Aurelio Castro III calls himself an on-location artist. For five years before the Enhanced Community Quarantine, he would ride his bike and go around Metro Manila every day to sketch scenes that piqued his interest. He would then post his urban sketches on his Facebook account for his friends and followers to see.
“Nahinto nung nag-ECQ, pero yung urge ko na mag-document ay nandun pa rin,” he tells eCompareMo. “When I saw the news online about frontliners who died in their fight against COVID-19, that’s when I thought of paying tribute to all of them in my own personal way—through sketches.”
Castro posted his fallen frontliner sketches online and quickly gained shares from his friends and followers. Philippine media caught a whiff of his works and soon, he found himself making it to the news.
“Sa story ni Dr. Maria Teresa Dajao ako pinaka-nalungkot—at nakaramdam ng galit,” he shares. Dr. Dajao died on April 17, 2020, after being hit by a truck on Quirino Avenue. She was riding her bike on her way home from hospital duty.
“Sa kanya ako pinaka-naka-relate sa lahat dahil bike commuter din ako at alam ko ang alam ko first-hand ang kawalan ng respeto samin sa kalsada,” Castro laments.
Castro is no stranger to the limelight. Besides painting professionally since 2000, he has been recording and gigging with different bands for years now. Among them are mod revivalists Juan Pablo Dream, who just released a single called “You Can Feel (You Are Free),” dedicated to COVID-19 frontliners.
“I’m self taught and have been drawing and painting as far as I can remember. For me, my most valued artworks are my six years’ worth of my on-location sketches,” he shares.
We asked him for his advice to fellow artists during this quarantine. “Mahirap magbigay ng advice sa artists, ma-pride kami eh!” he says jokingly. “Just make art! Kung capable naman ang artist, gagawa at gagawa yan. This is a good time to try and learn new things and skills. Ngayon lang ECQ ako uli gumamit ng lapis and I’m glad I did.”