By Ofelia C. Empian, VERA files
The grandeur and mystery of Mount Pulag through the eyes of children.
This is what Juan Portrait wants to share with the rest of the country by featuring the works of 20 students from Mount Pulag Primary School in Kabayan, Benguet, who completed their photography workshop last July.
For a week last July, participating schoolchildren in grades 4-6 learned the basics of photography in a classroom 7,748 feet above sea level in one of the the most diverse biodiversity in the country today.
Mount Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines. It is the highest peak in Luçon.
Much of Mount Pulag is designated a national park with 528 documented plant species. Threatened and endangered animal species can still be found in mountain forests such as the Philippine deer, the giant bush-tailed cloud rat and the long-haired fruit bat, the dwarf cloud rat and the Koch bird. pitta.
The photography mentors came from Juan Portrait, a non-profit community of photographers, writers, artists, professionals and other volunteers bound by their collective willingness to use their individual skills to give back to communities across the country. One of their main projects is “Community Frames”.
Mentors from the Mount Pulag studio – Alex Constantino, Geloy Maligaya, Geric Cruz, and Jake Verzosa – haven’t confined photography lessons to classrooms. They took the children to the top of Mount Pulag to have them appreciate and capture the gift of nature in a setting.
Lawyer Christopher Linag, founder of Juan Portrait, said photographers and friends in Manila loaned them 20 digital cameras for children during the workshop and training afterwards.
Photography, said Linag, “gives these kids a voice with every click of the trigger.”
Some of the volunteer mentors returned to Mount Pulag after the workshop to check on the progress of the young photographers.
Constantino said it was a wonderful experience teaching children and making them appreciate their surroundings with their newly learned skills. “This is my fourth time coming here to Mount Pulag, but it was worth it to come here, to be able to teach these kids,” he said.
Linag said the culminating activity will be an exhibition on September 6 at 2 p.m. at the “Klasrum Ng Pag-asa” of Mount Pulag Primary School in Barangay Bashoy.
“How is Pulag’s greatness captured by children’s eyes?” What are their dreams and aspirations reflected in the images they took? The answers will honor us on the opening day of the exhibition, ”he said.
Juan Portrait volunteers will arrive in Baguio at four in the morning and travel to Kabayan for the long-awaited exhibition.
“As planned, the exhibition will be presented in Manila in December for another staging in a yet unknown location,” Linag said.
The primary school teachers thanked the Juan Portrait group saying that the activity of the community executives strengthened the children’s love for nature and the environment.
“We really enjoyed the program, not only the children but also we, the teachers, learned a lot from their workshops,” said teacher Neda Garcia.
Garcia added that the photos taken by the children were even used as visual aids during class discussions.
“We never thought our land was really so beautiful; It wasn’t until we saw the photos the kids took and printed them out that we fully appreciated our place, ”she confessed.
Linag said members of Juan Portrait traveled to remote communities where schoolchildren never had their picture taken. Previously, the group had organized the very first ID photo shoot at Mount Pulag Elementary School.
“Over the past four years this business has grown tremendously with the support of volunteers and very recently the group has taken it to the next level,” said Linag.
Linag said they were honored to have had the privilege of helping children document their beautiful place and heritage. He said those who wish to join their group can call 09176284835.
(VERA files is published by seasoned journalists who take a closer look at current issues. Vera means in Latin “true”.)