Iba ‘Yan gives a glimpse of the inspiring lives of park photographers

For its latest episode aired last Sunday, November 29, Iba ‘Yan captured the hearts of the viewers with the touching and inspiring real-life stories of some photographers at Luneta Park, Manila, whose livelihood was one of the most terribly hit by the pandemic.

With leisure and recreational parks having to temporarily close down in light of the community quarantine implemented throughout the country in past months, photographers were compelled to stop working and to find other means to make both ends meet not just for themselves, but for their families as well. Thus, host Angel Locsin and the Iba ‘Yan team chose to reach out to them and give them the assistance they need, especially now that the Christmas season is fast approaching.

One of the groups of park photographers there is Flower Clock Photographers Association, Incorporated (FCPAI), which is led by its president Joy Radam, who has been working as a photographer in Luneta Park for eight years. According to her, she and her family are originally from Leyte, but she was encouraged to study in the city when her mother worked in Manila. She took midwifery as her course, but didn’t have the opportunity to pursue it as her job because of her fear in seeing woman giving birth. In 2018, she met her partner, Jericho Atanacio, who’s also a longtime photographer in Luneta.

When Joy became the president of the organization in 2018, she made sure that all the photographers are well-compensated. She shared that her income is always changing as she sometimes earns 600 pesos and there are also instances when she doesn’t gain at least a peso. It’s because some people wouldn’t prefer to have their pictures taken anymore because of the emergence of phone cameras. And when the pandemic started, their job was affected even more. So, in order to help the photographers of the organization, she decided to distribute the organization’s savings to its members.

For Joy and her family to be able to still celebrate Christmas merrily, Iba ‘Yan provided their noche buena package, as well as her Christmas gift for her grandson Niño and maintenance medicine for her husband who has diabetes. The team also gave her additional cooking tools that she can use in her food business.

Angel also met the 24-year-old Erica Amor, one of the youngest members of the FCPAI who originally came from Bataan. When her parents separated, she was left by her mom under her grandparent’s care, while her siblings were with their mother. She was only 19 years old when she discovered her interest and developed her talent in photography with the help of his father who also works as a park photographer.

Because of her hard work, Erica is able to help her younger siblings by providing their school allowance. While this job has been really hard, as there are times that she had to be on duty for 12 hours straight without break only to earn 300 pesos, the pandemic made it worse as she was forced to sell the tripod she uses in order to help with their finances. Then she came up with the idea of putting up her own Facebook page where she could advertise her photography services, which enabled her to offer her services for various intimate events amidst the situation.

Thus, Iba ‘Yan surprised her by also giving her a noche buena package, brand-new tripod, lens, and flash for her camera. Angel also told Erica that she and her husband Neil Arce will hire her for their YouTube channel as her way of helping her further promote her services and Facebook page. These gifts and opportunity made the young photographer truly emotional.

Angel also got to meet Joseph Fernandez, the treasurer of FCPAI who’s been working as park photographer for 36 years now. According to him, he basically grew up in Luneta and used to vend sampaguita garlands, cigarettes, and newspapers and shine shoes in her boyhood even though he suffers from polio.

He took on odd jobs, until he was encouraged by a friend to try out photography. From being the one to offer his photographer friend’s services to the tourist, he decided to self-study and eventually got the hang of it.

However, this pandemic greatly affected Joseph and his family. So, in order for them to still have enough income, he went on to accept cellphone and appliance repairs. Even though it has been hard for Joseph and his wife Corazon to survive and provide for their daughter who’s not with them, they still get to extend help to the needy by giving away the extra food packages or ayuda that they receive from the local government to the homeless and being a volunteer for their fellowship.

Iba ‘Yan gave them a noche buena package, a mattress they can sleep on comfortably, brand new crutches for Joseph, new trolley, payment for their house rent which they haven’t paid yet for four months, and additional capital for Corazon’s kakanin business.

After her conversations with Joy, Erica, and Joseph, Angel gathered them to tell another slew of good news. Iba ‘Yan gave their organization uniforms for all its members, new printer, photo papers and ink, laptop, and computer. They will also be given a free digital imaging workshop to improve their photography skills, grocery bags, vitamins and maintenance medicine for the senior members.

To also help them earn extra income, the program gave them bigasan package and will help them find jobs suited for them via TrabaHanap. Lastly, the three park photographers were also hired for a day to take beautiful shots in different tourist spots around Manila, which will be posted online on the Iba ‘Yan official Facebook page for the people to see and buy their works.

Aside from park photographers, Angel also met and surprised two lucky Kapamilyas by giving them noche buena packages, emergency bags, and monetary assistance. First was Melanie Mirandilla, a vendor who continues to sell clothes and footwears despite the situation just to provide for her family in Romblon, then Luis Norcio, a hardworking trolley driver from Sta. Mesa, Manila.