Prompted by her desire to help fellow Filipinos badly hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), Madonna Limcaco Uhland, a resident of Switzerland, buckled down to work to do her bit by making a Christmas card. She had not taken up brush and palette for a long time.
Uhland joined the Samahang Filipino in St. Gallen (Switzerland) that organized a benefit gathering to raise funds. The planning was quick and short, she said, but each Filipino wanted to do something.
“I am not a member of the Samahan but I offered my help with my art work,” Uhland said.
Uhland’s big Christmas card shows a boy looking at a distant star.
This writer, who received the card from Uhland’s Philippine-based sister Priscilla Limcaco Lirag, took interest in Uhland’s art work. When contacted via e-mail, Uhland was pleasantly surprised.
She had just come from the Philippines to take care of her ailing mother, Uhland said. “I didn’t know that my sister was carrying my card around.”
According to Uhland, Swiss and many other nationals joined in the fund-raising efforts for those severely affected by the supertyphoon. The money they raised was enough to build 25 fishing boats for fishermen in Carles, one of the badly hit towns in Iloilo province, and also directly help several families.
Diocese in Borongan
Uhland’s cards were sold at that Samahan gathering which she described as a success. After that, she also made personal sales and, by herself, raised some 1,800 Swiss francs (approximately P82,000).
Some buyers gave more than the card’s price, Uhland said.
“I wanted to make sure that the money raised from the card sales would go straight to the people in need,” Uhland said, “so I contacted a priest who is a friend of my sister in Manila. He recommended a diocese in Borongan, Samar (province).”
She also learned about the badly damaged old heritage Church of the Immaculate Conception in Guiuan, Samar. She wanted to offer something for its rebuilding.
Here is how Uhland described her art work: “I used mixed media—art markers, which are felt tip pens, and colored pencils and tempera.
“The size of the original art work is just slightly bigger than the card, which is a European A5 (21 x 15 centimeters). I only had a few days to design and submit the final art work to the printer.
‘Hoffnung’ for ‘Hope’
“I wanted to do a card of the devastated area, but how? I have only seen images in the news. So I actually searched for a subject to inspire me and I came across this photograph of a young boy who was about the same age as my son (12 years old) in the midst of rubble … The rest was my imagination.
“I put the emphasis on the ripped shirt and the broken rubber slipper. The broken slipper symbolizes asking for help as he gazes at the star—there is definitely hope. I chose a boy because it represents Jesus. For me it is more than a card. I put my heart and soul into it.”
At the back of the card are written “HOPE” and “Proceeds from this card will benefit catastrophe victims in the Philippines.”
The words are also written in German. “Hope” is “Hoffnung” in German.
Her contact details and the printer that donated printing services are also written at the back. Nothing is written on the inside portion of the card.
A Fine Arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Uhland left for New York after graduation to join her family. She worked as a graphic artist in Manhattan and did postgraduate studies in painting in Rome for two years.
She now lives in Switzerland with her Swiss husband and two sons.
Uhland is a niece of multiawarded Araceli Limcaco-Dans, who is known for her intricately detailed paintings.
“I don’t really do art work now since I want to be a full-time mother to my sons, aged 16 and 12,” Uhland said. ‘’But soon, I would like to start painting seriously again.”
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