The Ati-Atihan festival is celebrated widely in various parts of the Philippines every 2nd and 3rd of January. This celebration to honor Sto Niño (baby Jesus) is more popular in Kalibo Aklan. But there are lesser known places that do practice the Ati-atihan like Barotuan in El Nido Palawan, home from migrants coming from Aklan. I wrote about the Barotuan Ati-Atihan Festival at En Route extensively. Here, I’m just sharing out takes from the post, particularly some of my favorite Ati-atihan portraits from that day.
It’s not really my thing to take Street Photos of people living in harsh conditions like the homeless, street beggars or other people in deplorable conditions. I always thought taking photos of them just glamorizes the idea of poverty and can easily be misconstrued in pictures. It’s a sensitive issue that delving into it requires caution and care. But I keep an open mind in these things and when I was asked if I can accompany Karl’s group one morning to the site they took pictures somewhere in Sta Mesa, Manila, I obliged as it would be interesting to explore this kind of photography.
I watch as he pause for a moment midway his speech. I was standing close on the side taking his photo and saw his face, suddenly overcame with shadow, I noticed he swallowed deep, trying to keep steady in front of a crowd of 30 plus people, trying to hide what he was feeling at that moment. For what looked like he was having a hard time reading his speech, little did people know he was grimacing in pain. In just a few seconds he got his composure back, smiling, while he deliver his speech as if nothing happened.
Such is the man named, Winston Maxino, a family man at his late forties, who is literally in constant pain after being diagnosed with a rare genetic disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). But despite his condition, he chose to show his sunny disposition and inspire others to be happy.
Winston narrated how as an asthmatic child, he was regularly an outcast but his persistence on trying to belong despite his condition still paid off. His scout master saw his other skills like excelling in knots or other non-physical aspects. Being diagnosed as an AS didn’t stop him from being happy, aside from wallowing in self-pity, he chose to accept his condition. But his trials didn’t end there, he received another blow in his life when his daughter was diagnosed with down syndrome. But his daughter’s frequent declaration of loving her life and the future made him realize that he has a lot to be grateful for no matter his life condition is. His body may be broken but that wouldn’t stop him from being happy as it is the choice he made. He enjoys making children laugh with his balloon knotting talents and tricks. He is also involved in helping the down syndrome society of the Philippines.
I was riding at the back of a habal-habal while riding in the dirt road of Pandan province. We caught sight of a pumped-up crowd gathering at a street and decided to stop by and see what was happening. It was a couple of kids doing street boxing complete with boxing gloves. At first it was an amusing sight and I’m sure the spectators thought the same. But it drawned on me how early kids nowadays are easily caught up into violence. Not to belittle Pacquio’s noble efforts to fight for our country, the exposure to young ones can lead to disturbing moral questions. Especially these kids who are just caught up in the emotions that its becoming more than a play but a competition.
She goes by the name of Che. I saw her along with her friends from afar on my way behind the impressive rock formation of Kapupurawan in Burgos and had to look closely. They were gathering a Gamet (or Nori for Japanese), a red edible seaweed which is part of Ilocano’s diet as they make these into soups, scrambled egg ingredients and other delicacies. It’s also a big industry here as they export them in Japan. Che and her friends thread the sharp coral rocks and the waves in Burgos every morning till noon to gather these Gamet as it is their source of food and income.
Shot with an Olympus PEN E-PL1 and Lumix 20mm pancake, I made sure I have a Circular Polarizer attached to lessen the light coming in so I could shoot wide open at F1.7 here since it’s close to noon already.
They say they eyes is the most important aspect of a portrait. It has to be clear to show the expression of the person in the picture. But the question is, does it always have to look straight at you? There are times the eye contact can mesmerize you but looking away can also paint another story. Here’s a photo of an old lady from a Patupat Factory in Pangasinan organizing a pile of panutsa (sweet brown sugarcane delicacy). Shot with the Olympus E-PL1 with the 20mm f1.7 Pancake lens just a few minutes apart, one photo is looking at the camera and the other one is looking far away. Which do you prefer?