Skip to content

Last Supper With The Street Children (Update: Joey Velasco Taken Ill)

July 24, 2008

Last Supper With The Street Children

Last Supper With The Street Children

The 12 children in the painting are real people the painter, Joey Velasco,  discovered in poor areas of Metro Manila and Quezon City.

After treating them to meals, Velasco took their pictures and retreated to his room to start working on the painting.

Velasco said, the children, aged 4-14, reveal a story of a greater hunger than a plate of rice could satisfy.

He said, “It was they who touched my soul. Through them, God spoke to me and moved me to paint their stories and tell others about their lives.”

The young girl standing at the extreme left, where Judas appears in the da Vinci painting, is 10-year-old Nene.

Velasco met her at the Manila North Cemetery, where she and her family lived as squatters among the graves.

Onse, 9, sits at the table, his plate cleaned to the last crumb, he listens to Jesus to feed his other hungers.

The child, who scavenges with a push cart, has a father addicted to drugs and a mother who works as a strip dancer.

Itok, another scavenger who at 11 is the family breadwinner, sits at the right hand of Jesus.

According to Velasco, Itok spent time in jail after being caught in a number of robberies.

Another child in the painting does not live in Quezon City.

Velasco placed a small Sudanese boy under the table eating the fallen scraps with the cats.

The artist explained, “The skinny child is not one of the hungry kids who roam our busy streets at night. He is “an imaginary symbolic figure” who in the past “had satisfied himself with unnecessary food, (but) now finds himself under the table seeking spiritual crumbs.”

The children featured in the painting are no longer in the areas where Velasco originally found them.

Through his partnership with Gawad Kalinga, an organization dedicated to sheltering the homeless, the 12 children and their families now have homes at Romeo Cabrera Village in Quezon City.

The children’s stories are  featured in the book “They Have Jesus: The Stories of the Children of the ‘Hapag ng Pag-asa (Table of Hope).'”

Note: This piece was emailed to At Midfield by Danny Gagelonia, my Kuya

Breaking news update:

This writer has just become aware of a report that the fragile health of Maestro Joey, who lives in Fairview, Quezon City, took a turn for the worse some 12 hours ago.

The online report at quotes unidentified Salesian Brothers as having said that Joey Velasco suffered “a heart attack and experienced seizures yesterday.” It also shared the information that “cancer has spread to Velasco’s brain.”
The unidentified poster of the news did not mention were Joey is confined but sought prayers for the acclaimed painter and his family. Joey is an ex-seminarian of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
I last had a chance to have merienda with Joey some two years ago during which he shared his abiding faith in the Lord as he struggled with his health condition.
We join the prayers for his recovery.

Here’s a look-back at Probe Profile’s feature on Joey two years ago:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. beckya8388 permalink
    April 10, 2010 1:31 am

    Where can I get reprints/posters of Joey Velasco’s various renditions of the Last Supper?

    • April 10, 2010 5:29 am

      I have digital copies of some of his works. But it’s best that I relay your query to him and get his nod. Will get back to you. Are you in the Philippines po. I think h also already has a web site buy am not sure… Will check…

  2. beckya8388 permalink
    April 10, 2010 5:42 am

    I live in the Chicago area and just returned a few days ago from a vacation in Manila. I saw three posters of his work while visiting a professor at Ateneo and he told me about Joey’s exhibit there. For the rest of my visit I was hunting for the reprints and went to several St. Paul Libreria branches but they all said they were out of stock. Aside from wanting them for some friends at my local parish I also particularly wanted to give a poster of the Last Supper with the street children to my neighbor’s child for his First Communion next month.

  3. mattlaurel710 permalink
    June 4, 2010 11:00 am

    Heart breaking, Ding. I shared this story with my son William and he was very touched by the portrait of the young Sudanese boy eating underneath the table with the cats. He asked how could a Sudanese boy live on his own in Manila, i said that this little boy is only a symbolic figure in the painting. When we lived back home, he had playmates who lived in the shanties near Don Bosco and he remembers how boys his age would take care of their siblings and cook rice, clean their homes and not go to school at such a young age. William said that he could not understand how others could have so much in life and others could not have anything at all. William said that the first thing that came to his mind after studying the painting was this: we should never take anything for granted in life. That he should always be grateful. Thank you for sharing this with us. My boy appreciated reading this and seeing the beautiful painting.

    • June 5, 2010 4:18 am

      This post has been in my blog archive for quite a while, Matt dearest but it does continue to touch hearts. Glad it did yours. Stay well. 🙂


  1. Prayers For Joey Velasco « At Midfield
  2. Paalam, Joey Velasco, Isang Dakilang Pintor « At Midfield

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: