In 2007, several photographers began a documentary project called SURFACING to highlight the plight of the families of the disappeared, or the desaparecidos in the Philippines. We sought to raise public awareness of this and other important human rights issues through photography and creative storytelling.
Six years since this project began, the families continue to suffer. To this day, they continue to look for their missing loved ones. They continue to seek justice. In time for the commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, we are republishing the photo stories. We are making ourselves remember.
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A photograph is regarded as a powerful tool for communicating ideas in a way that a written or oral account cannot. A photograph is not hindered by language, nor does it expect its viewers to be educated or literate. The language that a photograph speaks can be understood by anybody.
It is with the acknowledgment of this power that we deemed it appropriate to use photographs as a tool for human rights advocacy. We intended to contribute to the continuing effort of sustaining and heightening public awareness and consciousness on the issue of enforced disappearances. Through these photo stories, we sought to give a human face to the stories and struggles of the families of the disappeared. We strongly believed that we can reach out to more people by telling their stories through images.
This initiative was part of series of initiatives by artists, photographers, etc. against the human rights abuses, both of the Arroyo and the current Aquino administrations.
SURFACING, the photographers’ initiative was originally headed by a small working group of photographers in coordination with the Free Jonas Burgos Movement (FJBM). FJBM is a loose network of individuals seeking for the surfacing and release of Jonas Burgos, who was abducted on April 2007 by suspected military operatives.
SURFACING 1, in 2007, was launched via photo exhibit printed on large tarpaulins on display in various places in the country and abroad. In 2011, SURFACING 2 featured Dikit’rato (photo-graffiti or literally, photos pasted on walls), a public exhibit and interactive installation to be mounted in open spaces.
Here are some of the stories. Visit and like our Facebook page.
(Click on the photos to view the stories)
For more information on the desaparecidos in the Philippines, visit the Desaparecidos website.