Sketches of Inspiration. Messages of Hope.
Vico Cham: Proud to be Autistic
by rick olivares
Problems or adversity are said to be challenges or tests. And we mortals are supposed to sift through the clutter for messages. Of course that’s easier said than done.
And in the midst of the divination, comes the epiphany.
Catherine Cham is an architect and she deals with the precise and tangible. But she also knows that there are things that are an article of faith.
Such is her son, Vico who was born autistic. Her husband, Vico Sr., also an architect was working in Hong Kong. But for their family to brave through marriage’s trials and raising Vico, they both agreed it was best to stay together in Manila.
Catherine and her husband didn’t look at Vico’s autism as a handicap. In many ways, it was a blessing. He made the family much closer and he had inherited their genes for design. Vico would grab pieces of paper, once even a blueprint for a project the father was working on, and draw on them. It didn’t take long for the parents to recognize the genius in them. “What’s a blueprint compared to a son’s loving work of art?” enthused Catherine at the memory.
Since that first foray into art using the blueprint, Vico has not looked back. “He has quite a talent for it,” beamed Bunny Joaquin, his proud teacher at the SHINE Sped (Special Education) Center, who has been by his side for several years now.
“It was while gathering Vico’s paintings and hand sketches that I received God’s message and it was loud and clear – ‘I have given you My gift through Vico. Use it so others may know me.’”
“It’s a blessing for us; not a curse,” smiled the father.
The Chams began to collate the artwork and would cut up the sketches into bookmarks with biblical passages at the back for reflection. And today, Vico has his first ever one-man exhibit from at the main lobby of SM Marikina from January 17-24 as part of the mall’s SM Cares program and in celebration of National Autism Week.
Vico arrives at the mall every day to draw sketches of people that are converted into bookmarks. On display are his paintings of MTV VJs, pop stars Miley Cyrus and Pink, Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, American Idol David Archuleta, and a host of others.
Through his talent, he is also converting believers and students.
His uncle, Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria, the Assistant Dean for the Ateneo Law School, invited him to be a speaker in a Children’s Rights Class at the Rockwell campus that was an eye opener for the students. One student decided to specialize in cases for special children.
Vico immortalized the session with a sketch of the class (that they purchased) much to their amazement. “He touches the lives of a lot of people,” added Joaquin who places her hands on Vico as he drew a sketched me for a bookmark.
At the back of every piece of work is an original smiley with a simple but loaded statement – “Proud to be autistic.”
I bought a painting of MTV VJ Iya as illustrated by Vico. There were a lot of other great stuff but a lot of folks beat me to it. Still it's not a bad buy.