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Davao City, Philippines

Artists paint happy, hopeful murals in Leni-Kiko volunteer campaign HQ

November 30, 2021 - Tuesday 4:11 PM by GDM

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At the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center inaugurated on Saturday, November 27, murals by volunteer artists are vibrant, cheerful, hopeful – mirroring the happy and positive campaign of presidential aspirant, Vice President Leni Robredo, and her running mate, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. 

Popular artist Robert Alejandro illustrated a pink floral bus with a call to make the right vote for the youth’s future, while its passengers wave the Philippine flag.

Right above Robert's mural are the 60-foot portraits of VP Leni and Sen. Kiko made by renowned muralist AG Saño and his team, with assistance from Glendford Lumbao and his team. It took them almost six nights to finish the murals. Gigantic as they are, the murals are hard to miss for those at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Katipunan Avenue, where the volunteer center is located. 

There were more than 20 volunteer artists who brought the empty lot with dreary walls to life with their creativity and desire to have a brighter future for the country led by VP Leni and Sen. Kiko. Aside from reflecting the campaign’s happy and positive vibe, never seen in any Philippine election, the artworks also represent the spirit of volunteerism that has fuelled the campaign since VP Leni declared her presidential bid on October 7. It’s become a “people’s movement,” VP Leni herself has repeatedly said. 

Volunteer artist Ina Esquivel coordinated with all her fellow artists.  

“Originally when you look at it [the space], you would think, ‘Okay, let’s just paint everything pink’. But sayang naman ‘yung area, and it’s not nice to just keep putting up tarpaulins. It doesn’t look as organic,” Ina said.

That was when Ina and her parents, Gerry and Beng, decided to call on artists who would want to help design the space.

The reason behind the murals was to give a voice to a community supporting the platform of VP Leni and Sen. Kiko.

“They [artwork] are each a different interpretation of what the campaign means to the artists,” Ina explained. She added that all the art were personal abstractions subject to public interpretation and appreciation.

“What I like about what we made is that as a volunteer center, it was built by volunteers. It wasn’t created just for them. It’s really a way of saying to everyone: ‘Come and join this movement and be part of it in any way that you can’,” Ina added.

AG, a professional muralist, also made other artworks in the center, which serves as the headquarters of all the volunteers for the campaign to make VP Leni the country’s new President and Sen. Kiko, the next Vice President in 2022.

“AG was really ready to do anything, to paint anything,” said Ina. AG and his team also painted the center’s flooring and the popular “Leni hair flip” on the side of the building where the coffee area is located. 

In August, Robert shared in an Inquirer article his healing journey from cancer. Soon after VP Leni’s announcement that she will run for President, he began to actively campaign for her through his recognizable artworks – the ones we see in the iconic crafts store, Papemelroti, which was established by Robert's parents. 

Robert created illustrations depicting cheerful ordinary Filipinos, with a call to support VP Leni. He has made his artworks available online so that people can download them for free and use them for campaign paraphernalia. 

Ina said Robert wanted to participate in making the murals at the volunteer center and sent his designs to her. 

“He really, really wanted to be part of the campaign,” Ina said. “He really wanted to contribute something. So because he cannot physically paint, he just kept on giving designs that could be applied.”

Apart from Robert and AG, other artists who wanted to help spread the word about VP Leni and Senator Kiko’s platform to more people also contributed their time and talent for the murals. Some of them were introduced to Ina by other campaign volunteers. 

Even if he can’t vote yet in May 2022, an 11-year-old boy tirelessly participated as an assistant painter, taking part in shaping his future. Other young painters were joined by their parents, siblings, and cousins.  

"They [family members] just wanted to help! Every mural had help from family,” Esquivel said, whose mom and brother, along with their friends, also joined in painting the murals.

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