Bantayan

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Over the summer, I did a field internship with a Dutch-Filipino video installation artist named Martha Atienza, who is based half the time in the Netherlands, and the other half of the time in a small municipality of Bantayan Island by Cebu, called Madridejos. I joined her in Madridejos and helped out with a fine art/community service project she was doing with her family, some friends and the community called Para Sa Aton. It’s a multi-faceted project that i won’t totally get into here because it’s just so much to talk about, but check out that link for a couple more details and updates on the project.

Here are some of the more personal images i made on that trip, exploring the island, meeting the locals and some of the NGOs based out there doing community building and teaching sustainable livelihood things. Some of these photographs were taken with my phone, others with my little x100s, others still with my bigbig monster of a camera, and i still have a buttload hidden away in rolls of film in my purse that i have yet to have processed, so this will probably be the first of multiple posts about my trip. I don’t typically like to caption my photographs, but in this case i think i will be interjecting some, just to provide some anchorage. No i will not get out of your head, Charles!

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Overgrown boats. Certain areas have been overfished to the point of the obsolesence of some of these short-range vessels. Some have also been damaged beyond repair by Haiyan. At least that’s what the kids told me.

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This is the view of the beach on the Santa Fe side of the island, which is the part tourists come to see.

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Michelle in her house =)

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Michelle and her two kids

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Nang Merley!

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The remains of someone’s house in the hills, blown away by the typhoon

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Other, non-tourist side of Bantayan. Waste management on the island is pretty much nonexistent. I don’t think this sight is uncommon around the archipelago. The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is spread too thin over 7,107 islands.

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A house built right into a mangrove.

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It may look like a folded up fishball stand but this is actually the mobile working station that the Para Sa Aton team works with. It holds a projector and a sound system, and while i was there Martha was working on getting solar panels for it. We took it around the town to do film screenings, and host discussions and things like that. It’s basically a function room on wheels.

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The women that are part of the project have started an open-source organic garden! More on that next time.

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Martha’s favorite tree.

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Overall i had a great time, met great people and made some good friends =) I find the intersection between fine art and service work to be one that not many people can accomplish soundly or with as much conviction, but i think the key that the Para Sa Aton gang has really grasped has been relationship-building. And not just on-camera, superficial relationships that begin and end under a logo. Para Sa Aton has built genuine long-term friendships with people, because they were all friends to begin with! It was really great to hear their stories and see them approaching their community’s problems as friends more than “co-workers”.

Onward and upward! I hope to return next year!

Categories: Personal, SCAD, Travel

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Hi I’m Sandra, a photographer and visual artist from the Philippines. Let’s be bros!

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