By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
JUST like other local artists, 52-year-old Larry Casinao struggled to earn a living through his artworks. Social media changed all that.
Casinao, who hails from Brgy. Baldoza in Lapaz, Iloilo City, touched the heart of many netizens last week after photos of him painting on the sidewalks of Jaro Plaza uploaded by student Sal Molinos went viral on social media.
Molinos’ photos were posted on the Facebook page of Daily Guardian where it was shared 9,900 times and reached 1.3 million users.
After the viral post, people reached out to Casinao to extend their help by buying his artworks.
But before he rose to fame, Casinao struggled to stay true to his craft while keeping up with the fast-paced world.
In an interview with Daily Guardian, Casinao said he only finished two years of his drafting course at the former Iloilo School of Arts and Trades, now ISAT-University before he landed his first job in a sack factory.
He started to do paintings and charcoal portraits to raise his own family.
“Pagpangasawa ko amo na to nag-self practice ko kay sang una ang amon project sa school painting kag charcoal. Kag halin man gid sang una mahilig gidman ako sa art,” Casinao told Daily Guardian.
Initially, Casinao said he gave away his artworks to friends and relatives for free.
“Ang una ko nga mga painting usually mga landscape. Pero wala ko pa to ginabaligya, ginahatag ko lang sa akon mga kilala kag pamilya,” he said.
After getting enough encouragement, he eventually decided to sell his artworks.
Casinao said he would sell his paintings and portraits house-to-house to earn more income.
“Ginalibod ko sa mga pamalay. Kag kis-a may mga kilala man ko nga gapaubra sa akon,” he said.
Casinao added that he would also travel to the towns of Januiay, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas and even Guimaras just to sell his artworks.
But it was never easy as Casinao recalled how he had to endure the heat and rain while selling his artworks.
“Mabudlay kay ang kontra mo init kag ulan and may mga times nga hina gid ang benta. Maayo na lang may customer ka sa isa ka semana,” he said.
Casinao now faces a bigger challenge – supporting the dialysis of his wife, Angelita, who suffered from kidney failure.
That’s when Casinao decided to display his artworks on the sidewalks.
“Daw napinsaran ko naghina ang house-to-house kag may gina-dialysis pa ko. Didto ko kag nagumpisa display sa Jaro and may nagabakal three to five nga painting per week,” he said.
There, he also met Roy Lago, a tricycle driver whom he eventually trained to become an artist.
The two worked together for three years doing house to house to sell their artworks and displaying it on the sidewalks at times.
Lago shared that he used his income from driving his tricycle to buy the needed materials for his artworks.
“Sang una kinahanglan ko pa mamasada para makabakal ko sang canvass,” he said.
Their lives changed when Casinao’s street painting session went viral last week.
They are now provided a better avenue to display and sell their artworks through the help of Festive Walk Mall Iloilo.
Casinao shared that it was his first time that his artworks were sold out in just a short period of time.
“Dasig lang maubos kag actually sold out na gina ang amon iban nga painting. Damo man nagacontact sa akon sa Facebook nga gusto man nila magbakal. Asta tulad, daw indi ko magpati. Grabe gid ang pasalamat ko kay Sal Molinos,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lago said he temporarily stopped plying his tricycle as he now focused on painting.
Now, the two are even more inspired to pursue their passion and improve their crafts.
“Sige-sigehun ko pa ang painting kay nakita ko dako gid ang bulig sa pamilya ko especially kay may tatlo pa ko nga kabataan,” Lago said.
Meanwhile, Casinao said he has been training one of his children, Grade 12 student Lar Mae, to become a painter, too.
He added that he is also planning to organize an art workshop soon to gain extra income.
Amid the pressure of the fast and ever-changing world, local artists like Casinao and Lago refuse to give up.
Casinao hoped that other local artists would do the same.
“Sa iban nga mga artists, kinahanglan hindi gid kamo mag give up kay sa inyo man pagpangabudlay, makabulig gid ang inyo mga nabal-an sa inyo pamilya,” he said.