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Here in Canada, pls consider donating to Sagip Migrante for disaster relief in the Philippines. I work with them personally and know that your donations will go directly were it is needed.

In many ways I am still reeling from my day yesterday.—just wait til you see the footage in our doc in this summer’s Kultura Festival in Toronto.

The many many mosquito bites I have on my arms and legs remind me of sleeping on a table in a dusty open air jeepney depot in Novaliches, Quezon City documenting the very simple life of one driver.  I spent the next morning (yesterday) with the driver, and by the evening I was having a beer by a pool in Alabang, the premiere gated community for the Manila elite. (more…)

Last weekend Vince and I joined Salinlahi (a child’s rights advocacy org) in providing a photo workshop to out of school youth from 12 to 17 years old in a fishing community in Bacoor (just outside Manila).

This is part of the photography program Salinlahi is bringing to different impoverished communities in the Philippines to explore the serious and common situation of child labourers. The chronic and worsening hardship in the country (not to mention the shrinking budget for education) leads to more and more youth dropping out of school in order to help make ends meet for their family.  (more…)

San Augustine Church in Intramuros Manila is a heavy, heavy place for me.  My heart is heavy every time I’m there.  I feel the weight of its history.  I feel a great sense of loss.   (more…)

The rains came and went for the few days I was in Bikol. The bus window showed evidence of this less than seasonal weather. It was dusk, and the sky was finally clearing, the clouds in my mind had also started to break.

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By Leonard Cervantes (originally posted HERE)

Toronto’s Roncesvalles section isn’t the first area you think of when you think “Filipino” – it’s known as the Polish area, where you can find the statue of Pope John Paul 2 and get yummy sausage (oh wait those are two really Filipino things, PJP2 and sausage).

Earlier this week, Photographer Alex Felipe brought the Philippines to the neighbourhood – through his photo exhibit at trendy-yet-conscious coffee hotspot, Café Tinto. The exhibit, called “Human Rights in the Philippines – A Photo Exhibition “ is up from April 1 to April 17 and focuses on the human rights situation in the motherland — from extrajudicial killings and disappearances, to too young ‘terror’ suspects in a Manila jail, to a disturbing Canadian connection…

The photos were taken by Alex on his latest trip to the Philippines, the highlights of the evening were definitely Alex’s anecdotes as he presented each photo via slideshow. Wide-eyed attendees hung on his every word as he recounted his experiences with tribal chieftains and military checkpoints as he ascended Mt. Canatuan.

Others shook their heads in disbelief as he recalled his first trip back in 2001 when he stayed with relatives living in makeshift homes next to active train tracks. At that time he could reach out the window of his own sleeping quarters only to be close enough to graze a passing train with his hand.

Guests were also treated to some poetry and music courtesy of JR Punzalan, Myk Miranda and Leonard Cervantes (hey that’s me), oh behalf of Kapisanan Philippine Centre. The Pinoygraphers.com photography collective was also present to support one of their own.

Alex’s main objective on his trip was to document the destruction and illness that mining activity has caused the people of the Philippines, most notably the tribal populations in the remote areas. What is most surprising is the identity of the offender in all of these cases — Canada. Corporations like Placer Dome/Barrick Gold (on Marinduque Island) and Toronto Ventures Incorporated (Mt. Canatuan, Mindanao) are guilty of toxic dumping, forced displacement and other abuses of the land.

Evidence of the effects of these violations are seen in Alex’s photos which do little to excuse the viewer from the emotions that can only go along with images of sick or imprisoned children, polluted landscapes and Filipino people experiencing strife and hardship. Despite the heavy subject matter and some very heart-wrenching photos, Alex’s exhibit managed to attract a full-room of Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike, community members, artists and activists – different people from different walks and all corners of the city.

The wonderful thing about Alex Felipe’s photos is that they don’t discriminate the viewer. No matter where we’re coming from, we see the same image; we end up reading the very same page. If only for those brief moments, we understand – and ultimately feel the same emotions.

That feeling of unity is rare these days.

(next week, check out blogto.com to see Alex Felipe and his exhibit featured on DiverCity, and stay tuned to this blog space for info on his next exhibit, starting April 26th at Ryerson)

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Event Photos Below By Red Andal (www.pinoygraphers.com)