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Salt of the Earth

PHILIPPINES | Saturday, 25 September 2010 | Views [1076]

Sifting Gold

Sifting Gold

Hoping to flee from Manila’s exasperating distractions, I drove beyond city limits to get some quiet. Midday in the sweltering heat at Nasugbu, Batangas, men clammy with sweat dotted the roadside, carrying sacks. Upon asking, one cheerfully mentioned that they were salt harvesters, and I immediately asked if I can tag along as they went about their afternoon. Men both burly and scruffy hauled sacks of recently gathered salt into a delivery truck waiting outside. Salt was scattered on the floor and caked on the walls of that hollow block and straw roof house.

I eventually made my way to the back, and saw the vast salt beds baking in the sun for its next reaping.  In the shade were the wives passing the time by playing Bingo while the children scurried with their bare feet.

Here the world revolved around a field of salt, and the men who collected it. The bed of sun-dried jewels provide for these families, until the four-month monsoon arrives. By Christmas, the salt fields will be reborn as well.

Such is the fleeting nature of their livelihood, and thus their own endurance. Now surviving in pockets a few hours outside Manila, I capture such deliberate urgency in these photographs. This community has been kept away from the threatening progress of cities, yet hopeful that their standards of living will eventually improve.

These are reminders of simpler times, when the community and their culture depend on manual labor and inheritance from the land. This is a celebration of our own humanity, as well as preserving our collective roots.

Through this scholarship, I would like to not only improve my photographic technique, but serve to document and preserve such ethnicity and raise understanding especially for Bhutan’s local concerns on culture preservation, deforestation and wildlife extinction.

Tags: batangas, constantino, filipino, kat, nasugbu, philippines, salt, scholarship 2010, tagalog, worldnomads.com


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