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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

0 comments | Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thought of the day: To a painter, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one.

First, Adam forgot that we're supposed to have coffee tonight. But missing coffee is no big deal. Here's what matters most.

Today could be classified as one of the best days of my life. Not only that it happened here in the United States, where I am a complete stranger, but also because I have never been so complimented and applauded as today. Alright, I received adoration for all the scholastic awards I've gotten in elementary, high school and college. But those might not even resemble to the intensity I am feeling right now. Winning first prize of this and that in college and getting applause from the audience were something normal. The clapping was a ceremonial part, I, in most cases, did not feel overwhelmed.

Yet, today, it was different.

Dr. Peggy Miller, the outgoing President of South Dakota State University (SDSU), held a Christmas party (or should I say, retirement/farewell party) and invited everyone to join her at the Student Union. She has been the University President since 1998 and the only female President so far. She has led the University through good and bad times and with everything good she did and opportunities she opened, she is one person that SDSU can never forget.

Why am I telling you this? President Miller was one of the founders or initiators of the GIS Center of Excellence. Without her charisma and wit, the Center might have not been existing now.

Thus, the Center thought of giving her a gift, something to treasure and remember along. With Bwangoy's idea, I became part of that "special" gift.

I was asked to paint a portrait of the President. My colleagues thought such a gift could be precious knowing the time and effort spent to making it. They thought I could come up with something similar to Jo Ann's charcoal portrait, which I did for her birthday.

Hesitant. That was the right word to describe my answer when they asked me to do it. I wasn't so certain I could come up with a portrait painting of the most respected person in the University. No, I cannot do it. I was afraid I might not live up to their expectations. Hellooo people...you are talking about the President!

But on a second thought, maybe I can. Armed with painting techniques I learned many years ago in college (thanks to Henry), I accepted the task -- although deep inside, I was entertaining a faint heart. I do not have the necessary paint brushes with me, no tripod, no board -- everything was just nonexistent.

It was meant to be. In my search for materials, I found them at a bookstore. Though I had to spend more than twice the price in the Philippines, I didn't mind. Getting the President's portrait rightly proportioned took full possession of me.

Four hours in the first night. Four hours in the second night. Eight hours of drawing the President's 12" x 15" portrait. The result -- awesome! For me, it wasn't awesomely awesome, but I thought it would be good enough to make the President smile. Framed, with black borders, colleagues said, it could become the best gift she'd ever receive today.
Party time. It was time that we hand-in the output of my labor of love. There were mixed emotions inside. Will she like it? Will she somehow appreciate my 8-hour artwork? When the last part of the wrapper fell, and I saw her shocking eyes, fully awed and glued to the portrait, I knew that very instant that she liked, no, loved it.



She touched my shoulders, smiled at me with adoration, thanked me with all her heart and said words of recognition I have never before heard in all the portraits I made for other people when I was still in the Philippines. She commented that I could give the Art Department a run for their money, that they could be jealous of the talent I have. I was shaking when she told me that. Coming from a President of a big University, those words were music to my ears.

It didn't end there. She held the portrait up, raised it for all people in the room to see, caught everyone's attention and announced what beautiful gift she had, that I painted it. Then everyone (I could hear the ohs and ahs) just started clapping and, at that point, I was shaking even more.

Oh boy, shaking I was, that I thought I just won a Grammy award. That moment was real. I was red all over (ok, it wasn't obvious). Standing in front of people looking so happy for you, I gave a shy smile. The President told me I should have taken a PhD in Art and not a PhD in GIS. It was a compliment, I know.

I am not so good at receiving compliments, especially if I am caught pronto. When she told the official photographer that she would want a photo taken for just the two of us, I was thinking of asking the President that we could probably take it at a later time when everyone isn't staring or, better yet, guests have gone. My thoughts didn't materialize. She took my hand, we went further upfront, placed the portrait in front of us, and, like a cautious learning-to-fly moth, I shyly flipped my lips for the camera to capture.


It was a momentous event. I just never imagined Americans to be so appreciative of one's talent. I don't get that level of responsiveness in the Philippines. After I was back to my seat, others came and told me "I did a good job". One by one, guests looked at the portrait. At a distant, I was sensing their approval and, at some point, caught few others glancing at me.

As I said in my previous post, I have not fully accepted yet that I have a talent for art. Is it humility? I believe what I have is one ordinary skill anyone can develop. That if someone wants to have it, he or she can, through effort.

I do not aspire for any recognition. Nevertheless, if others acknowledge my work and believe in the gifts that I have, I'd accept it with so much felicity and fondness.

Finally, I thank God for giving me this talent and continue to pray that I may hone it furthermore.

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