Working in the Future

We cannot argue that the culture for the graduating class of 2016 is vastly different than the ones just 10 years ago. It is a world of uncertainty with job security at its forefront. Being an international student from the Philippines, I have the privilege of experiencing two different working cultures: one from a developed nation and the other in a developing one. In spite of all their differences in working culture, like not having to tip the waiter back home, it is hard to argue that they are on the same track. As uncertain as job security right now, it is just as difficult to predict the future of our working culture.

Throughout history, working culture has always adapted to industry and technology. Yet, these adaptations occurred much slower relative to the paradigm shift we are currently experiencing. What caused these sudden and very drastic shifts? An answer might be brought forth when one looks at technology. If working culture is directly related to technology, it is safe to say that just like technology, it's transformations will be exponential as well. According to Moore's Law, technology or at least the processing power of computers will double every two years. This law is just one of many manifestations of the overaching trend that technology changes at an exponential rate.

Most of us see the internet as a static entity, yet with these changes in processing power, it is growing and evolving. Furthermore, access to the internet is increasing allowing more and more users to be connected. These exponential increases in computer capacity and changes in the internet has and will pave the roads for more disruptive technology, which in return affects our working culture. One of these shifts can very well be from our existing capitalistic culture to a more social economy.

Currently, the shift from capitalism to a social economy might not be all-encompassing but it is still worth noting its potential to change the current working culture paradigm. According to Erik Olin Wright, the definition of a social economy is hard to define but can basically be identified with the 'non-profit sector', non-state and non-market enterprises. It aims to serve its members or the community rather than simply striving for profit, which is driven by its inherit democratic decision-making process. The social economy bases its activities on principles of participation, empowerment, and individual and collective responsibility. It has existed as long as humans have but recent technological changes have empowered the social economy to operate at a larger scale.

In Wright's writing he describes the source of the power of social economies being rooted in the voluntary association of people in civil society and is based on the capacity to organize people for collective action of various sorts. Prior to recent technological advancements, people had to resort to traditional means to organize people which made it impossible to reach the scale it needed to create an impact especially on the working culture. Technology simply enabled the social economy through improved logistics. This is seen through the example that Wright uses: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. It can be described as being part of the social economy due to it operating under the definitions mentioned earlier. It is detached from any kind of market relations as it is voluntary, created by unpaid contributions, and is free to access as long as you have internet access. This type of "mass collaboration" changed the ways the population accessed data, which in return affected working culture. No longer did we solely depend on professionals as information was democratically relayed. Anyone can be a writer and an editor bringing forth a full, open, egalitarian participation model. Wikipedia is written by thousands of volunteers all over the world and administrative roles are gained through democratic means. By 2010, Wikipedia was the largest general-knowledge encyclopedia online, with a combined total of over 34 million mainspace articles across all 288 language editions.

The impact of wikipedia on the working culture cannot be overstated. It gave birth to a whole array of other wiki sites such as WikiHouse, which arguably can change the working culture of architects. WikiHouse is an open source building system in where designers all over the world collaborate to make it simple for everyone to design, build, and assemble beautiful homes customized to their needs. Alastair Parvin, founder of WikiHouse believes that professional architects and designer who get paid are not going to be the ones solving the really big, systemic design challenges we face like climate change, urbanization and social inequality. As the reason for the creation of WikiHouse, Parvin's intent was to change the working culture of architects. He designed a website and tools to change how architects work and get paid. With the increase in social economies, should we expect more unpaid work taking away paid jobs?

The ability of technology to shift working patterns is not inherit to its nature but to ours. This evolving model of nontraditional work arrangements stems from a long history of employment culture. In Andrew Ross' Morphologies of Work, he talks about how Paul Lafarague promoted "the right to be lazy" with the promise of genuinely laborsaving technology. Lafarague believed that tribunes of labor should be demanding the right to idleness and even proposed a three-hour workday. This idea was further adopted into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the right to rest and leisure. Yet, it was not immediately adopted by the working class. Their dreams of leisure turned out to be more about stimulation than relaxation, which was further exasperated with the worker strikes in the 1970's. Workers protested against alienation on the jobs and were dissatisfied with the quality of their working lives.

"Having an interesting job is now as important as having a job that pays well."

In response, corporate managers began transforming working environments to become more flexible through deregulation and giving more autonomy to line workers. With the combination of technology, this new environment created a working culture in where no one can any longer expect a fixed pattern of employment. In this new deregulated working culture, Ross observes that artists have become the "model" workers. The profession of being an artist or a freelance designer has always been deregulated, self-organized and entrepreneurial.

Amidst the increase of offshore outsourcing in where both low and high skill jobs were being transferred somewhere elsewhere, looking at the creative sector as a model increased as well. The creative sector promised its jobs can't be transferred elsewhere because it doesn't entail costly institutional supports, low levels of public investments, and high potential for reward outcomes. However, how true is this especially with the birth of digital labor?

"Digital labor touches us all."

In Outside the Boss by Trebor Scholtz, he focuses on Amazon's Mechanical Turk (AMT) as a form of digital labor that negates the previous promise of job security of the creative sector. Mechanical Turk is a crowd-sourcing internet marketplace that enables individuals and business to coordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do such as design. The website breaks down work through thousands of bits allowing for crowd working and low cost outsourcing. This kind of labor digitization allows for new business models and novel chains of value extraction, in where many obstruct emancipatory and humanizing potential. Mechanical Turk is taking away jobs from designers and undermining their value in society as mere line workers.

Our current working culture is on its way to being what Byung-Chul Han calls "Fatigue Society" in where there is no longer a disciplinary society. The freedom that technology has given us is accompanied by anxiety, self-exploitation, and depression. How can we then expect job security in an environment in where even the creative sector has been disrupted? Will our future really be as the one depicted in the movie Wall-E in where Lafarague's notion of "the right to be lazy" leaves us obese and mindless?


We have to imagine ourselves as workers and how we would be operating. As a generation we have to stand firm in what we want for the future then design and build towards it.


Andrew Ross, Morphologies of Work (Mass MoCA, 2012)

Andrew Ross, Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times (New York: NYU Press, 2009).

"Architecture for the People by the People." Alastair Parvin:. Accessed April 24, 2015.

"Moore's Law." Moores Law. Accessed April 24, 2015.

"The Birth of Wikipedia." Jimmy Wales:. Accessed April 24, 2015.

"Think Outside the Boss." Public Seminar RSS. Accessed April 24, 2015.

Wright, Erik Olin. "Chapter 7: Real Utopias II: Social Empowerment and the Economy." In Envisioning Real Utopias. London: Verso, 2010.

Mount Pinatubo 2015

I always spend my spring break in the Philippines but I rarely spend it outside Manila. This year, I decided that I really want to explore the many natural assets that Philippines has to offer. A few friends and I decided that Mt. Pinatubo would be a good introduction to the wonders of the Philippines. For this blogpost, I will share how I tried to capture it's beauty and some preventive measures to protect your equipment.

My kit for the trip included my D800 with its battery pack, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VRII, and the 50mm f/1.4. For occasions like this, I tend to pack only the essentials to keep it as light as possible. I opted for the battery pack because I didn't want to worry about having to change the battery.  I was also able to use the new bag I received for Christmas from my relatives: the Thule Perspektiv Messenger Bag. I have had a lot of messenger bags in the past but I have to say that this one really makes carrying about 10 pounds of equipment a pleasure. 

Mt. Pinatubo was about a 3 hour drive from Manila. We left at around 3 in the morning and made it to the area at around 7 AM after picking people up and getting a little lost along the way. When we arrived to the location, they took us all on 4x4's for about an hour a half to where you start your trek.

The 4x4 was extremely bumpy so it was very difficult to take photographs while on it. It was very hard to look through the eye piece and the camera shake was very high. To accommodate for the shake, I opted for a high shutter speed and used Auto-ISO. I rarely use Auto-ISO because I don't usually use anything beyond 200 ISO but because of the constant lighting changes and the inability to constantly change the shutter speed, I found it necessary.

The view was overwhelmingly beautiful, especially when we finally arrived to the crater.

We spent half of our time commuting from Manila and back but it was worth it. I encourage everyone to make this trip at least once in their lives. It gives you a deep appreciation of nature and time.

Lastly, make sure to completely clean your camera after a trip like this because of all the dust that might have gotten in. 

The complete set of photographs from the trip:

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

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Rhode Island Free Clinic Anniversary

I was invited by Rhode Island Free Clinic (RIFD) to photograph their 15th anniversary last October 22. The invite came through my behance account where they found my work. Their invite could not have come at a better time because I am currently taking an architectural studio called Future Health Systems. 

RIFD's mission is to provide free, comprehensive medical care and preventive health services to adults who have no health insurance and cannot afford those services, and to serve as an educational training site for health care professionals. They are a fully-licensed Outpatient Ambulatory Care Facility; the Clinic has eight modern exam rooms, ophthalmology unit, podiatry suite, four counseling rooms, and a Wellness Center. Their main focus of treatment is Primary Health Care. 

For the event, I brought my Nikon D800 with both the 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VRII and the 50mm f/1.4. I also brought my speedlight SB910 with a diffusser. This is usually my default equipment for events.

I started off the night using the speed light and the wide angle lens. I used a slow shutter speed of about 1/30 to capture the ambient light and get more mood lighting.

The camera, wide angle lens, and the flash combined soon became a bit too heavy. Lucky enough, there was enough ambient light in the event that I could use my 50mm at f/1.4 without the flash. However, I had to boost my ISO up to 800 which I never do. I was incredibly shocked to see that the quality was still great on the D800. 

At the end of the event, I couldn't decide which sets of photographs are better, with or without the flash. What do you think? I would love to get some feedback and you can leave them through the comments section below.

Feature in Providence Journal

Feature in Providence Journal

The event itself was very educational and I got to witness how organizations in America fund-raise their organizations. Lessons that I used for my architecture class to design a new health system that I am confident can work in the Philippines.

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Workshop

Last summer, I was invited by a friend of mine in the same photography organization we set up back in Manila called Litrato. He asked if we can hold a workshop with an organization called Tahanang Walang Hagdanan. I jumped on the opportunity because it would be a great time to test out a condensed version of a curriculum we have been designing for high schoolers. I went with fellow Litrato photographers, Felix Quiogue, Mike Alegado, and Christian Matic. 

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. is a non-stock, non-profit and non-government organization that aims to uplift the lives of  Orthopedically handicapped persons. It is a rehabilitation and skills training center with sheltered workshops where the people with disabilities are trained to be productive and self-reliant member of the society. The center is located in Cainta Rizal which is about 15 kms. East Manila.

When we arrived at the location, I was amazed in how self sufficient these individuals in the organization are. In spite of their physical limitations, they had and operated their own steel and wood factories. They even started their own agricultural farm hoping to be more sustainable. They asked us to hold the workshop to improve their photography for the post cards they make at the end of the year to raise funds for the organization.

Our workshop was attended by 30 students whose ages ranged from 18-50 and had all kinds of cameras from cellphones to DSLR's. We knew this coming in, so we tailored the workshop to suit the scenario. Instead of teaching them how to use their cameras, we decided to focus on teaching them how to see instead. 

Photographed by Mike Alegado

Photographed by Mike Alegado

We started the workshop with the history of Filipino photography in the hopes of basing their own practice in a timeline, which I personally feel is lacking in most workshops. We then began to cover basic composition guidelines such as rule of thirds, leading lines, point of view, framing, pattern, and lighting. After each topic, we spent about 20-30 minutes of free shooting time in where the students will go around and try the topic out. We would then guide and talk to them to help them gain a better understand of the topic at hand. After that, we would show them our own work utilizing said topic.

Overall, the workshop was a big success based on how much their photographs improved from start to finish. I never thought I could be a teacher but when it came to sharing photography, it came naturally. There's nothing more rewarding for me than to be able to empower others to take up the craft. As I saw the photographs of my students, I learned so much about them and got a glimpse of their lives. If you learn how to read a photograph, you learn how to read into the lives of the ones who took it.

Origins of Filipino Photography

An investigation into the different photography methods used by the Americans during their colonial occupation of the Philippines



The history of photography in the Philippines is as difficult to trace as the history of the country itself. Since the Philippines has been occupied and colonized, its history has been rewritten a copious number of times. From the words of Winston S. Churchill, “History is written by the victors”. After the invasion of the Spanish, Americans, and the Japanese, the Philippine culture and history has long been disseminated. Thus, tracing the photographic history of the country has become very problematic.

To create a successful timeline and history of photography in the Philippines, one must first study it in isolation. All the research and findings involved in this study is narrowed down to the American occupation and photographs that were taken during that era. During the American occupation, they used photography as a means of anthropology, surveillance, and propaganda to legitimize their colonial regime.



How was photography used by the Americans during the occupation of the Philippines from 1898 to 1946? The motive for this paper is to create a clearer and deeper understanding of my own country’s photographic history. Growing up in the Philippines, I was never exposed to its native photography history and I grew curious as to why. Philippine history has always been taught strictly using words and never photographs. I want to use this paper as an opportunity to rediscover what has been lost to us Filipinos. I chose to narrow it down to photographs taken by the Americans, in hopes of quarantining the unique voice of Filipino photography.

To fully answer this research question, several terms have to be initially defined and expounded. This is to create a standard terminology across this paper. A “photograph” is defined as a picture made using a camera, in which an image is focused onto film or other light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by chemical treatment, or stored digitally. Photography during 1898 to 1946 was limited to large, medium, and 35mm format film based cameras.

This paper explores the context in which Americans occupied the Philippines; as well as the use of photography as a means of anthropology, surveillance, and propaganda to legitimize their colonial regime.



The first country to occupy the Philippines and instill colonial rule were the Spaniards, whose regime lasted from 1565 to 1898. The Spanish rule achieved the political unification of the country, which was previously divided into independent kingdoms. They were the first to establish the dispersed islands of the Philippines as one nation under one name and flag. The Spaniards implemented a nationwide public school system that aimed to educate the masses and introduced Christianity. The culture and language barrier promoted the use of imagery to convey information. Paintings and illustrations are examples of visual languages that were introduced as factual aids, which were a foreign concept for Filipinos but was easily digested.

After the discovery of the daguerreotype in 1839, the Spaniards were the first ones to introduce photography to the Philippines dating back to 1841. During that year, Don Sinibaldo de Mas arrived in the Philippines as a government diplomat for the Spanish King. He was tasked to record conditions in the colony and to relay that information back to Spain. He brought the daguerreotype with him from Spain to the Philippines. He was recorded to have taken photographs in the Philippines but unfortunately, none of it has been found.

Francisco van Camp,  Indegena de clasa rica (Mestiza Sangley-Filipina) , 1875

Francisco van Camp, Indegena de clasa rica (Mestiza Sangley-Filipina), 1875

Indegena de clasa rica (Mestiza Sangley-Filipina) is one of the oldest portrait photographs recorded in Filipino history dating back to 1875, which was photographed by a Dutch photographer named Francisco van Camp. Capturing a woman of both Spanish and Filipino ethnicity symbolizes one of the main functions of photography in that setting; it was used to document the Spanish influence on the Filipino population.

In 1896, the Filipinos began to rebel against the Spaniards, culminating to the Philippine Revolution. It was in this revolution that photography was utilized in an entirely different approach. Instead of being a one sided instrument for the Spaniards, the Filipinos began to use photography to fuel their own point of view. When the leader of the rebellion, General Emilio Aguinaldo was exiled, photographer Manuel Arias Rodriguez was able to capture him in his dignified general uniform. This photograph became widely popular among the Filipino rebels and acted as inspiration.

Manuel Arias Rodriguez,  Fusilamiento de Jose Rizal , 1896

Manuel Arias Rodriguez, Fusilamiento de Jose Rizal, 1896

Another inspiration to the Filipinos is Jose Rizal, who later became the country’s national hero. He wrote several books that exposed the crimes of the Spaniards which pushed the Filipino rebels over the edge. He was then executed on December 30, 1896. Prior to his death, Manuel Arias Rodriguez was able to capture a photograph of the scene. Just like the photo of Emilio Aguinaldo, photographs of Jose Rizal prior to his death were used by the Filipinos for the revolution.

During the same time of the Philippine revolution, America was at war with Spain over Guam and Cuba. American president McKinley offered to give aid to the Filipino rebellion. With the help of American troops, Emilio Aguinaldo, who would be the first Filipino president, declared the independence of the Philippines in 1898. Unfortunately, Filipino dreams of independence were crushed when the Philippines was transferred from Spain to America after the Treaty of Paris in 1898.

America needed the Philippines to gain control of Asia due to its highly strategic geographic location. However, they encountered several difficulties in gaining public support due to their exhaustive war against Spain. The masses were not motivated to send more troops to the Philippines for colonial control because they didn’t know anything about them. America then sent photographers to the Philippines as a means of anthropology, surveillance, and propaganda to legitimize their colonial regime.



In the early years of their occupation, barely any information about the Philippines was available in both written and photographic form. Frank D. Millet, one of the American writers that wrote about the Filipino-American war stated “the literature concerning the islands was phenomenally scarce…The Philippines, however, remained outside the kodak zone. He believed that photography would bring the Philippines into the realm of knowledge for Americans. In return, photographers would be the one to dictate the image of the Philippines. Therefore, America sent photographers to capture images of Filipinos and their respective environment, to help educate their own citizens back home. Two of the most essential photographers for the anthropological study of Filipinos were Dean Conant Worcester and Dr. Jenks.

Dean Conant Worcester was a member of the United States Philippine Commission from 1899 to 1901. Prior to his membership, Worcester had already travelled to the Philippines a couple of times. His first travel to the Philippines was on 1887, when he was invited by his university’s chair of the Department of Zoologist, Joseph Beal Steere. In his first trip, his interest with zoology brought him to photograph the Philippines with an anthropological intent. He wanted to capture everything to use for study. With the photographs taken on his trip, he published the book The Philippine Islands and Their People. It is one of four books that he published using photographs of the Philippines.

His photographic account of the Philippines was expansive, but not thorough. How does one achieve to portray a whole country through photographs? His decisions on whom and what to photograph disregarding his intent, framed the ideas of Americans of the Philippines. However, when one is to discuss intent and photography, Worcester was a constant opponent of Philippine independence and a firm believer in the colonial mission. He argued that “for their unfitness for self-government at the present time is self-evident.” His photographs were a reflection of his stance.

Dean C. Worcester,  Head of Stairway occupied by First Philippine Commission. Manila , 1899

Dean C. Worcester, Head of Stairway occupied by First Philippine Commission. Manila, 1899

During his first travels to the Philippines, Worcester photographed the meetings between the members of the First Philippine Commission. He focused his camera on the ornate architecture of the city, as seen in his image of the Head of Stairway occupied by First Philippine Commission. In here, we can see him capturing the architecture as part of an anthropological study due to its point of view and lack of activity.

Dean C. Worcester,  Portrait of Man and Woman in Costume with Ornaments , 1902

Dean C. Worcester, Portrait of Man and Woman in Costume with Ornaments, 1902

However, after discovering the hill tribe men, also known as Igorots, he focused all his attention to photographing them. He was instantly attracted to the Igorots, due to their seemingly remedial culture, and his original intent of showing Filipinos and their “unfitness”. Instead of pointing his camera towards the growing metropolitan cities like Manila, He chose to photograph the Igorots as the image of the Philippines. He photographed these hill tribe men in great detail amassing about 5000 photographs. Worcester was one of the first photographers to photograph subjects in nudity as part of an anthropological study.

Worcester’s anthropological studies and his photographs were a vital contribution to the Philippine’s first census that was published in 1903 by Dr. Jenks.

Albert E. Jenks, or commonly known as Dr. Jenks was a self-taught ethnographer that was hired by the Bureau of American Ethnology and was sent to Manila in the Philippines in 1902. His 1905 publication, The Bontoc Igorot was a milestone in American anthropology for being the first ethnographic study of a non-American Indian group by an American anthropologist.



As seen with the publishing of the first census, photographs were used to gather information not only about the anthropology of the people but also as data for the military. Prior to the American occupation, the Philippines was not a completely unified nation as they had previously believed. There were still some rebellions in the south caused by the Muslim population. Using photographs, they learned much about the Filipinos. Americans gathered information using photography as proof and evidence to anchor their tactics to fight the rebels. Since cameras were so scarcely available, they took advantage of it in the battlefield.

Long before the war was officially declared over, albums of photographs of bombed churches, cannons, Manila landmarks, and massacred Filipino “insurgents” were already being published in 1899. It was crucial for America to place the Filipino’s under the “Kodak zone”. They even solicited photographs from their own soldiers. Governor-General W. Cameron Forbes said that “If a photograph were needed, this bureau not only took it, but filed it away so that it might be available in the years to come”. The archive that they gathered of the Philippines was not just a collection of photographs but also a collection of scrutinized surveillance subjects.

America also sent the Thomasites to the Philippines, a group of five hundred American Teachers in 1901. They were to establish a new public school system, to teach basic education, and to train Filipino teachers, with English as the medium of instruction. The teachers not only taught the Filipinos but learned about their inherent culture as well. One of the Thomasite, Philinda Rand, took photos that show many aspects of Filipino life in Silay and Lingayen. These photographs became another tool for surveillance, as the teachers were requested to report back to show their progress.

Benito Vergara author of Displaying Filipinos (1995), argues that both travel literature and official colonial documents, both appropriate photography as an instrument of surveillance.



Ultimately, the American government used all of the previously mentioned types of photography for propaganda. Like previously stated, America needed the Philippines to gain control of Asia. The waning interest of the public became detrimental to that cause. Photography was vital for the manipulation of the public interest.

The power of photography is in its innate capability of making people believe and its capacity to be invested with truth. Yet, the amount of possibilities to disorient the meaning behind a photograph is limitless. Manipulation can occur in almost every part of the process of taking a photograph, for example, posing. In most of the photographs taken by Dean Worcester, which was brought back and shown to the American populace, the Filipino tribe men stood beside Americans. They were posed to look subordinate to the Americans as they stood awkwardly, half naked. However, when photographed alone and by a different photographer, the tribe men stood proud and dignified.

These photographs reflect the pre-construction of meaning specifically predicated on a colonial ideology, or also known as “White Man’s Burden”. Murat Halstead a war correspondent said that “It was foreordained since the beginning when God created the earth, that we, the possessors of this imperial American zone, should be a great Asiatic power.” Due to the technology of being able to reproduce and circulate these photographs, it was easy for the government to persuade the public that they were needed to intervene in the Philippines.

All these ideas and photographs regarding the splendor Filipino colonialism reached its peak in the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. Dr. Jenks was appointed supervisor for the Philippine exhibit at the St. Louis world fair. This exhibit was the culmination of the anthropological research and photographs that he and Worcester took while in the Philippines.  The exhibit cost over one million dollars and consisted of 47 acres of space, 130 buildings, 70,000 exhibits, and 1,200 Filipino “natives”. The Filipinos were put in displays as if animals in a zoo, and were further exploited through the exhibit, travelling around America for a year due to its popularity.

The meticulous collection of photographs and foreign objects proves the American government’s deep surveillance of the Philippines. The exhibit was also divided among the different types of Filipinos, creating a focus on stereotypes, which is revealed with Daniel Folkmar’s Album of Philippine Types. This in return, made the ethnology of the Philippines easier to digest for the American viewers. The President of the Exposition, David R. Francis wrote, “From this school many millions of Americans will return to their homes, elated with a better appreciation of humanity at large and a far higher and prouder estimate of their own country and countrymen".

To further entice positive public opinion on colonialism, photographs of Americans educating and improving the Filipinos and their lives widely circulated. Photographs from the Thomasites for example, portrayed the impact of their public education system. These photographs were shown after the immense circulation of photographs that showed the inferiority of Filipinos.



In conclusion, the image of the Philippines and its inhabitants, in the point of view of Americans were intricately constructed by the American government, using photography for anthropology, surveillance, and propaganda to legitimize their colonial regime. From the words of Christopher Pinney, “those who controlled the representations [exercised] domination”.




Dumont, Jean-Paul, Visayan Vignettes: Ethnographic Traces of a Philippine Island. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Halstead, Murat, The Story of the Philippines; The El Dorado of the Orient. Chicago: Our Possessions Publishing Co. 1898

Holt, Elizabet, Colonizing Filipinas: Nineteenth-Century Representations of the Philippines in Western Historiography. Quezon City, Phils.: Ateneo de Manila University Press. 2002

Hutterer, Karl. "Dean C. Worcester and Philippine Anthropology." Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 1 Jan. 1978: n. pag. Print.

Kroeber, A.L., People of the Philippines. New York: Anthropological Handbook Fund. 1928

Millet, Frank . The Expedition to the Philippines. New York: Harper and Bros. , 1899. Print. 

Official Guide to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis: The Official Guide Co., 1904

Pinney, Chistopher, “Classification and Fantasy in the Photographic Construction of Caste and Tribe,” in Visual Anthropology 3, 1990

Russel, Charles Edward, and Eulogio Balan Rodriguez. The Hero of the Filipinos: The Story of Jose Rizal. Manila: The Century co., 1923. Print.

Vergara, Benito, Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th Century Philippines. Quezon City, Phils.: University of the Philippines Press. 1995

Worcester, Dean . "Knotty Problems of the Philippines." The Century Magazine 56 1 Oct. 1898: n. pag. Print.

"Academic Archaeology." : Anthropology : University of Minnesota. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2014. <>.

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"THE THOMASITES: EARLY AMERICAN TEACHERS IN THE PHILIPPINES." A Brief Story of the Thomasites. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2014. <>.

"Treaty of Paris of 1898." - The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress). N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

Wide Awake

Photography for me was never about capturing moments but making them. I was instantly drawn to directorial photography because I can control every aspect of the photograph. Yet, I am equally attracted to things that I have no control over, like dreams. Dreams are a curious thing. They are ephemeral and seem to be without rules, where laws of physics don’t exist. However, I have noticed one constant: time. Dreams are still bound by time, which connects both realities. We have a finite amount of time no matter the reality. My series “Wide Awake”, explores the idea of dreams and its relation to time. 

For the image that won PPOTY Student of the Year 2013, I used compositing with different photographs I took over the years, which emphasizes the nature of dreams. Compositing is a technique in which you place different images into one image. For me, the most important mindset when making composites is realism. The image has to seem as if it was a moment captured by the camera. 

01 Collecting the Images

Most of the images used for the final image were photographed by me but not all with the intent of being used for this photograph. It is important to be organized and keep a stock of all the photographs you take at its highest quality so you have them when you need to make composites. 


02 Masking the Figures

To isolate the figures, I used the masking tool and created a layer mask for every figure. I always zoom in and out to make sure that I define the masks as precisely as I could. To speed up the process, I use a pen tablet. 

03 Assembling the Elements

I usually start with the background and work forward, as it makes it easier for me to place elements easier. When placing elements together, make sure that the light source is coming from the same location and consistent. Make sure that the colors of the elements are also similar and you can manipulate those with the curves tool. When placing elements together, I also employ the same rules of composition as I do when I take a photograph. For this image, I placed the main subject on the center to give it emphasis and impact. 

04 Placing a Light Source

One of my secrets to make composite images realistic is by adding a light source in photoshop. This unites the elements making it more convincing that it is a captured moment. I use the gradient tool set on radial and then play with the opacity until it looks believable. 

05 Adding Reflection

When you use reflective surfaces on composites such as glass and water, make sure that you add reflections as well. Reflections are an easy tool to make audiences “believe” in your image. I often add reflection by duplicating the image then transforming it with the “flip” tool. I then change the opacity and use gaussian blur depending on the situation. 

06 Dodge and Burn

To emphasize the shadows and highlights, I use dodge and burn. I create separate layers increasing and decreasing exposure using the curves tool and then use the mask tool to paint either shadow or highlight. 

07 Adding Blur

I then add blur using the gaussian blur tool to give the image a shallow depth of field. I wanted to further emphasize the main subject by isolation but also make the image more believable. Our eyes do not perceive the world in complete sharpness as they have a specific depth of field. I wanted to recreate that. 

08 Final Touches in Lightroom 

My last step for any image is usually transferring the new image into Lightroom and apply small adjustments. This may be a strange process for most photographers but I feel that applying filters and adjustments on Lightroom really unifies the composite. 

Here is the whole story for "Wide Awake"

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

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Exercise in Futility

This conceptual photoshoot is loosely based on the Greek myth of Sisyphus. He was a king who was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, then to repeat this action forever.

I often find myself highly empathetic to Sisyphus and his burden because of societal structures that are forced upon me. May it be school, nutrition, or information, I feel as if I go through daily motions in spite of knowing the outcome, just to see it repeat itself. 

"Exercise in Futility" is my expression of this continuous struggle. I wanted to explore the human experience of resilience in hopes of finding respite.

To express this, I created a character who is not satisfied with the world she's in and is then compelled to fly. She then builds wings of her own using the landscape around her. Creating the wings on photoshop was one of the most challenging tasks I have undertaken so far and so I really wanted to share how I did it.

Final Image

Final Image

RAW Image

RAW Image

As always, my first step is to isolate the subject by selecting it (with either the pen, wand, or brush tool) and isolating it using a mask. I then placed the subject higher above the ground to make it more believable that she is flying. Photographing the model in the location that I want to use for the image keeps the lighting consistent and therefore believable.

For the wings, I used several images of branches and leaves from my own collection and stock images from the internet. 

Composite of branches

Composite of branches

To create more realism that the wings are responsible for lifting the character, there has to be motion. I referred to birds and looked how they flapped their wings when they are taking off. To create that motion, I used the warp tool on Photoshop.

Using the Warp tool in Photoshop

Using the Warp tool in Photoshop

When placing all of the elements together, make sure that the lighting and shadows are consistent. Make sure you are aware of all the light sources in the image. Also keep in mind how your added composite images affect the overall photograph.

Final composite image

Final composite image

The last step for this image was taking it into Lightroom. As I have previously mentioned in my older posts, I always refer to Lightroom for the final stages of making a photograph. When I have finished placing all of the elements and creating the composite, Lightroom enables me to add filters and effects that affect the whole image which adds unity and therefore adds realism.

Final touches in Lightroom

Final touches in Lightroom

  Here is the whole story of Exercise in Futility:

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

website | facebook | flickr | behance instagram