Miss Philippines

Ms. Philippines

Why Miss Philippines?

This reminds me of my late mom and her sisters who smoke “Ms. Philippines,” a brand of local tobacco. It used to be Alhambra. I am neither sure why Alhambra cigarettes went off the market. Ilocano women, in particular, have the capability of smoking this cigar with the lighted end inside their mouth. Funny, but for curiosity sake, I tried it once but I could not bear the heat inside my mouth, and I feared of burning my tongue.

Two “photo critiques” did not like this photo. One was annoyed by the bandana of this old woman selling candles during the recent Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila. He also said it would have been better if I have put the subject in the center rather than on the left, and I should not have cropped the head. Another critique said it would have been better if the paper on the foreground were cropped.

I did not agree with them.

First, it was not a fashion shoot and was taken without the benefit of a setup, and I do not frame my subjects in the center unless it is for an ID photo or an architectural shot. It is just my preference not to put my subjects in the center.

Second, sure, the bandana was a bit “annoying” but it was part of the psyche of the vendor. Would a Muslim woman wearing a hijab or an Indian wearing a turban be annoying? I agree that it would have been better sans the papers on the foreground, but then it is part of the environment of the subject.

Initially, I would have wanted to concede. After all, I need to learn from them. However, looking at their photostream in Flickr, I was not convinced with what they were saying. I may be singing my own praises, but I think I take better photos than them. *evil grin*.

Lesson: Critiques must walk the talk, and must be sensitive to and knowledgeable of the cultural setting of the photographer.



  1. I like this photo of this interesting woman, loved to hear her story of life! Nice capture.

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