Migrant workers’ visible pandemic memories


BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

“Pagpupugay sa Migrateng Pilipino Tungo sa Pagbangon Mula sa Pandemya” photo essay competition Aninag (Visible) theme celebrates November as Month of Overseas Filipinos and International Migrants Day 2020 through National Commission for Culture and the Art’s (NCCA) Sentro Rizal overseas cultural center.

Geronico Magpantay, who opened in 1992, Jollibee Seria, Philippine fast food chain’s second Brunei branch, sees his future career in photography.
Magpantay had shaken many times the hands of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, HRH Prince Mohamed, HRH Prince Jefri, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, all His Majesty’s sons. He had photographed Queen Elizabeth; Presidents Ramos and Estrada; Senators Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Juan Flavier; Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon.

“In the Philippines, you cannot go near VIPs, even if you have a camera. Brunei is very peaceful, so you can approach the royalty. I make it a point to know when His Majesty is visiting the districts. After shaking his hands once, I will still transfer to another place and shake his hands again.
“Nature at its best is found in Brunei. The place is very beautiful. At Bukit Shabandar, at Jalan Residency overlooking Kampong Ayer, I feel so close to the creator, there is a communion with nature. I feel relaxed when I am stressed.

“I would wake up at 4 am to watch the sunset at Istana, at Seria beach. Sunsets are my favorite. I watch it at the Serasa Beach, Tungku Beach, at the beaches in Kuala Belait and in Seria. When I ride my mountain bike, I have my camera and my tripod. From Bandar Seri Begawan, I have biked up to Muara, to Jerudong Park, to Jalan Tutong, Lumapas, Sungei Kebun in Kampong Ayer, a 45-kilometer stretch. Then, I will take a water taxi, a two-minute ride back to Yayasan in Bandar Seri Begawan,” said Magpantay.

Magpantay’s passion had “spread to 12 other Jollibee staff, who had invested in cameras and borrowed my photographic lessons from the New York Institute of Photography. Tuition fee for the correspondence course was US$2,300, which not everybody could spare, so I lent them my notes,” he said.

1995 Jollibee crew Rudolf Purtillo said he “studied Professional Photography at New York Institute of Photography by correspondence.
“Photographs have power that compliments yet transcends the written word,” said Purtillo, former photojournalist for two Brunei newspapers. This photo award winner had covered royal events at Istana Nurul Iman, where he was steward for four years.

When not contributing news pictures for online media, Purtillo clicks product, commercial, and food photographs.

Draughtsman-photographer Raul Padernal is Philippine Embassy and Filipino community’s on-call media partner. He posts destination wedding photos on Facebook.

Senior architect Hernando Hautea Jr., Design Department Head and Project Manager, started digital photography with passion in 2003.

Purtillo and Padernal mentored Hautea on architecture, planning, protocol, layout, design and VIP security.

Visit bit.ly/aninagphotoessay for Aninag mechanics.

Inform Philippine Embassy via email: cultural.brunei@gmail.com. Submit photo entries to NCCA until November 23, 2020.

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