Kalye Ilonggo: A Photographic Journey

Taking the time to wander around every nook and cranny armed with their cameras and hoping to capture moments is more than just an activity, it is a lifestyle.

Kanye Ilonggo is the first ever photography exhibit organised by the members of the Street and Documentary Photographers Iloilo. Commemorating their almost 1 year of existence as a collective of photographers whose passion is on street photography as well as documentary. The individual members are actually part of different photography groups but has banded together as they share the same passion for the streets. These 21 individuals from SDPI whose photos are part of the exhibition are namely Rey Bayona, Greg Delos Reyes, Lucille Detoyato, Leofil Durana, Alan Fajardo, Jay Gadong, Dennis Gamaracha, Israel Gonzalez, Meryl Puljanan Hiso, Jon Japitana, Izanor Lyn Javier, Vernan Jagunap, Jonathan Jurilla, Emmanuel Lerona, Christian Lozañes, Alfredo Nathaniel Marte, Ira Pahila, Ruperto Quitag, Nelson Rondan, JP Sarsoza and Joy Sumagaysay.

By Emmanuel Lerona, Iloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

By Emmanuel Lerona, Iloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

The exhibition itself is a fruit of months of planning and a ton of time taken by each member to go out and get the best output from their respective viewfinders. Kalye Ilonggo is their attempt to represent the Ilonggo identity using street photography as a creative framework. Ilonggo in this context is not limited to a geography location and kalye or street as a literal location. The concept of Ilonggo is proposed to be a cultural presence affected by the economic and political dynamics of the time. That such presence is just beyond the geographic markings of Iloilo that the Ilonggo of today is everywhere. The street, on the other hand, is not to be taken literally but rather a differential signifier to distinguish it from other forms of photography like landscape, fashion, studio etc. The group follows a certain set of rules established by well-established masters of the craft like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winograd, Bruce Gilden, Alex Webb and the likes.

By Israel Gonzalez, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

By Israel Gonzalez, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

That being said, Street Photography is traditionally defined as photography that features the human condition within public places. However the definition has shifted to include the following expectations: “a massive emphasis on the careful selection of those elements to include and exclude with the moment selected to make the exposure” *Nick Turpin, 2000) What viewers should begin to notice, therefore, are the patterns, the symmetry, the gesture, the elusive shaft of light, the geometry, the fortuitous gathering of elements that create meaning to the scene.

By Israel Gonzalez, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

By Israel Gonzalez, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

Given the framework, the collection offers a construction of Ilonggo presence according to the continuous negotiation between the street photographer and the subjects. It is the photographer’s selective view as determined by their camera lenses and editing skills. Being selective, the photographers recognize the limitation of the medium. The collection is not an encompassing definition of Ilonggo identity but rather, a very tiny glimpse of what it means to be an Ilonggo. Moreover, the same collection does not claim accurate depiction of Ilonggo reality. It is merely a vision, a play of light and shadow, that may be used as guide to re/construct a memory of what is/used to be reality.

By Nelson Rondan, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

By Nelson Rondan, lloilo City. One of the photos exhibited.

The collection of 60 photographs were carefully selected from a pool of more than a hundred photographs submitted by the members of SDPI. A team of panel from the group with the help of renowned Iloilo visual artist PG Zoluaga curated the selection of the photographs that are now displayed in the exhibition. High resolution of the photos are then sent to FujiFilm Philippines in Manila to be printed in a 12 inches by 18 inches size FujiFilm Silver Halide Archival Photography paper. FujiFilm Philippines sponsored the printing of the said collection. The printed photos are then uniformly framed in black frame with white matting. Given such notion, each photo on display are of high quality and is worthy of any collection.

Museo Iloilo, Kalye Ilonggo Exhibition.

Museo Iloilo, Kalye Ilonggo Exhibition.

Museo Iloilo was chosen as the venue of the exhibition and was glad to offer the use of their gallery. The gallery itself proved to be a worthy temporary home for the photos on their brief 2 week show. And given that some of the exhibiting photographers are part of the UPV family, the University of the Philippines Visayas Chancellor’s Committee on Culture and Arts also gave their heartwarming support for the exhibition.

Setting up the exhibit was no easy task but was successfully mounted on the gallery wall with the help of Michael Rene T. Loredo. He helped curate the photos inside the gallery of Museo Iloilo. Such was his meticulous arrangement of the collection to let the viewers grasp the beauty of each photo and on their relation to each other. He was also able to discern the styles of each photographer and how their individual output come together on the exhibition floor.

The exhibition opened on a Friday evening, July 3, 2015 and was well attended amidst the uncooperative weather. The photographers were finally relieved to have their output out in public and are quite happy with the reactions of the people who came to see their works.

Aside from the photography exhibit, SDPI aimed to share their knowledge on street photography on a wider audience and thus has organised an accompanying series of talks on street photography alongside the photo exhibit they aptly dubbed “Isturya Kuris-kuris, Artist Interaction and Lecture Series. The talks are all for free and ran from July 4 until July 8 every afternoon at Museo Iloilo.

SDPI street photography

SDPI street photography

For starters they invited FujiFilm Philippines Brand Ambassador Rommel Bundalian whom is an established street photographer to conduct a street photography workshop. Along with FujiFilm’s Glenn Gatan, Rommel or Omeng as he prefers himself to be called gave a very insightful world into what is street photography to all those who attended the Saturday, July 5 afternoon session. Omeng’s workshop was attended by photographers from different photo groups in Iloilo as well as students from different schools.

One of the lectures at Museo Iloilo for the FujiFilm workshop

One of the lectures at Museo Iloilo for the FujiFilm workshop

Sunday, July 5 started early morning for SDPI as everybody gathered near the Central Public Market for a photowalk with the guys from FujiFilm. Six in the morning and yet a big group of people showed up to join in the walk, all geared for the rain and each with their camera at hand. Even with the heavy rains that hampered the walk most of the time, the walk went smoothly and everybody, SDPI member, other photographers and even students from different schools had the best time shooting. The group even decided to hold a contest for those who attended who are not members of SDPI. They asked participants to submit their best outputs from the walk via online and top three were to be given prizes which will be announced on a later day.

Monday afternoon, July 6 and Museo Iloilo again was full of people. This time students from WVSU Masscom, high school students from Iloilo City National High School and Lapaz National High School packed the lobby as they listen to the lectures of Jonathan Jurilla who talked about “Kalyegraphy: Street Photography 101” and Nelson Rondan who talked on a brief history of street photography “Street Photography: From Breton to Bacani”.

JP Sarasoza started the Tuesday, July 7 afternoon lecture series. He talked about “Street Photography Survival Guide: Conquer your Fear”. He gave insights on how to take courage and take photos of random people on the streets. Emmanuel Lerona followed with his talk on “Dealing with People in the Streets” and gave insights on how to improve social skills when you encounter people as a photographer taking photos.

Then finally the last of the lecture series came Wednesday, July 8 in the afternoon, with Israel Gonzalez giving a talk on “Street Photography Approaches and Techniques” followed by “Art and Photography” whom was given by Afredo Nathaniel Marte. Given that it was the last day of the Isturya Kuris-kuris, SDPI announced the winners of the photowalk contest and the respective winners were duly given their prizes.

Wrapping up the lecture series, SDPI was quite grateful with the attendance of the students who never stopped asking questions on each talk. Their curiousity on anything about photography was the sheer reason the group actually organized such talks. Every talk ended with conversations with the members of SDPI and the students and other photographers and slowly they create a different level of awareness that may define what photography truly is for Iloilo and what is photography for the Ilonggo.

The exhibition will be from July 4 until July 16 at Museo Iloilo. For those who are still interested in seeing the show, feel free to drop by Museo Iloilo until the 16th of July.

You can check Kalye Ilonggo on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/kalyeilonggo

And if you have more inquiries regarding SDPI, you may contact [email protected]