The image of a severely malnourished Badjao boy by the window in Lucena City brought acclaim for photographer John Even Dominic Regala.
But more importantly, Regala’s “Bata sa Bintana” was a powerful represenation of a reality in the Philippines that needs attention.
“I think it connected well with the jury in terms of showing a side of the Philippines that’s not just fighting war on drugs, but is also a country that’s dealing with hunger,” said Regala, 31, a faculty member of the UST College of Fine Arts and Design.
The boy, 13-year-old Zoren, was so weak and malnourish that he couldn’t leave home, seeing the world outside only through a window.
Regala chose Zoren as the subject of his documentary for GMA Network TV’s show Front Row, with the title “Bata sa Bintana.” Zoren also became the center of the photograph Regala entered to the 2017 International Photography Awards—Philippines. Both pieces garnered awards.
“Bata sa Bintana” won the gold medal last April in the Human Concerns category of the 2017 New York Festivals “World’s Best TV and Films” Competition, which honors outstanding TV programs and films from over 50 countries.
Regala’s winning photograph titled “Hunger” bagged the Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year, as chosen by an international jury of acclaimed photographers.
“When I met Zoren, I have this gut feeling that this subject is the perfect entry for the category of a deeper perspective,” Regala said.
People tend to overlook that the Philippines is also a third-world country and hunger is one of the issues the country faces aside from several others.”
When Regala visited Zoren a month ago, almost a year after they shot the documentary and photographs, his condition has improved.
“As a photographer, you see that you have [to] help your [subjects] a lot of ways through your art [and] craft,” Regala told the Varsitarian in an interview.
Following father’s footsteps
When Regala was on his third year as an advertising arts student, he worked as a student apprentice under a commercial photography company. It was his father who sparked his passion for the craft.
His father, renowned film director Tata Esteban (born Steve Paolo Regala), was behind movies in the 80’s such as “Salamangkero,” “Alapaap,” among others.
The younger Regala now works as the director of photography of The Extra Mile Productions, a wedding videographer for Mayad Studios and is also a director of photography in GMA Network.
After graduating in 2008, he worked as a freelance photographer in and out of the country. He spent the next six years traveling for work until he decided to settle in 2014 and venture on film and documentary making.
His first documentary was “Fields of Hope” which won the Best International Documentary Film in the 2016 Manhattan Film Festival. He has also worked on “On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” which won the Conservation Award in San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival in 2016 and was featured in and purchased by the National Geographic Channel Philippines. LOUISE CLAIRE H. CRUZ