MANILA, Philippines – It was her 1st official illustration job, but it was not what she imagined.
“Well here we go, 1st official illustration ‘job.’ Not what I imagined. Pencils don't fail me now,” tweeted Ala Paredes, former VJ and commercial model daughter of APO Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes.
The 26-year-old former TV personality was referring to her “job” as a court artist at the murder trial of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the main suspect in what is considered to be the worst political massacre in the Philippines.
The Supreme Court has tapped Paredes to capture the drama inside the courtroom through her sketches after the high court prohibited the live coverage of the murder trial to avoid "mistrial" due to "trial by publicity."
Cameras have been banned inside the courtroom during the proceedings, reports said.
For Paredes, who took up an art course, it was “pretty much” her 1st professional job since graduation.
“I don’t know if I’m getting paid. We haven’t really discussed it,” she said.
No amount was discussed, but her dad was “really excited” when he found out about it, she added.
On the 1st day of the hearing Tuesday, Paredes was able to draw 5 sketches, including Ampatuan and Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
“I did about 5. I tried to do as many as I can but the hearing was pretty short… As much as possible, I try to capture the moment,” she told reporters.
Paredes said she had to stay inside the courtroom for another 15 minutes after the hearing was adjourned “because if it's (sketch) going to be shown on TV I want it to be clear.”
For the judge’s portrait, she did it for 10 to 15 minutes, Paredes said.
“I’m trained that way. I graduated an illustration, so, that sort of thing I did in the courtroom, that’s the sort of thing we do as an exercise in school. We go out in public place. We sit down and we draw people. So, to me it’s what I do in a regular basis,” she said.
Paredes said the first time she heard about the massacre she was enraged like the rest of the Filipinos.
She said: “I heard the news when I was in Sydney. After that, I was glued to my computer everyday. I was deeply affected just like everyone else. I feel like this is my way of being active and doing something about it. Everyone is so enraged about it. The whole nation is grieving when they found out. I feel like I’m taking action by doing this.”
“To me, it’s sort of like public service. If the media can’t be there, then I’ll try to be a witness, I guess, for the people who can’t be there. It didn’t even occur to me to say no to this. When [the Supreme Court] asked me, I said yes to this,” she said.
Paredes was one of the young popular VJs in the country until she and her family moved to Australia. She has been living in Sydney for 4 years.
She came home to spend Christmas here and she is scheduled to go back to Australia next week.
“I don’t know if they will call me back. If they do, I’m glad to do it again,” she said. With Agence France-Presse