MANILA — A college student's artwork has gone viral after turning a poignant moment between two beauty queens into a moving piece of art.
Neal Alday, an art student from De La Salle—College of Saint Benilde, uploaded on social media his painting of Pia Wurtzbach and Maxine Medina after Medina fell short in the Miss Universe competition on Monday.
The artwork was noticed by comedian Vice Ganda, who has more than 4 million followers on Instagram, and was reposted on the official Facebook page of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, garnering thousands of likes and shares.
The image has been used to call for unity among Filipinos, and to discourage others from ripping Medina for her answer during the pageant's Q&A round.
The painting shows Medina and Wurtzbach sharing a hug while wearing red and blue gowns, respectively. It was based on a photograph taken by Richard Juan which went around in social media.
Another picture from the same moment taken by pageant mentor Jonas Gaffud also circulated.
To complete his artwork, Alday added a splash of yellow to create a halo effect, as well as stars — calling to mind the image of the Philippine flag.
In an interview, Alday, who said he has been practicing painting since he was a kid, said he wanted to express both his disappointment over Medina's loss and the hope that arises from setbacks.
When asked for a title, he said: "I haven't chosen a title yet but 'Solidarity' has a nice ring to it, so that's that. I mean, even Maxine's message is, 'We are one' — win or lose."
(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story failed to mention Richard Juan's photograph as the inspiration for the artwork. We regret the error.)