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DPP's KLM On Assignment Photography Contest Experience

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

That's one cliche that's true and it struck me to my very core when I joined Digital Photographer Philippines's KLM On Assignment (Barcelona) last July-August of 2015.

I would like to thank everyone -- family and friends -- who inspired, helped, and supported me one way or another. I would have not made it without you.

Here's the detailed flow of my experience from Qualifying Round, Announcement of Finalists, Final Round, and landing on the Second Place. :)


The realization that I wanted to travel--and take photos of the places that have made my heart skip a beat--came first as a gut feel,more like a spur-of-the-moment thing. See, I'd been taking some photos in and around my province and then on one of those random photo-walk sessions I usually did, I realized I was so happy, that I could do this for the rest of my life. I caught myself smiling. That really was how it all began.

I also realized that more than the memories I wanted to capture, I like my images to convey with emotions--those rare and pure things that pull the heartstrings--even words unsaid, but ardently felt. From there, it has always been a continuous sweet little struggle to constantly go beyond what is already seen, and delve into something that the photo might suggest, something that it might want us to consider, or even something that we actually wanted to consider but didn't know. I love photography's honesty, and how it brings me there. I've always had a burning passion for photography, and no matter what happens, it'll always be a part of me.

When I got my first job in Manila, I happened to meet a group of wanderlust Filipino travel bloggers. And, in turn, started to document (mostly through photographs) my experiences through my travel site. Through traveling, may it be in a group or solo, I learned more about photography as craft, art, and hard work. I couldn't help but keep on doing things I needed to do to learn more and develop as a photography enthusiast. I looked and searched and searched for online tips, tutorials, and techniques from a lot of photography blogs/blogs of photographers both international and local. I wanted to learn and understand more; I studied each blog's photography insights, approaches, tips, and techniques, and tried to apply them whenever I had the time. Basically, the shutterbug bit me, and I was hooked down to my very core--and for good reason. Every time I get the chance to go to different places, my heart always beats and yearns for the possibilities of doing what I love most: to take pictures, and to just see and experience new things, and not-so-new things but in a new/different perspective. I may not have the most comprehensive portfolio of photographs from around the world but I am rather certain that there’s nothing more I've ever wanted than to mature in my craft and learn more about photography. And I know this terrific opportunity would help me get closer to that dream. I want this, and I know I have what it takes to do this. More than that, I'd like to share my photos to everyone, and stir in them things always true inside, but sometimes overlooked, even unheard of.

It's simple for me, really. By taking pictures I get a sense of the world, and in turn, I get a sense of myself. I got my camera ready--so is my heart--and I know the world is waiting.

People and Culture

One of the tough boat crews who safely maneuvered 
the voyage during a stormy day.
Sabtang Island, Batanes 

Approached by this little one with a bright 
and wide-eye gaze during sundown.
Pangasinan, Philippines

River crossing at Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija.

Young boy's steady gaze for the day's performance at Quirino Grandstand.

Architechture and Interiors

San Carlos Borromeo Church has been long standing for 228 years 
at Batan Island, Batanes.

Bonifacio Global City's concrete jungle.

Altar of the only Gothic church ever built in the 
Philippines -- San Sebastian Church.

A day in the hustle and bustle of the Metro.


Irresistible baby back ribs in Daet

Feast for the day

Blueberry cheesecake with a twist in Bohol

Cabanatuan's longganisa paella



Struggles, Hopes, Dreams: One "Mamante" Fisherman's Story

In the middle of the lake, at the very tender age of 10, "Mang Unyot" began to learn his lifelong craft. Taught by his father who himself made a living from the same endeavor, "Unyot," or Dominador Guinto, Jr., started what would be his most prized art: fishing. Fishing is his livelihood―a means to provide for his family, and also his art―a way to see the world, partake in its goodness, and, from time to time, enjoy the beauty of Laguna de Bay―his most precious canvas.

A new day starts at Laguna de Bay.

Preparing his fishing gear for the day's activity.

In the middle of the lake, a fishermen's "pahingahan," ideal for quick naps, 
good stories, or just tranquil moments with the lake.

Mang Unyot is a "mamante" fisherman, one of the very few remaining ones in Barangay Wawa. A distinct kind of fishing, "Pamamante" requires a different kind of net, and involves "tibog," the process of waiting for a school of fish to be where the net has already been set at a certain part of the lake. The net Mang Unyot uses only traps medium-sized fish, mostly the local species of tilapia, or a variant they call "arroyos."

Catching large fish in Laguna de Bay is prohibited by law. Only large fish that come from fish pens, "baklad," are allowed.

"Tibog," the secondary process in "Pamamante."

A thankful Mang Unyot, happy with the day's catch.

Placid mornings. 

Here, he is an artist, and the lake his canvas. Laguna de Bay is where he hopes for a better tomorrow for his family. The lake is not only his source of livelihood, it is also his symbol of hope for good things ahead. In the past, more than half of the residents in Barangay Wawa were fisherfolks, but the years have seen this number dwindling down. The few remaining ones, including Mang Unyot, fear that one day will come when their local art of fishing, their "Pamamante," will be forever lost. He hopes that he can pass it on to the younger ones; they may go on and pursue other jobs, but he hopes his art won't be forgotten. Yet he feels the tides of change in his time.

Part of his catch for lunch.

Packing the fish to be peddled by his wife around the neighborhood.

A part of Manong Unyot's teenage 
years marks his arm.

A long day's rest with his son.

Mang Unyot, his wife, and their relatives. Their quaint compound may be 
small but it houses 13 families, all related to each other.

Cleaning the day's catch.

"This is how you do it, son."

He sees himself in his son, but he doesn't want Bradley to take on the same or even more difficult circumstances in life when he grows up. And so Mang Unyot, despite all the struggles, all the drudgeries of the day-to-day, continues to give it his all for his son's future.

This is a story of struggle and hope, and one fisherman's resolve to do everything he can for his son and his family, the love of his life.

And then there's the lake, too, where every day Mang Unyot relives the memories of the happy ten-year-old boy that he once was.

Mang Unyot scouting the area, determined for the day's catch.

Dominador "Mang Unyot" Guinto, Jr.,
Wawa Lake's Mamamante.


Elal of The Shades of Grey Travel and Photography
Elal is a traveler, student of life and photography enthusiast who wants to experience and capture what is raved and not raved about. For more about her travels, subscribe here, email at, or visit her portfolio.


The Treasure Tracker said...

for me you are still the winner!

Elal Lasola said...

You're so sweet, Dar! Thank you. Kitakits soon :)

Manong Unyol said...

wow galing parin kahit endi ikaw yung first place :) astig ng kwento ni Manong Unyol este "Mang Unyot" pala hehehe

Elal Lasola said...

Hahaha ngayon ko lang napansin similarity ng palayaw nyo. Galing mo! :) Salamaaaaat :)

joel forte said...

congrats uli

Elal Lasola said...

Uy, salamat sir joel! :)

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