The exhibition of the First Southeast Asia Art Conference and Competition in Manila in 1957 was one of the first post-war events that sought to bring together the then contemporary art from the region. Unusual and worthy of study about this exhibition is that not only was it the first survey exhibition of Southeast Asia, it also included the Museum of Modern Art International Program’s travelling exhibition, Recent American Prints in Color. This article studies how this exhibition emerged and how MoMA came to be included on this unprecedented platform. Looking at Southeast Asia as a conceptual and exhibitionary frame, the article examines the complicated factors and stakes of art’s role in constituting soft power during the Cold War, and how this soft power and its associated infrastructures was used by the receiver of these cultural products—in this case the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP)—towards its own ends.