Through the Years: photo exhibit on Duterte opens June 23

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) – Veteran photojournalist Renato “Rene” Lumawag will hold a “Rody Duterte Through the Years” photo exhibit at the Abreeza Mall here from June 23 to July 6, which will showcase his photographs that date as far back as the late 1980s.

The 71-year-old Lumawag told a press conference on Friday at the Iko’s Garden that at least 30 of his “most striking” photographs – out of the several thousands that he took of Rodrigo R. Duterte, mayor of Davao for 22 years – would be displayed.

THROUGH THE YEARS. Photojournalist Rene B. Lumawag talks about his exhibit of photographs of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte through the years. Photo courtesy of MANMAN DEJETO THROUGH THE YEARS. Photojournalist Rene B. Lumawag talks about his exhibit of photographs of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte spanning three decades.  Photo courtesy of MANMAN DEJETO

Lumawag said that his exhibit intends to portray Duterte’s true nature being a well-rounded, shy, and meek but who appears to be strong when fulfilling his duties as mayor.

Lumawag said the exhibit includes 20 black-and-white and 10 colored photographs showing Duterte’s social, political, and family affairs. A surprise photograph will also be revealed in the exhibit, he said.

He said that the 71-year-old Duterte has always been a good subject for his camera.

Duterte was elected mayor in 1988. He served as mayor until 1998, and again for three terms from 2001 to 2010. He served as 1st district congressional representative from 1998 to 2001 and vice mayor to daughter Sara from 2010 to 2013. He was elected mayor again in 2013.

Lumawag said Duterte and him are friends, both being servants. “Our eyes can speak, have their own language,” he added.

He noted that Duterte is a “very cooperative” subject for his photographs. Lumawag said he takes candid shots for Duterte’s personal use. “But if it’s meant for news, I anticipate his actions when to take pictures,” he added.

MindaNews photojournalist Keith Bacongco, who helped Lumawag organize the exhibit, said that he uncovered most of the veteran photojournalist’s collection of photographs at his residence when they were looking for photographs that would be displayed in Lumawag’s 2009 “Remember When” exhibit highlighting the city’s evolution to a premier metropolis.

He said that he found several photos that were kept in several boxes and sorted out the Duterte photographs after seeing their value that they might one day deserve to be put in an exhibit.

“At that time [in 2009], we set aside the pictures of the mayor. We decided to see what we can make of them. Davaoeños need to see these, maybe when he retires,” Bacongco said.

Bacongco, who hails from Pigcawayan in North Cotabato, said that he was amused by the historical value of the photographs.

“I’m a fan of the history. I saw the value of the photos. Time will come people will look for these. Time indeed came that we saw the pictures’ purpose. We were overwhelmed that many inquired about the photos, most especially after Duterte’s victory,” he said.

They tried to pull off the exhibit before the May 9 elections but they decided to postpone, “win or lose,” to avoid being accused of electioneering.

Lumawag entered journalism in the 1970s as broadcaster of the University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network (UMBN).

In 1986, he worked as photojournalist for Ang Peryodiko Davao, which was bought by Sun.Star Davao, until he retired in 2008. During his long stint with Sun.Star, he said he discovered a boxful of his photographs left to rot in one corner.

Lumawag is now working as a photojournalist for Mindanao Times since 2008.