Blognotes from a photographer life...

Apr 23, 2009


25.000 martial arts students in a school alone. There are over 20 schools around the Shaolin Temple in Henan. Plus trainee in the various temples, institutes, private institutions. There are over 12 Kung Fu shows per day in the Shaolin School theatre, and one spectacular, gigantic evening open air presentation involving over 700 actors at the feet of the sacred mountain.
Chinese numbers, of course, for Chinese people: not a single foreign face around. What this country is becoming is clearer when we consider what it is doing even with it's own culture, besides the assumption of foreign influences. Masses are getting interested in the commercially evolved tradition. Some see the Shaolin martial art as a form of identity, of national pride. Others as an option to search for fame and money. The most are just curious consumers, travel by the thousands and tour around.
China is changing fast: faster then the words to describe the change..
What is disappointing to me is the disrespect for the old real thing. Everywhere in China old building are demolished to make space to fake new ones. The word restoration is ignored, except with very important monuments. Whole cities, like Lijiang, are the Chinese version of Disneyworld.
But it's their land and their history, and they don't like to be criticized. Sometimes I think at President Mao, still appearing on the Yuan notes (when I was sixteen, in the flumes of ideology, I called myself a Maoist), and see him more imprisoned then glorified in his mausoleum..

Apr 18, 2009


Diwalwal is... what? A mountain, a village, a mine? Lost in the forests of Mindanao this is possibly one of the latest gold-mining area in the world where people work without heavy machines nor open gigantic holes in the earth. And this is really the point today. On one side are the small miners that want to keep this community as it is: a remote village that may have overcome the years of lawless violence but is certainly a social inferno. On the others the multinationals that want to push them out, open large open-air mines and employ them as "workers".
Is the clash of civilization, or the the "global" war taken to the borders of the empire.. It's difficult to take a position though, when you see a community of 40.000 living in such difficult conditions, with basic standards of health and education. But they are fighting for it: the Barangay (City Council) built a school, a clinic, and promised to the government that taxes will be paid (sic!). Franco Tito, the Captain, a local sheriff with a gun on his side, took the fight to the road: blocked bridges, confronted Governor and government..
Now they may leave them this central area of Diwalwal, the richest probably, and open large mines around. They would become an island of human history: an interesting evolution to observe in the future..

Apr 9, 2009


Back in Manila, in a trash hotel facing a brothel crowded by over-sixty expats surrounded by young girls.. a perfect spot for reflecting on how fast this world is cracking under it's mistakes..
Tragic news are arriving from l'Aquila, with many dead people and many others deprived of a house and proper shelter. Can't imagine how hard it is in this time of crisis, when everything is becoming uncertain, to see the few solid things you have crumbling after an earthquake.

This is the right time to think what my profession should become, what images is still worth to take, what stories are really interesting to be told. But I miss an important element of confrontation: if photography is communication, it is such only if it gets published by the media. Whatever media. Unfortunately that part of the cycle is in total confusion. Many magazines are struggling to survive, others don't know which way to go. And the "new" media don't know if they are really worth something, and how they should evolve..
It's really the chaos of a radical transition..

As difficult as it is, I still think this has a positive side. We have been complaining for years of how poor (in money and quality) the media market was. Of how precarious it was. It's time for a clean up, for a fresh starts. New media, new photographers, new languages. Creativity should be the evaluation of what is new. Will it be? Or will be only value for money? Cheap and of scarce quality?

More to say.. My connection time is over (150 pesos an hour) and the brothel is noisy..