Last October 16, 2022, The Virrco Limited-Edition Bag Launch was held at Pandan Asian Café, Quezon City. New York based artist Rommel Rico, also known as “Virrco”, expressed how much he wanted to raise funds for the benefit of Smile Train Philippines, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization.
The nurse turned visual artist came up to “ship” the idea of “art-to-cause” by creating a line of bags that will allow consumers to contribute to a meaningful cause, as the proceeds from the sale of the limited edition Virrco Bags will benefit Smile Train to help programs that support children with cleft.
Based on the latest data from Smile Train, every three minutes, a baby is born with a cleft somewhere in the world. In the Philippines, it is estimated that there are about 5,000 babies born with a cleft every single year.
Children with a cleft lip or cleft palate may have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking, and many refuse to go to school, due to bullying, which may affect their chances of getting stable employment, making quality cleft care and treatment crucial for their health and wellbeing.
Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Southeast Asia Vice President of Smile Train lauded Virrco for the initiative, highlighting the difficulties faced by cleft patients especially at the height of the pandemic.
“This initiative comes at such an opportune time as we have seen an increase in the number of children with clefts who were not able to receive treatment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Through the Virrco bags, consumers can contribute and help bring new smiles and second chances at life for the patients we serve. Smile Train would like to thank Mr. Rico for sharing his time and talent to the cleft community,” Coseteng-Flaviano said.
Prior to the launch of the Virrco Bags, worked as a physical therapist in New York when he rediscovered his love for art and painting. He applies his signature style of reflecting the passion of Filipino women in his works, capturing their resiliency, and unfaltering spirit in the contemporary setting.
Virrco is known to render artful renditions to subjects like frontliners, people living with HIV, and other notable causes in his work, with his first official breakthrough exhibit tittled “One Eyed Women” was launched in December 2021 at the MetLive Atrium in Pasay City.
For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate please visit https://www.smiletrain.org/. To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines please visit https://www.smiletrain.ph/ or follow Smile Train Philippines on their social media: