A month ago, Digital Photographer Philippines announced that they would be sending two photographers to Europe completely free for a week to document The Netherlands in conjunction with KLM Airline’s 60th anniversary in the Philippines. KLM would provide the means for the photographers and the photographs would then be used for a full article in the Lonely Planet Philippines magazine.
To get picked for the assignment, one must present an essay as to why they would have to be chosen, a portfolio showing their work and an inspiration photo with the theme “Journey of Inspiration”.
It was such an amazing assignment that I was so tempted to join. The only problem was, every photographer in the country, including the big guns of the industry (Ferdz Decena, Noli Gabilo, Edwin Martinez, Joel H. Garcia, Sami DeLeon to name a few) has also sent their entries and it would be like passing through a very thin needle to get picked (you may check the entries here).
But everyone I know (like, two people hehe) was urging me to go ahead, do my best and just pitch.
After much trepidation and deliberation, I went ahead and did my pitch for one whole day; writing furiously from 12 noon, sifting through thousands of photos for my chosen portfolio, rewriting and rechecking, and finally posting it at the DPP forum at almost exactly 12 midnight.
I never thought much about it afterwards as more and more photographers sent in their excellent pitches; I thought I would be lucky if I even get past the top 20.
Three days ago, while treading the rough waters of Balicasag Island on our way back to Panglao in Bohol, I got a text message saying I got chosen as one of the top 6 photographers for the assignment! Unbelievable!
We were exchanging high fives while the boat rock and rolled around the huge waves, the boatmen oblivious to what had just transpired.
As an icing to the cake, Digital Photographer Philippines’ head honcho Nick Tuason announced that I got the top spot out of all the 120+ photographers who sent in their pitches. Oh man! What a trip! Never in my wildest dream!
The Chosen Six will be awarded with an iPad 2, a Tamrac Camera Bag, and loads of Photix photography accessories. And the final two would bring with them a Sony NEX camera to Holland and an additional Tamrac camera backpack. How cool is that!!
The final two would be chosen over the weekend after a live shooting contest at Intrumuros.
This is the second time I got picked for DPP’s on Assignment series, the first one was the still pending Bicol Assignment last 2010.
And so here it is; my extra long, no music, no video pitch to DPP and KLM. Hope you enjoyed it as much as when I was writing it.
M y P i t c h
“You’ve been to so many places around the country; why not travel abroad for a change?” Besides what camera do you use, that’s one of the most asked question that’s been thrown at me.
So why not try to venture out? My standard reply is the cost. Exploring outside the country is much much more expensive. In my estimate, you could do at least three locations in the Philippines with the same damage against a one-time trip to any Southeast Asian locale.
It was then expected for my head to go through our leaking roof the day I read about DPP and KLM’s plan on bringing the country’s top photographers to Europe.
Holland! The Netherlands! Europe! Unbelievable!
Van Gogh-like flower fields, swirling windmills, reflective still ponds, cobalt blue skies, chilled to the bone weather, parochial countryside architecture, wooden shoes, Dutch hats (and let’s not forget the blond blue-eyed pony-tailed girls that wear them), medieval castles and forts! Let's totally go!
Butterflies flutter in my stomach and my whole body shakes in anticipation. I can see the never-ending golden road unfurling right before my eyes. Oh man, this might just be my chance to alter my standard line, and I’d be doing it in grand style.
So out of all the hundreds that had already pitched, why choose me?
I am travel, my home is the road. There is clarity on the road not found anywhere else. You find yourself as you move away from the familiar.
Ever since discovering photography, there’s nothing else in my mind other the means to move. Plotting and scheming for my leaves so I can do a nine-day journey across lands I hardly knew about, scraping up overtimes for funds and budgeting it to pay for fares and food, playing out never-ending scenarios on my head; do I go alone, do I bring someone with me, do I have enough to eat grand or are the carinderias just enough, do I hire a guide or do I do it DIY. These are the thoughts that course through my mind as I go through my humdrum work routine and snake through the slow-moving traffic of the metro.
All this has been documented on my three-year old online journal, Lakad Pilipinas; everything from the crowded streets of Manila, the relatively unknown islands of Romblon, the eat-‘til you drop restaurants of Bacolod, the picturesque hills of Batanes, the death defying drops of Sagada, the haunted island of Corregidor, the unbelievable waters of Coron, on and on it never stops. I write about the places I’ve been to every single day, the only time I stop is when I’m on the road somewhere again, which I’ll again write about on a future time. It’s a never-ending cycle.
And through all this, photography comes first before everything else (which I liken to my luggage, camera gear first before clothes).
A typical day of traveling goes like this: Get up on ungodly morning hours and trek to the nearest body of water. Get splashed to smithereens to capture that perfect sunrise shot. Walk (not ride, heavens no!) back to the place we’re staying in, not wanting to lose the opportunity of seeing something on the road just because I’m speeding through in a tricycle. Shoot the breakfast first before eating, my stomach on full protest. Wash the camera, and its time to walk again.
Walk on and on ‘til there’s not enough light in the sky; the architecture, people, culture, food, the in-betweens, the itineraries, souvenirs, life, explore, photograph, taste, live the essence of the place; everything on my own two slow and patient feet.
And after the golden sun has set and there’s nothing else to photograph, it’s time to sit back, whip my journal out and take notes about the things that went through the day, adding to the small snippets I was able to jot down during lull of the travelling hours.
I had roughed the most uncomfortable sweaty-filled-to-brim-non-aircon bus ride, standing up for hours; I glided almost half the night at a slow moving outrigger boat through god-knows-where over dark misty waters with the moon our only light; I had braved staying at a supposed haunted island all by my lonesome self wishing I hadn’t the night it was time to sleep alone on a four poster bed; I had walked and walked and walked ‘til my two sorry feet were filled with band-aids. I would do anything and everything just to experience and capture a place.
My passion to move, to explore, to not waste time resting and sleeping, to document everything, to capture a place’s soul, to bring the readers inside my photographs is immeasurable. And this is everything I would bring to the team should I be chosen to represent and reflect Europe back to the readers.
And there is, of course, the opportunity to get one over my travel mom, I bet she’s never been to Europe, well I think..
M y P o r t f o l i o
A Dinagyang contingent looks on as he steels himself to the performance ahead.
- Aliwan Fiesta, Manila
A village sits at a plateau in Mountain Province,
natural mist and smoke from burning trees combine to diffuse the surrounding mountains.
- Bangaan Rice Terraces, Mountain Province
Horse drawn carriages warp time on the cobbledstoned streets of Vigan, transporting passengers back to bygone eras.
- Calle Crisologo, Vigan
Romance under the romanesque skeletal remains of The Ruins.
Its grandeur and tragedy never fails to invoke emotions into its visitors.
- Talisay City, Bacolod
The raw crashing force of the rushing waters against
boulder-sized rocks seemed to have been momentarily tamed by a photograph.
- Valugan Beach, Batanes
Ripped tickets, colorful brochures, a steaming coffee, a journal and a pen. Time to recap the day’s events.
- PNKY Cafe, Baguio City
Vegetarian dishes served on funky stonewares witness the sun set across the mountains.
- Oh My Gulay!, Baguio City
The highly detailed church of St. Jerome seemed to stand tall through the incoming weather.
- Morong, Rizal
A lone lighthouse sits atop the sweeping hills,
readying for another night of guidance as the sun starts its downward journey.
- Marlboro Country, Batanes
Towering ultra-modern skyscrapers goes hand in hand with the natural towers of nature.
- Ayala Triangle, Makati City
A journey does not end as you board the plane back;
from the window, vessels seem to be painting and parting the waters of the bay forming interesting vistas for the birds.
- Manila Bay, Manila
I n s p i r a t i o n P h o t o
For my inspirational shot, I leave the words to the eternal J.Kerouac, through him I saw the road more clearly.
We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind
and performing our one noble function of the time, move.
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road