Tuesday, February 20, 2007


His name is Darius Flake, the first prize winner of the Quezon City Digital Photo Contest held last month. I took this picture of him yesterday during the awarding ceremony and the opening of the photo exhibit on the second floor of the Quezon City Hall.

Darius is a soft spoken photojournalist who hailed from Zambales and now resides in Cavite with his wife and young children. Unlike a typical top prize photo contest winner who would run off to Hidalgo to buy himself his dream lens, Darius intends to use his twenty thousand peso award money to pay off some overdue bills and personal loans. He believes that his having won the contest was God’s response to his prayers.

One of his children suffered an illness a couple of months ago, and the only way he could pay for the child’s medical expenses was to put his motorcycle as collateral for a personal loan. His wife was also involved in an accident in which one of her legs was amputated; the medical expenses from that incident also depleted their savings. To make matters worse, the money he regularly earns as a photojournalist barely pays for his family’s daily living expenses so, one can only imagine the financial challenges that Darius has to contend with. Unarguably, the top prize money he won will assuage his financial dilemma, as well as enable him to reclam his motorcycle, which is his primary mode of transport. Personally, I was happy that it was Darius who won the top prize.

After the opening ceremony and the opportnity to meet with some of Quezon City’s top administration officials such as Mayor Belmonte, Vice-Mayor Bautista and Congressman Crisologo, there was a breakfast buffet for all participants and guests.

Besides, Darius I also got to meet Raphael Dorilag, the second prize winner. I was thrilled to hear that he found out about this photo contest through his co-worker who, in turn, found out about it through my blog site. There was also Akira Liwanag, a high school student who was one of those who earned an honorable mention.

Darius with Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte.

Raphael Dorilag, the second prize winner, just returned from a Banawe trip that very same morning and had to dash-off to work immediately after the ceremony.

This young man, Akira Liwanag, standing in front of his winning photograph of a couple up in a tree inside the Quezon Memorial Park, is another big surprise for me. An extremely quiet young man in person, but check out his photoblog site, Akira's Darkroom. This young man's photo coverage of former President Estrada in his Tanay resthouse is quite impressive. Furthermore, his namesake, Akira Kurosawa, happens to be a personal idol; Kurosawa was, after all, the legendary master cinemaphotographer.

Mayor Belmonte and Vice-mayor Bautista with other top city officials viewing the photo exhibit.

Incidentally, the other picture right below Darius’ is mine — Afternoon in the Park. It won an honorable mention and I got to meet the mayor. The prize money I received will pay for my next photography workshop.

More significantly, besides the prize money and having had the honor of meeting the mayor of Quezon City, this entire event provided me with the opportunity to meet more of our talented local photographers. I should also mention my having had the pleasure of meeting pro photographer, Romeo Mariano of the Quezon City Cultural and Tourism Affairs Office. Both he and Madam Cheri were such gracious hosts.

Maraming salamat po!

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posted by Señor Enrique at 9:24 AM


Blogger eye said...

wow idol si akira, i'm sure magiging master din ito paglaki niya, living up to his name at an early age. ok ang mga ganitong pa-contest ng gov't, equal chances for the ordinary citizens,realistic ang money prizes and it encourages even kids to pursue their hobbies :)

asan na yung pic mo kasama si mayor belmonte hehe!

February 20, 2007 10:22 AM  

Blogger carlotta said...

congratulations!!! you all took great pics.

onga, where's your pic with mayor belmonte? =)

February 20, 2007 11:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The mayor isued a directive to his media staff to destroy all pics of him with me, for it might hurt his reelection campaign efforts ... hahahaha!

But seriously, Eye ... you're right this was one great opportunity that was open to all regardless of age. Tis a wonderful experience rubbing shoulders with our talented young photographers.

February 20, 2007 11:42 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Carla! My pic with Mayor Sonny Belmonte will be a part of my future entry -- "My Pics With The Mayors of Metro Manila," which will be posted once complete ... hehehe!

February 20, 2007 11:44 AM  

Anonymous tutubi said...

akira kurosawa-san,

such lgend. I love his Dreams, Shichijin Samurai (7 samurais) and other films I saw during the Eiga Sai 2005 (or 04 :) in Makati. hope they again feature him. i just love foreign art films :)

wasn't able to join that contest. too busy with too many things to even hold my camera.

glad you have so much time to learn. I'm thinking of a photo project one of these days

February 20, 2007 11:49 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

I'm glad to "meet" the winners, Eric.

Darius' story is very touching. I'm happy that he won the top prize. He must have really deserved it, not just for his talent, but his also for the sacrifices he made.

February 20, 2007 11:50 AM  

Anonymous Ferdz said...

Congratulations on having win a prize. Those are very promising photographers there. Especially that Akira kid (love the name), I could see his great future in the film and photo industry. The main winner deserves his award. Timing to his needs.

Hopefully I could join the contest next time hehe. Pag nagka oras din

February 20, 2007 12:25 PM  

Anonymous lino said...

uy, congrats for thehonorable mention... i came to know the contest a day before the deadline, didnt have the time to get a photo... sayang... next time... :) ok yung pics ni akira, pinuntahan ko website nya...:)

February 20, 2007 2:22 PM  

Blogger Bugsy said...

Congratulations, Eric!

As for young Akira, I am happy that somebody very young would take his craft so seriously. I am hopeful for him. :)

February 20, 2007 6:28 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Tito! Yes, Kurosawa was a true legend!

Make sure you advise us as soon as you have fully thought out this photo project you have in mind. I'm sure it'll be a fun one to join :)

February 20, 2007 7:59 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I, too, was touched by Darius' story, Irene. He told me that due to the nature of his job, there are times he would come home late after covering a story, and that he is most appreciative of his wife's understanding and support.

I invited him to come to our weekend workshop because one of our instructors is Ed Santiago -- a master photojournalist whose career spanned more than 30 years. Ed is retired now, but conducts lectures on photography.

I thought it might be a good idea for Darius to meet this master. Who knows? Ed might even refer Darius to some people in the press and thereby expand his soure of extra income.

February 20, 2007 8:05 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Ferdz! Let me tell you, it is really exciting to get a message that you've won on something you weren't expecting to win anything.

You have got to join this photo contests, Ferdz. I do it for fun :)

February 20, 2007 8:07 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Sayang Lino, but make sure you make an effort to participate in future contests. It is fun, actually.

Yes, that Akira kid is really worth keeping an eye out for. I've a feeling he'll make major contributions as he gets older and wiser with his craft.

February 20, 2007 8:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Bugsy! Yes, I'm so glad to have met a local young talent -- hope to meet more. Hopefully, hey will be a force to create positive influences for the betterment of our country.

February 20, 2007 8:11 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Congratulations for your award, Eric! Is that entry the one taken at Wildlife which you posted here? If it is, well, that's indeed a good one.

I too am happy for Darius' victory. I also believe it is God's hand that guided him in taking that winning photograph of his, plus of course I'm sure he's got the talent.

I'm happy too that Akira won. Very impressive young man he is! He will go a long, long way. I have visited his blog and immediately felt a soft spot for him because he is a consistent photojournalism winner in schools press conferences. When I was still teaching, I was adviser of the school paper and we would go to these presscons too, in which one of my students also won medals in photojournalism.

February 20, 2007 9:30 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Congrats to all of you there! It seems human interest photos won in the contest this time.

Young Akira really is promising, and he's from Ateneo High! As for Kurosawa, I've watched a few episodes of the anime remake of Seven Samurai and from its awesomeness I can conclude that the original is a true classic, althogh I have yet to watch it, hehe.

February 20, 2007 10:28 PM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

Akira has a Kubrick vision! He is going to be the next Robert Doisneau! Glad to know that Ed Santiago is still around. Congratulations on your award and please extend my congratulations to Darius as well.

February 21, 2007 1:15 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Rhoda! Yes, it was the Wildlife pic that I had previously posted. Mayor Belmonte thought it was taken at La Mesa Dam; much surprised to realize that the nearer QC Wildlife and Park boasts such picturesque scenery.

Forgot to mention (actually I omitted it because I didn't want his story to sound like a country music song) that Darius almost got hit by a speeding jeepney as he was taking that photo of people crossing the circle in front of city hall. Why they don't install an overhead pedestrian crosswalk is simply negligent because those motorists rarely yield to pedestrians :(

Yes, Akira was a big surprise -- very quiet yet highly talented. I'm sure he'll go far as a photojournalist.

February 21, 2007 7:02 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You have got to see "The Seven Samurai," Dave. BTW, Hollywood's "The Magnificent Seven" (a western) was based from it.

So Akira is from your alma mater, huh? Cool. Incidentally, Dave, perhaps, in the near future we'll meet so you an guide me and a friend to explore your old campus for a photoshoot :)

February 21, 2007 7:06 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Noypetes! Yes, Ed Santiago is still up and about.

After class last weekend, I asked him why there are no books published about our local master photojournalists for our new and future generation to learn from, emulate, and be proud of. He said there are no monies allocated for such. Sad, indeed.

February 21, 2007 7:12 AM  

Anonymous LAR said...

We really have so many talented artists who need exposure. I hope there will be a project to teach and promote Filipino artists, especially in photography and comics! :)

February 21, 2007 8:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree with you, LAR. Somehow we need to further expose and prmote our local talents -- not only in show biz but n the field of all arts!

February 21, 2007 10:25 AM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

Check out the coffee table book titled "Streets of Manila" photographed by artist illustrator and photographer Nik Riccio. I can't remember the female writer who wrote the book with Nik. If you love B/W photographs, this is a good book to keep. I personally know Nik and used to hang out with fellow artist/photographers at his studio near the St. Scholastica College.

February 21, 2007 12:17 PM  

Blogger akira liwanag said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 21, 2007 4:45 PM  

Blogger akira liwanag said...

hey how are you sir? thanks for the feature!

sir Darius' story is very touching. i feel sorry for him.. but hey, he did win the 1st prize right? congrats..

and oh btw po, i'm not from ateneo high (i wish i was!! haha!) i'm form don A. roces science and tech hs..

thanks po uli!!

February 21, 2007 4:46 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Noypetes! I've made note of the book and author. Will stop by either Powerbooks or Fully Booked this weekend for it. So, you're a photographer/artist, huh? Great!

February 21, 2007 7:50 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Akira!

I know you're a busy young man with your studies and all, but better update your blog regularly from now on, and share with us your shots. We're rooting for you :)

February 21, 2007 7:52 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Congrats Eric!

Akira is the son of Luis Liwanag a Filipino photographer I really admire.
(I will meet his father tomorrow!)

I guess Akira has talent running in his blood!

February 21, 2007 9:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Sidney!

From what I gather from Akira's site, his father is a photojournalist, though I'm not at all familiar with his works -- until now that you've shared with us his site address. Judging from his photographs, Luis is a seasoned pro. But I cringed when reading about the time he accidentally fell into a pool with all his gears.

I'm not sure, but I think he was there at the awards party taking pics of Akira. Enjoy your meet with Luis today and please tell him he'd just gained another admirer -- me!

February 22, 2007 6:58 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

Congtrats for garnering the honorable mention bro, it;s surely is a good start.

Darius story is very touching and I hope he wins more competitions in order to fully rebuild his fortunes. It shows that contests like this can be truly important to the community, it not only provides aesthetic results such as the sublime photos of the contestants, but also provides a mode of hope for aspiring artists like Darius.

And oh, Akira is so good. I've been to his blog and I was actually been surprised. His a boy wonder and it would have been so surprising to see that a young boy like him could produce such quality pics were it not for a fact that he is a son of a famous phojournalist.

February 22, 2007 8:10 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, Major Tom. It was indeed wonderful having met some fine photographers through such contests. I hope both private and government sectors sponsor more similar events in the future. Had it not been for this, I never would have met the likes of Darius and Akira.

February 22, 2007 10:45 AM  

Blogger Cyberpunk said...

uy thanks for posting this...i informed ralph (he's my officemate) of this contest and i'm glad he won 2nd prize...

February 22, 2007 3:17 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Yes, Luis is a pro!
He has some breathtaking pictures about the Mendiola Massacre in 1987.

It was nice meeting such a great photographer!

February 22, 2007 5:22 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Well, I'm sure Ralph will at least invite you to a celebratory lunch or dinner, Cyberpunk.

Many thanks for passing the word! I'm happy for him as well :)

February 22, 2007 9:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, I went through most of his postings, Sidney, but with my slow connection, I have to go back another time.

That Mendiola massacre was something else. Too much! I don't think I can ever get into that kind of photojournalism, especially now at my age.

I'm glad you got to meet him :)

February 22, 2007 9:12 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Akira, oops my mistake. Didn't know there would be other high schools in Metro Manila with a light blue polo shirt with a blue seal for a uniform. So that's why the seal looked kinda different. (Kahiya tuloy, tsk!)

I may be excused (and Señor E be clarified) by the fact that I didn't go to high school here in Manila, but in Naga.

February 22, 2007 9:53 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

But know what, Dave? When I went with my cousin to pick up his kids high school kids (back then) I remember their Ateneo high school shirts as white, not light blue. Actually, without reading the logo on Akira's I thought he might be a student of Lourdes in Retiro and Mayon.

February 22, 2007 10:02 PM  

Anonymous Rapuy said...

Hi Sir! Thanks for posting my pics, this is Raph, the second place. Im sorry I had to leave early that day because I still have to go to work. My officemate has been asking me bout the lunch. Hehe. Hopefully we can get our cash disbursement soon.

I have just known Darius story. Its a bit touching and Im happy for him. He deserves all this.

Btw, Akira is from Roces high school. Do you know Jean or Gayle Yambot? They are from same school. I dont know how big your school is. But goood job.

February 23, 2007 1:17 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Ralph! I knew you had to run off to work that morning, but we missed your presence. Darius and I got to hang out and meet some other people.

I'm sorry I didn't get that much info about you for a more interesting profile to go aong with your photo; however, we'll just go visit your blog to get to know more about you.

Cyberpunk, your officemate, happens to be one of the younger bloggers whose writings I enjoy reading. And from what I gather about her, she can be brutally direct and honest with her opinions, so you'd better take her to an elegant restaurant ... hehehe.

I'm sure we'll all get a chance for a get-together; perhaps, Romy might have something interesting in the works :)

Keep shooting!

February 23, 2007 5:48 PM  

Anonymous sexy mom said...

congratulations, senor! am sure next time, you will not only get an honorable mention. you would be reaping major awards!

February 24, 2007 10:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Dine!

How are you doing with your photography? I plan to share future local photo contest announcements with you all so, enthusiasts like you and Rhoda can join in. It can be lots of fun!

February 25, 2007 5:53 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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