by Joseph Purugganan

Dhaka, Bangladesh. February 14-17


A delegation from the Asian Music for People’s Peace and Progress (AMP3) collective  led by Jess Santiago with Joseph Purugganan from the Philippines, Vedi Sinha and Sumant Balakrishnan from India, and Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan and Narumon Danpongpee from Thailand joined our friends from Samageet in their annual Spring Festival in Dhaka from February 14-17, 2023. 

AMP3 shared the stage with incredible Bangladeshi artists in a series of performances at Dhaka University (February 14), at  Central Shahid Minar, Narayanganj (February 15), and at the Drik Gallery in Dhaka (February 16).

Photo ℅ Samageet

Photo ℅ Samageet

Photo by Chi Suwichan


In Narayanganj, Samageet honored Jess Santiago, for his life’s work dedicated to the cause of the people. The citation which came in the form of a letter to Santiago from Samageet reads: 

Dear Jess Santiago, please accept our heartiest respect and congratulations for the life you lead, dedicated to the cause of the people. Your progressive poetry  and moving songs  that reflect the social- political realities  in the Philippines inspire and give language to the people of the Philippines in their struggle for democracy, peace and Justice. 

As you believe, songs and other art forms are a means to tackle social-political issues and must serve as the people’s weapon, your words have been examples for this and these are by now a part of the global struggle against oppression. You have been a constant fighter for people’s cause against dictatorship and authoritarian regimes, for a democratic society and state and for the dignity of the people. 

Your organizing work, especially the artists forums and networks has contributed to the strengthening of the artists communities across the Philippines, South and Southeast Asia who are fighting for the people’s cause. 

As we share the same world condition, kinds of authoritarian rule and anti people regimes in our respective countries, we can understand how much dedication, courage and wisdom it requires to be a fighter like you. 

You are an example to look up to and we hope that for many coming years you will be among us living and working as an inspiration for us and sharing your wisdom and courage with us.

Love and solidarity 



Photo ℅ Samageet


At the Drik Gallery, we had an opportunity to discuss AMP3’s history and work, and share our songs and the stories of our journeys as progressive musicians, to an audience of well respected fellow musicians and artists from Bangladesh. 


Photo courtesy of Samageet


On the last day of our sojourn in Bangladesh we were taken on a tour of Zinda (or Living)  park by renowned Bangladeshi public intellectuals and activists – the photographer Shahidul Alam  and anthropologist and director of Drik Gallery Rahnuma Ahmed. Later in the afternoon, the park became  a public performance space where we shared songs and stories about life, loves and struggles. 

Photo by Amal Akash

Jess Santiago closed our impromptu concert at the park with two songs, his classic song Halina (Come) and an acapella version of Joan Baez’ Song for Bangladesh .

Photo by Joseph Purugganan


Bangladesh Bangladesh

Bangladesh Bangladesh

When the sun sinks in the west

Die a million people of  the Bangladesh

Watercolor portraits by Jess Santiago as AMP3’s thank you presents to Amal Akash (r) and Bithi Ghosh (l), the two main organizers of the three-day event. Photo  courtesy of Samageet.


Nurturing Community

One of the main goals of AMP3 is to build and nurture our community. In the 4 days we were in Bangladesh,  we witnessed how Samageet is building and nurturing with own big  community of cultural workers, artists, activists, patrons , academics , journalists, photojournalists. They are  building their village through yearly events like the Spring Festival; through regular  workshops in rural communities, through their constant presence in people’s actions in and around Bangladesh, making people sing, shout and dance to a common beat; challenging rules and conventions, daring  to promote a sense of community;  and forging solidarity amidst the heavy and lingering fog of control and repression. As respected academic Anu Muhammad  put it by “ Cultural activism is an important tool to finish the fight. if the people are  able to develop the feeling that we  will fix the country and not the government. Samageet is trying to build the confidence of the people.”