Inspiring Homeless Painter in Manila Proves Nothing Should Stop You from Doing What You Love

Words by Lori Dumaligan
Photos by Matthew Gan

Is there a dream that you just can’t let go of?

The story of a 65 year-old homeless painter in Ermita, Manila has been going viral around social media. See the original post here, by When In Manila, photos and story submitted by our #WIMtern, Matthew Gan:

You’ve probably heard it all before. Society has constructed a mindset that being an artist for a living means “suffering” and having an “uncomfortable” life. As an arts and design student, I’ve heard all kinds of talk about how pursuing art won’t guarantee you a good life and that it’s not worth it.

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But the story of Kuya Edgardo, who’s home and gallery is on a narrow pavement along Padre Faura street, challenges the mindset of why we make art. Is it just a way to pass the time and escape the world? Is it just to make money?

ALSO READ: Here are Some of the Pieces You Missed at Art Fair Philippines 2019

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Kuya Edgardo has been painting for about 20 years, he tells our #WIMtern, Matthew. He makes art to live, for the freedom it gives you to express, and “to make a living.” There are so many ways of looking at art, but his story highlights the good that art can do to speak for those whose voices are not heard and to communicate their unique stories.


His street gallery is a reminder for us that no matter what station we currently are in life, we can make art for ourselves and for others as well. It shows us that we can dream and make it become reality through art and our initiative.

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Not allowing himself to be restricted by his materials, Kuya Edgardo uses plywood and spare paint from construction sites. He turns discarded scraps into canvases and brushes. He is also gifted materials by students who visit his little gallery.

His inspiration comes from his surroundings, he shared. From the buzz and frenzied movements of the streets where he makes his home. He believes that art can be sourced anywhere and it can be anything. 


By taking a closer look at what seems to be commonplace, he finds the beauty in the little details that make up what we see as “normal.” His bravery to show his creativity to the world and his initiative to make his own gallery, despite his limited resources, prove that nothing can stop a person from achieving what they want.

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If you’d like to support this local artist, come talk to him or buy his artworks at Padre Faura St. corner M.H Del Pilar in Ermita, Manila. Prices are around 300 pesos and up. Gifts such as art materials such as acrylic paint, the medium he frequently uses, and small donations would be much appreciated as well.

Finally, Edgardo Lam’s story is a call to action to everyone out there who haven’t or are taking their first steps towards “that” dream: Go Do What You Love!

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Are you doing what you love? Let us know!