Jhalanie Matuan is the woman who once went viral for selling her art on the streets, the very same place she called home. In a span of five months since April when her story first broke, so much has happened. Whether people seek Jhalanie out on the streets to catch a glimpse of her intriguing work or read about her on international news or come to her exhibit made possible by friends Coco Torre and Eric Madrazo, it’s safe to say that more and more people have come to know and love her story.
And why not? More than anything, her story tells of hope and these days, people need more of that. But on a grander scale, what else can we learn from her story?
- Art knows no place.
You can be anywhere in the world, in the streets, in the back alley, in a leaning tower or in a shithole living a life unique to you and yours only. You can be anywhere living in whatever circumstance and still own the power to create. Choose that.
- Exploit your pain.
Yes, do not sugarcoat it. The word “exploit” may make you feel a bit uncomfortable. But pain is never comfortable. So keep going, do what you have to do, until it makes you, until it heals you.
- Focus on the light.
People who had the chance to talk with Jhalanie would somehow have an idea how dark her past was, too dark to even try to go back to. But with friends sharing their light, might as well focus on it.
- Create a multitude of inspiration.
When Coco and Eric worked on getting Jhalanie a place to showcase her works, it was because they felt inspired and moved enough to do so. But the people who went to Jhalanie’s exhibit last August 28 at A Space Manila definitely felt inspired by Coco and Eric themselves. So don’t break the chain. Keep paying it forward.
- Keep going.
This may probably be the more cliché among the list but also the more challenging to follow suit. When you’ve been pushed away all your life or have no one to count on to believe in you and in what you do, keep going. When it’s hard, when it’s painful, when in doubt, keep going.
Jhalanie may have been known for being the homeless woman who sells art on the streets. But won’t we rather remember her as the woman whom through other people’s kindness, find her home and self making art?