Playtime in Romblon

Playtime in Romblon
One of my Flickr friends, Imago or Virgie commented on this photo:

Isn't it amazing how much more easily children can take something good out of a bad event? Wonderful image! At first glance I thought I would have focused selectively on the little boy and blurred the background, but looking at it again I'm glad you didn't -- because it is part of the story.

I barely knew photography then. It was taken last September 2007 when I had an assignment for a development NGO to do a project development for a rainwater catchment project in Corcuera, Romblon. I was supposed to sail to nearby Banton Island the next day when the storm surge from the East affected the islands of Romblon. Instead of sulking in the municipal guest house, I roamed around the shore and found this boy and his younger sister, picking up something from the trash washed ashore during the previous night's surge.

I did not know the concept of "depth of field". I was using only a point and shoot camera. Virgie was kind enough to point it out that the environment (background) is very much part of the story--which I also realized later when I was converting this into black and white--and which is called "environmental portrait."

Back to the story, I felt a pinch when I asked this boy what they were picking up from the garbage. They showed me a whistle, which he alternately blew with his sister. This is not uncommon for me considering that I am working in the social development industry. I have tasted, felt, heard, and smelled poverty. But seeing two children picking up something they could play with reminds me of my two boys who wanted every toy they see from the toy store. They may not get everything they wanted but they get the opportunity to have a brand new toy. Being a father, seeing these two kids was heart-wrenching, yet I could only hope and pray they could get out of poverty.


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