Still Life: 6 Filipino Photographers Share Experiences And Realisations While In Quarantine
When the pandemic started, I felt anxious just like everyone else. I was worried about my family and my professional life when cancellation emails, as well as postponed exhibitions and travels, began filling my inbox. When the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was announced, I made a calculated decision to go out and report stories in our rural town in Bambang and around Manila. It meant keeping a distance from my family, educating my little nieces that hugs are not allowed and living with the paranoia of bringing the virus home. I spent most of my creative life abroad and the ECQ gave me the chance to learn more about the Philippines. Just watching the quiet sunset, speaking with different people, listening to their tales and being a conduit for their stories to be seen and heard was, for me, a great privilege.
This quarantine has somewhat given my wife Meg and I the chance to embrace this new experience of being married. We’ve learnt to move around the house and do everything efficiently, as well as discover hacks to make things easier at home. This whole experience has so far been an opportunity for us to reflect and reinvent ourselves, independently and as a couple, in both personal and professional aspects. Lately, I’ve been going through my old work in search of some pieces I could bring back to life.
Everyone is contending with the pandemic and its effects from different places and in different ways. I kept myself busy working on neglected projects, maintained a good dose of physical activities, hunkered down into domesticity, while also being patient with my- self. I’ve created as much structure and predictability with my routine that I can control to manage expectations. I am slowly getting back my drive, motivation and mental energy to get back and through the “new normal”.
From not having a single shoot-free week in many years, I am surprised by how quickly I am able to adapt to the conditions of the ECQ. While very aware of how things are elsewhere, my partner and I manage to keep each other in motion and in high spirits at home! We are also so thankful for the natural light and the space we have in the house because it feels energising. In addition, we have many materials and objects on hand that we can use to create things—my partner restored and/or built many of the furniture pieces here, while I am usually in my costume closet preparing and filming my YouTube videos, or carefully framing scenes from everyday life with the beautiful sunlight.
These few weeks have been productive. I’ve been able to just do my art stuff in my studio, resorting to some personal intimate works. It’s like a surprise art residency, which gave me so much time to explore more of my artistic side. Instead of drowning myself in melancholy, I took advantage of the time to be more creative—and the extra time gave me the opportunity to experiment.
It took me two months since the start of the lockdown to become proactive again. Being forced to stay at home made me realise that I am a homebody all along, but being socially isolated also brought a lot of worries. Despite the lows, I was able to get out of my creativity block by exploring new ways to create content at home. It is also essential for me to keep experimenting and trying out new ways to find inspiration. As of now, I am coping with life through generous self- care and eating good food. By the way, I am a professional chef now, just like everybody else!