I was (and still is) a point-and-shot digital camera photographer. So the day I had my Nikon D40, the next thing I wanted to do was (1) get a better education on photography and (2) understand the complexities of a DSLR. But photography is not yet a hot thing in my province and among my circle; and getting a formal training in Manila is almost impossible because of the distance, the unpredictability of my schedule, and the demands of my work.
There is of course the flickr Philippine Group whom I turned to for help in organizing a photography workshop in Nueva Ecija. I will be forever grateful for the immediate and many responses to my SOS but again, the project was stalled when I realized that it would require some resources that were not readily available at that moment. That’s how it was when me (flickr name: My Visita Iglesia) and Joey (flickr name: Biyaheng Gloria) met up with fellow Novo Ecijano and former co-worker Lenard (flickr name: Village Idiot).
So one night, we came together in the penthouse of the PRRM national office in Quezon City to discuss our photography and drink some beer. It was my initiation into the realm of DLSR photography. Later, Lenard would link us with the SURFACING project that would take my photography to another level.
SURFACING is an advocacy project initiated by a group of amateur and professional photographers that intends to help in raising the public’s awareness on the issue of enforced disappearances. It aims to “give a human face to the stories and struggles of the families of the disappeared or desaparecidos”. Towards this, SURFACING held a series of output-based photo essay/workshops from October to December “to develop the participating photographers' skills in creating compelling photo essays/stories…”.
The workshops included integration with the families of the desaparecidos to enable the participating photographers to feel the emotion of the struggle in coping up with the pain of forcibly losing a loved one. Aside from helping capture more compelling and powerful images, the integration also ensures that the families become part of the project instead of being mere subjects. Veteran photojournalists Gil Nartea, Luis Liwanag, Jes Aznar, and Bogsi Panaligan lent their time and expertise to the project which is being coordinated with the Free Jonas Burgos Movement and Desaparecidos.
According to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance, enforced disappearance is “committed by government officials or by organized groups acting in behalf, or with the support, consent or acquiescence of the government”. The term desaparecidos is a Spanish word which means “the disappeared” that was coined in Latin America during the continent’s tyrannical regimes of military dictators. Today in the Philippines, enforced disappearances has dramatically increased under the regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Joey and I were able to attend the first SURFACING workshop held at the PRRM national office. Aside from our desire to help expose the blatant commitment of enforced disappearances and the pain it leaves behind, we have our own stories to share. Manong Johnny Orcino and Leonor Ayroso, husbands of 2 former co-workers from PRRM’s Nueva Ecija Branch, were abducted in 2002 and have never been seen. I also experienced how it is to live in fear during Gen. Jovito Palparan’s reign of terror in our province. And there were Maricel and George Vigo, formerly of our North Cotabato Branch, who were gunned down last 2006 by still unknown assassins leaving 5 orphaned children.
Our continued participation in the workshops was however again frustrated by distance and work. But SURFACING is a continuing project and we hope to link up soon with our own images to share. It is open to all photographers who share the belief in the sanctity of human life, the freedom guaranteed by our democracy, and the rage against the injustice of it all.
PHOTOS (top to bottom):
(1) BOCAUE, BULACAN. The Franciscans built the first church of light materials in 1578 that was replaced by Fr. Pedro Delos Santos (PFM) with a stronger structure in 1606. Afterwards, the church underwent a series of rebuilding and improvements until it was destroyed by fire in 1868. It was rebuilt and razed again during the Philippine Revolution of 1898. It has been rebuilt and restored/repaired/improved several times since then. I dropped by the Obando church on my way to the SURFACING workshop.
(2) The Burgoses (younger brother JL on the left and mother Edita on the right) opened the start of the SURFACING workshop series.
(3) Fellow flickristas marct and Hiraya working on a camera, (4) curious bingbing, (5) GeProks and fellow maninimbahan estan.
(6) Pansit for merienda.
(7) Learning from the masters: (left to right) Bogsi Panaligan, Gil Nartea, Luis Liwanag, Jes Aznar.
(8) PASIG, METRO MANILA. Fr. Juan de Alva (OSA) built the first parochial buildings of light materials after what is now Pasig was accepted as an Augustinian mission. The beginnings of what may be the present church was started to be constructed before 1639. Either the building continued until 1762 or a new structure was built that was damaged in 1764 when the invading British converted the church into a horse stable. The church was restored by Fr. Simon Barroso in 1879 and has been restored/repaired several times since then. I made a quick visit to the church during a workshop break.