A super typhoon hit the Philippines a month before Christmas three years ago. Today, another Christmas is around the corner. Sure, we preoccupy ourselves with the usual Yuletide traditions: buying gifts (fruit cake, anyone?), decorating the Christmas tree, and joining the company’s “monita-monito” gift-giving game.
We thought BIP’s best way of welcoming the Christmas season is to go back to the basics: By reminding ourselves of man’s capability to give in times of crises.
This piece is a two-part series about the spirit of giving: The first part is about one Filipina’s way of helping typhoon-stricken communities. The second is about lessons learned from one global humanitarian network’s recovery work after Typhoon Yolanda.
Hope you enjoy.
Art for Typhoon Victims in the Philippines
By Jhoanna Sevilla
The serene and soothing Holistic Education and Development Center (HEDCen) in Beverly Hills, Taytay Rizal was the perfect venue for The Wild: A Watercolor Exhibit. After all, the art gallery is in the amidst of a wild forest.
The HEDCen itself is home to wild plants and trees as well as to exotic animals, including an eagle, two pythons and an alligator snapping turtle. It was established in 1992 by the artist herself, Emma Gutierrez, with “used crayons, pre-loved toys, [her] own children’s story and picture books, long playing records and a phonograph from a garage sale, a brave heart and a vision.”
Simply known as Teacher Emma, Gutierrez is an educator by profession with an advocacy for the environment and a passion to make a difference.
The Educator As Painter
Gutierrez spent 12 months completing the artworks for the exhibit. While some paintings only required several minutes to finish, others entailed months to perfect. There were times when she revisited previously completed painting to add more details when inspiration hit her.
Gutierrez started to dabble in paint in 1997. “It was a rocky relationship with my art… I think it started to get a little serious and would be considered painting when I started the calendars in 2015,” she stated.
What she started in 2015—the calendar series—has become her annual fundraising project for typhoon-stricken communities in the Philippines.
Fundraising for An Advocacy
First there was the 2015 Time Flies Calendar. Then came the 2016 Happiness Calendars. Both raised about Php 663,000 in sales—far beyond the artist’s expectations. Thus, aside from the helping build a school in collaboration with Tzu Chi Foundation in Ormoc, Leyte, her two projects were also able to fund the Sea Camp Art Center in Sta. Fe, Bantayan, Cebu, and rebuild 10 families’ homes in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro that were affected by Typhoon Nona.
The third series, the recently released 2017 Wild Calendars, consists of 400 copies only and features her exhibit’s watercolor paintings.
Post Script: For inquiries on Emma Gutierrez’s calendar project, the artist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at IG@egfrogglerocks.
Yolanda and the Power of Humanity
By Suzy Taparan
Three years after Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) hit the Philippines, the world — more so, Filipinos — still could not forget the damage it brought on that fateful 8th of November. Saying that the Yolanda was “the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history” may not be enough to describe the depth and breadth of its impact.
Both the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, in articles that compared Yolanda with Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Sandy (2012), agreed that Yolanda covered a wider area and carried far more stronger winds.
Yolanda made six landfalls: In Guiuan town of Easter Samar at 4:40am of 8 November 2013; Tolosa town of Leyte less than three hours later; Daang Bantayan