16-year-old sells artwork to help pay house bills amid COVID-19 crisis

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 07:01 PM

MANILA -- Even as the novel coronavirus has cost many lives, jobs and even relationships, the COVID-19 crisis has made 16-year old Lexie Ramirez revive her love for painting.

Lexie, who lives with her aunt Mayen Ramirez in Mandaluyong City, shared how painting with oil and acrylic has been helping her cope with the current health crisis. She made her first artwork when she was 12.

“Multiple lives have been affected by the pandemic, ours included. Since everyone’s stressed now too, [painting] helps us relieve the stress. It just relaxes us and calms us. It’s a very therapeutic process,” Lexie said in an interview with ABS-CBN News in their home.

Lexie’s parents separated even before she was born. Growing up, her aunts Mayen and Kathy took care of her. Kathy, however, died of chronic kidney failure in 2018.

Looking back, Mayen shared how she worked so hard to provide for her sister, spending more than P100,000 a month for her medical expenses for nine years.

This year, Mayen, who used to work as a freelance public speaker and a corporate trainer, lost all her clients due to the pandemic.

“I tried to develop a program, sadly hindi kinagat, because clients were too preoccupied with people having them tested. I saw na, okay this is not going to pay the bills,” she said.

“We cannot imagine the future of (corporate training). Hindi naman natin pwede ipilit ang gusto nating gawin.”

While life proves difficult for their family, Lexie still draws inspiration from her aunt when she paints.

“Money has been a little tight, and we used what talent or what ideas we have to help us with [financially]. Painting was one of them,” Lexie said.

“Bills are hard to pay recently. I want to help her as much as I can. She raised me since I was a baby, her and my other aunt so she’s my motivation. She’s done so much for us and I want to help as much as I can,” Lexie said.

The incoming 10th grader said it takes her at least two hours to a week at the most to work on a painting. Depending on the size, the cost of each painting ranges from P10,000 to P30,000, according to Lexie.

For Mayen, the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge she will forever be grateful for.

“Not saying that I’m being blind to the sufferings of the world. But this pandemic is one of the happiest times because it taught me humility, it taught me compassion, that there’s another level of happiness. Because if not, we won’t be able to realize the potential of our paintings, of our talents, of our relationship with each other,” she said.

For now, Mayen also started selling home-cooked food to her friends and some neighbors to help make ends meet.

“Feeling ko hindi na babalik [sa dati]. It’s not going to be the exact way it was, but I know for sure that if this COVID leaves us, it’s going to leave me as a different person,” she said.

“Coping is about thinking about those around us, it’s about knowing that the world’s not about you,” Mayen shared.

So far, Mayen and Lexie have raised P30,000 from the paintings they sold during quarantine. Interested buyers may contact Lexie and Mayen at 0917-1820603 and 0906-4033405.