Thursday, October 4, 2007

SURFACING: A Photo - Essay on the Lives of the Families of Desaparecidos

A photograph is regarded as a powerful tool for communicating ideas in a way that a written or oral account cannot. A photograph is not hindered by language, nor does it expect its viewers to be educated or literate. The language that a photograph speaks can be understood by anybody.

It is with the acknowledgment of this power that we deemed it appropriate to use photographs as a tool for human rights advocacy. We intend to contribute to the continuing effort of sustaining and heightening public awareness and consciousness on the issue of enforced disappearances. By mounting a photo exhibit, we also intend to give a human face to the stories and struggles of the families of the disappeared (desaparecidos). We strongly believe that we can reach out to more people by telling their stories through images.

To ensure that we will indeed effectively convey these stories, SURFACING proposes to hold an output-based photo essay/story workshop which will be open to all amateur and professional photographers, both from the Philippines as well as the Asian Region.

This workshop intends to develop participating photographers' skills in creating compelling photo essays/stories while at the same time also creating awareness of human rights issues, in particular the increasing number of enforced disappearances in the country.

This initiative is part of a growing Artists Response against the human rights abuses of the Arroyo administration. Parallel efforts are currently being undertaken by independent and mainstream filmmakers, poets, artists and musicians. All these initiatives will culminate in a Human Rights Festival on Human Rights Day, December 10.

SURFACING, the photographers' initiative is headed by a small working group of student photographers with advice from professional photojournalists and in coordination with the Free Jonas Burgos Movement (FJBM). FJBM is a loose network of individuals seeking for the surfacing and release of Jonas Burgos, who was abducted last April, by suspected military operatives. It also speaks against human rights abuses, in particular, of other enforced disappearances of activists in the country.

Projekt Desap intends to hold:

A workshop to develop participating photographers' skills in making compelling photo essays/stories. The workshop will include an integration period wherein the photographers will be given a chance to interact with the families. While a second-hand account can be accurate and touching, we recognize that a first-hand account of a family's struggle is more powerful and compelling. It is for this reason that interested members of the families are also invited to join the workshop. We intend to develop their basic photography skills to enable them to make personal accounts of their day-to-day lives.

At the end of the integration, the participants will gather for a presentation and critiquing session. Veteran photojournalists Gil Nartea, Luis Liwanag, Jes Aznar, and Bogsi Panaligan will assist in the selection of photos for the exhibit.


  1. Hello. This is nice hehe. Good job guys!

  2. Keep up the fight.
    This is one way to remind "them" that though we may become lost we will be remembered.
    God help the Burgos Family and all other families of desaparicados....

    KEEP IT UP!!!