Gary Bonguit, a self-taught artist from San Pedro, Laguna, started to paint portraits of celebrities for him to have the chance to meet these local stars in person.

His first artwork was a portrait of actress Liza Soberano, which he painted nine years ago.

Some of his artworks include television personalities like Angel Locsin, Anne Curtis, and Kathryn Bernardo, as well as Miss Universe beauty queens Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray.

He already painted Vice Ganda, Robi Domingo, Jane De Leon, Kim Domingo, Kyline Alcantara, and social media stars Mimiyuuuh and the late Lloyd Cadena.

As he wished, Bonguit was able to meet and give his artworks to these celebrities.

Top photo: PORTRAITS. Gary Bonguit poses with his portrait artwork of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray. Bonguit is now earning from commissioning artworks in this time of pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Gary Bonguit)

“Bilang isang ordinaryong tao, masarap sa pakiramdam, at hindi ko ma-explain ang aking nararamdaman sa tuwing nagugustuhan at humahanga ang mga tao sa aking mga obra. Sapat na sa akin ang makita ko sila at maibahagi ang aking likha (As an ordinary person, it feels good, and I can’t explain how I feel every time people like and admire my works. It was enough for me to see them (celebrities) and share my creation),” Bonguit told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

MEET AND GREET. Gary Bonguit met celebrities and social media influencers like (left to right) Vice Ganda, Mimiyuuuh, Kyline Alcantara, Jane De Leon, Kim Domingo, Lloyd Cadena, and Robi Domingo.

The 28-year-old artist shared that he would like to take Fine Arts in college. But because of financial challenges, he took a vocational course after graduating from high school.

“Tanging sarili ko lang po ang nagturo sa akin. Dahil sa kahirapan din ng buhay ay hindi ako nakapag-aral ng kolehiyo para kumuha ng kursong hilig ko (I am a self-taught artist. Because of hardships in life, I was not able to go to college to take the course that I want),” Bonguit added.

But his passion supports Bonguit in this time of pandemic as it becomes his main source of income.

Even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country, Bonguit already resigned as salesman from a company after working for 10 years.

“Sobrang enjoy ko ang pagiging isang sales personnel kaya naman hindi nakapagtataka na umabot ako ng 10 years sa aking trabaho. Pero alam mo yung feeling na may better pa pala na trabaho o future kung ipu-pursue natin yung totoong nagpapasaya sa atin, sa case ko, pag-do-drawing (I really enjoy being a sales personnel so it is not surprising that I reached 10 years in my job. But you know that feeling that there is a better job or future if we pursue the one that really makes us happy, in my case, that’s drawing),” he said.

Bonguit recalled that when he met YouTuber and social media influencer Lloyd Cadena, he was inspired to open his own YouTube channel and be a vlogger to showcase his talent and artworks.

Currently, Bonguit’s YouTube channel has over 18,000 subscribers.

FILIPINA BEAUTIES. Bonguit paints Filipina celebrities.

“Sa ngayon, bukod sa pagguhit, ay nag-uumpisa na din ako sa aking karera sa mundo ng YouTube. Naisipan kong gumawa ng channel para mai-share din ang aking mga natutunan at kaalaman sa arts lalo na sa mga Pilipinong nangangarap din na maging artist (Right now, apart from drawing, I am also starting my career in YouTube. I thought of creating a channel to also share what I’ve learned and my knowledge in arts, especially to Filipinos who also dream of becoming an artist),” he added.

Bonguit was scheduled to meet celebrities like Ivana Alawi, Liza Soberano, Kathryn Bernardo, and Sue Ramirez, among others, for his YouTube channel.

However, the community quarantine measures prevented him from seeing these celebrities in person.

Bonguit shared that since he focused on his passion, he started receiving commissioned artworks.

Bonguit receives two to five commissioned artworks in a month.

Animal portraits painted by Gary Bonguit

Aside from drawing faces of people, he now also paints animals.

“Mas lalo pa ako ginanahan dito sapagkat iyong sahod ko ng isang buwan sa aking trabaho noon ay kaya kong kitain sa loob lamang ng one week (I like doing commissioned artworks even more because I can now earn a month’s salary from my previous job in just one week),” he said.

The self-taught artist and vlogger also encouraged other artists to always find time for their passion and things that make them happy despite these challenging times. (Kris Crismundo, PNA)