The Ninoy & Cory Aquino Leadership Journey

Companions’ Chronicles: Spreading the Spirit of Giving beyond Christmas

The Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF) visited one of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) sites located in Amparo Subdivision, Caloocan City, sponsored by the Joey Velasco Foundation, last January 4, 2015. The kids portrayed in the well-known painting of Joey Velasco, “Hapag ng Pag-Asa”, together with their families, live in that particular GK sites. The late Mr. Velasco made sure that the kids will go beyond their portrayal in his painting. With the help of Gawad Kalinga, Mr. Velasco was able to help the children get out of their poverty. NCAF was also given an opportunity to visit the museum of Mr. Velasco, showcasing his other works of art. Two Journey Companions, Krystel and Cedric, imparted their insights on the activity.

The Journey Companions together with the kids (who are now grown-ups) in the “Hapag ng Pag-Asa” painting.

The Best Healers are Wounded Healers

Hapag ng Pag-asa is the most recognized work of Mr. Velasco. It is a painting of 12 kids that sat along with Jesus at a table for a supper just like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

After seeing the painting, I cannot seem to take my eyes off it because it is like talking to me. It seems as if it is moving my very soul. I always have the heart for the poor but this time it is like telling me that I should be a champion of the poor and help those in need to the best of my abilities.

After walking around the Joey Velasco Museum, we watched the documentary Kambas ng Lipunan hosted by Cheche Lazaro. Though I already watched it before, the documentary moved me even more. I learned more about the life of Mr. Velasco — his sickness and depression, his visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and his personal experience on the Hapag ng Pag-asa.

But what flabbergasted me the most was the letter of his 13-year old son by that time, Marco. When Mr. Velasco decided to sell the painting to an owner of a museum, Marco told his dad not to sell the painting, with the promise of becoming a good man. That instance truly moved Mr. Velasco, and so he decided not to sell the painting anymore.

Mr. Velasco’s last piece of art, Hapag ng Pag-ibig, depicts the kids from Hapag ng Pag-asa in their happiest faces. According to Mr. Velasco’s wife, Ms. Queeny, the said painting is very special because it was finished as each kid is being uplifted from their impoverished lives one by one.

From our museum visit, I learned that love should not be delayed. Just like Mr. Velasco, I would like to show my love to our less fortunate brothers and sisters by helping them in my own little way.

Those 12 kids were poor because they didn’t have a luxurious life like most of us do. But after contemplating on the painting, they are actually rich, because they have Jesus.

The day I spent with my Companions at Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation and with the Joey Velasco Foundation was indeed a moment that renewed my heart. As an opener to my 2015 journey, I can only say that just like the little Marco, I will be a better person this year because like the masterpiece of Mr. Velasco, we are Jesus’ works of art and we ought to share and spread the cheer of becoming a masterpiece.

Kystel Calderon, Journey Batch 8 

The NCAF Music Ministry singing Christmas songs to the families in the Gawad Kalinga Community in Caloocan City.

Christmas is everyday, all year round: The families happily receive their simple gifts.

More Than Being an Outreach Activity

Being part of an outreach is not new to me. I’ve been constantly finding ways on how to volunteer in activities. I never thought that I will still see outreach activities in a new perspective, just as what I have recently experienced in the Songs for Healing in Caloocan City. I saw how the people in the community were filled with so much joy, making me understood what a real home is — a place where people love one another, where they find each other’s presence as strength, and where God’s love overflows.

Before coming to the Joey Velasco Museum, I was not familiar with the man and his works. But after learning about the stories behind each of his painting, and his struggles as told by his wife, Ms. Queeny, I came to see Mr. Velasco as a good and strong man, with a beautiful family.  Despite going through a severe illness and depression, he managed to triumph from those challenges and to find happiness in doing God’s deeds. I learned that happiness is not just an emotion, but it is a choice. We have to constantly work for it. There are many things that will make us happy and our challenge is to keep looking for them. When it seems that happiness is lost, it is definitely not the end of things. I learned that the point of happiness is not in attaining it but in the pursuit of it.

In this outreach activity I’ve joined, I felt satisfied. Deep inside, I also felt that something has changed in me. Probably, it is the healing of a pain or wound I’ve hidden for so long. But what’s important is seeing God in instances I least expected.

Cedric Dela Cruz, Journey Batch 12

The original “Hapag ng Pag-Asa” by Mr. Joey Velasco.

“Hapag ng Pag-Ibig” was painted by Mr. Joey Velasco when the children started to live in the Gawad Kalinga Village in Caloocan City.