Like in a garrison

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHERS, both professionals and hobbyists came out with their stories about how they were maltreated during the Kadayawan sa Dabaw festival by both marshals and policemen and related how they were forced to squeeze through tight spots just to get photos because both marshals and policemen deliberately stood in front of them to block their views.

Meanwhile, the man labeled as "unnamed self-proclaimed marshal" in a photo on Sun.Star Davao Monday, pointed to by ace photographer Rhonson Ng as the one who shouted at them and shoed them away from the front of the Rizal Park stage turned out to be no less than retired General Frank Villaroman, chief of the Public Safety and Security Command Center.

In his experience of what he went through over the weekend photo hobbyist Gonz Xaviery S. dela Fuente said that all he got were low angle shots because they were not even allowed to stand up.

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"Kay matabunan daw ang naga lantaw sa likod ug bawal daw mi mulapas sa white line pero naa ng mga police naga block sa view. Hahai since 2011 pako naga shoot Kadayawan. Karon ra pod ni nahitabo na grabe ka unorganized (We were told that we are covering those behind us and that we should not step beyond the white line, and yet the policemen were all blocking our view. I have been shooting Kadayawan since 2011 and this is the first time it was this unorganized)," he said.

Philippine Daily Inquirer's photographer Karlos Manlupig's case was worse. He was not allowed to shoot the Inquirer's float as it stopped in front of the Rizal Park stage.

"I was with our float tapos pagstop sa stage nagtry ako kumuha ng ilang photos na kita yung stage at eagle sa roof ng stage sa background. Kaso I was rudely interrupted by a marshal na naka-Kabalikat shirt. Nakita ko si Tats (Daval, another photojournalist) na nagtry din magshoot kaso tinaasan din siya ng boses ng lalake. Nagexplain ako na isang shot lang talaga ang kailangan ko kasi yung ang biggest responsibility ko noong araw na yun. Kaso hindi siya nakikinig at sinisigawan pa kami," he said.

"Umatras ako sa area kung saan nakaset-up ang mga taga-tv pero binalikan niya ako at sinigawan ulit dahil gusto niya na lumipat ako sa area na nasa tapat na ng city hall. Tinanong ko sya kung ano ang difference dahil nandoon din naman ang mga taga-tv at pareho naman kaming mga media. Pero he was so stubborn para makinig. Sigaw lang ng sigaw," Manlupig added.

Another professional photographer who asked not to be named wrote: "Ang experience ko noong Indak-Indak tinaasan ako ng boses ng isang pulis dahil bakit daw humihiwalay ako sa grupo ng mga photog. Unfair daw dahil dapat pare-pareho lahat ng angle sa pagshoot. Inexplain ko na ang challenge sa photojournalism ay ang paghanap ng unique shot. Nagpatuloy pa sya sa paglecture na dapat super zoom lens na daw ang ginagamit namin. Sino sya para maglecture tungkol sa photography?"

In Manlupig's Facebook account, Ricardo Lim, a businessman and photo enthusiast related why he stopped going out to take photos of festivals in the city.

"Matagal na yan na problem during parades... ang Pinoy tourista binawalan mag take ng pic from the sides... pag puti na tourist - ok lang! thats why I stopped taking pics sa events," he wrote.

"We used to invite our friends to come and see the Davao events pero after our experiences four years ago, we just stopped inviting. We were so embarrassed in an incident in front of Marco Polo with our US relatives... 4 Pinoy balikbayans with their partners. I was together with two Pinays and their puti na husbands and two other pinoys with their US born wives. Mga pulis blocked the lenses of our visitors and they DID NOT ENJOY the argument that followed.. they did not even finish the first contingent's performance... they just went back inside Marco Polo Davao," he added. "That was four years ago pa...until now our tourism efforts are being put down by the same Under-Educated Tourist Police. A shameful display of tourism education level."

Lim is not the first photography enthusiast who has stopped covering Davao events. A well-followed blogger had likewise decided that Kadayawan Festival is no longer worth a visit because of how police and organizers treat photographers and visitors.

Travel photographers Jojie Alcantara and Rhonson Ng sent photos of the backs and faces of policemen who deliberately blocked their view and were not above shouting at them whenever they try to get a better angle, among them retired General Frank Villaroman, chief of the Public Safety and Security Command Center, who was first labeled as "unnamed self-proclaimed marshal", because he was not known to the professional photographers that he was shouting at.

It was Villaroman who shooed of Ng shouting at him that he should shoot from the corner of the Crooked Road instead of in front of the Rizal park stage.

Alcantara has been sharing in her Facebook account the comments and stories of other photographers and hobbyists on how they were cordoned off by policemen and marshals like in a garrison.

Among them young photographer Angel Gerardo and Rodel Castillon Sumatra.

"Before the event properly started, I had the chance to take photos of the performers near and on the stage just to prepare the lens and practice. Everyone (media, hobbyists, tourists) were all good vibes.
(Kadayawan feast eh!). Nagtatawanan and talagang excited sa event. But this menopausal policewoman came and scolded us na para kaming hindi entitled to take pictures. She rudely point (at) all of us and said:
"Pahawa mo dira kay dili mo pwede mopwesto dira! Kasabot mo? Kasabot mo? When she left, na angry bird jud ko," shared Gerardo.

Sumatra, on the other hand, wrote: "Yong ibang enforcer nila mga bastos din. Sinisigawan ka na nga na tumabi, di pa marunong rumespeto. Alam na kumukuha ka nang picture, ayun tumatayo sa harap mo." He shared a photo of the butt of a marshal covering the view of the Indak-indak dancers.

"Darling, not too long after we saw each other I was grabbed and shoved by a police officer... at an insignificant area pa gud that wasn't even crowded (behind Philpost) with only a few spectators and photogs. The participants normally walk thru there or casually practice their routine... even asking us to dance and interact with them," shared businesswoman/photographer Joanna Christina Lizares Co on Alcantara's wall.

Sought out for his view on how other destinations handle photographers, Tourism Assistant Secretary Arturo P. Boncato Jr. said, "Photographers, photo bloggers, hobbyists, etc. are welcome partners of the tourism industry. In fact, we often engage them to communicate what they see through their lenses. It helps build destination brands."

Citing the Sinulog Festival as example, Boncato said their Regional Director said that photographers are allowed in all areas for as long as they have the access passes.

Meanwhile, in an interview over dxRP Radyo ng Bayan Monday, Supt. Royna Garma, who has been identified by photographers as the one who bawled them out before the start of the Indak-indak last Saturday in front of the Marco Polo Hotel, again apologized only to the media and not the other photographers around. She insisted that media photographers were allowed to take photos. This was not how Alcantara, Ng, and Manlupig described what they went through.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 19, 2014.

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