This Livelihood Project Gives Hope to Prisoners One Artwork at a Time

For most people, art is a form of creative self-expression. But for the prisoners from the Mandaluyong City Jail and New Bilibid Prison, it’s both an outlet and a source of hope.

Through the student-driven project Humans of Hope, these prisoners can showcase their artworks in an online exhibit. This passion project was established by Bryanna Go, Marc Lee, Alyanna Apostol, and Sarah Gordon— members of the student organization Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon from De La Salle University— who wanted to give them a new sense of purpose.

Together with the Sisters of the Holy Eucharist and Caritas, who run a Restorative Justice Program, the team provides the prisoners with a platform to express themselves through art. Like a modern-day gallery, their works are displayed on a website for people to view and buy. This serves as both an alternative source of livelihood for the prisoners (since the proceeds go to them), and a great way to showcase their talent.

Humans of Hope aims not only to spread awareness about the ongoing Restorative Justice Program but also to tell the story about both the artwork and the artist who painted it. Beyond being called a prisoner, Humans of Hope wants to give these artists a name, a face, and the chance to do something good in his or her life.

Photo from Santugon (Disclaimer: Photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic)

Project Head Charlie del Rosario adds, “we wanted to give focus to one of the most underrepresented sectors of society. Once a prisoner is locked up, it almost feels like they are immediately erased by the rest of the world. We forget that they are fathers, mothers, siblings, and friends too, and if we invest just a little bit of our time in them, we can take part in molding humans fit to give back to society. In this case, art isn’t only a window to the soul— it’s the first step in creating humans filled with hope.”

Check out some of the artworks that were featured on the website:

Photo from Santugon

“Bahay Kubo” by Rolando Getigan

Rolando is a 42-year-old man from Samar, who is serving his sentence for robbery and holdup. During his younger days, Rolando loved to paint. While in prison, he was able to develop and improve his skills. Most of his paintings are inspired by his hometown, such as this painting of a Bahay Kubo, which evokes memories of the simple life he had during his younger years.

Photo from Santugon

“Manlalayag” by Warlie Susa

A 49-year-old man from Pangasinan, Warlie is currently serving a sentence for killing the man that murdered his brother. Despite being in prison, Warlie feels responsible for the children of his deceased brother. He then learned how to paint in order to support them. The work “Manlalayag” is inspired by memories of his younger days when he and his brother would go fishing in the sea for their livelihood.

This project was organized by the students from Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon, a sociopolitical organization in De La Salle University-Manila. For reservations, inquiries, and purchases, interested parties can visit the Facebook page of Santugon.

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(All photos were provided by Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon. These were all taken before the COVID-19 pandemic)

Humans of Hope

Website: www.bit.ly/HumansOfHope


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