“Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them.”
– Franz Marc
At 64, Edgardo Lamb, a street painter, proves that one is never too old to pursue a newfound passion.
My daily commute to work brought me into knowing Tatay Edgardo. With his art pieces carefully arranged in the background, he is often seen in the day painting at an old building in M.H Del Pilar St. in Ermita, Manila.
Then one day, my curiosity got the best of me. I got off the jeep ahead of my station and hoped he would his story. Luckily, he was more than willing to do so.
The Rise of an Artist
For so many years dwelling on the street, he gets by doing odd jobs — from beer house helper to parking assistant. Survival was his mind’s fuel.
It is only a couple of years ago when he took interest in creating art. Being a parking assistant, he has his time on his own hands. And so he picked some scrap of wood and bought small cans of used paints from art shops in the area then started to paint his idle hours away.
Most of his artworks are results of his everyday street observation, past experiences and sometimes lyrics of songs he grew up listening to.
And like other artists, his craft is an extension of himself.
Later on, he was able to create a number of pieces that he displays by the street. Passersby started noticing his growing collection and showed interest in buying them. Even tourists buy his stuff as souvenirs of their visit in the country.
“Minsan, kapag balik nila dito, pinapakita nila sa picture na naka-display na ‘yung gawa ko sa sala nila.”
Not only his hobby became an unexpected source of income, it also turned his little living space in the street into an art studio, where he keeps all his works in an old trolley bag.
I asked him if he ever had artistic tendencies when he was a kid. He answered while showing a work with a Beatles song lyrics written on it.
“Wala. Ngayon ko lang talaga nahiligan, tsaka life begins at 60.”
The Choice to Struggle
A creative mind is not only a subject of glory but also of struggles. These challenges vary from artist to artist. As for Tatay Edgardo’s, it is the constant lack of materials — that he oftentimes has to leave a piece unfinished until he makes end meet.
“Kapag may bumibili ng mga gawa ko, makakabili rin ako ng pintura.”
This hurdle puts his creativity more to work. Resourceful as he is, Tatay Edgardo improvised materials that most of us see in as garbage. He uses woods, tires, and fabrics for canvas; and plastic umbrella ribs for a brush.
Poverty is commonplace for Tatay Edgardo, who is used to living with very small means even before he started painting.
In fact, staying outside and being practically homeless is his choice of lifestyle as he could easily live with his daughters and sons if he wanted to.
“Gusto ko sa labas nakatira. Masaya na ko dito kasi hindi ko na iniisip ‘yung buhay ngayon, ‘yung sa susunod na.”
He also loves waking up to birds chirping on the old building’s rooftop and feeding them with bread crumbs he could spare.
Tatay Edgardo celebrates all of the struggles and joys of living in the street especially when security personnel doesn’t eject him from the area.
Call to Action
Thank you for reading this post. Tatay Edgardo is a contented man, but he’d be really happy to accept preloved art materials. That way, he could finish some of his artworks. 🙂
You can drop your donations in front of Crystal Noir M.H. Del Pilar Street, Ermita, Manila (he usually stays there), or you can contact me thru my social media links.
Also, if you like real-life stories such as this, you can see more in Humans of Rizal Park.