Since September of last year, I have been fortunate to be part of a program that many hotels are starting to adopt into their CSR efforts. Soap For Hope is an initiative based on the simple idea that used soap collected from hotels can be recycled into fresh soap bars and distributed to underprivileged local communities.
A couple of months ago I added a Phantom 3 quadcopter to my collection of tools as a photographer. It has been wonderful learning to fly this and being able to use it as another creative tool. I have been exploring both photos and video with the quadcopter, but I must say that learning video with it has been awesome. My family was recently in town and with visitors comes some travel. We stayed around Cebu during their vacation and I got in as much flying time as I could. I try to approach video in the same way I take photos, focusing on strong natural light to create mood and emotion.
A blog post is well past due and it always amazes me how fast time goes by. Since my trip to the Cordilleras last April/May I feel like things have been non-stop making time soar by even faster. The past few months have mostly been filled with planning and getting things in line for the upcoming year with some intermittent travel, assignment work and workshops. The most exciting event I have been planning for is my first solo exhibit this coming January in Manila. The exhibit is entitled “The Forgotten Ten” which refers to the some 10 to 20 percent of the Philippine population considered to be indigenous.
The past couple of months have been action packed with lots of traveling, learning and thinking of the year ahead. Inevitably, when one starts to think about the challenges and hopes for the future we find ourselves reflecting on the past. It was this time last year that my wife and I finished a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Katutubong Filipino Project (Indigenous Filipino people project). It feels like a lot longer than a year ago that we ventured into this project, but we are thankful for it and for all of the people we have meet because of it. We are still working on the project with two major areas still to visit with our Kickstarter funds.
Last week I had the opportunity to take some images for the Gift of Grace Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides resources to elementary school children living within the Umapad dumpsite of Mandaue City, Cebu. There are four large dump sites around metro Cebu with more than 5000 people living and scavenging for materials just trying to survive in whatever way they can. Many of the children living within these dumpsites are born into a life of extreme poverty and are often given very little opportunity to escape the cycle.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to shoot a project that is helping to change lives in an extraordinary way. MyShelter Foundation has always been at the forefront of creative and groundbreaking technologies and this is their latest venture called a Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag). The concept is simple. By using plastic bottles and filling them with water you create a prism that captures sunlight and dispersers it into a home.
I was doing some research recently and decided to see what the small island of Olango had to offer because of its proximity to Cebu. I knew the island had a bird sanctuary that is a popular birding destination, but I wanted to see what else the island might have to explore. While searching through some photos I noticed one image of a women standing next to a giant pile of starfish. The image was striking to me because I had never seen so many dead starfish before. I started to dig a little deeper and was able to find that one barangay in Olango island is known to export seastars, shells, urchins and sand dollars. I decided to go and have a look because I couldn’t believe that starfish in this amount could be harvested and sold. For what? I was thinking.
I have heard numerous times now of a mountain town here in Cebu where the weather is cooler and vegetable farmers carry large baskets of produce on their heads. I have always had a small interest in going to see what this was all about, but a part of me never thought it would be too interesting – vegetables are really not that exciting.
Yesterday I got to witness thousands celebrate All Saints Day here in Cebu. People light candles, bring flowers and pray for their loved ones at cemetery’s all over. This was my first time to witness this holiday here and indeed a sight it was to see. There must have been a few thousand people at this small public cemetery I went to. Many people were camped out with their families and there were vendors selling everything from food to glow sticks. This is such a popular place for people to visit on this day that the Mayor even put up campaign signs for next years election.