Moving Stills: In Their Shoes Photo Exhibit
Shoot to Move the Nation
June 16-26 | Galeria 2, UP Faculty Center
8 Photographers, 8 Cops
Moving Stills: In Their Shoes
Eight winning advocacy photographers follow Metrobank Foundation’s 2008 Outstanding Policemen (COPS) attempting to capture the person behind the uniform.
Last March 11, I got an invite from Kathy Ponce of the Outlooke Pointe Foundation (OPF) to help out with their upcoming advocacy project entitled "Moving Stills | In Their Shoes". Project participants were to spend time and take photos of the police officers recognized in 2008 by the Metrobank Foundation in their annual search for the Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (C.O.P.S.).
When I found out that there were five awardees from outside the metro, I looked up the list and eagerly volunteered to do the Dumaguete shoot.
I’ve always heard good things about Dumaguete—my Mama and friends of our family would talk about how beautiful the city is, its famous landmarks like Silliman University and Rizal Boulevard (Dumaguete’s version of Roxas Boulevard), and its warm and friendly people. So the Moving Stills project was my chance, not only to present the good work done by its police force, but to finally see the City of Gentle People first-hand.
I had mixed emotions as the day of my departure for Dumaguete came nearer. I felt really excited, but I was a bit worried about the shoot would go and the kind of photos I’d come up with. The subject was, after all, one of the finest police officers in the country. Having to capture something as rich as a day in the life of this person in mere photographs was a monumental task… making sure those photographs inspired other people, a big responsibility indeed.
SPO3 Josefa "Jobie" L. Lacandula works the Dumaguete City Police’s Women and Children Concerns Desk (WCCD). Ma’am Jobie, a mother of two and wife to Luis-also a police officer, has been with the force for 17 years and has dedicated much of that time to upholding the rights of women and children; serving as their shield against abuse and neglect. She has battled sex predators posing as philanthropists, torn down cybersex dens, run after pornographers, helped run an anti-drug abuse campaign and taken children off the streets and put them back in school. All this while running a home and raising a family. Forget outstanding, Ma’am Jobie is amazing.
I arrived in Dumaguete the afternoon of April 6—a day ahead of my scheduled meeting with Ma’am Jobie. Ma’am Jobie was still on forced leave (yup, I guess they had to force her to take a day off), spending quality time with her family. So I decided to make the most of the time and get myself acquainted with Dumaguete. But that’s another story.
I was up early the next day and soon found myself at the WCCD office. There, I was welcomed with a big smile by a police officer. I introduced myself and promptly found out that the day’s work had begun because I was talking with Ma’am Jobie. She toured me around her office and introduced me to her team and her husband.
After the introductions, I started getting my gear ready. True to form, Ma’am Jobie was noticeably uneasy about being put in the limelight. In a self-effacing manner typical of people who preferred the satisfaction of simply doing their work instead of hogging the glory, she said that she still couldn’t believe that she was at the center of all this attention; that I was there and that I’d be taking photos of her as she went about her duties. I smiled to myself, "it’d be a better world to live in if there were a lot more people like this."
Ma’am Jobie’s office was soon filled with the sound of my camera’s shutter. At first, she and her colleagues felt uncomfortable with me hovering around the room, like some pesky insect wielding a camera (shutterbug? J), so I told them to pretend that I wasn’t there. I imagine ignoring me was no easy task because I just couldn’t stop chatting with Ma’am Jobie. As I shot, I was continually asking her questions about her work, which she gladly answered.
Her stories brought forth a multitude of emotions: I was saddened one minute, then shocked or flatly amazed the next. Her job is a tough one. She tells me how hard it sometimes is talking to abused women and children, fighting for their rights and supporting their cause. She talks about how fulfilling it feels when she is able to help even one of these abuse victims, and the hopelessness that comes when even one gives up and no longer pursues justice. These are the things Ma’am Jobie goes through daily and it’s sad that she and the rest of WCCD can’t expect it to end soon.
This sad reality we call our everyday is borne of poverty, a lack of social awareness, a lack of education, a broken judicial system, and an endless list of other of our faults as a nation, but there is hope. There is a Filipino among us like Ma’am Jobie, who continues to be committed and vigilant; who is always prepared for those who seek her help; who is always willing to give of herself; who is always ready to serve and protect. These are the values of the true Filipino Police Force.
Kay Ma’am Jobie ug sa ta-nan sa WCCD ng Dumaguete, bilib kaayo ko sa inyo!
Text edited by my good friend Sherwin Reyes.
Hope you guys will be able to visit the photo exhibit.
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we’ve moved into our new studio! we have so much to decorate and organize yet. This was taken with my mac webcam. More soon!
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