Clarissa, a painting exhibit set in Ayala

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

FROM July 18 to 25 at The Gallery of the Ayala Center Cebu, catch “Clarissa,” a self-titled painting exhibit that shares the thoughts and feelings of young artist Clarissa Tiongson Ortiz.

Clarissa is a young adult with Down Syndrome who is hearing-and speech-impaired, physically disabled and bipolar. She is the daugher of Malu Tiongson-Ortiz, author of “Embracing God’s Purpose for my Special Child.” Her mother, a fine arts graduate majoring in interior design, home-schooled her from the age of 18.

“When I began to home-school her six years ago, I repeatedly taught her at home what she had been taught in school and in her speech therapy class. I continued to pray for my daughter’s ability to speak. She hasn’t spoken except to say ‘Papa,’ but that one word gives me every reason to persevere and trust that God will not fail me. I thank the Lord for giving me the ability to draw and paint. I am able to teach my daughter through the talent that God has given me. For her to understand what I am teaching, I have to draw everything. I had no other way to teach her except through pictures and signs and have been delighted to discover Clarissa’s artistic ability.


She is truly gifted!” shares Mommy Malu.

At the age of 15, Clarissa started copying her mother’s drawings of men and women, and drew herself stylized portraits of family members and friends, prompting others to say that her portraits are reminiscent of those somewhat exaggerated portraits by Picasso.

She uses vibrant colors and chooses amazing color combinations in her oil pastel and acrylic paintings.

Parenting talk

Clarissa and Mommy Malu make collaborative paintings. Clarissa cannot finish a painting without Mommy Malu’s help, and Mommy Malu cannot start a painting without Clarissa’s help.

“God is good. He gave Clarissa eyes to see colors and hands to paint,” said Mommy Malu, who will also hold a special parenting talk and book signing on July 25, Friday, from 1-3 p.m. at The Gallery.

In line with the celebration of PWD (person with disability) Awareness Month, Ayala Center Cebu, in partnership with the Cebu Provincial Government, Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme Inc., and the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc., has lined up a series of activities, talks, exhibits and events to celebrate diversity by promoting dignity, respect and inclusiveness for the PWDs community.

With the theme, “Breaking Barriers; Opening Doors,” the month-long festivity aims to empower the PWD sector through a series of events and activities.

For inquiries, one may contact (032) 232-0380. For the latest updates, like them on Facebook at or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @AyalaCenterCebu.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 16, 2014.


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