Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Banaue for the Backpack Photography 101 Workshop

Believe it or not, the photo above is the view from the outhouse restroom of the Banaue Ethnic Village, the venue for our recently-concluded Banaue Backpack Photography 101 Workshop.  While Metro Manila was simmering in 33-35 degree temperatures, our group had to bundle up when the mercury drops to 17-18 degrees in the wee hours of the morning.  I'm already missing that cool, chilly feeling as I write this in the afternoon heat.

9, 2, 3, 2.  9 participants joined us in our first-ever workshop -- all of them women coming from disparate fields, which was a pleasant surprise (there was in fact, one male registrant who had to cancel due to work).  We were joined by 2 Canon Selphy portable printers (ES3 and ES30) during our 3 day workshop.  And there were 2 facilitators, myself and my best buddy, Ferdz Decena of Ironwulf.net.

It took awhile before we were able to mount this as we were thinking of concepts that would be fresh, novel and inspiring in between assignments and other work matters.  As backpackers, we thought of imparting what we learned from the field and underscoring the importance of not just taking shots of postcard-pretty scenes but also of imbibing a sense of culture and the spirit of the place as well as encouraging a deeper appreciation and understanding of the locals that inhabit it.
 
IMMERSION.  Making the Banaue Ethnic Village our home for three days was a conscious effort to help our participants find themselves in a place that recalls the living spaces of the Ifugao.  We lived and slept in Ifugao huts faithfully constructed according to the old ways, with only a bit of convenience (futons and blankets on the floor and a solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling) thrown in.  

Hot water was heated in a huge pot over a wood-fired stove (hence, the fragrant aroma wafting in the air while waiting for hot water for bathing).  Bathing and answering the call of nature were done at an outhouse with a breathtaking view of Mt. Polis (who minds the austere T&B when you have this view).  At night, a bonfire provides extra warmth as well as extra incentive to huddle and chit-chat.  When the temperature drops in the middle of the night, it becomes easy to forget Manila's humidity and heat and concentrate on rolling into a ball and staying as warm as possible.

On our first afternoon, we were treated to a lecture on the evolution of Ifugao houses by former Hungduan Mayor, Andres Dunuan; the performance of a tribal group recreating the dances and rituals of the Ifugaos as well as acquainting us with the practices of a mumbaki (tribal priest) which included the offering of a live chicken.  Some of the girls even gamely joined the tribal dance.  

We were collectively amazed by how the mumbaki opened up the chicken with surgical precision, draining it completely of blood while preserving the bile which the mumbaki showed us was in good condition -- a good omen for our trip and workshop in the days to come.

READ MORE ABOUT IT.  To read more about our Backpack Photography 101 Banaue Workshop chronicles by Ironwulf, click here.

BATANES WORKSHOP. Join our next workshop in Batanes on June 24-27, 2010, for details, click here.  Seair is celebrating its 15th year anniversary and is giving a P1500 discount on Batanes flights up to May 15 -- a good time as any to check it out. 

SPECIAL THANKS.  Thank you Canon Philippines for loaning out two Canon Selphy portable printers, the ES3 and ES30 which performed beautifully during our workshop, as well as to the Banaue Ethnic Village & Halfway Lodge for being our gracious hosts.
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