PortrAYAL


I first saw her sashaying down the prison aisle with the aplomb of a beauty queen. 

In some ways- she is one. A beauty queen for both her looks and outlook in life.

But who is this beauty queen, really? Evelyn Legaspi is a political detainee represented by the organization, KARAPATAN.

KARAPATAN, also known as Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, is an alliance of individuals, groups and organization whose aim is to protect human rights in the Philippines. On this occasion, the group has opted to raise funds and awareness through an art exhibition featuring political detainees.

Evelyn Legaspi is one such detainee. She is also the one I was assigned to illustrate. And her life story is something I will not forget.

Before being detained, she was a successful entrepreneur and single parent in her home province. She was also active in their home town's cooperative. Life was great. Until one day, the police barged in her home and took her into custody. The charge? A witnessed identified her as the criminal-at-large that the police were looking for at that time.

She was detained for four months while waiting for her arraignment. At the hearing of her case, the witness who supposedly identified her, arrived at court. In the line up, the said witness pointed at someone else as the criminal-at-large!

Evelyn thought her ordeal was over. However, she had to wait another four months to determine her fate in another hearing.

In the following hearing, though, the original charge was dropped. This time, she was pinned as a bomb maker for another case!

She's now staying for four years in Camp Bagong Diwa on trumped up charges while her case drags on in the Philippine court.

Evelyn admitted in our interview that during her first year of incarceration, she was very bitter. Eventually though, her trust in God pulled her through. She is grateful that her adult sons have graduated and have careers of their own before she was detained. That's one less worry for her. And though life inside the prison can be hard, (And expensive! Basic goods were triple the cost inside. Even the calls were metered.) she manages somehow through prayer and support from fellow political detainees.

Since she has more than enough leisure time nowadays, she takes new pleasure in makeup and reading. She never goes out of their selda (cell) without putting eyebrow liner on. I also found myself giggling as she recounted an excerpt she read from Fifty Shades of Grey... In Tagalog. (You think the English version is scandalous? You should hear it in Filipino. It sounded more lewd.)

"Ang Tunay na Evelyn"
Acrylic on Canvas; 10"x18".
Overall I am honored to have met Evelyn. In adversity, she found true peace of mind that most of us could only dream of. I wish I could post a picture of her. But cameras aren't allowed inside Camp Bagong Diwa. The best that I can do is share with you the artwork I made of her for the exhibit.

Her magnanimous spirit will always be a source of strength for me. I hope she gets the justice due her one day.

The Portrayal exhibit has given me a lot of time to think about the complexities of life. I guess it's high time I go back to basics. I can't wait to share our art jam activity in Sessions Illustrated:Back to Basics on August 31, 2015. Abangan!


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If you're an artist, an art hobbyist, a wanna-be artist, or just someone who thinks you too have much to learn about art- then you're most welcome here. I'd be happy to share my notes and discuss the things I learn along the way.

On August 31,2015, you'll discover how the basics of creativity has endless possibilities. Stay tuned! :-)

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