Continuing Saga; Dead Men Walking , Walking Dead, and Playing Dead

Work in progress

 

A mother cries in anguish as she sees the lifeless body of his son who was seen walking aimlessly in the dark alleys of Tondo until he dropped dead in a gutter.Witnesses say  an unidentified assailant shot him several times in the body.

 

 

 

 

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Handcuffed men wait to be processed after they were caught peddling drugs during a buy-bust operation in Caloocan City. A total of 3 suspected drug peddlers were shot dead and 3 men arrested during the night operation.

 

 

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A drug peddler lay dead with his alleged weapon after a brief chase near the railroad tracks in Caloocan City

 

 

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A Scene of the Crime Operative (SOCO) process a dead suspects body in the university belt area. He was accosted for urinating in a public place and engaged policemen in alleged running gun battle.A sachet of suspected crystal meth (shabu) reportedly fell from one of his pockets later.

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Local and international journalists covering the nightly events related to the drug wars of President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

 

 

Change has finally come to our land…but is it good?

 

Dateline Manila: September 2016. A few months back, before Rodrigo Duterte had even assumed office as President of the Republic, lifeless bodies started appearing daily like clockwork signalling the start of the anti drug-war in the country. I detached myself from reliving my days of ambulance-chasing and felt numbed from the outgoing and  the new leadership’s promises, so I temporarily restrained myself from chronicling the events.

Dead on the streets have become a daily or nightly occurence and all are allegedly drug-related
Dead on the streets have become a daily or nightly occurence and all are allegedly drug-related
A distraught mother breaks down upon learning the death of her son, an alleged drug user.
A distraught mother breaks down upon learning the death of her son, an alleged drug user.

 

In the early days of my career as a news photographer, I was almost a fulltime resident in  Manila’s police headquarters. I spent days and nights covering the police beat as a stringer for a newspaper.I slept in a couch at the press office behind the reception desk of the then Western police headquarters. Documenting daily ocurrences of human misdeeds and tragedy can creep in your system and it wasn’t too long before all kinds of quirky things started happening as I walk the streets of the metro, a habit that was special to me because I loved documenting daily life on the streets in my free time. In one of my walks, a group of men started fighting and stabbing each other with forks and spoons…one time as I sit calmly in a bus, the engine would burst in flames in front of me. One night as I went home past midnight while I was distraught with some office problems, I accidentally boarded a jeepney which was about to be held up. My instincts signaled me that something was wrong but it didn’t sink in enough as my mind was deeply preoccupied. luckily, the hold-up men were professionals and I was able to put across that I was from the ‘PRESS’ and my gear didn’t belong to me so they let me go…but not without giving them my watch. The cameras ,two-way radio were all spared from their crime as I jumped out of the jeepney when they made a detour into ome of the dimly-lit side streets in Espana in Manila.

Manila, 2016: It finally dawned on me that the killings related to the Duterte’s drugwars is a significant point in history that I could not miss specially when the only thing I know well (photojournalism) is being questioned or branded as destabilizing the country. So I dusted off my beaten camera gear and started hanging out with the other journalists maintaining their nightly vigil at the Manila Police Department Press office.

Fellow photographers huddle near a crime scene, planning the next move
Fellow photographers huddle near a crime scene, planning the next move

There is a saying about photojournalists when I was just starting out that goes “We don’t take sides, we only take pictures”. Maybe that is partly true because ‘news’ is supposed to be based on truth and facts. Things have changed and in my journey as a photojournalist and a documentary photographer, I knew and felt from deep inside my heart that images should be compelling, provocative and to somehow spark changes in our lives. Every photograph is a reflection of the person who captured it. there will never be identical images from every photographer even if they were all herded together in one spot looking at one subject. Working on my own and without commisioned assignments, I am more free to post images with just simple captions or datelines…It is difficult to verbalize every image that I capture because not all of them are literal…sometimes my images are just abstractions of what is happening before me.

A heavily armored policeman watches over the police lines
A heavily armored policeman watches over the police lines

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Two more dead bodies; buy bust victims who allegedly attempted to escape

I try to go and cover whatever unfolds for the night and shoot it and approach it clearing any biases I have . No image is ever objective but on this personal project, I am being careful not to add or remove anything from the visual landscape and let  who ever views them to complete the  equation on their own. The narratives will unfold with the passage of each night.

Next: Continuing saga

 

Wide Open Workshops XLVI

DIscussions at Ramsey's Farm (photo by Egay Aguilar
DIscussions at Ramsey’s Farm (photo by Egay Aguilar)

After meeting early in Quiapo, the group walked around Sta.Cruz and ended up in Binondo to have a hearty lunch at the photographer’s favourite  pokestop, Wai Ying . Needless to say that the place is part of the ritual to taking good street photographs.The following are excerpts from the two-day activity. The workshop aims to enhance the way photographers look for pictures.

photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo
photo by Mai Calapardo

 

photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia

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photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia
photo by Ronnie Garcia