Back in April, Mae Katibog was so moved by a street artist in Manila, the capital of the Phillipines, that she had to make a Facebook post about it.
"I had a rare encounter with this incredible artist along Buendia Avenue," she wrote. "I had a rare encounter with this incredible artist along Buendia Avenue."
What she was witnessing, and what many who came before her would come after her also witnessed, was the rebirth of an emerging artist. But unlike many of the contemporaries we idolize today, this one came from a background of suffering and misfortune. Her name is Jhalanie Matuan and although she doesn't speak, she was able to communicate with Katibog by writing things down.
Soon after Katibog paid notice, others began to as well. Matuan frequented Buendia Avenue, and locals and tourists alike couldn't help but stop and observe her work, which exudes the pain and suffering she has experienced.
Then, something amazing happened.
Matuan was discovered by Coco Torre, an artist who had connections to local galleries. Torre was contacted by a friend who saw Matuan's work online, and they decided to help get the wheels in motion. After a couple months, dreams began to be realized.
"Hi guys, it's happening!" he wrote on his Facebook page. "This coming Friday, August 28, Jhalanie will be realizing a dream that all artists aspire to achieve. She will be having her first solo exhibit at @aspacemanila (7pm) in Makati."
Firstly, Matuan would be getting 100 percent of the proceeds made off the exhibit. For a woman living on the streets, that was great news. But even better was what the art gallery announced just hours ago on their Facebook page.
Not only did Matuan's 31 pieces sell out, people waited in long lines simply to converse with the artist herself.
Surely, this day will be one that Jhalanie never forgets, and hopefully, it is just the beginning of a long career for her as a paid artist.