Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chiz Takes

Francis 'Chiz' Escudero with my colleagues En-Lai Yeoh, Mon Acasio and Derek Soriano at campaign headquarters, Quezon City, May 2, 2007

As Election Day for the Philippines' midterm vote of senators, congressmen, governors and local officials draws near, old friends and colleagues in media gather together again to do stories on the candidates, and just a phone call from photographer Derek Soriano and writer En-Lai Yeoh who's now in town to do a series of stories on the election for Bloomberg in Singapore was all we needed to get the ball rolling on an opening interview with senatorial candidate Francis 'Chiz' Escudero and his overview of the current political scene now playing itself out amongst both administration and opposition candidates for the May 14 vote.

I've been photographing Chiz since the start of his campaign last January for the Philippine Senate, and if there has ever been an ideal project in photography and photojournalism involving an eyewitness view of the political process in this country as it is presently unfolding, this short stint with the young Congressman from Sorsogon province would've topped all wishful considerations.

Whenever I take pictures of anyone who's so well known in the public eye, my mind and attitude towards the subject admittedly goes terribly blank. It's because I search immediately for something familiar and common almost automatically when I begin observing any person who has had as much airtime in projecting his or her public persona. This round of images I have documented of Chiz, however, has not been so much of a problem. Thankfully, my own take has corresponded and matched with his understated and pleasantly honest demeanor, whether he has exhibited that in public or towards just the inner circle he knows. What I saw was precisely what I got, nothing more and nothing less.

The scene has been consistent, as I've seen again and again. And that is why I think a certain tenet of my own photography has been proven right. It is so much harder for both photographer and camera to replicate or include what is plainly non-existent in a moment or character of a person, rather than the contradictory goals of today's digital imagery which suggest nothing but lies and more of the same stereotypical intentions.

In this case, everything remains unretouched both with the people I do know, and of a subject whom almost everyone knows.

Now if only everyone else in this country would begin to act accordingly, and work on themselves from there. Maybe that might make for the real and truthful picture.

-- Ben