PHOTOS do not only serve to stimulate the sense of vision, but they can also be effective tools to raise awareness about social issues.

This was the purpose behind the Camiguin Norte Mission: Babuyan Islands exhibit, which ran from December 14 to 19 at the UST Main Building lobby. The exhibit was made up of photographs by six photographers — Mon Corpuz, Gari Buenavista, Rolly Magpayo, A.G.Saño, Romeo Remalante, and Razcel Salvarita — during an unforgettable trip to Camiguin Norte, a Dominican mission outpost in the Babuyan Islands. While there, the six learned about the problems, particularly in education, that children of the residents faced, and decided to help raise awareness about them.

Progress on island has been very hard to attain because it is situated in the typhoon belt of the Philippines. Thus, electricity is scarce and education is limited only up to the secondary level.

With the students deprived of basic school supplies and necessities, Fr. Joemar Sibug, O.P., director of the Lyceum of Camiguin, spearheaded a community-based advocacy project titled Send-A-Child-To-School last April, to help give children on the island a decent education. The Dominican priest believes that society’s ills can be cured effectively by education.

“Through education, poverty alleviation can be achieved,” Sibug said in his blog.

The lack of basic educational materials Camiguin Norte has attracted personalities like broadcaster Mike Enriquez, who interviewed Sibug in his morning radio program over dzBB last December.

Fine Arts professor and photographer Remalante was asked by Sibug to take part in the advocacy project, and soon after, renowned photographers Corpuz, Buenavista, Magpayo, Saño and Salvarita also offered their services in support of the Send-A-Child-To-School project.

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It was an experience they will never forget.

The trip pushed through last April 22 despite bad weather in the North, In the rough waters off Aparri, their boat capsized, unable to withstand the big waves. The group had to swim for four hours to get to the shore, and all of their belongings were destroyed or taken away by gigantic waves.

Preserved despite the tragedy was the expensive Canon Mark III borrowed by Remalante from Canon Philippines. Though the lenses were soaked in water, the body of the camera was safe because it was sealed inside a ziplock bag. The memory card was not damaged and the images they took were preserved. Those images were the ones used in the photo exhibit.

Despite their tragic experience, the volunteers remained intact and continued to solicit donations from sponsors, which will be used to buy school supplies for the students of Camiguin Norte.

“We realized that we have been spared to embark on a more meaningful mission,” Remalante said.

As part of the continued appeal for donations, the Camiguin Norte Mission photo exhibit was also shown at the Greenbelt 1 Lobby from January 14 to 20.

“The response was overwhelming. In just two months, the program was up and running, and almost all the students of Lyceum of Camiguin were able to avail themselves of the educational assistance,” said Sibug. “There were many groups and individuals who are just more than willing to help poor children have a good education.”

Approximately 1,300 elementary school children from at least four elementary schools in Camiguin, and students from two high schools, benefited from the generosity of those who donated the school supplies.

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