TACLOBAN CITY – Poor and fatherless, a student from the sleepy town of Tarangnan, Samar has been fighting lockdown stress by making portraits that come alive on leaves.
Since he started the leaf art three weeks ago, Ryan Rio Legatub Managaysay, 21, has already earned PHP4,000, double his mother’s monthly earnings as a community health worker.
Aside from planting sweet potato and cassava in their village in Binalayan, Tarangnan town, Managaysay spends most of his time doing artworks on basket fern, locally known as “salikupkop”.
He collects dry leaves from trees near their farm.
“It takes me two to four hours to make a portrait in a leaf. This is my way of coping with depression while we face the anxiety of a health crisis. The boredom due to lockdown inspired me to create art from leaves, giving it a second life,” Managaysay said in a phone interview on Thursday.
He has already made 15 leaf artworks, among them portraits of President Rodrigo Duterte, Pope Francis, Senator Manny Pacquiao, broadcaster Jessica Soho, TV host Willie Revillame, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Samar Rep. Sharee Ann Tan.
A second-year secondary education student at the Samar State University (SSU) in Catbalogan City, Managaysay wanted to be an architect but extreme poverty left him with no other choice but to take the more affordable course.
“I am positive that this leaf art will support me in my studies. Since I started college, I have to do a lot of chores in my aunt’s house in Catbalogan. In return, she gave me money to buy food and pay for my school expenses. I also did some artwork to earn a little,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Driven by his determination to earn a college degree, he pursued higher education despite the financial struggle following the death of his father, Tomas.
An unknown gunman attacked his father in 2009, compelling his mother Norma to step up and fill the father's role, supporting four young children.
Managaysay’s mentor at SSU, Jhonil Bajado, said he already knew that Ryan has a “knack for the visual arts” as he had done some artistic works in past school activities.
“His first leaf art was a portrait of mine. He was not confident to show it to me at first, because he did not consider it worth my attention, he said. In fact, I saw it on his My Day post first before he sent it to me via Messenger, on my request. Knowing how unassuming this kid is, I know he was just hesitant to show the artistic work of his hand,” Bajado said in a Facebook post.
The SSU professor was the first to share his student’s leaf artwork via social media.
The post was shared by thousands of netizens.
“I cannot help but be overjoyed with his God-given talent and share and tell it to the world. These artworks are, to me, a symbolic representation of the Bisayan resilience and the Filipino artistry, who are always able to find good vibes despite life’s adversity,” Bajado said.
Managaysay encouraged other artists not to hesitate to share their talents with others through various platforms. (PNA)