IPA features personal stories of emerging photographers

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“I find that in this age of storytelling, visual language is very important. I notice how people nowadays tend to rely on visuals and quite less on actually reading what’s written about the photograph.”


My Visual Story


Larry Monserate Piojo

We’ve seen it all before. The Metro Manila traffic may be reckoned one of the worse in the world and it is remaining as it is. With an approximated population of more than 12.88 million with a land area of 42.88 km², it dwarfs the city of Paris with a land area of 105.4 km² composed of a population of 2,241,346. While the government pushes for practical answers to solve this problem, Manila still remains as a major stronghold of resources of jobs and opportunities to many Filipinos-one major reasons why, despite its “hell-like” environment, it stays as an attractive bastion of many opportunities.

Photographer Larry Monserate Piojo takes us to this problem through his series of photographs entitled “Terminal”. In the series, Larry documented the over-crowding of a bus terminal in Cubao in the eve of a holiday where people catch trips going to their respective provinces.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station

Introduce yourself: How did you become a photographer?

I’m Larry Monserate Piojo, I’m a street, travel, and documentary photographer. I love rain and I find solace in photographing the rain. My work focuses mainly on human interests and relevant social issues and I also do freelance work for corporate and commercial related projects. I became a photographer after realizing how a single photograph can touch people’s lives and inspire them to do something to make a change. I initially took pictures of anything around me when I started. From insects to petals, to beautiful models but eventually found myself in love with the spontaneity of street photography. Street photography has become a breathing ground for me since then. Later on, I felt having such responsibility to document everything about life, good or bad. To help create awareness and inspire others through photographs.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station

In the set, you photographed the specific bus terminal in Cubao, Philippines. Was this a project you have been doing or it’s just coincidental?

It is no secret that we have one of the worst traffic issues in the world. In Manila particularly, I notice that there’s not a much visual story about it other than the daily or regular primetime news. And so I have been working on a personal project that focuses on the ordeal of ordinary commuters. From photographing them on daily basis of commuting and even during a heavy downpour.

So photographing and documenting terminals was something I’ve always planned. Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao is known for being the largest and most crowded especially during holidays, and it’s the first I have been so far in regard to this project.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station

What made you decide to photograph the situation? Are you also a commuter?

Oh yes. I would rather commute in the Metro and drive the long drives. Commuting gives me a glimpse of realities around us. I would ride the train and buses when I could. When I first worked in Ortigas, I used to commute from Fairview and back, every single day. So I’ve had my fair share of experiencing that long, agonizing daily commute that I still see all the time.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station

How helpful are these photos in addressing this kind of problem in the Philippines?

Honestly, I won’t be able to tell. I am just another photographer who has the tool and the opportunity to document this event and to send messages across. But I find that in this age of storytelling, visual language is very important. I notice how people nowadays tend to rely on visuals and quite less on actually reading what’s written about the photograph. So, I do hope that these photographs in any ways possible would be able to help in addressing the issue. Photographs don’t make changes in a snap, people should work on it and the photos may only serve as a proof, sort of a guide, or a lesson to make those people who are responsible take action and allow changes to happen.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station

What do you think is the best way to teach photography?

Through practical teachings and experiences. Aspiring photographers should go out there and not get stuck on theories and technicalities. They should be able to understand the different environments and all the hustle and bustle of the real world. There’s no better way of teaching the craft for me but doing it in the true setting where they choose to stand.

Philippines: Araneta Center Bus Station