The artworks in the exhibit were the results of a two-day art workshop offered to displace Meranaw artists. (Mark Joy G. Basallajes/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) opened its weeklong Paint for Peace to Rebuild Marawi exhibit last April 24 at the Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art in Paseo de Legaspi to showcase the artworks made by young artists who were displaced during the Marawi conflict.

The paintings and drawings in the exhibit were the results of a two-day community-based art workshop offered to displaced Meranaw artists with ages 14-24.

Five volunteer teaching artists headed by Alfred Galvez went to Marawi City and taught the children basic knowledge in painting and drawing.

Art supplies were donated by the private sector.

According to Lyca Sarenas, Project Manager of VSO Philippines, the event’s objective was to provide psychosocial support to the young people.

“More importantly, it highlighted the situation of the Meranaws who continue to remain displaced and apparently had no roles in rebuilding Marawi,” she added.

Jamal Jamel, a 24-year old refugee and a student of Mindanao State University in Marawi described in his painting “Bakwit is real” the plight of evacuees, especially the elderly and the children who fled from their homes, became stranded in the roads and who suffered from hunger for several weeks.

“The Marawi siege has left us traces that we will not forget. It has caused the loss of homes, livelihood and loved ones,” he added.

Jamal Jamel, 24, a fourth year BS Agricultural Education student of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi poses with his artwork during the opening of the Paint for Peace to Rebuild Marawi in Davao City on Tuesday, April 24. (Mark Joy G. Basallajes/

Jamel questioned the government’s rehabilitation program because the evacuees were not able to participate in the planning.

“The government plan which includes buildings and infrastructure is good, but did the government ask the Marawi people? Where will you put us? The government should speed up in its rehabilitation so that we can go back to our homes,” Jamel said.

Each painting will be sold at P2,500 and proceeds will go directly to the artists.

The paintings showcased in the exhibit will be featured in Geneva, Switzerland during the anniversary of the Protocol for Internally Displaced People and in the Asian Development Bank partners meeting with the Code NGO, an alliance of non-government organizations. (With reports from Mark Joy G. Basallajes/

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