The Beauty of The Filipina

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) – April 8, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — George Tapan has traveled the Philippines and has captured some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. Now, the award-winning photographer gives us a glimpse of another set of beauties through his lens – Filipinas from all over the country – in his new exhibit entitled “Craft as Women’s Art: Photographs of George Tapan.”

The exhibit, which runs until Sept. 23 at the North Galleries of the National Museum Ilocos Regional Complex in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, was launched recently in celebration of National Women’s Month. It features 30 photographs of Filipino women from different ethno-linguistic groups who have contributed to the growth and development of the nation.

An Ilocana pours basi wine.

A self-taught travel photographer, Tapan took his first photograph of a fisherman carrying lobsters against a sunset using a Rolleiflex. This first click was what prompted his career in photography. Largely influenced by photographs featured in the National Geographic and Life magazines, he has since continued to capture images of diverse people and landscapes of the country.

He has won several awards, including first place in the National Geographic Travel Photography Contest in 2011 with his entry, Into the Green Zone. He served as director of photography of Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay magazine for eight years and has worked with the Department of Tourism. Tapan established Third Eye Visual, a video production and photography studio, in 1981 and authored a number of books featuring his photographs such as “Santo Niño: The Holy Child Devotion in the Philippines” (2001), “The Philippines: Islands of Enchantment” (2003), and “Into the Green Zone: Palawan Islands” (2012). 

T’boli woman rides a horse on the banks of Lake Sebu.

“Craft as Women’s Art” features photographs taken by Tapan throughout the course of 50 years as a travel photographer. Through the years, he has captured a number of portraits from different parts of the Philippines – from the islands of Batanes in northern Luzon to the island of Basilan in Mindanao. While he is well-known for his sweeping landscapes of every corner of the country, Tapan also has a unique look into the lives of Filipino women in each location. In his photographs, Tapan depicts the beauty of the Filipina in her various vital roles in the arts, education, social economy, nurturing and more.

A B’laan weaver works on her backstrap loom.

Through the exhibit, Tapan seeks to document the lives of Filipino women and change perceptions of their marginalized role in society. He advocates for their acknowledgement as key contributors to the creative industries, learning institutions and the nation’s wealth. More so, he aims to highlight the women of indigenous groups. While most of them are not known by their names, they are representatives of their culture and are highly acknowledged in their own trade and fields.

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Craft as Women’s Art: Photographs of George Tapan runs until Sept. 23, at the North Galleries of the National Museum Ilocos Regional Complex, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. For details, call 527-1219 or email nm.finearts@gmail.com.

Photographer Tapan shows his  work to guests at the opening of “Craft as Women’s Art.”

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