On my first morning in Mambajao, Camiguin, the iron gate creaked open and I heard someone yell “isda” from below. And seconds later, a smiling woman popped her head into the door, carrying a basket of fresh fish from the market. Today she had a giant, pink fish — I just had to take a photo with it.
The vendor’s name is Merline and she comes every morning to my grandmother’s house to sell fish. But when she found out that I’m an enthusiastic American photographer, she quickly posed for her photo op!
Soon enough, another fish vendor made her way to our house, asking me to take her picture with her fish, which she quickly organized in her basket to display their tails.
And soon, it seemed like the whole town knew about my photography hobby. One of the local doctors drove me all over the island on the evening of San Juan to capture beautiful pictures of the mountains and the sunset over the oceanside cliffs.
He also took me on a sunrise hike on his day off, where I saw Mount Hibok-Hibok and the sparkling morning seas.
Another girl, An An, who received some of my shoes and clothes, was happy to have her photo taken with her new gifts. She even learned a bit of English to thank me, which made me tear up a little bit.
My grandmother showed many of her friends my photos in the Philippine Star, and they too wanted to see more. DayDay, too, is always eager to help me with my photos. Now she even asks me to take them!
And finally, two high schoolers from the local Catholic school caught wind that I own a DSLR and wanted to see it for themselves. So I took the afternoon and taught them about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and all that jazz, then let them experiment for themselves using my camera.
Even though I don’t speak Visayan fluently enough to even hold a conversation, I really got to connect with people here because of my passion for photography. It’s brought me closer with a community of people that I was once completely unfamiliar with. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to share my art with others, and I’m really glad I can use it to share my experiences with you, too!