Friday, July 23, 2010

Remembering The Man and The 'Heartist'

The man behind the famous painting Hapag ng Pagasa (Table of Hope), Joey Velasco, passed away last July 20, 2010 after a protracted battle with kidney cancer. Though I only hear about him in the news, his "obras" challenge me to look beyond myself and be in touch with a bigger reality in our society.

When I look around me, I am disturbed to see young children in tattered clothes scavenging for plastic bottles, metal scraps, and anything of value that they can sell to the junk shop so that they have something to eat, when they should have been going to schools instead. I feel sorry for these kids and I feel powerless at the same time to be of real help to them because I know that beyond dole-outs and a bag of relief goods, what they really need is to have something to hope and aspire for in their future, a tangible means that can improve their life in the long run, a dignified way of living.

But perhaps what strikes me most about Joey is how his sickness had led him to find a deeper meaning and purpose to his life and how he used his remaining time since he was diagnosed with cancer to effect change in the lives of many people around him, specifically the Hapag children, whom he helped with scholarship grants and Gawad Kalinga homes. A truly amazing man!

Joey is survived by his wife and four children. His remains lie at Funeraria Nacional on Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. His interment will be on July 24, Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. To see more of his "obras", visit his website at Here is a short tribute to the man and the 'heartist' courtesy of Probe by Ms. Cheche Lazaro.

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