Rocker Aurelio Castro III creates portraits of 19 frontliner heroes
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Rocker and painter Aurelio Castro III went back to pencil portraiture only at the end of March 2020.
“Huli kong ginamit ang medium na ito mid 90s pa (I last used pencil in the mid-90’s),” he said.
“Noong nag Fine Arts ang tropa ko nakikigamit ako sa materials niya at nakikiaral sa mga textbooks niya. Buti naman at nasa kokote ko pa yung mga natutunan ko nung time na yun. Malakas pa memorya ko (When my friend took Fine Arts, I borrowed his materials and read his books. It’s good, the knowledge is still in my brain. My memory is strong),” Castro said.
His first portraits were of his wife and only daughter. On April 1, he finished his self-portrait.
The he started a series of pencil sketches, which haunts him until now.
On April 3, he finished a portrait of Dr. Greg Macasaet, the 62-year-old anesthesiologist at Manila Doctor’s Hospital, who succumbed to COVID-19 on March 22.
Aue, as he is commonly known, used pencil, charcoal and white charcoal on toned paper.
On that same day, he also finished the portrait of Dr. Rose Pulido, the 46-year-old oncologist who also died on March 21 at the San Juan de Dios Hospital.
On April 4, Castro made the portraits of cardiologist Dr. Israel Bactol of Philippine Heart Center, who died on March 21 and Dr. Raul Jara, PHC President, who died two days later.
On April 5, Castro finished 4 portraits: those of Dr. Marcelo Jaochico, the provincial health officer of Pampanga; Dr. Sally Gatchalian, the president of the Philippine Pediatric Society; Dr. Henry Fernandez of Pangasinan Medical Society; and Dr. Francisco Lukban, a cardiologist at the Capitol Medical Center.
On April 6, Castro did the portrait of Dr. Hector Alvarez of the Novaliches District Hospital. The next day, he finished the portrait of Dr. Raquel Seva who died at the Evangelista Medical Specialty Hospital.
“Gusto ko pong ipaalam na si Doktora Seva po ay COVID negative. Bagamat karamihan, hindi po lahat ng nasa tribute ko ay COVID ang ikinasawi tulad na rin po ni Doc. Bautista. Sila po ay nagbuwis ng buhay sa laban natin against COVID (Dra. Seva was COVID negative. Although almost all in my tribute died of COVID, there are those like her and Dr Bautista who still lost their lives in this battle against COVID),” Castro clarified.
On April 7, he also finished the portraits of Dr. Dennis and Helen Tudtud. Dr. Dennis is a prominent Cebu oncologist who died of COVID-19 on March 31, while his pathologist wife died 4 days earlier. Castro also finished the portrait of Dr. Leandro Resurrection III, chief of pediatric surgery division of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, who died on March 31.
On April 8, he did the portrait of Dr. Nicko Bautista, the 33-year-old surgeon who perished last March 29 when their plane bound for Japan caught fire at the NAIA. He also finished the portrait of Dr. Dino Ezrah Hailil, a pediatrician of West Medical Center in Zamboanga City, who died of Corvid-19 last April 6.
“Fifteen portraits. Two more,” Castro said on April 8.
The two are those of Arvin Pascual, a nurse from Cabanatuan City who died on April 1, and Dr. Mary Grace Lim of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center, who died on April 6.
Castro thought he would stop at 15 but he still sketched Dr. Gerard Fabian De Leon Goco of the St. Luke’s Medical Center, Dr. Janet Dancel Liban of the Far Eastern University Medical Center, Dr. Ephraim Neil Orteza, medical director of the Ospital ng Paranaque and Dr. Marcellano Cruz of the East Avenue Medical Center.
Holed up in Pasig, Castro’s main priority are not food or cash, which he said is in short supply, but in art materials to continue his series.
“Are there anyone delivering art supplies online?” he asked.
Castro is a wandering genius. He passed the audition for a prestigious school of music for his mastery in classical center but dropped out when the teacher he wanted most already retired.
He instead became a painter. In 2005, he founded his own band, Juan Pablo Dream, which dabbled in Mod revivalism with Bing Austria of Put3ska on vocals.
After two well-appreciated albums, Juan Pablo Dream disbanded. They had a reunion last year and recorded a single “You Can Feel (You Are Free),” which has been released on Spotify.
Also last October, Castro III stayed for two weeks in Baguio and came out with 50 watercolor and ink sketches of Baguio scenes. He had this exhibited at the Ili Likha and Luisa’s Café in Baguio. – Rappler.com