that Purita Kalaw Ledesma, the founder of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP), had been looking high and low for me. It turned out that Mrs. Ledesma needed, not a critic (who would just quarrel with her), but a collaborating writer who, as she pointed out good-naturedly, knew “next to nothing about art.” The task was to write a history of the AAP.

That was my introduction to the world of Philippine

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