Artist pays tribute to fallen COVID-19 frontliners through portraits
MANILA, Philippines — An on-location sketch artist who used to roam the streets of Metro Manila to illustrate his surroundings switched to drawing portraits to pay tribute to deceased health workers due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Aurelio Castro III would usually draw landmarks and streets as he wandered around the metro aboard his bicycle.
But as the Luzon-wide lockdown forced him to stay at home, he was pushed to explore his art leading him to honor the fallen frontliners.
“Dahil sa ECQ [enhanced community quarantine], nahinto ang aking on-location sketching. Naisip ko na sumubok na lang muna ng ibang medium at subjects na bihira ko na magawa,” Castro told the Inquirer.
(Due to the ECQ, I was forced to stop my on-location sketching. I thought about trying in the meantime other mediums and subjects that I do not usually do.)
This was the time Castro returned to using pencil in his illustrations, a medium which he said he last used over a decade ago.
“Una kong ginuhit ay ako at ang aking mag-ina. Kasabay nito napapansin ko na ang balita tungkol sa mga nasawing doktor dahil sa COVID,” he shared.
(The first thing I drew was myself and my wife and our child. And then I noticed the news about the deaths of doctors due to COVID-19.)
Castro, who also plays the guitar for Juan Pablo Dreams and Flippin Souls Stompers, has sketched at least 15 health workers who have succumbed to the deadly respiratory illness.
Among them are Dr. Greg Macasaet of the Manila Doctors Hospital, Dr. Rose Pulido of San Juan de Dios Hospital, Dr. Israel Bactol and Dr. Raul Jara of the Philippine Heart Center, Dr. Henry Fernandez of the Pangasinan Medical Society, Dr. Marcelo Jaochico who is the Pampanga provincial health chief, Dr. Sally Gatchalian, president of Philippine Pediatric Society, Dr. Leandro L. Resurreccion of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Helen Tudtud of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and her husband Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud.
While he is happy that the frontliners’ family and friends appreciate them, Castro said he hopes he will not have more health workers to draw and pay tribute to.
“Masaya ako dahil nagustuhan nila at na-appreciate ang munti kong effort. Pero bakas din sa mga mensahe ‘yung lungkot nila. Dun ko rin lalo na-realize ‘yung bigat ng mga nangyayari,” Castro said.
(I’m happy because they liked the little effort I made. But sadness can still be gleaned from their messages. I realized even more how heavy the situation is.)
“Iba pala ‘yung emosyon ng lungkot sa nakikita mo lang sa balita at iguguhit kumpara sa may personal ka nang koneksyon sa iguguhit mo,” he added.
(I found out that the emotion is different when you simply see the news and draw them compared to when you have a personal connection to those you draw.)
That is why Castro said he also hopes more protection would be given to health workers who are risking their lives to address the current health crisis.
“Hindi madali para sa lahat pero please stay home as much as you can. At sana po ay madagdagan ang effort sa pagtulong at pag-provide ng necessities para sa ating mga frontliners,” he said.
(It is not easy but I hope everyone will stay at home as much as they can. And I hope more efforts will be done in helping and providing the necessities of our frontliners.)
Following the death of more than a dozen Filipino frontliners due to COVID-19, calls have been made to lay them to rest at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
Health officials have so far recorded 252 health workers infected by the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, which leads to COVID-19. Of the number, 152 are doctors and 63 are nurses.
Meanwhile, there are 4,195 people in the country already infected with COVID-19. This includes 221 fatalities.
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