On Typhoon Haiyan: The Greatest Art is Helping People

The world stands witness to the extreme challenges my country currently faces as our people continue to deal with the catastrophic aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, known locally as typhoon Yolanda. On November 8th, the typhoon hit the central part of the Philippines as a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers an hour and wind gusts at 275 kilometers an hour. It was one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history and the intense winds and the storm surges it brought resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims–most of them lost their homes and many, their lives.

A bright ray of hope pierces through our nation’s darkest hour as the whole world comes to lend us a hand. All over the Philippines, Filipinos are working together with friends from overseas to start the rebuilding process. Here in Metro Manila where I live, people have been working together to support various relief efforts for the victims in the hardest hit areas. I had been wondering how I could contribute when I stumbled upon this wonderful Facebook page, Art Works: Para sa Bisayas.

Art Works: Para sa Bisayas exhibit photo by Nino Gupana. The Plantation Bar, Makati City, November 16, 2013

Art Works: Para sa Bisayas (trans: Art Works for Visayas) is a fund raising community that helps in the relief effort by selling or auctioning different artworks from artists in the metro. They solicit old and new paintings, photographs, handmade jewelry, and even tattoo services to raise funds for the victims. Half of all proceeds will be given to the Philippine Red Cross, while the other will be used to gather relief goods to be packed and sent to affected areas.

I was at first hesitant to donate my artwork to the exhibit the organizers had planned at The Plantation Bar in Makati City because I wasn’t sure if my pop culture illustrations would be accepted and if anybody would be willing to buy them. Thanks to my friends’ support, I finally convinced myself to reach out to the organizers and ask if they could sell my drawings for the cause. To my relief, they were very happy to add my works to the exhibit and one of them even bought the artwork herself!

Blue Sky Heisenberg

It’s kind of ironic that the Walter White piece above, perhaps a symbol of the most horrible things man is capable of, has now been purchased to do something good for the people. I had been planning to raffle off the piece to my blog’s followers or to sell it on the online store I’m planning to put up but I’m so glad I held off because now the artwork can actually be used to support a noble cause.

The organizers were just preparing the place for the exhibit when I briefly met them yesterday to drop off three of my illustrations. Seeing all those beautiful pieces of art laid across the table, a few of them already on the wall, struck a chord with me and made me think of the many ways art can be used, not just to entertain people, but to really help them in times of great need. It was perhaps egoistic, but I felt really proud when I handed over my pieces, Blue Sky Heisenberg, The Batman and Commissioner Gordon, and White Walkers to the friendly and hardworking organizers.

Left: The Batman and Commissioner James Gordon,
Right: White Walkers

When I look back at the many hours I spent painstakingly working on those pieces, I feel like I made some of the best decisions of my life. Sometimes, you do art not really knowing why you do it, oftentimes, because you just feel like doing it and, as an artist, you have these paroxysms of creativity that you have to let out. I hope I never have to sell my drawings again because of a terrible disaster which nobody deserves, but right now, at this moment, it feels great knowing that the products of my own mind and hand are out there making people smile and bringing a bit of relief to people who need so much in these trying times.

Thanks to the tireless organizers of Art Works: Para sa Bisayas who opened the door for artists to help. To those who want to donate to bring aid for Typhoon Haiyan victims, you can do so via the Philippine Red Cross. Click here.

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