Born on July 1957 in Quezon Province, Leo Esclanda earned his pseudo name “Bagwis” when his colleagues who happened to see him inside the police station and was being questioned by Manila police, exclaimed one by one, as they passed by: “Uy si Bagwis un” (Hey, its Bagwis). He was a lone photojournalist of BAGWIS, a weekly newspaper during the dark days of Martial Law. BAGWIS was an underground newspaper which tackled government corruption, human rights violations and stories of people’s movement. Bagwis is also associated with the national democratic mass movement. His name is synonymous to pictures of New People’s Army, Communist Party of the
Self-taught Esclanda was not hindered by scarcity of books in the libraries. He rummaged also the collections of his relatives and friends. He later honed his dogmatic book learnings by joining Philippine Collegian, school organ of the University of the
Indeed, as a saying goes, experience is the best teacher. Bagwis deepened his understanding in photography when he became involved in labor union in 1980s, when the country is still under the control of the Marcoses and its cronies. His pictures of the various workers’ rallies, strikes and boycotts made him realized that photography can be a vehicle of change; his camera, a tool to expose the evils of Marcos regime and oppose its inhumane governance. His camera became his weapon to fight social evils and the people's issues his driving force.
Bagwis also learned not just to point and shoot, but he also learned patience in the dark room. Photographers in the 80’s were obliged to go back to their office to process their negatives. Or they would asked their friends from government agencies to used their dark rooms to save time. Processing negatives were meticulous and tedious, Esclanda quipped, but with digital cameras today, in a matter of seconds, photographers can easily evaluate his photos and wire it to the net automatically. Photographers today are now save from the risk of miscalculating time in processing their negatives. They can easily change their pictures without worrying that it might be “under” or “over” developed pictures.
After the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, journalism flourished as a sign of free and democratic country. Businessmen published different newspapers and magazines. Bagwis then became a stringer for Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) now Reuter in which he befriended the late Willy Vicoy and Mr. Alex Baluyot who worked also for AP. He sought also their expertise and skills so as to enhance his own abilities. He also became photo correspondent of the defunct Midweek magazine which gave him more challenging events to cover.
When asked about the difference between the old timer photojournalists and the new timers, Bagwis said that there is not much difference between the two. The style and the content of the photos are more of the same during those days and today. The difference is only in form. However, he warned that new breed photojournalists are easy prey for corruption in the industry. Many young photographers wanted more money and involved less in social cause. Some are even lazy and not even a risk-taker.
Furthermore, Esclanda believes that photojournalism will continue to live and flourish in our country and in the world. Photography is still a viable field of journalism. Photos are unspoken words. They have the power to move people. The great thing that is happening with Philippine photojournalism is that it is shifting its gear- evolving in a new form, new style and new dynamics. It continuously moving and evolving medium of communication and it has weathered and seasoned that it withstood its existence. As we can see, photos are now posted in the internet.
Esclanda is now the photo-editor for Pinoy Weekly, a weekly alternative newspaper. And true to its name, Bagwis is still spreading his wings and soaring high.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough"
Robert Capa, the legendary Hungarian-born photojournalist held his camera only inches from the faces of the grief-stricken and the grievously wounded combatants and civilians. In unique detail, he captured the human drama, the raw and emotional manifestations of hardship and struggle of people caught in the midst of conflict.
He was barely 18 when he moved to
In 1936, he became known across the globe for a photo he took on the Cordoba Front of a Loyalist Militiaman who had just been shot and was in the act of falling to his death. The loyalist soldier was not a ruthless warmonger but an ordinary man or woman who had been forced to defend what he loves. The falling soldier became the iconic war, and anti-war image of the 20th century. Capa believed that in war you must have a position or you cannot stant what goes on. Thus, the photo of the “falling soldier” represent his political bias and idealism.
As Nazi power grew in
After more than a decade of front-line reporting, in collaboration with David Seymour and Henri Cartier-Bresson, they set up in 1947 the Magnum photo cooperative.
On May 25, the last morning of his life, he set out from the
Thursday, April 3, 2008
IN HONOR OF DR. NEMESIO PRUDENTE
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
4 April 2008
My family and I express sincere condolences to the family of Dr.
Nemesio Prudente. We grieve his passing away. At the same time, we
accept his well-deserved rest. We know that he has gone to a place
of glory where he joins the patriots and heroes of the motherland. We
honor him for his many achievements. We celebrate these as various
speakers recount them.
He was an outstanding educator. He rose to the position of president
of the Philippine College of Commerce and then the Polytechnic
University of the Philippines. But most admirable of him was that he
promoted and practised that type of education and life of action that
is clearly, resolutely and militantly in the service of the Filipino
people in their struggle for national liberation, democracy, social
justice, development and peace.
Before "Doc" Prudente became the president of the PCC in the 1960s,
I had been in touch with PCC student leaders and campus journalists
whom I encouraged to form a study group in connection with the
project of developing the national democratic movement among the
students in the University Belt area and preparing for the
organization of Kabataang Makabayan.
When "Doc" Prudente" became the PCC president, we did not know right
away what would be his policy towards the student movement. Soon
enough, he articulated a progressive nationalist policy and was ever
supportive of the students whenever they joined protest mass actions.
He also appointed to the faculty patriotic and progressive teachers.
Thus, the PCC became one of the most active centers of the
anti-imperialist and democratic student movement in the 1960s, in the
First Quarter Storm of 1970 and up to the imposition of martial law on
Before I went underground in late 1968, I had become close to "Doc"
Prudente because I had frequent conversations with him and Prof.
Teodosio Lansang over subjects encompassing philosophy, political
economy and social science in connection with current events. "Doc"
Prudente had a revolutionary outlook and was seriously interested in
the revolutionary transformation of Philippine society from a
semicolonial and semifeudal status to an independent and democratic one.
When I was already underground, I continued to communicate with "Doc"
Prudente through Charlie del Rosario who was a PCC faculty member. He
did not waver in supporting the national democratic movement and
student protest mass movement against the US-Marcos regime, even as
the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in 1971 and the fascist
dictatorship was rapidly taking shape.
He also actively supported the Movement for a Democratic Philippines,
the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties and the
formation of a workers' institute. He cooperated with the Preparatory
Commission of the NDFP and subsequently with the NDFP. He was never
cowed by threats of arrest and actual detention. In and out of the
fascist prison, he was a model of firm resistance and a modest
hardworking man among comrades.
I met "Doc" Prudente for the last time when we attended a fund-raising
event for SELDA in the garden of a well-to-do in Dasmarinas Village in
1986. While abroad, I would be saddened and outraged by repeated
attempts on his life in 1987. The enemy could not tolerate his ideas
and deeds in fighting for the rights of workers, in promoting the
united front and in making the PUP an outstanding university of
learning and technical training for patriotic and progressive
students and teachers.
But "Doc" Prudente was a steadfast revolutionary patriot. He upheld
his principles and courageously put his life, limb and liberty on the
line in fighting for the just cause of the Filipino people. In his
years of retirement from academic life, he continued to have excellent
relations with the revolutionary mass movement, especially with the
youth and workers. He was held in the highest esteem by the broad
masses of the people. His memory and example will always inspire the
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Uugod-ugod patungo sa kanyang distinayos habang nakabitin sa kanang braso ang isang lumang basket.
Sa intruswelo, eskinita, sa mga nagsasayawang kukuti-kutitap na ilaw.
Sa isang bahay sambahan ay titigil, uupo at mamamahinga na tila nagsusumamo ng kaunti pang lakas.
Suot ang isang lumang pangginaw habang natatakpan ang isang gusgusing bistida na umimpis na ang kulay dahil sa kalumaan. Nakatabong ang isang bull cap na kulay pula na tumatakip sa mga ubaning mga buhok nito.
Ibubulalas ang paminsan-minsang impit at garargar na sigaw na halatang pilit.
Kung aakalain isang mahiyaing tao dahil sa nayukong katawang sanhi ng baluktot na likod nito animo’y bakal na bumaluktot dahil sa pagkadarang sa init ng apoy.
Sa halos apat napung taon, paulit-ulit, paikot-ikot ang buhay ni Lola Nikolasa. Bagaman 75 taong gulang na ay ipinagpapatuloy ang paglalako ng balut gabi-gabi sa Sta.
Itinuturing na isa sa pinakamatandang nanirahan ni Lola Nikolasa sa kahabaan ng riles ng tren sa Sta. Mesa na ngayon ay lalong pinalala ang kalagayan dahil sa kawalan ng lalong katiyakan sa kabuhayan nito. Noong isang taon ay sapilitang pinalikas si Lola Nikolasa kasama ang pamilya nito patungong Bucaue, Bulakan upang bigyang daan ang pagpapaganda sa kahabaan ng riles sa Sta. Mesa. Subalit mga ilang araw lamang kasama ang apat na anak at apo ay napilitan itong bumalik sa naturang lugar dahil sa kawalan ng kabuhayan sa Bulakan.
Sa gilid ng PUP sama-samang pinagkakasya ang mga katawan habang natutulog sa isang tagpi-tagping barung-barong. Samantalang ang ibang anak nitong si Antonio 45, Teresita 38 ay nakikitulog na lamang sa kanilang mga pinapasukang pagawaan sa
Samantalang sa kabila ng katandaan ni Lola Nikolasa ay solo nitong inaalagaan ang mga apong natigil sa pagaaral sanhi ng dislokasyon habang namamasada ang dalawang anak.
Pagsapit ng alasingko ay mamimili ito ng 30 pirasong itlog pato sa kalapit na palengke at pag-uwi ay magsisiga ng apoy upang ilaga ang mga nabiling mga itlog para maging balut. Dakong ala-siete ng gabi ay ihahanda na nito ang mga balut. Matapos masiguradong kumpleto ang mga apo ay maglalako naman ito ng balut hanggang alas dose ng hating gabi.
Araw ng linggo at sabado maituturing na suwerteng araw kay lola Nikolasa dahil matao sa simbahang pinupuwestuhan ng paninda nito. Sa puhunang P7.75 perasong itlog na binibili nito ay naibebenta niya ng P12 kada isang balut.
Si Lola Nikolasa ay isa lamang sa mga lolang maituturing na inaabuso ang kanilang katandaan na matapos makuba sa pagtataguyod ng mga anak , ngayon naman ay mga apo ang pinagsisilbihan. Na dapat sanay sa taglay na edad ay dapat sanang ilaan na lamang ang buhay sa paglilibang at lasapin ang sarap ng pagiging retirado.
Sa ganitong kaso sino nga ba ang maaring sisihin. Ang kanyang mga anak na halos kanilang sarili ay halos di rin kayang suportahan ang kumakalam na sikmura dahil sa kakarampot na kinikita o ang pamahalaan na dapat kumalinga sa mga matatandang dating pinakinabangan narin dahil sa pagbabayad ng buwis.
Ayon kay Vergilio F. Rivas isang propesor ng sosyolohiya sa PUP, ang ganitong kalagayan ng mga matatanda ay bahagi narin ng kulturang Pilipino kung saan ang pamilyang Pilipino ay magkakayakap na hinaharap ang anumang alon sa buhay. Sa katunayan sa elementarya pa lamang ay itinuturo ang kasabihang ang ina ay ang siyang ilaw ng tahanan. Sa makatuwid pabirong sinabi ni Prof. Rivas na kung ang ina ang ilaw ng tahanan ang lola naman ay ang ilaw ng mga ilaw. Maituturing ang mga lola aniya na isang malakas na pinanggagalingan ng enerhiya na siyang nagbibigay lakas upang mabisang makapagbigay ng liwanag ang isang ilaw ng tahanan.
Katibayan rin sa paniwalang ito ang nangyari kay Melchora Aquino na di inalintana ang katandaan upang pagsilbihang ang mga katipunero sa panahong ng panunupil ng mga dayuhang kastila.
Ayon naman kay PUP Chaplain Fr. Lonnie Borg, dahil umano sa ang Pilipino ay isang bansang katoliko maaring inihahambing ang mga lola kay Inay Maria na matapos masaksihan at tiisin ang paghihirap ng kanyang anak na si Jesus ay pumayag pa itong maging ina ng mga desipulo ni Jesus.
Sa ginawang pananaliksik nina Natividad JN at Cruz GT (www.pubmed.gov) nakatala sa kanilang libro na Journal of Marriage and Family na sa 2,285 na edad 50 at 1,131 edad 60, 92.5% dito ay pawang taga pag-alaga ng kanilang mga apo. Malinaw na sa panahong isinagawa ang pananaliksik noong 1996 ay may malaking pursyento na ng mga lola sa Pilipinas ay kabilang sa naabusong mga matatanda.
Naitala rin sa naturang libro na sa Pilipinas nanguna ang rehiyon IV na may pinakamalaking bilang ng mga “senior citizens” samantalang ang pumangalawa naman ang rehiyon VI, pangatlo ang rehiyon III at National Capital Region ang pumangatlo.
Sa kaso ni Lola Nikolasa na patuloy sa paghahanap buhay para sa mga apo at naniniwalang ang kanyang mga apo ang kanyang tanging yaman di mapapasubalian na isa nga siya sa inaabusong lola ng kanyang sariling mga anak na silang dapat kumalinga sa kanilang magulang.
Ang mga katulad ni Lola Nikolasa ang dapat pagkalooban ng kagyat ng tulong mula sa iba-iban ahensya particular ang pamahalaan. Subalit mayroong nga bang batas na tumataguyod sa kagalingan ng mga lola sa bansa.
Noong Enero 1992 isinabatas ang Republic Act 7432 na lalong kilala sa tawag na Senior Citizens Act kunsaan kinikilala ang kontribusyon ng mga senior citizen bilang kabalikat sa pagunlad ng bansa. Kalakip nito ang pagbibigay benipisyo at prebilehiyo sa matatanda.
Sa naturang batas ang ang kahulugan senior citizen ay ang mga may edad 60 pataas, na nagretiro sa pagtratrabaho sa pamahalaan at prebadong ahensya ng paggawa ay maituturing na mga senior citizen.
Maliban sa edad, itinuturing ring kasama sa senior citizen ang mga Pilipino na naninirahan sa Pilipinas ng may umabot kumulang sa 183 araw at nagnanais na ipagpatuloy ang pagtigil sa bansa.
Ang mga papasok sa kategoriyang ito ay nararapat pagkalooban ng indentification card na nagsasaad ng kanilang pagiging senior citizen at ang naturang ID ay magiging basehan upang magkaroon ng malaking pursyento kabawasan sa anumang bilihin o serbisyo nais nila.
Samantalang sinusugan naman ang paunang batas ng Republic Act 7876 o batas na nagpapahintulot sa pagtatayo ng isang sentro para sa mga senior citizen sa lahat ng dako ng bansa.
Ayon dito kinakailangang magtalaga ng mga lugar ang pamahalaan na maaaring maging sentro para sa pangunahing serbisyo tulad ng edukasyon, kalusugan, libangan at iba pang programang kakalinga sa kagalingan ng mga senior citizen.
Ipinaguutos ng naturang batas ang pagsasagawa ng koordinasyon ng iba-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan particular ang Department of Health (DOH) at Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).dp
Sunday, March 9, 2008
As photography continues its evolvement and advancement as an art, science and tool of information, many photographers, on the other hand, continue to search for a new purpose and meaning of their skill and artwork. Jacob Riis, a news photographer, used his camera not just to inform the public but also to expose the social ills of their society and was able to seek reforms that lead to necessary upliftment of the living condition of slum dwellers in
Another photographer, Lewis Hine, a trained sociologist and
Both Riis and Hine, did not confined themselves to the question of “what” are the social conditions” of their society but rather dig beyond the said reality by unfolding the answers to “why” or reason/s of the existing condition and to the “how,” they’re going to help affect societal change. The exposure of photographers in the other side of reality –the oppressed and exploited majority people of
The social conditions that exist during the time of Riis and Hine still exist today. But sad to say, few photographers dare to take the road traveled by Riis and Hine. That is because this kind of photography is not lucrative and high paying job but rather it entails danger and hardship. Photographers or photojournalists who dare take this kind of noble profession risks their lives in fulfilling their duty. Many photojournalists covering people’s action such as pickets, rallies or demonstrations or covering war in
On Susan Sontag’s book on photography described Riis and Hines photographs as an “aid for understanding” (page111). They discover the beauty of the medium (photographs) in a different perspective.
But of course, like Riis and Hine, there are still photographers/photojournalists in our country who are devoted and believe that photography is an effective medium for social change and reforms in our country. By using the camera responsibly, photographers or photojournalists, people can be aware of the present and deteriorating condition of our people especially poor peasants and workers. Our pictures are surely a message itself but we are going to put a relevant caption on it, with an intention of deepening the message of the photographs, it will definitely be an effective tool of raising social consciousness of an individual. Personally, I am glad that non-government organization, people’s organization or religious organization included photo exhibits as one of the means in their conscious-raising program. Literacy-numeracy teachers (parateachers) used in teaching cultural minorities in the remote areas. Photos can educate people and deepen their commitment.
I believe that it is not only enough that photographer have knowledge or skill in photography. It is not how you aesthetically take pictures that determine the quality and beauty of picture but on the purpose and intention of taking those pictures. To be an effective agent of change, like Hine and Riis, photographer must know to whom he/she has to serve. And we can only do this by living among the people- the poor peasants and struggling workers. It is only by being with the people that we will be able to know their real condition, their deep longings and aspirations. And by being with them, we cannot only sympathize but empathize with them. The learnings we gather from them will give us another perspective in taking pictures and will deepen our understanding in their struggle. Hence, arm with new perspective, we are not just photographer or onlooker in their situation but active agent of social change.
It was the curiosity on everyday lives on why photography was invented but as industrial nation involved themselves in the imperialist adventures around the world, photography emerged as an effective tool to satisfy the thirst of the people in basic information such as physical evidence on the appearance of an individual and the beauty of nature.
Photography also emanates realism to what was the real story that happened far beyond the present. Photography brings the past into the future. The likes of Matthew Brady, Felice Beato, Timothy O’ Sullivan and George Cook and many others who documented the gruesome effects of war used their craft to bring information. Though many purists and critics believed that during those early days photographs may not be used as a real artifacts of the past. They dispute that many of these photographs are fake and was often set-up or posed pictures and for them this kind of setting up and manipulating the subject may provoke argument on the truthfulness and veracity of the events that happened in the past.
This argument may be true. Let us take the case of Edward Curtis who spent his time and money (thanks for J.P Morgan who believed in his talent and financially supported Curtis) documenting everyday chores of the American Indians. Most of Curtis’s photographs of Indians were obviously posed photographs but this is not really the issue here. Those pictures were really set-up or posed pictures because of the fact that it might be during those times taking pictures say an American Indian riding on a speeding horse showing the movement. I don’t think photographers during those years have had the ability in taking photographs of a moving subject. This is because during this epoch of time camera was still not capable of doing it. Inventors were still squeezing their minds to improve the camera.
The year of 1839 towards 1890 was the years were documentary photography started to make its path in the world of photography. This genre of photography come to refer to pictures taken with an intent to inform rather than to express personal feeling as what Frank Hoy defines in his photojournalism book documentary photographers works is straight forward, yet it implies a commentary.
Curtis’s pictures are definitely transcended the reality of what was the physical appearance of American Indian during those days. It depicts its natural way of how they leave on those days.
I do believe that most of Curtis’s photos were manipulated by him and this does not mean that those photographs were not originally American Indian tribes. But what moves Curtis to manipulate his pictures was because he wanted to characterize American Indian as part of social composite with marvelous way of life.
The portrait genre of Curtis created a mirror that would suggests how American Indian progress. The photographs described social, ethic, and class affiliation, or may, in some measure, be invoked in contrast in them.
Though Curtis used his artistic sensitivity by setting-up and or posing his subject the ethnicity of the subject still remains the intact.
We may also reasoned out why Curtis did such an imposing style of taking those pictures was because during those days there is no rule that he should follows.
And also because of the fact that Curtis was also a photographer who has family that he must be supporting he’s craft was his way for bread and butter.
Curtis was also a businessman with little capital to pursue his dream in documenting American Indians. It may also be conclude that Curtis intention was really to sell the pictures. We cannot blamed Curtis for this but rather we must put him to the pathom.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
In 18th century, a man’s strong desire to recreate an exact image of person or things he value most, or freeze the event he wanted to hold on forever, was believed to be a work of an evil. That is because they believed that it is only God, the Creator who can do this. True enough, many scientists or even some mediocre scientists, possessed by this strong desire, invented and developed a system that will capture the exact image he wanted to preserve. And not only this desire moved these great thinkers but also a need to find ways how to effectively express themselves that they created an art and science of expression through visual image, now known to us, as photography. Photography proved to be an effective vehicle of communication.
Indeed, Daguerre’s invention represents a major technological triumph in the field of photography called “Daguerreotype” where results of its product produced a sharp image and with a great breadth of shading reproduced. From then on, black and white photography was born full bloom.
And with man’s desire for development, Joseph Nicephore Niepce began his experiments to advance his business field. Niepce, a gentleman inventor and lithographer from central