Search and You Shall Find in My World

27 October 2010

My Sarisari Store: a photoblog not for the fainthearted

We are all captives of the picture in our head - our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists. ~Walter Lippmann, Pulitzer prize winner

Let me say I am living in a world of fantasy. A world where everything is smooth, beautiful and without a hint of flaw. And that is the usual problem with graphic designers. We tend to correct the flaws to make everything Belo-like, beautiful and flawless. Sometimes exaggerating them to make them worthy to be called an eye-candy. Because our clients and audience alike wanted to project an ideal world.

This fact is evident when you scan the pictures posted in most of social networking sites where you are a member of. You see various photographers selling their products of nearly naked men and women with flawless skins, or food pictures all in perfect shape and tones, or landscapes from netherworld you wonder if they were really from that place or not. You always ask if they were real or photoshopped.

We love to see perfection.

But it is also a fact that the world out there is not perfect, full of flaws and sometimes uglier than reality so much so we choose to ignore them. Rare are some photographers who could see the beauty in this ugliness.

I am referring to a photo blog about the real Philippines by a Belgian named Sidney Snoeck. Sid, as I fondly call him, is a photographer living in the Philippines since 2002. I met him in the cyberworld when I was just starting to make my blog, this blog. I haven't met him personally but looking through his works is like knowing him personally.

Of late, My Sari Sari Store, Sidney's photo blog disturbs me because of the exorcism subject. His pictures were artistically done in black and white and I believed they were not doctored nor photoshopped. The pictures give me goosebumps and made me cringed in fear. There is that inner fear, a gut level instinct to cower within me that Sidney has perfectly created. I congratulated him for that.

His recent photoblog on the unfortunate lives of chicks (young chickens) being sprayed with multi-colored dyes brings anger in my eyes. I am not a member of any humane society. I am not also a vegetarian. But seeing what these people do with those ill-fated chicks pains me.

So I told Sidney about my feelings towards these postings and got an answer. With apologies to Sidney, I would like to quote the whole message he sent me so you too will understand why he chose to feature the darker side of the Philippines. Read on-

Hi Edik,

No problem about voicing your feelings about my pictures. You are not the first one... and you will not be the last one. Many people reproach me that I am showing the not so nice side of the Philippines...that I am a bit focused on the dark side of life... that I should show the beautiful beaches and landscapes instead.

I can understand this... but I think there are already many bloggers/people/photographers doing this in a much better way than I can do. And yes, I can see beauty in ugliness (if this make sense to you).

Honestly I like the Philippines... and I love it here. But don't ask me to take pictures of old churches, beaches and food. I think in the end my pictures show my love for this country... I never condemn... I am always very kind with my subjects...

When I saw my first colored chick... I could have just ignored it ... but I said...wait a minute... what do we have here... how do they do this? why do they do this? ... and then it becomes a story...

I met the exorcist in Quiapo during the Black Nazarene... I could not believe my eyes... and then I befriended the guy... trying to understand his life... and I decided he was worth a photo series. I agree this is disturbing... but this happens everyday... so why not document it?

Every day in Blumentritt (Manila)... thousands of those chicks are colored... I am just surprised that I am the first person to really document this....

I guess I have a very open mind... I never really judge anybody... I am interested in people and how they live.

Recently I was in a taxi... the guy telling me he was driving in 12 hours shifts... not earning enough money to feed his family. He got a lot of interesting stories... and I said to myself ... gosh this guy has an interesting life... I would love to make a photo series about him.

Edik, the chicken story is just a joke when I compare it with the stories I need to tell about the people living from the garbage... collecting the chicken bones from Jollibee... eating all those remains from fast food restaurants. The story of those rugby boys... the people of Ulingan... That is REALLY a disturbing issue. (not that I don't care for those poor chicks).

I am not someone who will run away from a difficult subject. If it is happening all around us... I think it is worth to document it. All those anonymous people have a story to tell... they are worth it.

But I am also prepared to showcase the life of an artist, a sportsman or a politician. As long as they have a story to tell.

I have tons of stories to tell... half finished in my memory cards... waiting to be finished. Some stories take me months to finish... so it is not always easy to balance all the stories in the right sequence... It just happens the colored chicks story was finished and ready to go... while my coffee series is not yet finished...

Really... I am not a bad guy ! ;-)

Anyway... thanks again for voicing your concerns. I am trying to take your opinion into account. And I am happy to know that you still visit my blog. Thank you.

No hard feelings at all. Take care.

All pictures are grabbed from Sidney's photoblog.


kg said...

australian pala sya. he he! just recently got introduced to his blog when he commented on one of my posts. :)

Edik said...


i think Sidney is a Belgian.

Sidney said... the good chocolates, the good waffles and the good beers... I am a Belgian :-)

I think you said it all... I am happy we met in the middle... in the grey zone... not in the divide between black OR white.

Thank you for that !