The only time I brought my art “out there” was when I submitted a digital artwork for Graphika Manila 2013. I was happy that it was chosen to be a part of the book. But then, the drawing I made wasn’t as hopeful or as filled with ‘heart’ as what I draw today.
The second time I brought my art “out there” again was just last July 17. It was a secret Postcard Exchange, organized by one of the country’s best watercolor artists, Valerie Chua, and Ayala Museum’s Inspire Every Day. People can send in their art/paintings/photos painted or printed onto postcards for the event. They can also write a note or their social media accounts on the back of the postcard, as to build new friendships or show their art. And on July 25, the postcard submissions will be put up on big white panels, where museum visitors can pick a postcard and take it home. I’m truly thankful for the organizers for this kind of event that a lot of us partook in. It was also refreshing and enriching to visit Ayala Museum again. It was my second time – the first was during a field trip in our first year in college with our old professor Sir Lalata. Since I had time here, I was able to go through the exhibits, reading the notes and learning more about our country told in photographs, paintings, drawings, and dioramas. Being there, I felt the positive energy from everyone! And of course, to see our postcards too gave us inspiration.
I spent a Sunday with my friend Kate looking for thick paper to cut into postcard-size and draw on. Then I spent the nights of July 15 and 16 stretching to around 11 PM, drawing, coloring, and writing in the dim light our lamp had offered, as the main light in my room wasn’t working for a few weeks now. While doing them, I prayed to God that He guides me to do this while thinking of whoever would pick up my postcards. What good can you say to him/her? How can you help him/her? He also reminded me that I am doing this not for myself but for others and for Him. In retrospect, several people also spent nights putting every ounce of kindness they had into their postcards. For this event, many of us who had the passion for art were one.
Seeing all of our postcards yesterday in the white panels of Ayala Museum stirred me. And I was happy to spot two of the 10 postcards I made. My Mom, Dad, and I were joking: what if I will find them still on the board, because nobody wanted them? Napaisip din ako. Then I told them, “Kunwari po, hindi ko alam kung kanino iyon, tapos iyon pipiliin ko. Tapos sasabihin ko, ‘Wow, ang-ganda naman into! (If that happens, I’ll pretend I don’t know who made it, and then I will pick it. I would say, “Wow, this one’s really good!)” Tried self-encouragement for a while there! Hehe.
At first, I really didn’t want to send them anymore, because I was afraid again. But then because of my family (all of their advices and encouragements come to mind at times at the most helpful situations), and friends, they encouraged me. Then when it was the Inspire Every Day event already (which was yesterday), I was hesitant to go to the line (because there were many people, and I can be afraid of people), so I took a detour to Powerbooks, realizing that it wasn’t open yet, so that left me no choice. I laughed to myself and said, “Pumunta ka rito hindi para mag-tago sa bookstore, kung hindi para sa Inspire Every Day at bumisita sa Ayala Museum. Adventure ito – go out of your comfort zone. Hindi ka matututo kung palagi kang tatakbo palayo. (You went here not to hide in a bookstore, but to go to Inspire Every Day and to visit Ayala Museum. This is an adventure – go out of your comfort zone. You won’t learn if you would always run away.)” God nudged me through the encouragement from my Mom, Dad, and my friend Kate.
Then last night, I was happy to find a post too from someone on Instagram who picked up one of my postcards. I am grateful for what she has said about my message for her at the back. That was meant for you, my friend! Truly, these small acts of kindness will create a domino effect, a chain reaction that would encourage us. If what I’m doing has lifted someone or made someone smile, then I am joyful. In any way that God can use me – a clay pot with cracks here and there – I will let Him, if it means for the benefit of someone else. It is easy to write and say, as sometimes pride can injure us or make us think we are better, but with Christ, He gives us the grace to stay true to His purpose for us with no hint of pride or greed. He gives us the humility to make us realize that we have so much to learn and that every gift we have was from Him and all the opportunities we were given to hone our skills were because of our parents, our families, our teachers, and our friends.
What I draw may not be as beautiful or perfectly executed as those of other artists and I may have doubts about how sincere I am when I am drawing or writing, but I know that art was never about who was better or who drew it better. It was never about competition nor discouraging yourself because of your insecurities. It is about the love, heart, soul, and effort we put into making them. It is about collaboration among the Philippines’ young artists to make their mark not for themselves but for what they can do with what they are good at and what they believe in. It is about extracting our memories and lives and building something beautiful from them. It is about working together and sharing our love for what we do. It is about giving and inspiring life for those we make art for.
Though there may be little direct and instant impact that a simple drawing or painting or photograph can do to a person or a community, but it starts there. Little things. Small steps. The one quick realization that shows you that in every big change that is to happen, small steps were taken at first. And the small things happen when you see something beautiful and so full of heart that it begets you to dream, hope, and believe in yourself not just as an artist but as an individual, as a Filipino who can serve others. Art was never stagnant or stationary – it is movement, it is inspiration in action, it is a driving force. Who was never moved by a painting or a poem or a sunset? And sunsets, of course, are works of our one true Creator.
But in everything we do, we must remind ourselves that inspiration or creativity isn’t limited to just those who are in the creative industry. Everyone is creative in their own ways. Everyone is innovative in their own fields. A dentist can be creative. A carpenter, an engineer, a chemist, a teacher, a fisherman, a lawyer, a nurse, a delivery man, a cashier, a doctor, a mathematician. This is something that I have learned from a book I treasure: Erwin Raphael McManus’ The Artisan Soul.
With the gifts we have been given, we must serve God and others. We must do them in love, in a responsible manner, and in insurmountable passion that leaves others acting on their own passions as well. May we work on our crafts and glorify God – the source of all of our gifts, serve our neighbors, and inspire not only kindness but love as well in our families, friends, and communities.
It is good to see a blank wall that starts out as it is, and then as time passes by, it is filled with more and more contributions by people with different lives, different stories, and different passions.
And the wall isn’t just a wall but a wall that holds meaning, truth, unity, and a vision for a country’s rise.