The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

26 March 2012

Filipino Artist With Autism Wins UN Stamp Design For WAAD

By Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus

The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) announced the winning entry “Victory” as one of the finalists in a worldwide search for talented artists with autism.

“Victory” will be featured in the UNPA issued stamps and first day covers on April 2, in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, declared to encourage member states to take measures to raise public awareness of autism.

The artist behind “Victory” is Jose Antonio Tan, aka J.A. Tan, born and raised in the Philippines and a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. J.A. and his work will also be featured in the book called “The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions,” together with other artists with autism.

"Victory" acrylic on canvass
On J.A. Tan’s website, http://artofjatan.com, he issues this statement on “Victory”:

“One young boy listening to a different tune as he makes sense of the world around.

"Not an easy task as he perceives the world differently from others.

"He is met with confused looks, angry looks, disturbed looks, happy looks, questioning looks...so many questions but no one answer.

"Yet this young boy continues on his journey never giving up...until...supported by his immediate family — all five of them always a strong presence in his life — friends, and professionals this young boy today has claimed victory over the many challenges of his life.

"Today, with happy faces around him he shows the world the “VICTORY” of an artist with autism achieved with patience, discipline, perseverance, love, and a positive attitude.”

J.A. Tan with ASP Laguna Chapter officers
During his visit to the Philippines in 2010, J.A. and his family donated proceeds of the sale of his painting “Homesick for Manila” to benefit ASP Laguna Chapter’s programs for training and purchasing of additional equipment and tools for their bookbinding enterprise. His mother Zelie shared how their family hurdled obstacles to help J.A. become the person he is now. Their family wanted an organization, like ASP Laguna Chapter, working with adults with autism, to benefit from their son’s work.

Of his art, J.A. Tan wrote: “I have come to the realization that I have always used art as a way of helping myself bring out my thoughts, feelings and ideas. I consider it an integral part of my existence as each work is a personal journey of myself with myself, and myself with the world, bringing a feeling of peace and happiness since things become clearer to me through the images and visual pictures before me.

"Coping with everyday life as an artist challenged with autism, I strive to make a difference in the world. Through my work, I hope to make the world less of a mystery and less scary for everyone. I hope to be able to make concrete images of how someone like me thinks, feels and interacts with people.”

J.A. Tan’s “Victory” and other UN Autism Awareness Commemorative Stamps will be available for sale on April 2. The stamps will be issued in 3 separate panes containing 20 stamps repeating 2 different designs 10 times. They will be issued in the UN Post Offices in New York, Vienna and Geneva. To order stamps, go to http://unstamps.un.org

*****

To celebrate the 5th World Autism Awareness Day, Autism Society Philippines has prepared the following pre and post activities:

- 01 April 2012, 5:00pm, advocacy concert featuring ASP Dream Girls and other performers with autism, followed by “Light it up Blue”.

- 01-08 April 2012, photo exhibit, all at SM City Fairview.

- 02 April 2012, 1:00 pm., forum on Supportive Environment for Persons with autism and a painting exhibit at the social hall of DENR Central Office

- 02 April 2012, 6:00, “Light It Up Blue” initiative of the WAAD National Working Committee, National Council on Disability Affairs (chair), Autism Hearts Foundation (vice-chair), supported by Autism Society Philippines.

Our Angel Talker this week is Tiffany Tan, national board secretary of Autism Society Philippines, mother to self-advocate, JR Tan. Her sources: United Nations and Jose Antonio Tan’s website.

This article first appeared in the print and on-line versions of the Manila Bulletin.

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