I was about to join the other people sleeping in the van when thoughts about the Manila I would soon be seeing busied my head.
It had just been two days since Tropical Storm Ketsana tore the city and nearby provinces apart with a record-high rainfall leading to flashfloods and landslides that killed many.
I thought about how fortunate we were in the van, about how many people outside that vehicle would have wished that they too could sleep comfortably, how they would have wished that they could go on with their lives normally, as we did. And though I was excited to go to my very first art exhibit, to which a close friend invited me to see his work, a part of me felt troubled by my thoughts.
When we arrived in Manila, however, I saw that it was just the same—the rush of many vehicles causing traffic jams, people eating in restaurants and going to malls … the same. At least, the part that I saw.
I soon saw my stop and got out of the van and took a jeepney to the Tala Gallery. I got there just before the exhibitor, “Kuya” Daniel Razon, was introduced to give his speech.
In his speech, I found out that the exhibit, Brush and Shutter, was far more than just strokes of paint and clicks of the camera brought together for art’s sake. It was for the benefit of the scholars of the soon-to-rise La Verdad Christian College in the Metro where poor students will have the privilege to study college with their tuition, books, uniform, and even lunch for free.
It was actually something unbelievable to hear; in fact, it is unheard of in the entire history of the country. But Kuya Daniel, together with his uncle, Bro. Eli Soriano of Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), did it. I was also surprised to learn that they have already helped our distressed fellowmen in the Metro and in provinces like Cavite, Rizal, and Pampanga.
My friend then sees me and gives me a tour of the gallery that was overwhelming with Kuya Daniel’s photos transformed into paintings and people gawking at every piece in admiration.
Later, a man calls my friend, ending our tour. After he politely leaves me, I soon found myself sitting at a flight of stairs near the string orchestra that has been soothing every soul in the setting with the classics that they play.
Soon, I sink into my thoughts again and am reminded of the sadness of the many other Filipinos outside the gallery’s walls. The orchestra then plays “An Affair to Remember” and my eyes begin to focus on the wall that seconds ago was but a blurred image. I see the paintings that artists like my friend have voluntarily done for the noble causes of Kuya Daniel. And then, I felt peace … knowing that there are still people like Kuya Daniel, gifted and giving, and all the artists who lent a helping hand (with brushes) for the sake of their fellowmen.
I’m glad I came to see the show go on despite the threats and travails the recent storm has brought. For such a show with noble roots really must, not for art’s sake, but for humanity’s.