Kuya Robert in an ANCX feature last January. Right, Patricia Guttierez's drawing, a product of Alenjandro's live art class. Portrait by Chris Clemente
Culture Art

Drawing isn’t the only thing kids are learning in Robert Alejandro’s live art classes on FB

This father of three is only too happy to have found another activity for his kids during lockdown — but it looks like Kuya Robert’s classes are answering more needs than meets the eye. By JAR CONCENGCO
| Mar 21 2020

Since March 10, classes in Metro Manila have been suspended, and since March 16th, the whole of Luzon has been put on an Enhanced Community Quarantine. Finding activities for your kids during this time is crucial since you are cooped up in your home 24/7. Being a father of three kids (ages 8, 5 and 3) who seem to run out of things to do every so often, I take it upon myself to look for ways to keep them stimulated and continuously learning.

Lucky for us, award-winning artist Robert Alejandro (endearingly referred to as “Kuya Robert”) has started a free online art class on Facebook. Alejandro comes from the family that founded craft and gift store Papemelroti. Battling colon cancer since 2016, Alejandro has had a renewed outlook on life and the power of art.

The Concengco kids at work.

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The class is an hour long (long enough for you to prepare lunch in the meantime) and usually just requires paper and a pen (although one class required an empty toilet paper roll for a crafty assignment). His class might seem a little fast for younger children. For instance my 5 year old couldn’t keep up at first — but was able to complete the drawing because of the format of the class.

Diego and Aurora's drawings, results of Robert's art classes on Facebook.

Yesterday’s art class had the kids draw the words “Thank you” and also the phrase “What I am grateful for.” Although Alejandro drew things that he was grateful for especially during this period of quarantine, he left it up to everyone to draw what they were grateful for. My son wrote the words “Healthy” and “Water” with a drawing of a robot and french fries as things he was grateful for. 

I found this a great opportunity for them to deepen their understanding of the current situation the whole world is in and why we should be thankful for the first responders and frontliners that are keeping all of us healthy and safe such as doctors, nurses, and police officers. The kids listed even more people they were thankful for: janitors, delivery people, people running the supermarkets for our food, and their family.

Diego and Aurora show their drawings.

Denden Kannan, an engineer, loves the idea of this online art class for her 6-year-old daughter Arianne. “The classes are nice because it gives nice messages to the kids like staying healthy and being grateful. I like that because I’m also able to inject important life lessons for her during this crisis.”

The art class isn’t only for children apparently. Food stylist Patricia Gutierrez, 55, has joined the class 3 times. "The art class is fun. It's spontaneous. Robert's art class is a detour from the bleak situation we're in. It's sort of a "break" from  the routine (chores) at home for me,” she explains.

Arianne's drawing of what she's thankful for. Kids learn to appreciate family in Alejandro's drawing exercise.

The live stream shows you which of your friends are also logged in and joining the art class. You get to read everyone’s live comments and somehow you don’t feel so alone during this state of isolation. So whether you’re a parent who needs their children to keep busy for a good hour, or you miss doing something creative with your hands, or you’re just someone who just misses being in the company of others, Robert Alejandro’s Drawing Class is a wonderful escape while you stay at home.

 

Photos by Jar Concengco. Robert Alejandro’s Drawing Classes are at 10am and can be found here: www.facebook.com/kuya.robert.