What follows is an excerpt from Joey Velasco’s speech at the start of his Book Launching and First Solo Exhibit in Art Asia. His book is entitled “They Have Jesus: The Stories of the Children of Hapag” and was launched on Oct. 13, 2006.
Jesus Christ never wrote a book. The only scene in the Gospel where we saw him write was on the sand. But what he wrote was blown by the wind. What was etched in our minds forever in history and in eternity was his preference for the outcasts and rejects.
In the future, I will be like the sand that will be blown by the wind. I will remain an unknown artist and writer. I will soon be forgotten. May the things I wrote in which I commit myself, be etched forever.
Countless books have been written in the past about the triumph of the human spirit and about great men who were larger than life. This simple book purports to share the stories of a handful of small lives whose voices are often unheard and whose tiny dreams are shattered before they can even take form. I just allowed them to speak for themselves even amidst the environment of cynicism. Their story does not seem much because it is so simple, but it is definitely deep because it speaks of and mirrors the ills of society.
I have learned from them that immersion or “sawsaw suka” is not enough, just for the feel-good-effect. Presence is the name of the game. Presence is what we are called for.
I do not aim to do a Mother Theresa here or to fire up a grand vision like that of the great Tony Meloto whose environmental and social reengineering of Gawad Kalinga is becoming global. I am aware that I am surely not a powerful force to advocate change that will prevent hunger and raise funds. I am not a wealthy person. I am just a painter. I cannot be a front liner of any movement. But I know I can make a difference. This is my personal healing and transformative journey through the children’s pain, hope, faith, and liberation that can reach across generations and cultures.
I wrote this book not out of conceit or in order to highlight the rare privilege of having painted with and from the heart. I am not sharing my strength as an artist or as a writer, but my weakness as a fellow journeyer, who witnessed these children drifting in the dark. Initially, I thought they were lost only to find out in the end that I was the one who was actually lost. It is not a testimony of how I pitied poor children. It is an acknowledgement of God’s abounding compassion for me. I am writing this to share how the Lord Himself painted through me and continues to give His message of hope and unconditional love through my humble work. In doing this, I wish to commit myself more and to live up to what is yet to unfold in the pages of this book.
-end of excerpt-
This video reminds me of the song, “Get Up and Live” which goes like this:
Get up and live, stand up and walk
Life is a gift from God
You’ve only got one life, live it well
Go to your brothers, help them all.
Get up and live!
Go to the poor, to the poor in your town
Go to the poor, to the poor, my friend.
Share their sorrows, let your pride down.
Show them you care, try to understand.
Get up and live …
Stand up and walk!
”The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said”. ALISON.