- May 11, 2021 03:51
By Mary Licel Biscocho
Far Eastern University Institute of Technology (FEU Tech) first-year Multimedia Arts student Eman Jacob San Andres went trending on social media as he starred Filipino street food vendors in his digital artwork series called "Kalsada Heroes."
Presenting vendors of local street foods sorbetes, taho, buko juice, sapin-sapin, inihaw, balut, kwek-kwek, suman, siomai, and banana cue, the 19-year-old artist integrated fictional superpowers in his arts to emphasize the strength and resilience that these workers embody.
"Maybe, it would be interesting. Why not make them superheroes since, for me, it also makes sense they are superheroes. They are the modern-day heroes," San Andres told FEU Advocate.
He also highlighted how he wanted to spark the much-needed appreciation to these vendors for their honorable job considering all their countless sacrifices and hard work just to make a living and provide for their family.
"Iyong mga taong katulad nito kasi sila 'yung mga may trabaho na hindi natin masyado nilo-look up to sa community and I think dapat binibigyan din natin sila ng recognition o karangalan. (Street food vendors have their job that we don't usually look up to in our community and I think we should give them the recognition that they deserve)," he explained.
He then added that giving enough attention to them shall also be beneficial to the Filipino art industry since it expands the subject idea from the usual themes of artists.
Since artworks that illustrate Philippine street setting are rare, San Andres believes that creating crafts like these could further promote and amplify its local culture.
Meet the Kalsada Heroes
Representing Philippine flag colors in his work, San Andres began creating the first three heroes―Mamang Sorbetero (wearing red), Magtataho (wearing blue), and Magbubuko juice (wearing green)―in early 2021 to accompany his new commission sheet.
According to him, he was moved by the street vendor series of Mr. Patrick Gañas, a Filipino illustrator and graphic designer based in Caloocan City.
Armed with their usual protective gears, the peddlers were wearing their casual everyday clothing. The ice cream vendor sports his salakot on his head. The buko juice vendor playfully tosses a coconut in his hand while kuyang magtataho balances two aluminum buckets on his shoulder.
After gaining numerous engagements, San Andres decided to add more heroes, featuring women characters and their weapons like abaniko, bilao, and banana leaves.
"Since people find it interesting and since I think I'm giving people the influence of appreciating these kinds of people in our community, sabi ko ipagpapatuloy ko nalang siya since meron [din] siyang social relevance. (I considered pursuing it since I think it portrays a social relevance)," he said in an interview.
The artist then added that he might settle with the ten characters for now and use them in an animated series in the future.
Juggling Arts and Academics
Aside from creating artworks as his hobby, San Andres has also been accepting commissions since May of 2020.
"Since pandemic, naisip ko baka makatulong sa family ko kahit papaano. (Since I have nothing to do during the pandemic, I thought maybe it would be of help to my family somehow)," he said.
Currently in his third trimester as a freshman, San Andres mentioned how the asynchronous mode of learning in the University helped him balance doing art and his studies.
By working on his artworks during the day, he manages to squeeze in all academic responsibilities at night.
Overwhelmed with the support he receives, the young yet thriving artist shared how he keeps his feet on the ground by continuing to help his family with his projects while staying driven in academics since this is his main priority for now.
Beyond the drawings, he leaves his art as a dedication to the street vendors. "Let us show support to our beloved vendors in our own little ways," San Andres appealed.
(Photo courtesy of Eman Jacob San Andres)