Prague slipped through our fingers once upon a time.
In 2015, the Digital Photographer of the Philippines held “On Assignment: Prague” a photography-video competition of which at stake is a trip to the Czech Republic.
For our entry, Ateneo Sta. Ines and I pooled our street photography collection and adapted them into a 3-minute music video. Soundtracked with the requisite Eraserhead classic “Alapaap.”
“This is brilliant!” DPP boss Nick Tuason’s voice thundered across the Samsung Theater on judgement day. He has pre-screened all videos and this was his foreword to our entry. Was he mind-blown. I presumed the bravo! was a victory for us. I thought we had it slain. Until one of the judges thinks otherwise. (What was that dish from Macau again?)
Fast-forward to the now, to Bokspeysi’s Bistro here in Iriga. With a beer in one hand and smile on our face. That Prague cloud of memory floats back in again when Alapaap sounded on the speaker.
But as the song ends, the cloud bursts and we are back on the talk of the evening — what transpired during the day at the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk Iriga city. With my theme of choice for this year, Street Photography.
It was a Sunny-16 day. Nakisama ang panahon. A good number of photographers showed up and we were all over the place. (Dios Mabalos photowalkers. May the fotos be with you.)
Ka Teni and I photowalked uptown, midtown, and downtown Iriga till the sun went down.
Street photography and pasyal-pasyal. It’s everything!
Now, dog-tired and still clinging to his Fujifilm XE-1, it only takes two bottles of San Mig Lights to knock him off.
I brought the man here all the way from Manila not solely to acquaint big city street photography with Rinconada, but for a simple change of scenery as well.
Change of scenery in my own flipped sense: I wanted to see the street of Iriga from the lens of one of the big-names in Philippine SP.
Where the Philippines ranks second worldwide in Street Photography, Ka Teni belongs to the Top Ten in individual cat. He used to rank higher, but that doesn’t concern him anymore. (The strive for the top spot in B&WStreet has eased down now than, say, five years ago. Either street Photographers have come to their senses and retreated back to the view of street photography being an object of art rather than a race for contention, or there is a big drop in the site’s following.)
He says he is no longer active in the group. A been-there-done-that fatigue?
But the one place he has never been — Iriga.
A microcosm of the Philippines, the city is stuck in a system of socio-political decadence. Of course, a prevailing national contagion.
Iriga is a modest territory. Photography-wise, it takes time to think of a selling point when asked What’s special about Iriga considering its subtle charm.
One easy answer is street photography.
In spite of its flaws, Ateneo Sta. Ines, not surprisingly, found a playground in Iriga city.
Being an erstwhile denizen of Bilibid Viejo and later on to the complicated Malate, the man is constantly subjected to urban imperfections.
Thriving on society’s rough representations, his frames are stereoscope of established day-to-day settings, juxtaposed on life’s disturbing backdrops. The visage of the masa embedded with atrocious emotion.
Ka Teni’s eyes are prone to the bleakness of scenes, the actors of which resemble cold looks, almost a la daguerreotype ghost.
The photographer’s attitude with the commonplace, plus the Gary Winongrandish practice of all things being photographable, and it is with this twist that the man sees nothing dull in Iriga city.
In this collection from the Iriga photowalk, Ka Teni breathes life into the city’s socio-political picture:
Lifeless railway line.
Marketplace of shadows.
The oragon’s animateness, as well as serenity.
And the place’s beatitude with rushing waters.
Ka Teni’s rendition of Iriga delivered the “change of scenery” I was hurting for. Kaleidoscopically filled with innuendos. A face to face encounter with the Bicolano man-on-the-street.
Each execution of light and color sets off the images in the feel of a motion picture (also by virtue of a mounted beast: a 12mm 7artisans lens). Creating a photoplay about the time and the life of Irigueños.