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Mangyan Boy

2011 International Photography Exhibition
"Mangyan Boy"
Location: Mountain village on the island of Mindoro, Philippines
Photographer: Darlene Slack
Home Country: United States
University Affiliation: Faculty
Category: People
Award: Honorable Mention

In the photographer's words: "When I first arrived in a small mountain village on the Philippine island of Mindoro, everyone hid, even the dogs. Understandably, the Mangyan tribal people felt shy and cautious. They rarely saw outsiders, and foreign corporations had cheated them of their land repeatedly. In keeping with Filipino humor, they joked that if developers and miners kept pushing them to new settlements up the mountains, they soon would be hanging from the sky. By my second day, the Mangyans began to trust me and my camera; I had come to hear their story because I cared about their rights and their welfare. In that spring of 1992, I had traveled to The Philippines to participate in “The March of Life,” a retracing of the Bataan Death March on its 50th anniversary by an international, interfaith group to commemorate that historical event, proclaim the sanctity of all life, and protest modern-day threats to life. My visit with the Mangyans was part of an “exposure tour” designed to teach me about the various threats Filipinos faced. When I saw this young boy looking out his family's hut, I walked slowly toward him with camera in hand until very close (I had no telephoto lens), and took this photo. The boy's silent consent—by that I mean his decision not to duck or run away as they all had the previous day—symbolized the determined resiliency and hope that I encountered in Filipino children throughout my travels, including an impoverished fishing village and a community that had been displaced by the previous year's eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Some would say that a childlike faith makes people more vulnerable to exploitation. That may be so. But my fellow marchers and I observed a creative and courageous spirit that often empowers people in struggle to survive and overcome oppressive forces."

Mangyan Boy