Jess Santiago is known for his progressive poetry and moving songs that reflect the social-political realities in Philippine society; he was a constant figure in rallies and other protest actions during the rule of Marcos, and even after. His latest album carried songs about extra-judicial killings and the desaparecidos (the disappeared).

Santiago is a respected poet and folk singer-songwriter who has been performing and composing for about 15 years. He is also a translator and columnist, publishing a weekly column, Usapang Kanto(Street Corner Conversation) , for Pinoy Weekly newspaper.

Santiago’s poems have been published in both national and international magazines and anthologies including the Caravan magazine of the global group Alliance for the Responsible and United World. He was also the Institute of Philippine Languages’ Poet of the Year in 1978 and 1979.

He was conferred the Mother of Country Award by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for his role as figurehead of the cause-oriented music movement in the Philippines. He was a member of the Galian sa Arte at Tula (an organization of artists and poets), Cultural Action Program of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD), Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on People’s Culture and National Union of Writers in the Philippines (PANULAT).

Santiago believes that songs and other art forms are a means to tackle social-political issues and must serve as the people’s weapon.