“Hapag ng Pag-asa” translated as table of hope is a painting by Joey Velasco, a renowned Filipino contemporary artist. The painting is Velasco’s touching depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in which he had 12 street children in place of the apostles. These children in the painting are real children from the slums of Manila except for one that is found eating the crumbs below the table. The latter was inspired from a photo of a real Sudanese child who suffered during famine infested Sudan. The table on the other hand, is not much of a table; they are just a pile of boxes enjoined together. Another striking character in the painting is the boy holding a bag, which obviously does not belong to him; he could’ve taken it from someone else – some rich-looking passerby perhaps. Furthermore, in Da Vinci’s painting, it was Judas who had a bag of coins. Velasco’s painting was done in striking and vibrant oil paint on a 48 x 96 canvas. The “Hapag ng Pag-asa” has already replaced Da Vinci’s “LAST SUPPER” in many of the Filipinos’ dining areas. He is often dubbed as a “HEARTIST” – an artist with a heart. This is exemplified in his religious paintings and sculptures.
The painting in its entire ensemble reveals the faith of the artist as he etched the canvas with a dramatic presence of dark and light complementing the vibrant colors of the subjects. This shows Velasco’s adept skills in realism. Observe the painting once more, you should see faces – distinct faces of real children. As real as those children are, is the poverty in the Philippines that is seemingly beyond resolve.
Looking at the masterpiece, I see flashes of my day-to-day encounter with street dwellers I happen to come across with on my way to work or wherever I go. By encounter, I simply mean seeing them around; handing them some extra food; or some coins. I don’t really have a heart as big as that of Joey Velasco; Painting kids then giving them a home. The painting is a call to sustain hope among us to make sure it lives on till the day the face of Jesus in the painting is sad no more. I think it is a reminder as it hangs on our wall, that every time we break bread with our family, we also find time to share to those who are hungry. Every time we waste food, we think of the many who have none.
HAPAG NG PAG-ASA is indeed an allusion to THE LAST SUPPER. Both a depiction of Jesus dining but varies to whom He dined with. I also remember very well that the Bible also tells us the teachings of Jesus; the one when He said that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if we cannot be like children. This painting makes me recall that story and it makes me think that those children in the painting do not necessarily talk about children per se. Hence, it reveals the children in us; the stray; the broken; the homeless; the hungry; the sinner; the hopeless; the lost; the downtrodden; the confused; the unnoticed; the wanderer; the insatiable. This awakens us to accept the reality of our condition in order for us to truly find solution to whichever difficulties we might get stuck with. And that there is always someone out there who would walk with us in such journey, if we only acknowledge them.
Joey Velasco’s paintings might have started as a byproduct of a man who shut himself off from everyone else when he contracted a fatal kidney disease but it is also a byproduct of faith. In his time alone he found his calling and when he did, he made changes in some people’s lives. This only proves to show that no matter how deeply sunk we are, we can always find our way out. We may differ in coping means, so it is important that we should know our niche. You must have understood now, why our teachers, involve us in a lot of different things; through those experiences, we might find ourselves.
Flores, Ging. ( 1 December 2014). Inspiring Pinoy: Joey Velasco: art enriching life. Retrieved from http://pusongpamilya.com/inspiring-pinoy-joey-velasco-art-enriching-life/
Lo, Ricky. (2 Novermber 2007). The story behind Hapag ng Pagasa. Philstar Global. Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2007/11/02/25035/story-behind-hapag-ng-pagasa
Sorilla, Franz IV. (1 April 2015). Joey Velasco: Transforming Life Through Art. Tatler Philippines. Retrieved from https://ph.asiatatler.com/life/joey-velasco-transforming-life-through-art