Photo shows former President Corazon Aquino painting in her studio at her Times street home in 2001. JUN DE LEON/PEOPLEASIA

MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Joanne Rae Ramirez - In many ways, the late former President Corazon C. Aquino put indelibly on canvass, in the most vivid of colors and the gentlest of strokes, how she wanted to be remembered – as a woman of faith, of hope, of gratitude, of devotion.

Today, the most extensive exhibit of her paintings and other artwork, aptly entitled “A Gift of Self,” will be unveiled at the Lobby Lounge of The Manila Hotel. Her children are expected to attend the opening of the exhibit, the first since she passed away on Aug. 1, 2009.

In her own unique interpretations of flowers and nature, and in the prominence of rosaries in her artwork, Mrs. Aquino showed her true self.

“What you see is what you get,” Mrs. Aquino said of herself in an interview on her 75th birthday on Jan. 25, 2008. “I want people to still believe that what they see is really me.”

The exhibit will include pieces from the personal collection of her daughters Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada and Viel Dee, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Metrobank founder George Ty and his wife Mary and PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan. The exhibit will showcase over 100 pieces of Mrs. Aquino’s artwork and will run until Aug. 2.

Mrs. Aquino also used the power of her paintbrush to help others. While already battling colon cancer, she donated a 2 by 3 ft. oil painting to the Pink for Life Foundation to help fund the treatment of indigent breast cancer victims through a charity auction in March 2008. The painting, which was bought by a magazine publisher, raised P500,000 in an instant for the breast cancer patients.

Kris Aquino once wrote of her mother, “She was always a very ‘personalized’ type of friend, she wanted the recipient of her work to know just how much she valued and appreciated them.”

The country’s first woman President and Time’s Person of the Year awardee in 1986 took up painting lessons under Jeffrey Consumo in 1996. She never missed a session of Consumo’s once-a-week class until 1998. Her very first painting, dated April 1996, went to her eldest grandchild, Justin Benigno “Jiggy” Cruz on his birthday in October 1997. Her last painting is probably the one still mounted on an easel in her studio in her Times St. home, dated February 2009.

STAR columnist Mons Romulo, one of the organizers of the March 2008 Pink for Life charity auction, recalls Mrs. Aquino’s generosity.

“President Cory had just been diagnosed with cancer at the time and I had second thoughts about asking her if she wanted to donate a painting to the auction. But I sent her a letter of request just the same. We were happy that in spite of her health problems, she still wanted to reach out to others in need,” says Romulo.

Till the end, Corazon Aquino was selfless.

(“A Gift of Self” is sponsored by the Manila Hotel and Adamson University. Other sponsors include Smart, PLDT, Meralco, Philex Mining Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways, Metro Pacific Investments and the Wine Museum.)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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