This past Friday in The Philippine Star there appeared an obituary to a 43-year old artist named Joey Velasco, who had painted the TABLE OF HOPE (Hapag ng Pa-asa).
The obituary was written by an acquaintance at the Star, author Ricky Lo. The painting and story of the real life characters who made up the artist's projection of The Last Supper inspired me to share the tale to the world.
Joey Velasco died on July 23, 2010 of kidney failure. By all accounts, the author was prepared in his last weeks for his fate.
Velasco's magnum opus, Hapag ng Pa-asa, was seen by the author Lo on the wall of a souvenir store over the St. Nino Shrine in CebuCity several years ago. The tale of this most thought-provoking version of The Last Supper by Velasco had already become the source of sermons throughout the Philippines churches at that time. It is a large painting of a dozen street children sharing a meal with Jesus--instead of the 12 disciples. Lo observed, "At the left of the wooden makeshift table sits a boy looking away from Jesus, holding a bag he must have snatched from somebody, instead of Judas clutching a bag of 30 pieces of silver."
Lo writes of his first encounter with the impressive artwork, "Moved by the sad and empty faces of the children in the painting, with our conscious pricked [my friend] Raoul and I watched Hapag ng Pa-asa nearly teary-eyed with mounting curiosity noting how Jesus appears so comfortably at home with his table mates, engrossed in the breaking of what looks like a pizza-pie."
Lo immediately bought ten copies of the painting and mailed them off to friends and family members. Several recipients told him that the painting haunted them for days.
Others told Lo that it was "disquieting".
Lo, a well-known writer in Manila, noted, "The one [image in the painting] who touched me most was the little boy bent over under the table, sharing what could be crumbs with a (presumably) stray cat."