The Philippine Embassy in Israel recently launched Balai Quezon, a museum that pays tribute to Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon’s heroic efforts to grant asylum to more than one thousand Jews during the Holocaust. Balai Quezon houses memorabilia and testimonies related to President Quezon’s open-door policy, including Celeste Lecaroz’s portrait of President Quezon rendered in spontaneous realism style.
The said painting was unveiled at the Balai Quezon opening by Lecaroz herself who flew to Israel just for the occasion, Israel’s Minster of Foreign Affairs Director Yaron Mayer, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Ernesto Corpuz, Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial and Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Jerusalem on South Asia Shimon Weinbaum. Weimbaum commissioned the portrait and donated it to the Philippine Embassy.
In her speech during the unveiling, the artist likened President Quezon to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Germany, German Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer and American Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King. “Their lives prove that one person can make a difference,” said Lecaroz. “And we can all be that person who can make the difference in the lives of the people who need us desperately.”
Lecaroz hopes that Balai Quezon will inspire people to appreciate the life and leadership of President Quezon and continue his legacy.
She said of great statesman, “He did not hesitate to do the right during a horrible time in history when the rest of the world looked the other way.”
Lecaroz has painted two other spontaneous realism works that also celebrate the themes of heroism and unity. One is a painting of Mahatma Gandhi and Jose Rizal, and the other is a painting depicting sisterhood, the latter a part of an exhibit at Galerya Amalia in Ayala Mall Aseana until 15 November.
For more information about the art of Celeste Lecaroz, visit celestelecaroz.com.