The Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project is a group art exhibition organized around a theme of timely, social, or cultural relevance. It seeks to use art as a platform for the discussion of such pressing issues. Now on its 9th year, Looking for Juan: Karapatan takes a closer look at what human rights mean in our country today. The undercurrent of all our Looking for Juan shows is the question, “What does it mean to be Filipino?” Perhaps this year, we also ask, “What does it mean to be human and Filipino?”

“Human rights are inherent to all human beings,” says the United Nations.
“Rights” is not a foreign concept. It is, in fact, embedded in our own Filipino language: karapatan, with its root lying in dapat or in what should be, what is right, or what must be. These rights, therefore, recognize each individual’s dignity and value as human beings. On the contrary, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity,” Nelson Mandela once said. These rights are protected and promoted by the law. And yet, these days, people can say that human rights can be cast away in favor of certain “higher” goals, such as peace and security, the elimination of drugs, criminality, and terrorism. And so we see through the eyes of the artists participating here – things that we perhaps have not seen, refuse to know, or choose to forget or ignore.

"Blood soaks the fabric that covers our eyes, silent screams unheard."

--Hadrian Mendoza

"I constructed a piece that resembles an altar using specific figures that translate to devotional aspects of Filipino’s religious culture. It also shows a portrait of a man of low status in society, pointing to himself. In general, my artwork exhibits a sense of hypocrisy toward society’s definition of morality."

--Tamer Karam

"Effects left by the unknown tragedy. A nightmare that lingers forever in their eyes. Haunting them everyday with the threat of being killed. Accepting an uncertain death, believing what they don’t deserve. Scared of these so called “protectors.” Scarred.

--Quatro Los Baños

"Is individuality a cage rather than freedom? What is real freedom? In this age where there is flood of information, how are minds our subjugated by exaggerated praises for liberalism?"

--Mideo Cruz

"Your sister, daughter, and friend is not an object. End slavery now."

--Johanna Helmuth

A collage work depicting a society deprived of those rights provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"The artwork signifies the news about the continuously bloody results of the government’s anti-drug campaign and how it affects children. This has raised concerns about the sustained exposure of children to violence – indirectly or otherwise – and how this may affect their behavior and thinking."

--Joseph Fraylon

"My painting is dedicated to every victim silenced for defending their human rights. It is inspired by the millions of people who are prevented from getting their rights fully recognized, regardless of age, gender, appearance, and location."

--Chelle Bebita

"Society designs people according to how it can use them. It is a conditioning that starts with children such that they don’t know what they want to do when they become adults — only that they must work."

--Roy Rosatase

The IRONIC series emphasizes on the re-examination of our most common trait...


This shows how we see affected families; how we see our future as a community living in one of the most vulnerable places from the effects of extreme weather conditions.

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” 
Nelson Mandela

"Lights, sounds, cheering crowds. These enchant but also obscure our perception. We should feel threatened by what they are not showing us, and see through the smoke and mirrors."

--Adeodatus Sta. Juana

"The so called Police Scalawags have been terminating or murdering the victims (witnesses/runners for drugs) which may lead to their implication in drug business or crime. So they plant drugs and guns, and say that the victims fought or fired against them. An excuse that saves them from the law."

--Jim Orencio

"Every child has the right to rehabilitation: replacing memories of fear with peaceful thoughts, and having a renewed sense of hope and a clearer vision of the future."

--Frances Alvarez

"This artwork is a relational sculpture. The viewer is invited to place his or her hands inside the mirror cube, to “see” with hands and manipulate the sculpture inside as he or she wishes to. Because of the mirrors, the action of reaching in and augmenting the clay corresponds to reaching into one’s self."

--Marc Gaba

"Our souls are like dandelion pappi flying away where our winds would take us. There is fate and uncertainty, but ultimately, we are alive to live the life that we are destined to live. Freedom is essential in helping wildflowers thrive and flourish beautifully. Take it away, and they will slowly wither and fade into nothingness."

--Shannah Orencio

"I represent women here in communist uniform to symbolize their courage in fighting against maltreatment and oppression. If everyone will come to realize that we are not the body, and that in reality, we are spirit souls — no labels attached, no color, no religion, no country, no male, no female — then we will achieve real equality and peace."

--Aya Balingit

"You can’t pick and choose which types of freedom you want to defend. You must defend all of them or be against all of them."

--Ronson Culibrina

"The denial of an individual’s right is a denial of the rights of the people whose lives depend on him."
Kyze Mamaril

Every child has the right to education and play. Let them play, play in a world free from fear. Let them learn so they can take back what we have taken away.

"The artwork depicts children’s right to freedom of expression. In the foreground are symbols of constraint such as chains, wires, and fences slowly loosening up to form an open sea with a boundless horizon, where children have the freedom to sail in the vastness of their imagination and expressions."

--Aaron Asis

"To the watcher behind these symbols: Could justice be blindly tilted? Or do we all blindly watch rightful retribution? Lest we succumb to selfish adoration of personalities instead of every fellowman’s welfare. We must all then ever remain vigilant that of the consciousness: peering, watching, and guarding each and every one of us."

--Anthony Palomo

“Wet Blanket for me is someone who thinks negatively of human rights. It is the lack of equality, and the absence of standards to determine the good from the bad."


"Yes to same sex marriage!"

--Pow Martin

"This artwork shows a glimpse of the layered dynamics of the relationships between my father and the women in my family — an example of the often unnoticed oppressions in a home masked by everyday life and the tensions the family feels, yet they often deny."

--Pin Calcal

This is the artist’s self-portrait showing her journey from being a victim of sexual abuse towards the process of self-healing through art.

The story of Cain and Abel is the archetypal example of human rights.

"The work hopes to look into the right to live in peace--peace that may only be established by pure solidarity and respect. At present, such peace is uncertain with all the human politics that surrounds us."

--Mark Barreto

It is easy to conclude that people who are poor deserve it because they are “lazy” or “are not working hard enough".
The only way to to see their reality is to understand and break free from the golden chains of your privilege. Be aware and immerse yourselves in their situation.

"You don’t need to be an animal to fight for animal rights, and we don’t need the animals to fight for our rights."

--Bert Monterona

"We have the right to live and the right to choose where to live; defend what’s ours, and defend what you believe in."

--John Marin

"Intrinsic worth — where does it come from? Who gets to determine the essential worth of an individual?"

--Martin Honasan

"A person who lives in short term freedom is a prisoner of illusion."

--Melvin Anglacer

"Human rights guarantee equality and freedom that is universal to all. This declaration asserts we share common experiences and needs, hence entails a common responsibility and duty to each other. But this declaration doesn’t exist and function in a vacuum. Power structures dominate and define the limits and extent of certain rights on different levels, micro and global. We are only equal and free depending on how we define our boundaries and constraints, for us and the other."

--Marcel Antonio

"A child with disabilities, just like other able children, has the right to be cared for."

--Rex Aguilar

"This is how people treat others based on their status, as if one were already a criminal hiding a weapon."

--Carl Dumdum

"This refers to a painting of a European artist named William Bouguereau which I contextualized by putting Manila City Hall as background. I want to show that injustice is a global problem that deserves our attention."
Mark Martinez

#JusticeForTheVictimsOfMendiolaMassacre #NoToTerrorism #NoToAllOutWar #JusticeForTheVictimsOfKidapawanMassacre #BigasHindiBala #StopKillingFarmers #AFPBerdugo #JusticeForTheVictimsOfHaciendaLuisitaMassacre #RememberLuisita #NeverForget #LiftMartialLaw #EndStateFascism #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #KalinawMindanao #StopExtrajudicialKillings #EndTheDrugWar #StopKillingThePoor

"My artwork takes on a critical view of social and political issues that the whole world is facing these days, referencing on today’s modern form of justice that uses violence and brutality for their own entertainment."

--Gori Bautista

"All children have the right to life, health, and development."

--Abi Goy

"To deny anyone his right to education is to deny him the path by which he can change the world."

--Dante Lerma

"Is there goodness left inside a body, a country, or a church held captive by the fangs of corruption and decay?

Do we need to excavate the depths of history to release remnants of the humane and the moral?"

--Mike Adrao

“No one is too old, too young, too rich or too poor for to his judgement seat.”

--Kiko Urquiola

"We are pre-conditioned by society to be conveniently apathetic. But not all popular advocacies, beliefs, or laws are right."
Apathy is the invisible leash that leads one into a controlled system, where we conveniently disregard our right to question things.

"With the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and the implementation of a brutal All-Out War policy targeting the revolutionary peasant masses in countryside, the self-proclaimed “First Leftist President” is actually moving in the opposite direction, a path that leads directly to the proverbial "kangkungan" of history."

--Max Santiago

"The rich and poor in the justice system: image of a deathbed used when performing lethal injection, which is now a form of death penalty in the country. It also resembles the crucifixion of Christ as it was the old form of death penalty during his time."

--Emard Cañedo

"One night, on a whim, I took a can of black paint and wrote “BAWAL MAGTAPON NG TAO DITO” at a couple of spots on my way home.The irony that dead bodies on the streets are now as common as garbage makes for an interesting discourse."

--Adrian Alfonso

"Humanity must understand the relation of victims and offenders, that there are underlying conditions that we can view alike. It is our task, as a society, especially those who are in power, to restore the sense of civility. One should understand the malleability of social conditions, and understand the difference of destruction and tender reformation."

--Lawrence Canto

"The island is growing and getting greener, but at the expense of the lives of others. The sparrows represent us and our option to embrace this growth and enjoy what the island is offering. Or do we unearth what truly lies underneath?"

--Emman Acasio

"The artwork embodies our identity shaped by social injustices and inequalities that plague our daily lives — massive corruption, crime, unabated poverty, unemployment, and selective access to free and quality education — the set-up of an oppressive structure that marginalizes our people, especially the masses.

--Jonas Camposagrado

"The present times are beleaguered with social injustices, but the most pressing of all are the extra judicial killings where men and women of all ages and varied backgrounds are mercilessly silenced. But the question lingers on: Does killing render justice? Do we really find peace?"

--Brave Singh

"Silence is the reason why this happens all the time, repeatedly and continuously. Help me reach the sound of light."

--Gian Surban

"The basic right to shelter is not as “basic” to some. For those who continue to live in forested areas such as our indigenous brothers and sisters, deforestation because of greed and illegal logging is a big concern to them. Continuously being driven away — trees and people — we endanger our heritage and our resources."

--Jason Moss

"Every shot fired is a shot at our rights. Every shot chooses no age, no gender, no race. How many more shots can we take?"
Rap Eya

"Every child has the right to protection. Nobody should live in fear. Unfortunately, many children experience violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect – often from people they know and trust, in the supposed safety of places like homes and schools."

--Liza Flores

“LUKSONG TINIK (Jumping Over Thorns) is a popular Filipino game played by leaping through obstacles. In the painting, a woman jumps over a clump of barbed wire, soaring above risks and across troubled waters that hinder a calm journey to her very own land. The image is similar to the territorial dispute happening in our country."

--John Paul Antido

"It is far better to open the floodgate of good nature among Filipinos than unleash the worst beasts in them."

--Antipas Delotavo

"Rice is our basic food and the country’s main agricultural product. But rice producers, the farmers, remain landless and poor. The state of monopoly of landlords, foreign corporations, and military-mercenaries respond violently to their clamor for land reform. The artwork honors the peasants, their struggles and demands for justice."

--Boyet De Mesa

"Human rights violations occur all the time, some are more apparent than others. They are so common that they seem to have become the norm. Every once in a while, we are reminded of its existence by graphic images that momentarily stir our emotions. But these too are soon forgotten as we turn our attention to things that appear more pleasant."

--Nina Garibay

"Little voices matter."

--Sergio Bumatay III

"This work reflects on the idea of “Seeds of Hate” and responds to how the global situation seems to patronize hate and accept it."

--Epjey Pacheco

“Echoes tackles the view of an old man that seems to be staring and waiting for death to come — frightened for the younger generation that might experience the violence and inhumane moments of his time. He instantly recalls when his fellow countrymen were slaughtered like helpless deer through the eye of a hunter in a forest."

--Kim Sulit

"Before the conquistadors, the lumads were the very first people to inhabit our lands."
And we must respect their rights to equality.

"The Hunter tells of the irony of how a worker risks his life hunting for treasure for another man’s pleasure. In every age, it has been the tyrant, the oppressor, and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and awe the people.”

--Thomas Daquioag

“Bato’t Sisiw” is part of Caloy Gernale’s ongoing “sisiw project” which started in 2016. The project is the artist’s response to the seemingly congenital ills of contemporary Philippines, particularly the unabated human rights abuses under the present administration’s war on drugs.

"Looking at the world through my window. To remain secure in my own comfortable space."

--Dale Erispe

"The painting is a study, a projection, of a statue depicting the fragility of human rights. A thorn-laden wreath forms a perimeter around a naked form — this is how I envision the 30 declarations of natural rights of humanity — asserted only by force of social contracts as a boundary of fragile beauty. The figure is occluded by a shadow in the form of a guillotine blade: again another representation of the threat to natural rights in the form of populist violence. The figure is based on one of the sculptures in Trocadero, a place in Paris where these human rights were first written and promulgated at the end of the second world war."

--Riel Hilario

"In a supposed quiet peaceful avenue, one would not want any hint of chaos and hatred. And the present time is but a picture of the future."

--Jay Hidalgo

"The impartial and swift justice that watches over our motherland will be realized."

--Renee Avila

Credits: Story

Looking for Juan is a program of CANVAS that centers on creative activities and events designed to explore the use of art to drive debate and discussion on selected social issues, particularly national identity, free expression, technology & culture, and sustainable development.

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