Re-Pub: ‘Hapag ng Pag-asa’ artist in new exhibit


I’ve always wanted to immortalize some of the articles that I clipped and kept, obviously, these articles were published before almost everything became digital and electronic – Oh Yeah! I’m old. 😉 These articles are not mine and I’m not claiming it to be mine nor taking any credit from it but I’d like to share it with all of you because I find them interesting, and maybe you might like it too. 🙂

The first article that I’m going to re-pub (re-publish) is an article about Mr. Joey Veloso and his inspiring works. I was very thankful that I was invited to visit his gallery in Marikina. Such a privilege for me and my family to see his works and know his life – a life full of lesson, transformation and inspiration. This article was published at the Lifestyle section of Philippine Daily Inquirer last August 13, 2007. I stumble upon this article a few days after out visit to his gallery.

‘Hapag ng Pag-asa’ artist in new exhibit

“PASSAGE,” THE NEW EXHIBIT BY JOEY Velasco, opens today at 10:30 a.m. at the Manny V. Pangilinan Bldg. of the Ateneo De Manila University. Former ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa will formally open the exhibit.

Velasco is the businessman-artist behind “Hapag ng Pag-asa,” an updating of the Last Supper featuring Christ with streetchildren, which is one of the most famous local paintings in recent years.

Velasco turned to painting religious themes with a social edge after he was diagnosed with a tumor in one of his kidneys in 2005.

While convalescing, he painted “Hapag” in order to give his four kids a visual reminder of their responsibility to their fellowmen.

He felt discouraged when he was working on “Hapag.” He thought he wouldn’t finish it, until a veteran artist, an agnostic, came to his studio one evening, drunk, and viewed the work in progress. He sighed and asked a question Velasco said he could never forget: “Ako kaya… paano makakatulong?”

He realized the painting could speak to the soul. It had taken on a life of its own.

When he finished the painting, all the children from the slums that he used as models stared at him from the canvas, as if telling him that he just used them. He felt so disturbed that he had to go back to their places and find each of them. He saw himself in each of them in different stages of his life. His brokenness, woundedness, hunger, etc.

But he learned from each of them some lessons he did not learn from school. Bravery, heroism, nobility of spirit, among others.

Velasco later wrote a book where he narrated their stories which are simple ones but deep because it spoke about the ills of society. “it is definitely a slap on the face of God who created the world for all to enjoy.” he said. But he admitted he was also to blame for the brokenness of our society.

When the painting went on exhibit, it touched the hearts of people here and abroad, who asked the same question the drunken master artist asked, “How can we help?”

The image was used by different foundations to gather funds for the poor.

Velasco has coursed some of the help through Gawad Kalinga.

At present, all the 11 children (the boy under the table is symbolic) are in school. Five of them are building their homes in GK Amparo Novaliches, and the rest will build their own homes within this year also.

Because of the optimistic future of the kids, Velasco has painted a new work, “Hapag ng Pag-ibig.”

“This is about the same characters of ‘Hapag’ gathered in a meal but using a different theme,” Velasco explained, “It is no longer in the darkness of night. It is breakfast with our Lord. My canvas is sunny, sporting a table of happy faces. They are all having fun. The banquet is not sumptuous but there’s plenty of food nevertheless. The children are clad in neat apparel with school bags slung around their shoulders. They have the basics of a happy life in the company of a smiling friend in the middle. Beyond is a community where their parents build decent houses; they are squatters no more. The beauty of sketches lies in their unfinished character.”

This work is still incomplete. It is in monochrome, a blueprint so to speak. It will only be completed when each of the kids actually receive the keys to transfer to their new homes at GK.

I wasn’t able to see the ‘Hapag ng Pag-ibig’ at the gallery but I saw this one. Very interesting. 🙂

photo (2)

And of course the famous ‘Hapag ng Pag-asa.’

photo (3)

Thank you Mr. Joey Velasco for sharing your works and your life to us. You’re a true inspiration. 


















  1. I was privileged to have met Mr. Joey Velasco when he visited our college back in 2007/8. We were shown a documentary on the story behind the painting ‘Hapag ng Pag-asa’ and it featured the children who served as the inspiration (and models) for the painting. His paintings were also exhibited in our college’s art gallery. What struck me most about his work was that they all felt real. They had that pinch of reality in them, in the people that were in the paintings with Christ. His paintings show that Christ is still present with us in the real world. Getting to know Mr. Velasco and to listen to his words as a changed man gave more depth and meaning to to his work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s