Twelve kids. Twelve sophisticated cameras. One indigent community that is Payatas. What do you get?
We volunteered for Sibol Pilipinas‘ Photocacy Workshop — a photography-as-an-advocacy series. As an Advocacy Mentor, I got to process themes of poverty, community development, and nation building with three smart kids. I also got to meet the three-woman team behind Sibol Pilipinas, superb photography gurus and fellow educators.
Sharing with you three “Achieeeeve!” moments during the five days of tackling photography and poverty for Sibol Pilipinas. Because, again, I learned more than I taught:
Achieve Moment #1 Mentored bright young minds
Initially, we adults thought our young Fellows were so sheltered that they will be shocked when they go to Payatas. However, these Sibol Pilipinas kids wowed us with their initiative to take action right after their first visit.
Little did we know that they started talking among themselves to take on the task of organizing the Brunch Party on-site. They even raised up to PHP 16,000 donations from their schoolmates and families. They also created the entire program! We at Sibol Pilipinas were the ones amazed.
Not to mention, they induced fun and triple laughter in every program in Payatas for Sibol Pilipinas. They were so energetic and willing to take on challenges even without being told.
Achieve Moment #2 Learned the difference between photojournalism and street photography
As a shutterbug myself, I geeked out learning from photography mentor Sir Eric Tan. It was particularly new to me to learn about street photography, which is taking photos based on aesthetic. I’ve only tried photojournalism before this Sibol Pilipinas workshop.
One of the best lessons learned at Sibol Pilipinas Photocacy Workshop was the need to remove emotions when taking photos. I know this may be counter-intuitive to some. But Sir Eric says this particular skill helps gain unique insights before capturing a photo.
These insights easily caught on with the Fellows of Sibol Pilipinas. They produced superb photos by the time we held the Youth Dialogue Exhibit that are worthy of someone with more advanced experience. Even Sir Eric said so!
Achieve Moment #3 Visited Payatas for the first time
Finally, I got to experience (see, hear, feel, smell) Payatas firsthand. I even got the chance to converse with the Payatas Orione Foundation (PAOFI) staff and mothers from the community, thanks to Sibol Pilipinas.
What surprised me was how efficient PAOFI was in giving scholarships to children in Payatas. They have education programs that enable students to pursue their dreams. Even families we interviewed for Sibol Pilipinas do not beg for pity. Instead, they showed us how they manage to survive despite their difficult situation.
When we hear of poverty in Manila, we often think of the now-defunct Smokey Mountain or Payatas. There may be plenty of opportunities to think of Payatas as a hopeless dumpsite. But a lot of organizations like Sibol Pilipinas are actually intervening to improve the community.
I really loved the spirit of teamwork from the Sibol Pilipinas Photocacy Workshop all the way to the Youth Dialogue. Everyone was involved in the process of talking about poverty even though we came from various social backgrounds. Our team grew from the organizers, volunteers, participants, and even their schools and families.
What I saw with Sibol Pilipinas was the kind of collaboration that pushes for social change. It also helped the youth take the front line in discovering and solving poverty.
Photos are from Sibol Pilipinas, Ria Lioanag, Roderick Tan, and KC Fabon Menez