Fortunately, after a lack of thoughtful planning - which included Makati, MRT, and a ridiculous miscommunication - I was able to meet my friend Sebastian Castro for a quick dinner. Sebastian is an American working as a print model in Manila. What surprised me was his talent and love to paint. I was very intrigued with the different photos he uploads on his facebook wall. My curiosity led me to inquire the stories behind his paintings.
His works mirror life and society. He fondly shared how he sees the vast stories that transpires around him and captures the idea through his art. Living in Manila gave him an opportunity to view a more diverse facet of life.
Smile Maid in HeavenYaya Che-Che is one of the people who made Sebastian smile. She has been a ya-ya for three generations of the same family. He describes her as someone who has the cheeriest disposition, regardless of adversities in life. Sebastian loves the fact that Filipinos stay as happy as possible amidst the unending shower of misfortunes. Evidently, Che-Che is crippled. But despite having every reason to rant, she retains her happiness. Sebastian explained that he finds it uplifting that Filipinos are strong in overcoming obstacles, making it a point to have a smile in their face all throughout.
Through his art, Sebastian introduced me to Billy. Sadly the story of poverty in our country has been so overused but still unresolved. Billy lives near or sometimes under one of the MRT stations. Sebastian sees Billy all the time when he gets off the train. One day Sebastian decided to ask him to model. While chatting, he became aware of Billy's life. The story of the image is just so disturbing. It was devastating to know that Billy is one of those kids who beg for money, only to give it to someone else after.
In exchange for modeling, Sebastian treated Billy at Jollibee. What Sebastian learned and what I learned from this is that we may not be able to change the world, but we can always try to help others in our own way. It may not be a grand gesture but people do appreciate the thought and concern. Sebastian might not have alleviated Billy's life, but they both found a friendship with each other, with Billy having a day of chickenjoy feast.
Broken Childhood Memories
We sometimes become over fanatic with religion, career, vanity, etc. The different elements in this painting symbolizes the many factors that can cause personal rebellion. This is the story of overly zealous to a belief or habit rendering people forgetful of the right perspectives in life. Talking to Sebastian about this reminded me that we need to strike a balance in our life and start screening factors that will take over our life and family. Sebastian hopes for people to not neglect on what's important around us because having the wrong mindset shatters people, our family or ourselves.