I thought I would spend some time and put together my highlights from 2014 in photos. I’ve never done this before, but I haven’t done many blog posts this year and therefore thought I should get another one in before the year ends. At times this year was extremely busy and at other times I was able to do more of the behind the scenes work that always seems to pile up. I had some firsts this year, including my first solo exhibit, and I took on more commissioned work than in previous years.
Three weeks in the Cordilleras of Luzon and I feel like I have only scratched the surface of experiencing the rich cultures that make up the Igorot people. This is a common trend I have experienced while working on the Katutubong Filipino Project and one reason I hope to extended the project longer term, perhaps for another three years. More time is needed. This is especially true when trying to tell the story of the Igorot people who live in six different provinces with over 20 tribes all speaking different languages, practicing different rituals, and have different beliefs and cultures.
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.
As most things go in life, big changes can happen at a moment’s notice, and I think that is especially true when you’re doing freelance work. Three months ago I had to once again say bye to my wife and two children, as I went to the airport to be transported a world away to the middle of the Bering Sea. Although I had a feeling I would be returning to work there, everything happened very fast and off I went.
I spent last week with the folks from Baptist World Aid Australia and Share an Opportunity Philippines (SAO) working on an assignment in Panay and Negros Islands. SAO has a number of programs here in the Philippines focusing primarily on community development using a holistic approach. It sounds complicated, but the basic idea is that in order to improve a child’s life you have to improve all aspects of the community that influence that child.
Jacob Maentz is an American travel and stock photographer based in the Philippines. He came to the country as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in 2003. Jacob’s two year service gained him an admiration for their culture and different way of life. He grew up close to nature and has an academic background of Wildlife and Conservation Biology.