Lumawag’s exhibit: history in photographs on November 12 to 19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 November) – Remember when?

Remember the days of the Alsa Masa in 1987? The San Pedro Cathedral bombing of 1993? The Ipil Massacre of 1995?

For those who are young enough to remember, join the elders as they travel back in time — just shortly after the Marcos dictatorship fell and a new government under Corazon Aquino took over — through the photographs taken by photojournalist Rene B. Lumawag.

Lumawag’s exhibit of 30 images of Davao/Mindanao history in the last 25 years, provide the viewer glimpses of historical events that some people may have forgotten or chosen not to remember.

Lumawag has been a recorder of history through his photographs, some of them fortunately salvaged from the boxes of negatives and prints he refused to throw away.

The historical value of those negatives and prints would have been lost had it not been for the persistence of photojournalist Keith Kristoffer “Kitoy” Bacongco, whose first mentor in photography was Lumawag’s son, Gene Boyd.

Bacongco thought it would be a good idea to have Tatang Rene, as Lumawag is fondly called, hold an exhibit of his news photographs on the fifth death anniversary of Gene Boyd, on November 12.

A month ago, he broached the idea to Lumawag, who agreed to have his boxes of negatives and prints brought down to the ground floor of their house.

Lumawag’s wife, Minerva, had been complaining about her husband’s boxes, and he had repeatedly assured her he’d find time to throw the throwaways, but never did.

For Bacongco and his girlfriend, Ruby Thursday More, both photojournalists under 30, finding the precious prints or negatives were worth the exposure to dust and sitting on the floor for hours.

Journalist Carolyn Arguillas would ask if they found photos or negatives of the San Pedro Cathedral bombing of 1993. The Diwalwal landslide of 1985. The total solar eclipse of 1988.

Froilan Gallardo, who, like Lumawag and Bacongco is a graduate of Diploma in Photojournalism of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, would ask if they saw the Ipil Massacre negatives.

Gallardo belongs to the first batch of graduates with a Diploma in Photojournalism, along with Zamboanga City-based Charlie Saceda. Bacongco belongs to the second batch, along with Toto Lozano while Lumawag belongs to the third batch, along with Rommel Rebollido. More belongs to the fifth batch and has yet to complete her course requirements.

While physically tiring, this was immediately compensated when Bacongco and More would find photographs of Dabawenyo journalists taken as far back as 20 years ago and even photographs of the Lumawag family among the envelops and boxes.

Fortunately, Lumawag labeled most of his envelops, writing down the event and date, so identifying them wasn’t as difficult. Also, in some, the dates of printing could be found on the photo shop’s envelops.

With the retrieved photos and negatives now preserved in digital version, Mother Minnie, as Lumawag’s wife is fondly called, may now see some of the boxes go, finally.

Unfortunately for lovers of history, some historical moments that Lumawag had earlier recorded, are forever lost: The Diwalwal landslide of 1985. People Power 1986 (although there is a photograph of Marcos campaigning in Davao City; Cory campaigning could not be found). The burning of the Singapore flag in Davao City in 1995 in protest of Singapore’s decision to execute Flor Contemplacion. The Metrodiscom hostage-taking in the late 1980s are but a few samples.

Still, the 30 images chosen for the exhibit are worth visiting at the 2nd floor of SM City Davao on November 12 to 19.

The exhibit will open at 4 p.m. on November 12, the fifth death anniversary of Lumawag’s son, Gene Boyd, who was gunned down on November 12, 2004, as he was returning from shooting the sunset at the pier in Jolo, Sulu.

Lumawag’s “Remember When..” exhibit would not be possible without the help of these institutions and individuals: SM City Davao, Midtown Printing Co, Inc., Eden Mountain Resort, Matina Town Square, San Miguel Brewery, Inc., Phoenix, Marco Polo Davao, Paul Dominguez and Family, Familia Marfori, Arguillas Family, Polong Duterte, Vice Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, Bong Go, Wendell E. Avisado, Jesus G. Dureza, Mabel Sunga-Acosta, Pilar Braga, Peter Lavina, Marina, Patmei and Neil, Sabel Reta, Camera Club of Davao, MVO, AKP Images, MindaNews, Mindanao Times, Edge Davao, Sun.Star Davao, Coca Cola, Davao Light and (MindaNews)