This exhibition it dedicated to the children that live in mountain communities in the Philippines. Using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a basis of analysis, the images explore the effects of neo-colonialism on their well being.

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discussion and slideshow with the photographer on monday 22 september 2008, 700pm

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In American English, the term refers to a place further off than ‘the sticks,’ the ‘boondocks’ are the ‘backwoods,’ the ‘bush’, the place of wilderness and ‘savagry.’

I remember using the derivative word ‘boonies’ when I was in high school when referring to people that lived out of town. It was meant as an insult to where they were from. I used it casually, with a smile—all the while unintentionally disrespecting my forebears.

The word’s origins are from my native Philippines. The original term ‘bundok’ means ‘mountain.’ The mountains are where the resisters of colonial power took refuge. It’s where they plotted to strike back.

It’s also where Pilipino tribes took sanctuary, it was as far as one could get from the urban centres set up and controlled by the colonials, it was there that the people did their best to retain their true identity.

Today, because American soldiers took it home with them after the Philippine-American War, the term is used to denigrate.

It’s time to reclaim it.

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In my visits to the Philippines following human rights stories I have inevitably come to many mountain towns. Sadly, while they retain their independent spirit, they have now been encroached by modern neo-colonialists. The original cultures are being eroded through the education system, and the land taken by foreign companies.

Despite it all, the bundok remains the sanctuary of nationalist resistance forces and to many tribal cultures—it remains the symbol of the people’s spirit.

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The Facebook event page:

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Alex currently resides in Toronto, Canada. He returns regularly to the Philippines.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto with the goal of being a human rights lawyer instead he became a documentary photographer who focuses on human rights issues. Though he also does work in other genres and issues, his focus is on stories that involve the relationship between his country of birth (the Philippines) and his country of upbringing and citizenship (Canada).

He returned from three months in the Philippines this past January 2008 where he worked with local and international NGOs around human rights issues. Other than his personal projects (the centre-piece being a project about Canadian-owned mining in the Philippines) he worked with organizations like the Children’s Rehabilitation Center and the Children’s Participation Center to help provide art therapy for children and youth in urban poor areas of Manila, and with victims of military violence.

©2005-08 alex felipe

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Slideshow and Discussion (22nd Sept):

A suggested minumum donation of $5 at the door.

Fifty percent will be used to support a humanitarian mission by the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Mindanao.

Since the end of the ceasefire in August upwards of 500,000 civilians have been displaced, many have died.