Queeny Velasco in front of the Hapag painting
Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
For the Philippine Daily Inquirer
FAMILY, FRIENDS and admirers of Joey Velasco recently gathered for a night of reminiscences at Club Filipino in San Juan where they launched in the memory of the late artist the Artesacra Center for Visual Arts Education.
Evidently, the room was filled with people from different aspects of Velasco’s life, all of whom said they continued to be inspired by the religious artist.
Velasco was the painter of the mural “Hapag ng Pag-asa” in which Jesus Christ is depicted as breaking bread with street children. He also painted other works in the socio-realist vein, some of them depicting the agrarian problem faced by poor farmers in the countryside.
His friends and supporters said Velasco’s depiction of Jesus Christ as transposed into the Filipino social existence had awakened in them a sense of faith and a sense of social action to work for the poor.
On one side of the room were the people from Gawad Kalinga, including founder Tony Meloto, and some members from the Dallas, Texas, chapter of the social-housing movement who flew in just for the event. On the other side are friends and family of Velasco as well as the kids from the “Hapag” painting.
Velasco’s wife Queeny said her husband had always wanted to reach out to those in need. Velasco, while still alive, always gave importance to the value of life and making the most out of it no matter how small the act may be, she said.
The establishment of Artesacra aims to make sure that the legacy and inspiration of Velasco is kept alive, she added.
The center will showcase and preserve the works of Velasco. But more than that, Queeny said, Artesacra is a nonprofit institution in the service of society and of its development.
The foundation’s work includes the acquisition of socially conscious religious artworks, their conservation, communication, and exhibition—for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the foundation leaders said.
The foundation will also hold exhibits, summer camps, art trips and classes. Programs include Clay for Kids; Creative Escapades; Drawing to Painting; Art Fundamentals; and Contemporary Drawing for Teens.
The center is at 13 Walnut St., West Fairview, Quezon City, P.O. Box 1011. Pledges of support are accepted by the foundation. Cash and checks may be sent to Marie Queeny Sunga Velasco, TITF Joey Velasco Foundation, Metrobank Fairview Branch, Account #241-3-24133546-2.
For further information, call 4287300, 9366123; e-mail joeyvelascofoundation@ yahoo.com.
Kim Atienza, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, and Tony Meloto
Atty. Alexander Lacson
Rose Malinao and the Hapag Kids
The Ryan Cayabyab Singers
Richard Joseph Dee