GUAGUA -- Presidential Merit Awardee for Ecclesiastical Art Willy Layug, the artist behind the image of the now-famous Our Lady of Hope of Palo--the image used in the historic Papal Mass in Leyte--has sounded the alarm over alleged forgeries of the said image, which is currently protected by copyright laws.
Layug said that there are sellers from Cavite and Metro Manila who are allegedly peddling duplicates of the smaller versions of the image. This includes a manufacturer from Cebu who is allegedly selling almost exact copies.
Layug said that while he welcomes creative imitation, sellers should not be peddling duplicates since the image is protected by copyright and the Archdiocese of Palo is the only one authorized to sell the image for charity purposes.
“We welcome people who draw inspiration from the image and recreate their own versions but to actually take an original replica and have it reproduced for sale and personal gain is a different thing,” Layug said.
Layug said that resin forgeries of the image, in 21-inch and three-feet sizes, are also being sold on Facebook. Layug said that he is now in coordination with the national authorities to apprehend these unscrupulous traders and manufacturers.
Layug has had the image protected under copyright with Registration Number H-2015-0016 and bears a period during the artist’s lifetime and extends to 50 years after the artist's death. The registration was issued in 2016.
This is not the first time that unscrupulous traders have been passing on forgeries of the image. In 2015, a Manila company had been asked to stop producing resin replicas of the image.
The original image of Our Lady of Hope of Palo is currently enshrined at the Palo Cathedral and is steadily gaining devotees from the local Catholic faithful. Since its debut in the Papal Mass of Pope Francis in 2015, there has been a demand for smaller versions of the image.
Original replicas of the image are only available through the Betis Galleria and the Archdiocese of Palo.