Last night, the Joey Velasco Foundation was launched at the Club Filipino in San Juan. On my way to the venue, I remember feeling how perfect things had been going yesterday. I didn't have a hard time driving to San Juan from Paranaque and there was this one open parking space waiting for me near Club Filipino. I made it at just the right time.
As soon as I entered the Kalayaan Hall, I saw rows of tables occupied by people I didn't recognize. But I didn't feel out of place. Not at all. Because it felt really special being around people who were touched by Joey and the work he did here on Earth. At once I saw Queeny Velasco and ever so kindly, she led me to a table where Dr. Dan Lerma and his wife were. I was introduced around and found out that I was likewise in the company of Joey's Bosconian friends, all of whom were celebrating the Feast of Don Bosco that day. And of course, Dr. Dan and I were representing UST--and the Dominicans in a way--and it's already common knowledge that 2011 is the Quadricentennial of the oldest existing university in Asia.
I have always wanted to post here Joey's works and how he described them in his own words. Upon hearing the wonderful things that people had to say about Joey inspired me last night, I knew I had to do it. So I am doing this today, Feb 1, 2011. So I went and checked my Yahoo email because that was what I was using most at the time I was just getting to know Joey. I hadn't transitioned full time to Gmail yet. So I typed "Joey Velasco" in the search bar and the first such mail that had anything to do with Joey was one that I sent myself.
And I was surprised at what I saw:
Three years ago today, I sent myself an email of the draft to the story "Joey Velasco's journey in art and life". It was the first story I wrote about Joey Velasco.
Paleta de Sangre (Palette of Blood), 2008. Oil on canvas, 48 x 64
When I entered their little world, I was definitely in communion, because I saw Jesus dwelling in them.
I find myself once again caught in a turbulent maelstrom. Our nation shows signs of frustration and weariness, hopelessness and despair as a tattered land. At times, it is tempting to be petrified by
inaction. How can I fight the massive and protracted war against graft and corruption? How then can I join the battlefront?
Jesus is boldly depicted raising a tattered Philippine flag, a poignant symbolism of the countless upheavals the country has been through” from the Cry of Pugad Lawin in 1896 to the volley of musketry in Bagumbayan in 1898; from the Fall of Bataan to the infamous Death March in 1942, from the anguish of 1983 to the euphoria of 1986, and then again in 2001. The pain and suffering of his people are etched on the countenance of Jesus. But His stance is upright and his grip is firm. We are in His love and mercy that unites us,strengthens us from the shackles of fear, helplessness and hopelessness. But His face beckons; the eyes challenge me; the
tough stance tells me there is no way to lose. “Take up your flag and follow me.”
It is an invitation of ownership. That it was not by accident that I was born a Filipino. The soft bristle of my paintbrush may serve as my sphere and the stretched canvas my shield. That in the art field I can find the battlefield where exists unnamed Filipino heroes and patriots –with Him as the supremo-not to be buried to oblivion but to be immortalized in my art as they pursue the ideals of the human virtues of unrelenting courage and confidence, infused with the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity. He is offering his life in the frontlines of the battlefield. I’ve got to follow Him. We will definitely win this war. And the battle cry is not anger but love.
Nothing is more extremely lowly than God becoming a man. He was using the best medium in his art: solidarity with man by becoming as lowly as man. His invitation? To live more in solidarity with others than to my own image or rights, my own comforts, or lifestyle. Such is the most amazing medium in the world because it communicates the immeasurable love of God.