Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Painted Photographs of Rodolfo Samonte: featuring The Charming Security Guards of Manila
In my trip to Manila (April 18 to April 30, 2010), I was fascinated by what they call Sikyu (or Security Guard). It seems Sikyus are a part of the Philippine landscape now, you see them just about everywhere. There's Sikyus in every business establishment, buildings, private homes of the wealthy, condominiums, the malls, the Light Rail Transportation, schools, banks of course.
These Security Guards are heavily armed, with 45s and shotguns, they're generally friendly, polite, respectful, but can also be downright mean and tough (and I did run into a few of this type), as they undoubtedly are tough and trained to be.
With all these security guards around, one would be led to believe Manila as a dangerous city, or inversely, a very safe city precisely because of their presence... and happily I found it to be the latter. For example, traveling around Manila, nothing is safer than using the LRT (Light Rail Transit) or the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) where there are Sikyus in every entrance plus a guard who travels with the train.
They're everywhere in Manila, and with my trusty 2-megapixel Canon, I took photographs wherever I see them. Photographing was random and fast, point-shoot-move on, if you will, as I walked, or rode on public transportation in the heart of Manila. Chance takes precedence over premeditation (sometimes the subject will allow a pose or two). I had no idea what I was going to do with the photographs, I was simply recording what I found fascinating.
Now, based on those photographs, I have started a series of artwork, a tribute to these hardworking men and women who keep Manila safe, tentatively called:
The Charming Security Guards of Manila.
I thought they were charming, in their bright-white, well-laundered uniforms, they generally will accede to being photographed, but the women are shy (indeed, a very charming trait of most Pilipino women), that's why I have so few of them. Here's some I've done so far, and I will kept updating this blog. Everything I'm doing is what I call Painted Photographs (using Photoshop), the finished work culled from my collection of raw images, combined, collaged or otherwise manipulated to produce a visual story.