THE STREETS OF MANILA

In the book The Photography of William T. Vollmann, it says that, “When doing research and when taking documentary photographs, it is essential ‘to capture candid moments of reality.’ Therefore, a significant ethical guideline within the field is to never intentionally influence the scene or involve oneself with the subjects at hand.”

In street photography that I’ve been trying to do, should one fail to capture the collective spirit of the people, then the whole thing is akin to plain and simple voyeurism, or to that of a bland surveillance footage. What then I aspire to do, is transcend the frivolities of selfies and snapchats so that images may contribute crystallize realistic perception of human psyche encompassing ethos with its joys and fears. It’s always an exhilaratingly exhausting experience. One has to be technically precise with the device in a split second of those decisive moments. It needs total control of emotion so that subjects are completely unmindful for a truly candid shot to happen. I suspect that many ace street photographers, and even among enthusiasts like me, are adrenaline junkies. It wouldn’t be easy if one is not.

Portrait of an OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers), 2015

I hopped onto an almost empty jeepney and immediately seated opposite a man clutching a grey duffel bag with a dangling name tag. It had his complete name and the address of a construction company in the Middle East. He hugged the bag close to his body. but intently looking at the far end of the road rolling away behind us absolutely unmindful of me and the two other passengers beside the driver.

I curiously observed the pensive man with many questions juggling in my mind: “How many times more you have to leave your family this way? But it is for them that you endure that profound sadness in your eyes for another eternity away from them. How long will you still be away? Aren’t there better jobs here in the Philippines yet?

I was once like you for many, many years.

Where’s the current taking me? – 2014
The Long March at the Cadence of Eight to Five. – 2016
Constant rhythm of nine to six. – 2013
Tomorrow will be better. – 2012
Wherever this takes me. – 2013
Teach the children well. – 2016
Doing just fine! – 2011
Girls love high heel shoes. – 2010
Congregation of faithfuls in EDSA. – 2014
Socmed in traffic jams. – 2012
Strawberry gloss, cinnamon blush, and black coffee mascara, and one cappuccino please! – 2009
In most unexpected places. – 2012
Careful… two minors gunned down two hours ago! – 2017
Raining at midnight. – 2008
Late again! – 2009
Monsoon Girls. – 2018
Another day. – 2014
A Gardener and Senators in a ₱10 billion scam. – 2013
Tourists in a Bar in one of the red districts. – 2018
Homeless – 2008
Angels of the night. – 2008
Too much of good life, maybe. – 2007
Two women in a sidewalk. – 2015
In the wee hour of the morning. – 2007
Walking street in a red light district. – 2018
Hello, stranger! – 2018
One warm summer day. – 2015
Two tourists and a lady. – 2019
Just a little bit more time. – 2013
Sweet dreams. – 2013
Watching the world go by. – 2012
Happiness is with Mom and Dad. – 2013
What’s in the paper today? – 2018
World War Z now in Manila. – 2013
Early morning newspapers to retailers. – 2014
When can I see you again? – 2008
Oranges, apples, and people. – 2008
No playing around! – 2009
What?! – 2010
Fare hike effective today. – 2017
Makes one cry. – 2017
Timber charcoal repacked in plastic bags. – 2007
The girl in the other bus. – 2010
Hop up! – 2012
A li’l kiss, now! – 2009
No! – 2014
Same hardship, same aspirations. – 2015
Chopping boards from chopped trees. – 2015
Hang on there! – 2011
Here’s the change. – 2017
The change is worse. – 2017
Victory. – 2011
Please! – 2018
Toxic. – 2016
Making the city clean. – 2012
Sidewalk family camping. – 2014
Busy market. – 2003
A son is never heavy. – 2008
Mom, is this the big city? – 2010
Was I wrong? – 2016
Tell me. – 2013
Left by the last trip bus to province. (2008)
Sidewalk vendors deep in the night. (2003)
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