Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (published in SunStar Davao June 22, 2018)
When the Consul General of Indonesia in Davao City, Berlian Napitupulu, invited me to do a basic photography workshop for his office staff, I agreed right away. Indonesia has a soft spot in my heart for many reasons.
“A picture is worth more than a thousand words. A good photo delivers a message, and a good photograph comes from a well prepared and well organized picture taking. Therefore, we have to acquire techniques and knowledge on how to produce good and interesting photographs,” Consul General Berlian told his staff in an opening speech introducing me to the group before we started our workshop in the Indonesian Consulate Building last April 5, 2018.
Nowadays you can get around most of Asia with your passport alone. Back in 1995, I had to secure a 90-day visa for my trip where I was hired to shoot and design a travel brochure for a Swiss-Indonesian dive agency based in Manado, North Sulawesi, a territory similar to Davao which became its sister city. I travelled thrice in a 40-seater turbo propeller plane from Bouraq in a two-hour direct flight from Davao. It was a start of a different, unexpected path for me.
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I fell in love with the country with beautiful memories of adventures in government protected areas from animal sanctuaries, waterfalls to underwater splendor of multi-colored fishes and rich corals (Bunaken is a famous stunning protected dive site where I first learned how to dive). I also learned to speak a smattering of their native tongue. My Indonesian participants were surprised when I was inserting Bahasa Indonesian phrases during my lecture.
My journey as a photographer started in my 20s when I set foot in Indonesia in 1995, and my life changed. I was a young, spunky writer holed up safely in the confines of my bedroom. Travel was way beyond my ambitions.
Hired for a project, I became a film photographer, web and graphic designer creating layout for tourism materials. I became a travel blogger (though back then we called it online journal) when there was little information of destinations only through Yahoo search engine. Manado opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me with diverse cultures beyond my land. I was hand painting undersea creatures on shirts for a dive shop.
Ironically, I first went abroad before I traveled around my own country. So in the 90s when being a freelancer wasn’t the trend, I have already left the corporate world to pursue a life of consultancy and passion for art. Indonesia was my turning point. Today, 16 countries, 15 cameras, several damaged luggages and a few more wrinkles later, I am still traveling and living my dream job. I am happily sharing my skills through training workshops and speaking engagements.
This journey has brought me full circle, as I faced a group of interested people composed of the Consulate staff, teachers of Sekolah Indonesia Davao and the members of the Indonesian Women’s Association in Davao. It was fun to watch them take photos within the compound, and seeing the Consul Gen actively participating throughout the activity. He particularly knows how my love for sambal asli (chili sauce) has opened my culinary obsession for all things super spicy (I don’t blink at a fire noodle challenge). Imagine my treat as they served me delicious lunch with all the chili sauce I can finish!
“The workshop is expected to improve the participants’ knowledge of good and interesting photo shooting as an effective medium for publishing promotional activities on Indonesia to local communities in Mindanao,” said Consul Gen Berlian, who is actively promoting both countries back and forth. Miss Endah Yuliarti, First Secretary for Information Soci-Cultural Affairs of the Consulate, mentioned that this was the first helpful workshop supporting the activities of the Consulate General in the publication and promotion of Indonesia through photos. Recently, they have reached out to tourism and media colleagues and offered a Bahasa Indonesia Course between June and May. I need to brush up on my speaking skills too, terimah kasih (thank you).
The Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Davao has a coming event to help improve Indonesia–Philippines economic relations, which is the 2nd Indonesian Food & Beverage Expo 2018 (IFBE 2018) to be held at the Activity Center of Abreeza Mall Davao on 29 June – 1 July 2018. This Expo will showcase Indonesia’s food and beverage export quality products, with support from the Local Government of Davao City, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI XI) and Department of Tourism (DOT XI). The opening ceremony is on June 29 at 10:00 am. The Consulate will also hold musical and cultural performances, and tourism promotion. A one-on-one business matching between Indonesia exhibitors and potential partners will be held in the Ballroom of Marco Polo Hotel on June 28 from 4 PM-7 PM.
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(Jojie Alcantara is a columnist, photographer, traveler and workshop speaker proudly writing for SunStar Davao for more than two decades. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit kodakerdabawenya.com.)