Skip to main content

Green Shadows

An edited (new and improved!) version of this write up is in today's Inquirer.

Portraits of elders with weathered faces, pretty young women in traditional costumes, and mountainsides carved into magnificent rice terraces – these are the trademark images that make up the popular vision of the Cordillera mountain range and its people. Little of this standard imagery is to be found in JP Alipio’s photographic exhibition, Green Shadows, on display at the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space (VOCAS) until March. The collection of photos brings into sharp, almost painful focus a vision of a bountiful environment steadily being laid to waste.

"WASTELAND" by JP Alipio

Commissioned by the Cordillera Green Network, Alipio documented the state of the environment in all the provinces of the region. The experience has changed his scope as a photographer and his stance as an environmentalist.

“It made me more locally-grounded... I’ve moved on from being a hardcore save-the-trees environmentalist. People are important too.”

This is reflected in his photographs and captions, which chronicle a wide spectrum of relationships between humans and nature, ranging from a tenuous balance of give and take, to the toxic outcomes of years of neglect and exploitation.

Of a photo entitled, “New Mountains,” Alipio writes: “Green forested mountains loom in the background as scavengers pick through the waste of La Trinidad. It is a stark and startling contrast that a mountain of waste rises so close to the forests, which provide us with the water that we drink each day.”

In “Green Border Line” the steady march of concrete development is shown eating up the few green breathing spaces left in Baguio City. Still more photos show the spread of vegetable gardens, and the effects of mining, air pollution, and water pollution. Even a photo of a pretty field of flowers entitled “Hope,” is tainted with cyanide and mine tailings. By contrast, other photos show parts of the Cordillera that are still beautiful. The “Cloud Bringers” portrays the intimate link between forests, clouds, and life-giving rain.

The collection was first shown in Mayaoyao, Ifugao, and Lubuagan, Kalinga, during the Cordillera Youth Eco-Summit in January 2009. In Lubuagan, a photo of a mountain spring was exchanged with local government officials as a sipat, or a token of an agreement between the CGN and the people of Lubuagan, in a peace pact-like ceremony. Locals viewing the photos remarked, “We see these problems starting here.” In Mayaoyao, locals commented they didn’t want to let the destruction happen in their areas, but they did not feel the threat of impending environmental decline.

In Baguio, people have reacted with recognition and disgust. As Alipio put it, “City officials can deny that Baguio is polluted, but you can’t deny a photo of a polluted city.”

The message of Green Shadows strikes home with ringing clarity.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Lola of Maipon

It's all too easy to fall asleep under the blanket of everyday life and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. But once in a while, along comes a sparkling vision that jolts me out of my daily sleep and reminds me of the existence of convictions and worlds so different from my own. "Our beloved LOLA of Guinubatan, Maipon, Albay is the last true messenger of God. So, let us follow her holy teachings so that we will gain TRUE SALVATION without sufferings and without death." In another story I, the intrepid heroine, the adventurer seduced by mysteries, the pilgrim in search of truth, would follow them back to Guinubatan from Session Road, thirsting to see and hear their Lola for myself. However, it's all too easy -- much safer! -- to fall back asleep under the blanket of everyday life, and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. Then along comes 9 a.m., and really, it's time to down the dregs of coffee at the bott

Cordillera Folktales and Story-telling

It was cold and wet outside on the day of the launching of The Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and other Cordillera Folktales . But inside Mt. Cloud Bookshop we were warmed by stories read and performed by the Aanak di Kabiligan community theater group. Storytelling on a stormy afternoon. Paco Paco. A Benguet story from the book, published by the Cordillera Green Network. Aanak di Kabiligan means children of the mountains. The theater group was born out of the Cordillera Green Network's eleven years of conducting workshops in which children transform their grandparents' stories into theater productions. Here they perform the title story of the Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and Other Cordillera Folktales.

Birds of Baguio and Benguet

The Little Boss and I went to see the Birds of Baguio and Benguet Photo Exhibit at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary . I carried her so she could see them up close and she pointed to each and every photo demanding, "What's that? What about that? What about this one?" I dutifully read out the name of every single bird featured in the exhibit: Scale-feathered Malkoha, Luzon Sunbird, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, and so on.We discussed the colors of their feathers and the shapes of their beaks. Some of the birds were already familiar to her. The crow and the shrike are frequent visitors in our garden. Shrike in the hands of the Artist-in-Residence, with the Little Boss' first hesitant touch. Taken October 2013. Once a young shrike in flight crashed into our picture window and lay on the ground, stunned. The Little Boss and the Artist-in-Residence held it lovingly in their hands and as soon as it pushed against their palms they gently released it. That was The Littl