By Pauline Faye Tria
As the famous saying goes, “Better late than never.” It’s never too late to start a new hobby, a new interest, or a new lease on life. For philanthropist Joyce Herrera-Wong, finding her passion as a painter took half a decade of her life.
After studying to become an accountant, Joyce worked at a bank and got married to an Australian Chinese, who was an expatriate. After years of moving around the world, Joyce decided to give her love for art a shot and took up painting lessons in 2007.
Taking up painting lessons taught her that she had an eye for color, so Joyce took that as a chance to play with the different strokes of hues in her artworks.
Joyce says she only makes her paintings in oil, and she always makes sure to give her paintings a touch of her signature look: vivid colors.
Nine months after she took up the lessons, a friend of hers told her she wanted to auction her artworks in an exhibit called Beyond Borders One, and the proceeds would go to charity Gawad Kalinga.
Joyce’s involvement in the exhibit sparked something big and bright in her, and she decided to use her gift of painting to help those in need.
For three years in a row, her paintings got sold in exhibits, which made Joyce realize that maybe something big was in store for her.
“So I just felt like it was time also for me to give back,” Joyce says.
Some people can dance, some people can sing, and some people, like Joyce, can paint.
“If I could help people, then perhaps this is what I will pursue,” she muses.
Taking her love for helping others to another level, Joyce and a few of her artist friends formed Pintura Circle, an art for charity group that aimed to auction off art and donate the proceeds to charities such as Kids International Ministries.
Kids International Ministries is a charity run by American missionaries and it shelters, educates, and feeds children who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned.
In 2014, Pintura Circle held another art exhibit and partnered up with the Peter Project that helps the less fortunate fishermen in Leyte.
A year later, Joyce had a three-woman exhibit show in New York, and after all her paintings were sold out, she again donated the proceeds to Kids International Ministries and a small charity in Pampanga called Munting Tahanan that helps the mentally handicapped.
In 2016, Joyce decided to do a solo exhibit for the first time, and yet again, she partnered up with Punlaan School, a vocational school for young women who cannot afford to go to college.
She describes her art style as 70 percent realism and 30 percent impressionism, and her favorite subject matter to paint is nature.
Everyone is given a gift. And Joyce never expected that her love for art would ignite her passion to give back to people who are less fortunate than her.
This year, Joyce did her second solo exhibit called “The Hope That Nature Gives” and this time around, she decided to organize everything so that all proceeds would go to charity House of Hope Foundation.
“You know, we’re all given a gift by God. Maybe if you could do it to change the world one step a time, why not?” Joyce says.