In 2019, there were at least 6,000 adolescent children who were living with HIV in the Philippines, most of whom continue to struggle to receive proper care and treatment. As the statistic continues to rise over the years, Filipino-American visual artist Rommel Rico is determined to do his part in helping these children get the bright future they deserve in spite of their disease.
Partnering with the Duyan Project, a program of the Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation that aims to provide care and support to children with HIV in the Philippines, Rommel has transformed some of his stunning art pieces into wearable shirts for people to purchase—the proceeds of which will go directly to the foundation.
Initially, Rommel was supposed to come home from New York City to Manila to set up a solo art exhibit last April at Gateway Mall, Cubao, for the benefit of this organization. Due to the ongoing public health crisis, however, Rommel had to come up with a different and creative way to push his initiative.
“As a registered nurse and physical therapist, I have a soft spot for sick children,” he told us in an exclusive interview. “I can’t bear seeing very young children with this debilitating disease. I reached out to the foundation to partner and offer my help. These children haven’t even started their careers and not even started working to achieve their dreams. Having these disease of not their own doing is very unfortunate.”
See a few of his masterpieces turned into fashionable shirts below:
“My art is expressive, modern impressionist. I use watercolor, acrylic, and oil but mostly acrylic and watercolor,” he shared, explaining his works. “Common themes [of my artworks] are women wearing traditional Filipino costumes. I think being away from the Philippines for a while [has] awakened my love [for] my own roots and culture.”
All these are available on www.virrco.net.
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Currently, Rommel is also preparing for the grand launch of his coffee table book authored by George Vail Kabristante of Balintataw Film & Theater Arts, under the Philippine Center for International Theater Institute-UNESCO.
“The coffee table book is an inspirational book about achieving one’s dream. It will showcase my artworks as well as a glimpse of my life story. I was born poor and slowly achieving my dreams so I wanted to inspire young people to dream and achieve what it is they are called for.”
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