Thursday, May 15, 2008

Creative writing: Picture no. 12 “Light and shadows”

Photo by Atty. Gerry T. Galacio; all rights reservedThe acacia trees in the picture above, I’m told, have been part of Rizal High School in Pasig since the early 1900’s. The school was established in 1902 by the “Thomasites,” the first group of American teachers who came to the Philippines after the US gained possession of the Philippines from the Spaniards.

I remember studying under these trees when I was a high school student in the 1970’s. I remember being chased around these trees by a lot of pretty girls. Hey, what can I say? I owed a lot of people a lot of money in those youthful days!

Fast forward from the 1970’s to 1991. I was then working in my alma mater (which is Latin for “pure or chaste mother” if you care to know). I wanted a picture that would express the idea that these trees have been silent witnesses to the lives of thousands of students who have studied in this school over more than ninety years. (Rizal High School has been credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest school in the world with over 26,000 students. But as of schoolyear 2006-07, its enrollment went down to around 8,000. Reason is, a lot of the annexes have become independent high schools.) I wanted to express the idea that while some things may come and go, these trees will always be there.

Using my Canon AE-1 Program SLR camera and my favorite black and white film (Kodak Tri-X), I focused on the nearest tree, centering it on the viewfinder. I loved the interplay of the late afternoon sunlight and the shadows on the trees and the wall. I felt however that there was something missing from the picture, and so I waited. Then I saw two students walking behind me. I raised my camera, and when they were just a little beyond the shadows on the wall, I took the picture.

These students provide the photograph a sense of scale in that we can estimate the size of the acacia trees through them. They also provide a sense of action; notice that they’re walking together in perfect cadence. The acacia tree and the boys both cast their shadows on the wall, and these provided the photograph with the sense of permanence and change I wanted to express.