Hapag ng Pag-asa painter Joey Velasco dies at 43

Artist and businessman Joey Velasco, most known for the painting Hapag ng Pag-asa, died from kidney cancer complications on July 20, reports Inquirer.net. He was 43.

It was five years ago, around the same time that Velasco was diagnosed with kidney cancer, when he unveiled Hapag ng Pag-asa, a painting that shows Jesus Christ breaking bread with real street children from Manila instead of apostles like in the Last Supper. Now living "more or less rehabilitated lives," the children prayed for Velasco during the first night of his wake and thanked him "for saving them from the streets."

Joey Velasco on Probe Profiles

Velasco had created a sequel, Hapag ng Pag-ibig, which shows "the same children now enjoying a bountiful feast, the reward for never losing hope and faith." He had also published a collection of stories of the children included in Hapag ng Pag-asa entitled They Have Jesus: The Stories of the Children of Hapag. Proceeds went to a foundation that assists underprivileged children.

Hapag ng Pag-asa was exhibited nationwide, usually in churches, museums and galleries. Velasco never sold it but art enthusiasts availed copies through limited edition reproductions.

A fan-made Youtube video showing Velasco’s works of art.

Velasco had denied he was an artist, calling himself a "heartist" instead, according to Inquirer.net. He had also called himself a "socio-spiritual realist." The former Salesian seminarian had said, "I view my obras (works) as ’real,’ not because of the technique but because of the reality happening in our society."

He is survived by his wife Queenie and four children. The couple would have been married for 15 years today, July 22. His remains lie at Funeraria Nacional, Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Internment is on July 24, 10 a.m. at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina.

View his works of art here.

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