The online photography community had been buzzing for months for the date of this year’s Canon PhotoMarathon. Speculations for the venue and date had been flying around the forums like ninja stars. And finally, Canon came out with it; 12th of November at the Philippine Trade Training Center. Dang, I have work on that date.
I kneeled in front of my boss, begging for a quick notice leave. Luckily she’s kind enough to let me go.
Straight from a nine-hour night shift, I headed straight to the venue, led by throngs of red-shirted photographers milling over the gates of the PTTC. A huge Canon inflatable camera flanks the front of the building as drumbeats electrify the air.
The lobby was filled with an ocean of photographers wearing the free Canon shirt and caps registering for this year’s event. Later on Canon’s head honcho would be announcing that the Philippines got the top spot in Asia for the most number of participants for this Photomarathon at 1,600++ photographers.
After loitering around the activity area, shaking hands and having high fives with photographers I have walked with in the last three years, a massive group hug was held and the first theme was announced.
In the Concrete Jungle of our Nation,
Find the Beauty of Your Own Imagination,
Use Your Creative Passion
To Showcase this Beautiful Creation.
I’m thinking this would be a street or city shoot. The first thing that came to my mind is Baclaran.
I know that the great Edwin Martinez said that I should throw the first five things that come to mind since everyone had already thought of that. But I can’t think of anything more fitting; I envisioned a mass of people moving from a high angle and Baclaran market is just the place for that.
Together with R, a good friend I met at the forums, we started walking towards the crazy streets of Baclaran.
We decided to ply its side streets rather than the main roads, finding much more interesting characters in them. Children playing traditional street games, ancient people walking the alleys, colorful graffiti over sprawling walls, bicycles, jeepneys, whole communities, vibrant marketplaces, bustling avenues; we passed the soul of the city ‘til we reached the haven of the Baclaran Redemptorist Church. It was a welcome sanctuary after the chaos of its roads.
We hardly saw any red-shirted photographers on our way to the church but were surprised to see a lot of them inside the church grounds; I guess they took the easy route and rode the LRT. They kinda missed the flavor of the city by doing so.
Three hours of being baked under the scorching midday sun and we’re back at the venue, submitting our entry at our designated booths. I grabbed a quick lunch courtesy of Mang Inasal, and was able to rest my now aching soles for a few precious minutes. The second theme was quickly flashing through the screen.
In this city of wonderful people
Different lifestyles, we venture
A mirror of our colorful culture
Truly preserved for our future
Culture hmmm… Again only one place popped through my mind, the historical walls of Intramuros. We knew we cannot get there on foot so we jumped on a bus and rested while it drove us to our destination.
We started off at the front of the Manila City Hall and headed straight for the cobblestoned street in front of Plaza San Luis, a restored villa of the rich folks back in the days. This is where I envisioned my photograph.
I re-scouted the area first, I’ve been here quite a number of times the past month for the Lonely Planet shoot, but I was thinking of getting a different angle this time.
I saw a shaft of light filtering in through one of its main doorways and found my frame. It was perfect, the old chandeliers up on the ceiling leading to the huge wooden double doors, the cobbled street and the peeling walls of San Agustin, the only missing thing was my subject. I waited.
I know from past experiences that guards dressed like the old Guardia Sibils of the Spanish era roams these parts and I position myself on one of the doorways of the villa. I waited ‘til a guard crossed the door. One finally did, but his shadow was too short, I need something more dramatic. I approached my subject and asked him if he can stand under the doorway for a few seconds. The pose and the position were all up to him I said.
He did his thing; I waited for the cars to passing outside to stop and took two photos. I knew instantly that I got something special. I stopped shooting afterwards; I know I cannot top this photo anymore.
We walked the walls for another hour before calling it a day. We squeezed ourselves and got crushed inside the trains of the LRT, boarded down and got squashed again inside the multicabs to the PTTC. It was a hell of a day, but it was all worth it.
A volley of games, prizes and music from years gone by entertained us as we waited for the judges to finish their decisions. Finally, everything stopped; the judges were out.
I’m glad that they decided to announce the Point & Shoot category winners within the day unlike last year (where we had to wait many weeks before the result was released). The final six were announced and my battle scarred Canon S3is had done it again. I made it!
I was just unsure if my entry from Intramuros can stand up against the other five finalist which were really really good.
The Second Runner Up was announced, not my name; I lost it I thought to myself. The First Runner Up was next, and they said my name! Yes! Yes!
The next minutes up the stage was a blur. All the Canon Ambassadors were congratulating and shaking hands with me, telling me to lay my old Canon to rest as they saw how scarred it looked now haha. I got myself a brand spanking new Canon G12, the point & shoot of choice for pro photographers, a Benro monopod, a beautiful print of my photo and a bagful of camera accessories.
The DSLR category was next, and the finalists were also quite excellent. The winning photo by Jerome Ross Lacbayan, which got him a Canon 5DmkII and a trip to Korea, was undoubtedly the best of the bunch.
After a full and tiring day, I can still say all that walking for this year’s Photomarathon was worth it. I might not have won the top prize for my category like I did last year, but being picked as one of the finalists was enough for me; landing second was just icing on the cake; a very very sweet icing if I may say so myself.
The 2011 Canon Photomarathon
Philippine Trade Training Center
Pasay City, Metro Manila
Point & Shoot Category