PEOPLE | Rizal Park's Last Film Photographers

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I distinctly recall the vested photographers roaming around Manila’s premiere park years back asking if we would like to have our photo taken and have it developed in less than an hour’s time. Film photography was coughing its last breaths then, the digital world was about to encroach on the decades old tradition of how pictures are being taken.

Fast forward to the twelfth year of the 21st century. After years and years, I was at last able to revisit Luneta. This time with the TGP Group, I was surprised at the changes not only with the park’s improved landscapes but with the photography old-timers as well. Gone were their heavy black film cameras, and in its place, shiny plasticky digital ones. Even if I’m not a film user, it saddened me a bit to see this bit of history pass on.

Interviewing one of the old-timers hanging around, I found that there were now a total of only three film photographers in the park, everyone’s gone digital. I hurriedly looked for these now almost extinct breed of photographers and finally found one. I chit-chatted with Manong a bit before asking if I can take a photo of him with his trusty Pentax film camera.

He willingly obliged, showing off his tool that must have seen history unfold through Rizal Park. I asked him his name as he was about to go off to a group of schoolchildren having their first taste of Luneta through a school fieldtrip, but he instead showed me his ID which I took a snap of. Unfortunately, after checking the photo, I found that his name was blocked by his hand.

I found it a bit ironic that these same individuals who had been capturing time through rolls and rolls film would just pass through the park's history with as much anonymity as the passing of their cameras in today’s digital-driven age. And with all probability, this would go on without so much as a single notice by today’s generation, never knowing that once, photographs were not instantaneous but were painstakingly made through the hands of Rizal Park’s film heroes.

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  1. This is inevitable as our children are embracing the digital age wherein everyone now, young and old can be a photographer on their own.

    Anyway kudos to "kuya" for he still survives! I love this post for it depicts ignored stories of our society that can be quite interesting when someone brings well.

    I love this @christian!

  2. I love this post Christian! love the way you write it too.

  3. a very nice article..i was in luneta too last 2010 and one photographer asked us if we want a photo from his film camera...felt sad that we can't do it because we also had our 2 digital cameras..besides we were in a hurry to catch our flight back to cebu...thanks for sharing a post from pinas!

    ingat po!
    Europe Travel Pad
    Countryside Trip
    Travel Snapshots

  4. Yeah. I felt a heavy heart those time when I had a photowalk in Luneta. There were still some who uses the film one. Feel bad for them kasi I was thinking how about their cost of living esp now that it is time for SLR!

  5. we also have them in baguio (burnham park).. i wonder what happened to them..

  6. This is definitely a very good read. Although I haven't used a film camera long enough to love it, I feel sad that everyone is going digital. There's something special with the traditional film photography, especially in tourist attraction sites like Rizal Park.

    I remember when we visited Cebu about 2 years ago, even if we had our digital cameras with us, we still got our photos taken by a film photographer. Parang mas masarap sa feeling na yung souvenir photo came from a developed film.

  7. What a holdout eh? Are they still making money, now that everyone has a camera? Seeing them makes me sad for the time that's long gone. It's inevitable, but it still makes me sad.

  8. This is such a poignant feature. I feel sad for Manong too.

  9. Film is here to stay, but it's just sad that most photo labs no longer process them. They find digital more convenient (plug and play, huh?!?). If you are from Davao City, there's only one photo lab that process film.

  10. It's very unfortunate but necessary really to adapt to the new technologies. It's sad in a way but it's a fact of life. =(

  11. Its part of my childhood memory too, I still had a picture in Luneta taken by one of them 'film photographers'. Great post

  12. parang nalungkot ako bigla... whenever I go to luneta lagi ko tinatanong sarili ko kung may nag-aavail pa ng service nila... mukhang malapit na nga sila maextinct.

  13. Nakakalungkot noh. Marami na rin kasi talaga nowadays na may SLR Gawin nalang silang model for a shoot!

  14. Ive been living in the metro for more than 5 years but never been to Luneta, I promise to visit this park before this year ends, pramis talaga!

  15. Gusto ko din silang i-feature sana...buti pumayag magpa-photograph? hehe. But it looks like they know their trade...marunong magtakip ng pangalan. hehe.

  16. one time i will meet them and at least even once accept their offer. sana di sila mawawala.

  17. Kudos to these unsung heroes . Nalungkot din ako bigla

  18. i hope that somehow, they would still survive in this digital age. i'm sharing this post to remind others of these unsung heroes.

  19. ...ang husay mo sir! pa-autograph naman!!!
    At least there are people still shooting film cameras (me included) so hopefully it can become popular again as what we are seeing in the reemergence of the vinyl records that we are seeing this past few years.
    Mabuhay ka sir, husay talaga!

  20. Edmar
    Thanks pre! Mind you, they too are embracing the digital age :)

    Journeys and Travels
    Salamat po :)

    Sayang, that would have been the perfect souvenir, lalo na't paubos na sila

    Some of them have DSLR's now, but most have little digicams na lang

    Oh yeah, I remember those guys. Papa picture nga ako next time I'm in Baguio :)

    Sumi Go
    I agree Sumi, iba pa rin ang old school :)

    I think they still make money, not everyone can afford a digital camera naman kasi :)

    I feel the same way :(

    Ouch that sucks man. Oi pre, pwede ba ko maki crash jan senyo if ever mag solo flight ako sa davao? hehe

    Yup I agree Tin

    I still kept mine too :)

    Batang Lakwatsero
    I think the masa still gets their services, mahal pa rin ang digicam para sa kanila


    Haha pwede, pero most mailap magpa picture :)

    Nakow punta na!

    Oo nga, akala ko di papayag eh

    I guess you have to hurry pre, limited na ang oras ng film sa Luneta

    Earl, Juanderfulpinoy
    They will still stay, digital na nga lang

    Thanks! By the way, I think Kodak will now strengthen their film division, good for film users like you :)

  21. Hats off to Manong and to the author for another moving piece. ^_^

    I was one of the lucky few kids who had the chance to learn film/manual photography in school before switching to dSLRs. I was taught how to process films in a darkroom, to squint through a viewfinder, and to compose shots carefully (36 clicks squeezed into 2-3 themes/plates). The semester after I graduated, they scrapped manual photography entirely, and this happened just four years ago. But while it is a dying medium, it has turned into an artform for hobbyists and old souls alike.

    Makapagpapicture nga sa film photog 'pag nakadaan ng Luneta.

  22. Klaris
    Back then, hardcore enthusiasts lang talaga ang into photography, ngayon everyone's claiming to be a photographer na :P