IN PHOTOS: Feeding hope in Bayan ni Juan

George P. Moya
'Guhit ng Pag-asa' is a unique feeding program-cum-art activity that provides not only food for the body, but also aims to nourish hope for the children of Bayan ni Juan


LAGUNA, Philippines – The children were handed spoons. Then they were handed brushes.

Guhit ng Pag-asa” (Sketch of Hope) is a unique feeding program-cum-art activity that provides not only food for the body, but also aims to nourish hope for the children of Bayan ni Juan, a relocation site in Calauan, Laguna.

The program was conceived by artist-photographer Al Benavente, who frequents the relocation area and is also doing a long-term documentary project on the lives of its residents.

The Don Bosco Missions in Calauan actually already provides a daily feeding program for the children in Bayan ni Juan.

“Our feeding program is there to give the residents nourishment, something to help them get by through the day,” said community organizer Susan Pullarca.

There are also times when corporate sponsors visit the area and conduct their own feeding programs.

Benavente, however, said he saw the need for a more interactive activity that allows a more meaningful and deeper exchange of experiences between volunteers and residents. (IN PHOTOS: Hunger advocacy through arts)

“One day, a couple of boys in the area joined me while I was shooting. We stopped along the road when we found a heap of charcoal. The kids and I started drawing figures on the street. That was where I found the inspiration to mount this event,” Benavente narrated.

Food, art

Together with other artists from Sarilikha-Laguna and Guhit-Pinas, Benavente developed the idea of mounting an art-based activity that will inspire and influence the children in Bayan ni Juan. Thus, Guhit ng Pag-asa was born.

They were later joined by the UP Painters’ Club, the civic group Kalasag-Laguna, and other volunteers.

“We are very happy that people gave their time and talent to make the event possible. The mobilization was a spontaneous outpouring of goodness,” Benavente said.

The children were treated to face-painting and balloon-twisting sessions. They were also given a chance to collaborate with the artists in creating 4 giant murals, which will soon decorate the walls of the Don Bosco chapel.

“The art activities hopefully helped in building the confidence of the children,” said Benavente, who has plans of coming up with more art lessons, workshops, and talent development programs for the children.

He said he wants to sustain the gains they made in Guhit ng Pag-asa, continue to help the children discover their artistic potential, and give them a vehicle for expression.

“By being part of the making of the murals, it gave the children a sense of pride,” added Pullarca. “Somehow, it makes them feel special.”

Artist Jason de los Reyes also gave a watercolor painting demonstration and also taught the children how to draw.

“I volunteered to do this because it was for a good cause. I am able to share something to the children, something that will hopefully leave a lasting and positive influence on them,” De los Reyes said.

De los Reyes started painting when he was 7 years old. But the first time he picked up a crayon, it was with his feet as he was born a paraplegic.

“To see Jason being able to paint beautiful artworks despite his handicap was very inspiring for the children. It makes them realize, that they, who are able-bodied children, can rise above their situation,” Pullarca said.

The bottomline, according to Benevente, is to make a positive impact on the lives of the children, that there is hope, and that they have a future. –

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