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World Press Photo exhibit opens in RP

August 4, 2008 9:11pm
MANILA, Philippines – The internationally acclaimed World Press Photo (WPP) exhibition opened recently at The Podium at the Ortigas Center in Pasig. The exhibit will continue until August 7, after which it will be on view at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay from August 8 to 13 and at The Block SM North-Edsa in Quezon City from August 14 to 22.

Topbilling the competition is the photo of the year – an image of an exhausted American soldier resting inside a bunker in Afghanistan. It was taken by British photographer Tim Hetherington and carried by Vanity Fair magazine.

Michiel Munneke, managing director of the Amsterdam-based foundation said: "Hetherington’s Afghanistan photograph bested about 80,536 images submitted to the competition by 5,019 photographers from 125 countries, including the Philippines."

Munneke said that “the show is part of a partnership project of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) at the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands which was initiated in 2006 with the support of the World Press Photo."

At the heart of the ACFJ program is the Diploma in Photojournalism, a seven-course online learning program for photojournalists.

The program has drawn some of the country’s finest young photojournalists as students and is run by an international faculty of senior photographers and academics.

One of its graduates, Vicente Jaime ‘VJ’ Villafranca, freelance photographer, recently won the Ian Parry Scholarship 2008, an international competition run by The Sunday Times (London), with a photo essay on youth gangs that was the major essay in the portfolio he submitted for the diploma program.

One of the highlights of the WPP exhibit opening at The Podium was the awarding of diplomas to the second batch of ACFJ graduates.

ACFJ faculty members led by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, president of the AdMU, Ambassador Robert Brinks of the Netherlands and Munneke awarded diplomas to nine photographers who completed the course.

The foundation has been staging the competition and traveling exhibit since 1955.

Shown each year at about 80 venues in 40 countries, the exhibit features the year’s top photo along with award-winning images from each of the 10 contests categories including spot news, general news, people in the news, nature, contemporary issues, sports actions, sports features, daily life, portraits, and arts and entertainment.

Considered to be the "top of the iceberg," in press photography, WPP which is also known as a media nongovernmental organization, gets its support from the Dutch government.

The WPP's high quality of photojournalism has set a standard in the field. WPP jurors are mostly well-respected photo editors, photographers, past WPP contest winners, and artists.

“WPP jurors are annually selected based on their experience in the field of photography," Munneke said. "They are chosen because of their reputation in the photojournalism community in countries where they operate."

Filipino photographer Albert Garcia won the first prize in the nature and environment category in the 1991 competition for his picture of the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Munneke said that the number of Filipino photographers who joined last year’s WPP competition rose to 30. In 2006, only 17 Filipino photographers submitted their entries.

Munneke said that the principal goal of the WPP is to promote press photography to its highest standard and to provide a bridge between the images and as many people as possible.

"While people do not expect these kinds of photographs to be seen in malls, it is the importance of freedom of the press that is being relayed here," Munneke said. "The exhibit’s goal is to make people think and be aware of what is going on in this planet and the malls are the best social gathering point."

Last year, the exhibit was also staged in the same three venues, drawing huge crowds that were invariably awed, fascinated, and moved by gripping pictures of the news stories that hugged the headlines.

The show was co-sponsored by ACFJ and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with support from The Podium and SM Supermalls.

This year the group, along with Unilever Philippines, aims to bring campus journalists to the exhibit through guided tours and lectures.

A selection of the winning images is available from the world Press Photo download area ( - Joe Galvez, GMANews.TV
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