There Is Always Hope
During my time in the Philippines, I was more inspired than I had been in a long time. I've spent time trying to pinpoint the catalyst for such inspiration. I’m writing this 48 hours off the plane in my comfortable apartment far from the heat, traffic and struggle that was very present for me on a daily basis for nearly a month in Manila. However, my deconstruction is a slow and seemingly endless process.
Part of the equation is that this feels like my first true experience with culture shock. I keep questioning where the gaps were. I’m no stranger to new places. I’ve been moving around on my own for the past six years, one year of which has been abroad. I pride myself on being able to say “thank you” in nine languages. (In fairness, I’m including English in that count.) Even from a socio-economic standpoint I felt prepared. I’ve been around homeless since the age of 19. Initially, that was part of the appeal of the Philippines. I had read the book, Planet of Slums by Mike Davis. According to his research, Manila currently has the largest slum-dwelling population in the world. I knew that Manila was divided by great extremes of “haves” and “have nots.” I wanted to witness how this plays itself out in everyday life. I thought I was ready; or more accurately, I assumed I didn’t need to prepare.
I felt this unrest looking out the window of my taxi on the way to the hostel. American poverty as I’ve experienced it is not the same as Manilan poverty. There are the obvious images of barefoot children in dirty, ill-fitting clothes, mothers with deformed babies begg-ing for change, and slums villages that are little more than a couple walls with a single light bulb and nothing that could be mistaken for a front door.
However, that was the most expected and easily digested part of the “shock.” There were things that wouldn’t have begun to cross my mind prior to stepping off the plane that were more difficult to handle. I was overwhelmed by the corporate American presence. The phrase “sex tourism” is used so casually in conversation. Most subtle and unsettling was the way in which some- many- people used “ma’am” when addressing me. In their tone I heard the idolization of Western wealth, power and way of life. Based on the dumb luck of an adoption planting me in that geographical region, I was revered by proxy and accommodated accordingly.
Yet my experiences didn’t occur in a vacuum. I replay everything in my mind and hear deafening laughter. I see smiles from people of every walk of life. I feel completely enveloping hospitality.
Because or in spite of my ability to put it into words, things made more sense through the lens of my camera. These images speak to me with a clarity that will forever supersede this 500+ word attempt before you. They act simultaneously as author and audience by reflecting my own commentary and make their own that I’m gradually piecing together image by image. Opposite to the old adage, I began to see the big picture once I stopped trying to see the forest and took time to find beauty in the nuances of the trees. I’m not there yet. I’m still lost in the woods, but every time I see them, I’m closer to finding my way.
The title of this book is from work by graffiti artist Banksy. It shows a little girl who has lost her red heart balloon to the wind standing in front of a wall that reads, “There is always hope.” This felt very appropriate for the Philippines. As explained by my Philippino friend, the Philippines are pretty much in its infancy as an independent nation as it only was liberated during my parents’ lifetime. Their national identity is a rapidly evolving concept.
For Pinoys who call this reality their own, for me witnessing it first hand, for all those who may encounter this book and feel some sort of a reaction, regardless of how uncertain the future may seem based on the circumstances of the present, there is always hope.
written in Ulsan, Korea 3/09
735-6 Suyeong St. 2F
MARKETING MANAGER/YOGA INSTRUCTOR BUSAN, KOREA- 2009 PRESENT KAIZEN KOREA: WELLNESS WORKROOM WWW.KAIZENKOREA.COM I manage a variety of tasks including producing promotional material, creating commercials, creating and maintaining the website/social media, designing business cards, and planning marketing strategies to grow membership.
EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER SEOUL, KOREA 2012-2013 CRAZYmULTIPLY ART COLLECTIVE FACEBOOK.COM/CRAZYMULITIPLY.ARTCOLLETIVE.COM CrazyMultiply is an art/music collective that brings artists and musicians from around the world together in live shows. I was responsible for showcasing art featured as many of the artist are based outside of Seoul and rely on photos of the event for their portfolios as well as capturing the essence of this hybrid event.
PHOTOGRAPHER BUSAN, KOREA 2012-2013
BUSAN CHORAL FESTIVAL WWW.BUSANCHORAL.ORG
Was retained to bring a modern vision to the festival. Photographed stage performances while seeking out unique informal shots in between competition sets.
PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER YEOSU, KOREA 2012
YEOSU EXPO- GERMANY PAVILION EXPO2012-DEUTSCHLAND.DE/EN
I worked with Germany’s Public Relations and Media teams to photograph featured cultural events being showcased at 2012's International Expo for their homepage and shared with European and international media.
LEAD PROMOTIONS PHOTOGRAPHER BUSAN, KOREA 2010-2012 EUROPEAN FILM PROMOTION (BIFF) WWW.EFP-ONLINE.COM
Photographed European artists at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) for EFP’s website, promotional materials in Europe and Korean publications. Maintained a tight schedule following artists to different events and shooting in a journalistic style per the needs of the EFP press team.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER; CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE CEDAR RAPIDS, IA 2001-2003
KLIKS PHOTOGRAPHY WWW.KLIKS.BIZ
Learned Photoshop skills to naturally enhance family/individual/graduation photos. Viewed photos with clients 1-1 and assisted with the sale of photos and framing suggestions.