Joey Velasco

Pretty is not a word one would use to describe his paintings. Then again, true Christian love is rarely pretty and warm all the time. Joey Velasco, a true Filipino artist and painter, passed away yesterday and joins our nation in praying for his soul and for his family.

Joey Velasco was best known for his painting Hapag ng Pag-asa (Table of Hope). It's a painting of the Last Supper where Jesus is joined at the dining table by streetchildren. Known as a social-realist artist, Joey Velasco established himself in the religious art genre after a major kidney operation in January 2005.

Joey Velasco touched a lot of people through his paintings. While probably not as popular as Hapag ng Pag-asa, one of my favorites is called Paleta de Sangre or Palette of Blood where Jesus is shown as the painter or artist and the subject is Joey Velasco himself. Why do I like his paintings even if most of the time, the colors are dark and the mood quite heavy? I like them since they remind us that our God is not Someone far from us. He is right in our midst, in the ordinariness of daily life. Life is about seeing the Lord in all things and in all people.

At this point, I would like to share with viloria readers a piece written by Mr. Joey Velasco. It is entitled: Poor Kids in My Pocket. I borrowed this from my son, who was in class together with Joey Velasco's son last schoolyear. The whole class received a small picture of the Hapag ng Pag-asa painting with the following text on the other side of the card:

"I carry this picture in my pocket,
a simple reminder to me that
no matter where I am,
Jesus and the poor kids are always
in my midst.

This simple card is not a claim stub
to withdraw some blessings in return.
It is not a ticket to free me from guilt
nor a good luck charm to protect
me from harm.

It's not even to tag me as a man of charity
for all the world to see.
It's simply an understanding
between Jesus and me.

When I put my hand in my pocket
to bring out my wallet,
it is NOT for alms-giving.
This picture just makes me remember
that I must have a heart to share
that a part of me has to be offered
in simple service and deeds
to the countless little children
whose future is obscure,
who suffer and shiver in the dark;
whose voices are unheard;
whose nightmares come at daytime,
and whose monsters are real.

It's a symbol of my nearness to God.

So I carry this little piece in my pocket,
reminding no one but me,
that I can give hope
if only I care."

I hope my son reads the card often enough to remember and to live out the message of the painting and the words. I wish that all Filipinos will remember Joey Velasco and his family in their prayers too and may we also care enough so that others may always have hope.

If you would like to see Joey Velasco's works and also to read more about his story, please visit

[By Angelica Viloria | Wednesday, July 21, 2010]

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