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 Cebu City several years ago. The tale of this most thought-provoking version of The Last Supper by Velasco had already become the source of sermons and legends.
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.
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."
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."
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
Others told Lo that it was "disquieting".
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."
The child, Lo adds, is "looking so emaciated and no better than a rat
devouring a piece of stolen cheese."
who the real children in the story were--even before Joey Velasco himself sent
him a book describing the painting. The
Star writer, Lo, thus learned, "The
children are real after all, all 12 of them.
One is dead and the rest are alive but not too well, living in cramped
spaces under the bridge which they call "home,' scavenged from the trash in
Payata, snatching a bag from a rich-looking passerby, selling sampaguita [flowers]
while dripping wet in the rain, knocking
on car windows for some coins, molested at the tender age of 13 by a
drug-addicted neighbor, maltreated by jobless parents. Jesus, I'm sure, is in
every one of those children whom Joey calls by fictitious names in the
book. You see, even the down-trodden
have a privacy to protect."
famished little boy under the table was inspired by "The Unknown Sudan boy,' whose photo, taken in the 1994 Sudan famine
won the photographer, Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Prize". Joey Velasco
explained in a popular book, THEY HAVE
JESUS (THE STORY OF THE CHILDREN OF HAPAG): "The picture [of Carters] shows
a heart-breaking scene of a starving child who collapsed on the ground,
struggling to get to a food center . . . . In the background, a vulture stalks
the emaciated child."
As with the stories of most of the real children immortalized in Joey
Velasco's own painting of THE TABLE OF
HOPEr, the destiny of the child in
Kevin Carter's photo is uncertain.
Joey noted, "Three months later [after he took his photo]. . . Carter
was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in
Johannesburg, a suicide at 33, so depressed and "haunted by the vivid
memories'" of death and violence in Sudan.
It is important to recall that, in
contrast to the "haunted" late photographer, Kevin Carter, Joey Velasco had
never intended his painting of street children to become symbols of dismay, but
instead had entitled his painting of the Last Supper: "TABLE OF HOPE (Hapag ng Pa-asa)".
Before he passed away, Joey Velasco
had stated that his "ardent wish . . . is to one day see the Hapag ng Pa-asa turned into a Hapag
ng Pag-ibig [Table of Love] with the sad faces of Jesus' modern day "apostles'
wearing a happy smile."
NOTE: This hope for happy
children and faces is something that we all should see, Joey. In the meantime, hopefully, people across the Philippines are inspired to aid
those impoverished street children who served as your models.
KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global issues.
"I am from Kansas so I also use the pseudonym 'Kansas' and 'alone' when I write and publish.- I-keep two blogs--one with BLOGGER and one with WORDPRESS.- My writings range from reviews to editorials or to travel observations.- I also make recommendations related to policy--having both a-strong background in teaching foreign languages and degrees in teaching in history and the social sciences.--As a Midwesterner, I also write on religion and living out ones faith whether it be as a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist perspective."
On my own home page, I also provide information for language learners and travelers http://www.geocities.com/eslkevin/-,- http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/-& http://alone.gnn.tv/