Thursday, April 19, 2007


It was sheer madness, if you asked me. Because in my desire to get as close as possible for a good shot, I suffered from a momentary lapse of reasonI risked getting my toes run over by the escort motorcycles who didn’t have that much space to maneuver to begin with. Nonetheless, these escorts must keep the motorcade moving even at a snail’s pace. There was also the main truck driver who kept blowing his horn at me for my having blocked his path as I kept taking pictures of the group of men on the flatbed his truck.

It was insane! I was seriously more intent on getting well-focused and -composed shots than worry about getting hurt.

There was also the throng of well-wishers and spectators, who crossed the designated police lines just to catch some candies, baller IDs, and T-shirts being hurled by those personalities from the truck. I often found myself sandwiched between this wave of people and the police escorts, but I had to wedge myself right through and make my way towards the next spot up ahead and secure an ideal position for the next series of shots.

Ed Santiago, my photojournalism mentor, (left photo) believes that this area of photography sharpens the photographer’s gutfeel; thus, urges all his students to often practice photojournalism.

Documenting the scene as it happens is the core of which; hence, on that particular day, despite the respective politics, philosophy, track record and integrity of the group of men up on that truck, my intention was merely to document the event with my camera. I wasn't there to create history or provide a personal dissertation on these personalities' respective school of thought or achievement (or lack thereof).

Anyway, being quite savvy with the streets of Santa Cruz, Manila, instinctively, I knew which position would best give me a certain structure as backdrop, or where I could climb a bit to get my camera as near within eye-level with my subjects who were up higher aboard the truck.

And every time I captured the desired scene, the adrenalin rush that came with it fueled a greater desire to run towards the next ideal spot. Right there and then, I experienced a moment of epiphany — realizing that this has got to be, more than anything else, what most photojournalists live for — the adrenalin rush. No wonder some of the seasoned war correspondents would find themselves standing in the line of fire, so to speak. What matters most to them is no longer their safety, but the perfect shot or footage to share with their readers or viewers back home. That’s how crazily diligent they can be.

I was drenched with sweat as I took my final shot while standing on the base of a street lamp at T. Mapua Street. It was a narrow street and I was only a few meters from the motorcade so, when I yelled for the mayor to throw me a T-shirt, with a smile on his face — probably appreciating all that effort I’ve exerted in photographing his entourage — threw one towards my direction.

The mayor must have played baseball when young because the T-shirt landed exactly on my right hand without my over-reaching for it. But suddenly, someone grabbed the T-shirt from my hand — spraining my ring finger as he forcefully pulled it away from me. The mayor saw it and with a simple gesture, a couple of his security men grabbed the teenager, retrieved the T-shirt, and handed it back to me. I yelled, “Thank you, mayor!”

Most public officials might have a love-hate relationship with the media, but here in Manila, the mayor, at least, appreciates their presence.



posted by Señor Enrique at 7:54 AM


Blogger NOYPETES said...

I don't know if Maning Rivera is still around but I met him during his days with VISNEWS. He was the guy who took that picture of the chairs and bodies flying up in the air when the bomb exploded at the LP Plaza Miranda rally. It was purely accidental! He wqs thrown off by the impact of the explosive and accidentally push the shutter on his camera on his way down to the pavement giving him a worms eye view of the scene. I believe he was still with the Manila Times then. Ed Santiago would know of Maning Rivera. You could get lucky with a prize shot if you're on the right spot at the right time! Amen to ed's advice to you.

April 19, 2007 9:37 AM  

Blogger JMom said...

wow, great photos to have taken from the crowd! What a great welcome.

April 19, 2007 11:02 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Can Lito Atienza still be Mayor ? Or has he used up all his term? It's gonna be difficult to get the Mayor seat from him.

April 19, 2007 12:42 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Vic Sison once spoke of that particular shot, but he didn't mention the name of Maning Rivera. Did Maning survive the blast?

Yes, Noypetes, great photojournalistic shots are often done by chance, which reminds me of Dada's "chance process" and Louis Pasteur's "the prepared observer." That's why most masters urge their students to know everything about their tools of trade in order to become a "prepared observer."

Many more of Ed's words of wisdom ring true as I delve more into photography. Unselfish master, Ed is.

April 19, 2007 3:10 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Dine!

Would you believe on that same evening, Dine, I was hoping that another major event would take place the following day. It was that addictive.

You see, although I was using a digital camera, there was still that anxiety of waiting til I got home to be assured that I had taken some good shots -- which only contribute to the whole excitement of documenting a once in a lifetime event.

April 19, 2007 3:14 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

This is Mayor Atienza's final run, S.A., but his son Ali is running for his spot, though. With the mayor's political machine in place, Ali stands a good chance of winning the post.

If he won, after his first term, Mayor Atienza can once again seek that position. This is a common practice in some parts of the country in which the mayor's wives take over and then after the intial term, the husbands run for office again -- like a well-orchestrated musical chair.

April 19, 2007 3:18 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

eric, my heart was racing as i read your story. next time wear steel-toe boots ;) LOL! just kidding.

glad to hear you got the shirt back after someone tried to grab it from you. as u said, that was nice of the Mayor, even with the crowd and all, to help get it back.

ingatz nalang next time, and be wary of pick pockets and other hazards =D

p.s. when hubby works, he always removes his ring 'coz it might get caught while working on a machine or something. in your case it was a shirt. maybe better to remove jewelries in cases like this. hope ur finger is ok now.

April 19, 2007 4:19 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oo nga, ano? Thank you very much for that excellent tip, Sheilamarie. I will now remove my ring and watch whenever in a shoot.

I've been to a number of events in which the mayor was the main speaker. The most recent was the Quiapo book signing affair in which Sidney and I were standing only a few meters in front of where he was seated. So I've a feeling he already knows me by sight by now.

He was only too happy to throw me a T-shirt, but was certainly dismayed at the sight of the snatcher as well ... hehehe. Only in Manila and in the presence of many security and law enforcement officers ... hehehe.

But that's a good tip and I shall heed it. Thanks, again!

April 19, 2007 4:30 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Mang Maning as we all fondly called him back then survived the blast with minor scrapes. He walks with a limp due to his bout with Polio when he was a kid. He used to bring in his 16mm news scoop footage to our office in Intramuros for our latebreakers broadcast on GTV4. He was very good at sensing the "scoops". I remember tailing him at the domestic airport to get some photos and 16mm film footage of the arrival from Guam of a PAF C123 cargo plane carrying the caskets of the deceased Pinoy airplane crew that perished in the plane that crashed in the waters of Guam in the 70's(can't recall the exact date)We ended up in a restricted area off the Nichols AB but still had to struggle with the other foreign correspondents trying to get a good photo and story of the event. I'm pretty sure he was annoyed by me shadowing him all throughout the waiting period but he never said a thing and even gave me pointers on where and how I should position my self on the runway. Yes, we learn from the masters and we should pass it on.

April 19, 2007 10:14 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Woohoo, Señor E! I knew you had that kind of clout: the ability to pwn some bloke with the help of the Mayor himself. So who says you can't overturn that anti-photography policy, at least in Manila? Better act now, you might not have the same clout after the elections (the countdown in my blog is ticking, hehe).

April 19, 2007 11:30 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Noypetes!

The ability to "sense the scoop" I'm sure was what Ed also meant when he claims the practice of photojournalism hones one's "gutfeel." Darn, this is akin to detective work ... hehehe.

Well, so far, all the names you've given me are all familiar to Ed when I mentioned them to him, including your best friend who is now in Florida. So, I'm sure he knows of Mang Maning very well.

April 20, 2007 5:39 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure the folks at the crowd felt the same way you do, Dave. You see, by the time the motorcade turned to T. Mapua Street, the mayor was no longer tossing out some T-shirts so, that part of the crowd didn't know anything about it. And for them to hear me ask the mayor for one, see him throw one at me, and then see the mayor order his men to retrieve the T-shirt from the culprit must have given them the impression that I knew the mayor personally ... hehehe.

Know what, Dave? I've a strong feeling Ali might just win it. When he does, I'll surely be knocking on the doors of city hall ... hahaha!

April 20, 2007 5:44 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, it pays to be the one with the camera - you certainly got the mayor's attention. :) Natawa naman ako, pati t-shirt aagawin pa sa yo.

I didn't realize photographing could be a bit "hazardous" at times. Please be careful next time!

April 21, 2007 7:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And for that kid to do it in front of all those police officers, Kathy -- talagang nakakagulat ... lol!

Thanks, I'll be more careful the next time ... kaya lang you can get carried away by the excitement of the moment, eh!

April 22, 2007 6:54 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

And every time I captured the desired scene, the adrenalin rush that came with it fueled a greater desire to run towards the next ideal spot.

This is exactly the feeling (I guess) most photojournalists get. In any case this is what I feel. And it is dangerous because you are doing silly things just to get that "unique and perfect" picture.

April 23, 2007 1:39 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ay talaga, Sidney! It was only hours after while having my merienda when I realized how unconsciously foolish I had been earlier that day, but then again, I can't be help ... hahaha! I just have to get some pretty decent shots; otherwise everything would have been just a waste.

Also, that particular event would pass only once! But such mindset is what I think pushes a photojournalist towards the danger zone.

April 23, 2007 1:50 PM  

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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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