Through the Dirty Glass, Darkly features monochrome photographs taken during long bus trips across the Philippines in early 2017. The title is a reference to the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13:12, which has been interpreted in many works of literature and art. Although non-religious, I thought this particular passage summed up what the Philippines is experiencing in the Duterte era. Despite having one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia before President Rodrigo Duterte came into power, poverty still plagued a large portion of the country. The president’s war on drugs also created a new cycle of violence and added to the uncertainty regarding the nation’s future. Through the eyes of someone who is both a foreigner and a native son, it was difficult for me to see the social, economic and political dynamics clearly when I documented life throughout the archipelago. As with the passage’s interpretation in the Bible, the people of the Philippines, too, will hopefully see things clearly when the gun smoke has lifted and the grime in the slums are cleansed.


Selected images were featured in the NYC4PA Online Exhibition, Honorable Mention. July, 2017.