Jezir Lazcuña is fascinated with things discarded by society.
Whenever he goes outside, he picks up any trash that comes his way, whether it's used plastic or rust-crusted metal.
That's why he earned the nickname "Kalakal Boy" from his neighbors. But unbeknownst to many, he collects junk not for a living.
Instead, Lazcuña uses these waste materials to make art. What many consider useless, he sees possibilities.
"Nag-iipon ako ng mga bagay-bagay na patapon at ginagawang obra," he said.
An artist himself, Lazcuña said he wanted to express art in a meaningful way, one that could inspire people to change their ways, especially in the face of climate change.
This dawned on him when he experienced tropical storm Ondoy in 2009, which cut a swathe of destruction in Luzon and swamped many parts of Metro Manila. The typhoon unleashed record-level flooding, which experts partly blamed on clogged drains and waterways because of trash.
"Kapag ang kalikasan gumanti sa atin dahil sa kalapastanganan ng tao, wala tayong magagawa, isang ganun lang tayo," he said.
Lazcuña added, "Bago pa makapinsala ang mga basura, agapan na
natin. Pwede pa natin siya gawan ng paraan."
One of his artworks, known as "The Pusher," is installed in Sining Labuyo Farm in San Pablo, Laguna.
The art piece, made from objects such as an old bed, bike handles, and broken electric fan, tells the story of a boy who pushes a cart. It took him almost two months to finish it.
"Wow, pwede pala!" is always the reaction he gets when people learn about his artworks.
"We just have to think and use our imagination to create something positive from anything."
Other artworks from junk artists, such as sculptures of human anatomy, are also installed in Sining Labuyo Farm.
"Isipin mo kung tayong lahat mag-junk art, malaking kabawasan 'yun sa problema natin sa basura," he said.
Lazcuña, in cooperation with HB Culture and Arts Workshop, also imparts his knowledge to underprivileged children by teaching them how to paint using old bottles.
In a way, he said, he's able to educate children on pressing issues such as climate change.
"Malaki ang naitutulong ng sining. Pwede mo siyang gamiting tool na nakakaimpluwensiya siya ng ibang tao. Sana, someday, ma-reach natin yung goal na 'yun," he said.