Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A man walks past the old Mojon Church, which was built for workers at the Azucarera Central de Bais (the Central Sugar Mill of Bais) in the early 1900s. Sugar cane has grown thick and tall in fields of fertile volcanic soil around Bais for generations, beginning with Spanish settlement of the area in the 19th century.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hersley Ven Casero

Children run into the Sulu Sea in the direction of Apo Island in the province of Negros Oriental, located in the Central Visayan Islands of the Philippines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hersley Ven Casero

Street vendors add a splash of color to the exterior of an old wooden house along the main highway in Bais City.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A farmworker toils under the hot sun to clear a harvested field of sugar cane for burning.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A fisherman casts traps into the sea fronting Dumaguete City, the capital and principal seaport of Negros Oriental province in the central Philippines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Magnum photographer Eli Reed greets a child at the Dumaguete Public Market.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hersley Ven Casero

Locals wait for a bus to arrive at a stop in Tanjay, a farming community in the central Philippines best known for sugar production.


A vendor in Sibulan sells cotton candy in such a bright variety of colors it almost makes your teeth hurt.


A man in Bais City wears a fedora as he sits in a pedicab, the ubiquitous vehicle of Philippine mass transit that is essentially a covered sidecar welded on to the frame of a small motorcycle.


Children gather and play as the tide recedes from the Dumaguete shoreline in the late afternoon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A young woman smiles shyly as her photo is taken in the Dumaguete Public Market.


Fresh and dried chili peppers in woven baskets add texture to a sidewalk in downtown Dumaguete.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A group of men spend the afternoon socializing in a makeshift beachfront pergola near the port of Dumaguete.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Armando Arorizo

A fresh catch of sardines is offered for sale in downtown Dumaguete.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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I have been promising for years to take my friend Armando Arorizo to my hometown in the Philippines, and it finally happened last month.  We traveled together to Dumaguete City, on the central Visayan island of Negros Oriental, and Armando brought along his friend Eli Reed, a member of the famed photographic collective known worldwide as Magnum Photos.

We spent a week immersing ourselves in the local scene, capturing daily life as it transpires in a small town at the far-flung edge of Earth. We shared our images and exchanged ideas, and the experience gave me a welcome shot of renewal and inspiration.

In exchange for the island hospitality, Eli was gracious enough to give a presentation of his work to students and townspeople alike, who gathered one morning at Foundation University, a school founded by my grandfather 64 years ago in Negros, a rural province situated some 300 miles away from the seat of Philippine power, money and culture in the capital, Manila.

Eli, the author of some great photography (including “Beirut: City of Regrets,” “Black in America” and “Homeless in America”), showed a body of work spanning the last four decades.  And for almost three hours, the audience was mesmerized, paying rapt attention to virtually every image projected on the screen. It’s safe to say they had never seen masterwork like that before.

For the last six years, I have made annual trips to the Philippines to teach and apply my knowledge of photography, which can be a tool of political, economic and social empowerment, especially in emerging nations. There’s just something about an image that says so much about what is good, what is bad and what needs to be changed.

Eli also took time to mentor my students, having them tag along and allowing them to look over his shoulder on our daily walkabouts. I am deeply grateful for his gift of wisdom and action, and helping out.

The following is a gallery of our images and includes the work of Eli, Armando, my former student Hersley Ven Casero and myself.

Maybe someday we can all do it again.

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