Twelve street urchins, aged 4 to 14 years old, scamper excitedly across the street, some of them giggling at the top of their voices. Though their faces are hardened with grinding poverty, they seem to light up into bright glimpses of hope. Their eyes are devoid of childlike innocence but they appear to exude looks of wonderment.
The others run in wild carefree laughter toward their special park, the foul smelling garbage lot. The rest of the children play along. They transform rusty milk cans, soiled tissues, discarded pieces of wood and metals, broken glasses, grimy paper bags, and nauseating waste of all types, into games and toys.
While messing around in their make believe world, the ragged children continue to live in their own private space where they reveal their inner strengths and fears.
A sweet lass with the generous heart, shares her cuddly teddy bear to the other children, quite oblivious of the fact that it is her only material wealth. She was abandoned as a baby and has lived in a cemetery all her life.
A little mama, only 14, gives black coffee to her crying baby. She was raped by someone she thought she could trust.
A fragile youngster, staring blankly at her playmates, keeps on trembling while clasping her torn and dirty rag doll so tightly to her chest. She is severely traumatized by a shocking incident in her life, although she tries to smile.
A toughened boy, already an expert in breaking locks and in pickpocketing, ravenously gulps down a piece of bread given to him by a sympathetic passer-by. He has been criminalized by his extreme destitution.
A thirsty lad, always longing for love and attention, naively expresses simple thoughts about giving a soothing massage and offering a cold drink to a tired person. He is a neglected boy yearning for a caring family.
A small shy guy, diffident son of an erotic dancer, searches for scraps among a pile of filthy trash. He fancies a juicy hamburger which he can only taste in his dream. He is often bullied by the bigger rowdy boys and consoled by his helpless friends.
A pitiful sonny, brutalized by the constant beating he receives from his drunkard father, partakes of his packed lunch of rice and salt as though it were a gourmet meal. He is the breadwinner of his family even at a very tender age.
A scavenger fellow, also called the Indiana Jones of the dump site, hunts even for rotten leftovers so he can bring home food for his brothers and sisters. He nourishes himself and his siblings with garbage food that he either boils or fries, regardless of the possibility of its being contaminated.
A timid punk, a squatter living under a concrete bridge along the highway, dramatizes the plight of the homeless and the rejected. He is faceless and nameless in a crowd of vagrants.
Two puny brother and sister , about to be evicted from their illegally constructed shanty, are unconcerned about the whereabouts of their relocation, if there is one such place for them. They are used to being cruelly thrown out like savages.
And a starving, painfully scrawny child, picks up crumbs that he savors like melted chocolate bars. He is akin to the pathetic figure in the Pulitzer prize winning photo of the 1994 Sudan famine that showed a famished child struggling to get to a food center with a hungry vulture on the verge of devouring him. The photographer is said to have committed suicide three months later, apparently from an overbearing depression.
In one corner of the junkyard, a gentle looking man sets up a makeshift table from grubby pieces of old cardboards. He positions a worn-out bench beside it. From his big straw bag, he takes out some wooden bowls and bottles and lays them carefully. Then he fills them with freshly baked bread, hot soup, meat dishes and all kinds of pastries. The shabby children smell the appetizing aroma and gazes longingly at him. The man beams divinely and motions them to join him. They rush in disbelief toward the man. It is the first time that anyone has shown them some kindness. In their wretched existence, all twelve of them are about to be lavishly blessed, as all twelve of them take their places beside Him to share a sumptuous Christmas meal.
The Painting ***
There's a painting like none I had ever seen, or shall I say, like none I had ever felt. It does not have the elegance of a da Vinci, a Rembrandt or a Michelangelo, nor does it exhibit a unique technique worthy of adulation. In fact, this portrait might strike some critics as stereotypical in terms of colors, textures, crops and composition, movement, proportions and presentation.
However, it is not the beauty, skill or theme that make this painting exceptional. Rather, it is the tenderness of its portrayal that leaves a prevailing empathy to one's soul, making it a masterpiece by its own standards, with the painter himself claiming that he is NOT an artist, but instead, he IS a "heartist". The portrait composes its art right inside the heart of the viewers that only a callous person will be left unstirred by the scene.
The painting is a present day story of twelve real chidren with broken lives and One who is able to heal them.
To view the painting: http://joeyvelasco.com/images/paintings_whole/Hapag_ng_pag_asa.jpg
To know the painter: http://joeyvelasco.com/about_theauthor.htm )