THE Association of Artists in the Philippines (AAP) wants Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for president, as they believe that he can elevate the status of arts and culture in the country, which they said, have been neglected by Malacañang for several decades already.

Artists from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered at Club Filipino de Cebu recently to show their support to Duterte.

Campaign

They said they are ready to participate in fund-raising activities to sustain his presidential campaign.

Artists Hermes Alegre, Raul Lebajo, Romulo Galicano, Fidel Sarmiento, Lucio Alvarado, Deste Deguilmo and Rene Robles said that the political season is here and “as usual, politicians do not mention arts and culture.”

They said that the “only glorious years when arts and culture were promoted and respected” was during the Marcos administration, citing then first lady Imelda Marcos who constructed the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

“We, the artists, have been neglected through the years after the Marcoses left Malacañang and we hope that the glory of arts and culture will be back under the Duterte presidency,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento said that their group has 5,000 members nationwide and 1,000 of whom are very active.

“If we talk about solidarity, we are campaigning for Duterte’s presidency,” Sarmiento said.

Galicano, who hails from Carcar City, Cebu and is the founder and chairman of Fortune Artists in the Philippines, said that he doesn’t know Duterte personally, but he believes that the Davao City mayor is strongly supporting the development of arts and culture.

Culture

“We, the artists, were neglected for several years after Imelda Marcos (was removed from power). We don’t care who is Imelda Marcos in the eyes of some people because she had greatly developed arts and culture during her time as first lady (and Metro Manila governor),” Galicano said.

Alvarado, president of the Bacolod Arts Association, said the “arts give us happiness and truth but the government support is less.”

“Marcos strongly supported arts and culture. He built centers for arts and culture. But now, the spirit is lost. There is government mismanagement. That’s why we need a strong leader like Duterte,” Alvarado said.

Through his granddaughter, six-year-old Paulita Guanzon, Alvarado donated one of his art works.

It will be auctioned by Sarmiento in Manila and the proceeds will go to Duterte’s campaign funds.

Deguilmo, for his part, said that Duterte is an art collector.

“Duterte showed us the changes he made in Davao City. We know he is strongly supporting arts and culture and he speaks his mind,” Deguilmo said.