In Iloilo, artist keeps painting to sustain wife’s kidney treatment
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines—Ilonggo artist Larry Casinao has been moving heaven and earth to finance the thrice-weekly hemodialysis of his wife since 2015.
Casinao, 52, has resorted to peddling his artworks on city streets and during desperate times, around towns in Iloilo province on a rented tricycle.
But fate must have smiled kindly on Casinao when netizen Sal Molinos took photographs of him painting, with at least 10 of his artworks, all for sale, hanging on a fence by the sidewalk leading to the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Jaro District.
The photos that he uploaded on Facebook went viral on social media. As of July 6, it generated more than 3,200 reactions and were shared 2,461 times.
This apparently made up for the fact that Casinao wasn’t able to sell anything during his stay there on June 23, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., because personnel of the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office of Iloilo City asked him to leave because he was obstructing pedestrian traffic.
Social media buzz
Molinos’ post, however, generated a lot of buzz on the internet. Netizens either asked for the price of Casinao’s paintings or had offered other forms of help.
Among them was actress Heart Evangelista, also a visual artist, who reached out and commissioned two paintings.
Casinao, a father of two children, finished a drafting course at the then Iloilo School of Arts and Trades, now known as Iloilo Science and Technology University. Painting has been his main source of livelihood in the last 25 years.
In 2015, Casinao’s wife, Angelita, 42, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, which required her to have hemodialysis thrice weekly.
The hemodialysis costs P22,000 a month, something that Casinao could hardly pay even with help from his 22-year-old son who works as a service crew member of a restaurant franchise here.
Such are their financial difficulties that his 19-year-old daughter had to stop going to school.
“My wife has no job; she likes to work so she can have money. I pity her,” said Casinao in Hiligaynon.
Help, however, started to pour in following Molinos’ posts.
Casinao said the management of Iloilo Business Park invited him to exhibit for three months on the ground floor of the Festive Walk Mall. This week alone, he was able to sell six paintings.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. also offered assistance to Angelita and invited Casinao to be an instructor in an art workshop to raise more funds for his wife’s hemodialysis.
Casinao has not only attempted to sell his paintings on the streets of Iloilo City but also rented a tricycle so that he could go to nearby towns like Dumangas, Leganes, and as far as Barotac Nuevo in northern Iloilo.
He sells the paintings with 38-year-old Reynaldo Libuna Jr., a framer in an art shop who drives the rented tricycle.
While Libuna “dabbles” in art, it was Casinao who taught him to work on some “serious” oil paintings so they could both earn and pay for the P300 rental of the tricycle and buy gasoline.
Casinao and Libuna’s paintings focus on subjects that can be appreciated by most people — Philippine pastoral scenes, landscapes, animals, flowers and common objects.
Kristoffer George Brasileño, former president of the Iloilo Visual Artists Collective, said the arts environment in Iloilo City could be competitive.
“There are many galleries here where he can consign his artworks, but there are also many artists who display their works. [Casinao] can go beyond the gallery setup so he can have more exposure, which is actually a good thing,” said Brasileño, noting that he started seeing Casinao’s works recently at Jaro Plaza.
Casinao has some of his works displayed at a frame shop across Nelly’s Garden in Jaro District where he also works as a part-time framer with Libuna. But they do not sell as much as they would if sold in city streets or in towns.
Those who wish to help the Casinao couple may contact them at 0995-1758651 and 0928-2379201.
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