This article appeared on 10 March 2014 in the print and on-line versions of Manila Bulletin's "Angels Talk", edited by Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus.
The Autism Society Philippines was one with the nation in celebrating the National Arts Month last February. ASP partnered with NCCA, Metrobank Foundation, MADE and SM Supermalls to mount "The Art of Healing", a unique art therapy workshop given exclusively to ASP members at the SM Aura. The experience brought to the fore how art is a powerful force of self-exploration and healing for many young adults on the spectrum.
Self-expression through art is the apparent refuge of many whose communication is limited by autism. And for some, what they lack in social skills, they compensate for with a “great eye” and a steady hand. Artists like JA Tan, Gabriel Atienza and Tomas Perez-Rubio have been lauded for their unique perspective and enviable dedication to their craft.
ASP National Secretary Mona Magno-Veluz returns as this week's Angel Talker to introduce us to an up and coming artist on the spectrum and his gift of perspective -- Lance “Tikoy” Basilio.
Lance Basilio, for the most part, is your typical 11-year old boy. Aloof and handsome, his long hair tied in a ponytail hints to non-conformist tendencies. This young man with autism has long been fascinated by cityscapes and spent many an hour drawing imaginary cities on pen and paper, since he was four years old. Without referring to the original, he can recreate a drawing he did a year back so well that you would think you are looking at a photocopy. Gifted with muscle memory, Tikoy can make replicas down to the stroke imperfections.
So exemplary is his passion and artistry that Lance was highlighted by the Museo Pambata as one of their featured artists. “Tikoy’s Gift of Perspective” ran from February 16 to 22, 2014; and attracted many visitors from the business and art communities. The exhibit was opened by socialite and art enthusiast, Tessa Prieto-Valdes. [Erratum: Due to popular demand, Tikoy's exhibit has been extended to March 15.]
Mimi Basilio, Lance’s mom, feels that the ability to recreate on paper the fascinating places his imagination takes him is what allowed Tikoy to better express himself. And this outlet made a difference in his academic work. From being in a special program in Bridges Foundation, he successfully transitioned to the mainstream of Maria Montessori in Pasay.
Without any formal training or strong artistic influences, Tikoy never felt his drawings were special. It took the prodding of his mother, an interior lighting designer, and his godmother Shoko Matsumoto, the Cultural Center of the Philippines resident lighting director to persuade him to mount a solo exhibit. In the end, Tikoy became convinced and worked feverishly to create the pieces that were displayed in his exhibit.
Aside from being an artistic endeavor, the exhibit also opened doors for Tikoy’s talent to translate to a future livelihood. Mimi Basilio transformed some of Tikoy’s sketches into elegant lamps. Some designs were also made into t-shirts which were sold to benefit the Museo Pambata. More interesting still, a Japanese fashion house expressed their desire to manufacture Tikoy’s art into fabric prints. It is clear that Tikoy’s art has a commercial appeal he can leverage on in the years to come.
“Am I a celebrity?” Tikoy innocently asked his mom, when an exhibit guest asked for his autograph. While Tikoy is not yet a household name, the future is looking very bright for this talented young man on the spectrum.
The United Nations declared April 2 as the World Autism Awareness Day. Advocate organizations like the Autism Society Philippines will commemorate the day with various events and activities. Get the latest updates on our Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/autismsocietyphilippines) and join us!