Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet, Philippines, 27 February 1986

This series starts with the day after the People Power Revolution. The bust of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looms behind a man reading a newspaper. He is a farmer and is one of the many Ibaloi landowners who were displaced when the Philippine Tourism Authority inappropriately acquired their lands in Barangay Taloy Sur in Tuba, Benguet in 1976 to build a proposed Marcos Park with the bust as its centerpiece.

 

A decade passes and the farmer now holds the February 26, 1986 issue of The Manila Times in which the headline reads: “MARCOS FLEES.” After the Marcos family was ousted, the bust faced various degrees of deterioration. In

1987, displaced Taloy residents performed a symbolic desecration by pouring out liquid from the bust’s nostrils, appearing like a nosebleed. There were bombings in 1989 and 2002. The latter was initially attributed to suspected Yamashita treasure hunters, but the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army claimed responsibility for the destruction.

 

In their statement, they wrote: “The continued presence of the Marcos bust is a mockery of justice and a betrayal of the will of the people… The damaging of the Marcos bust by the CPP-NPA is but an initial and symbolic step. Let the ruins be an ugly reminder that the Marcoses have yet to pay for their crimes.”

Profile

Roberto “Boy” E. Yñiguez (b. 1951, Malolos, Bulacan) is a photographer and an award-winning cinematographer based in Lucnab, Baguio. His composition, whether in his photos or films, embodies Henri Cartier-Bresson’s philosophy of intuitively capturing the “decisive moment” and showing deep respect for natural light. His images record “the everyday,” adhering to the humanist principles of photography. 

 

His interest in photography started in childhood as his father, Marcos T. Yñiguez Jr., frequently took photos of their family in La Union when they lived there in the 1950s. When Boy was a teenager, he received a Kodak Brownie 127 from his father, who eventually handed over his camera collection to Boy before he passed away. 

 

Boy stayed in Manila for college to study BS Architecture at UP Diliman where he had one class on photography. Two weeks after graduating in 1974, he started working at the Development Academy of the Philippines at Tagaytay where he and artist Santiago “Santi” Bose took photos and designed their publication layouts. In 1976, both joined the Ermita monthly paper with Alfred “Krip” A. Yuson at the editorial helm. His photograph of the musical Mass by Leonard Bernstein performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines was featured on the front page of Ermita’s 6th issue. His portrait of Abelardo G. Semonte was also a front-page feature in UP Gazette in their October-December 1978 issue. In the late 70s, Boy also helped in the photography and layout of Handumanan: La Salle Bacolod Silver Jubilee Yearbook, working again with Krip Yuson under Peque Gallaga.

 

After his time in Ermita in 1976, he worked at UP Film Center as a cinematographer for documentaries until 1980. In 1981, he and his wife, restaurateur Mitos Benitez-Yñiguez, decided to move to Baguio to start a family. Coincidentally, it was also a time when an artist community was emerging in Baguio. Boy then became integrated into the Baguio art scene along with Kidlat Tahimik, BenCab, Santi Bose, Wig Tysmans, Tommy Hafalla, Roberto Villanueva, Mannix Santos and others.


Boy had to shuttle from Baguio to Manila for cinematography work. With a film career spanning over four decades, he worked with various directors such as Kidlat Tahimik, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, and Loy Arcenas. He won Best Cinematography for Tuhog (2001), Imbisibol (2015), and Ang Larawan (2018) among others. Apart from feature films, he also shot television commercials for products like Cream Silk, Skin White, and Nescafé.


As a photographer, he participated in the following group exhibitions: Pangatawanan Mo Nah! (2009) at UP Vargas Museum, and several ones in Baguio namely Positive Negativity: Silver Gelatin Prints (2010), Us There:

Images of America (2014), and Black & White: Film Photograph (2015). He also participated in Art Fair Philippines 2018 where he put up side-by-side photos of locations in Baguio from the 1980s and the present, calling the changes “uglification.” The year after, for the Not Visual Noise exhibit at Ateneo Art Gallery, he installed a long line of sequential images of Berlin’s subway to illustrate “the continuity of time and its effect on space.” Decay and destruction over time are also themes in his Busted Marcos Bust series.

 

In 2016 he got into bird photography, naturally drifting to it owing to the forests surrounding their home. He joined Baguio-Benguet Birders (BBB) and had his avian photos included in BBB group exhibitions at Bell House (2018), Porta Vaga (2019), Teachers’ Camp (2019), and Baguio City Hall (2022). BBB also collaborated with Luzviminda on the online and onsite exhibit The Colorful World of Birds Captured Through the Lens for Art Fair Philippines 2022.

 

Now semi-retired, he hopes to go back to Paris in the winter to revisit the places he shot in 1985. He also continues to capture photos daily for Arawang Larawan, a series he started in 2006. (Lk Rigor)

 

References: 

 

Arts Monthly, vol. IV, no. 1, pp. 3, Office of the President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Jan. 1984.

 

Ermita, Yuson, Alfred A., editor, vol. 1, no. 1-9, Mushroom Media, Inc. Jan.-Oct. 1976.

 

Espiritu, Johann Vladimir J. “Yñiguez, Roberto.” CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition, edited by Elmer L. Gatchalian, 2020 Nov. 18. epa-culturalcenter-gov-ph.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/4/26/4739.

 

Floresca, Jocelyn Alberto. Curriculum vitae. cs.upb.edu.ph/images/pdfs/faculty/hkp/CS HKP FLORESCA J. A. CV.pdf.

 

UP Gazette, vol. IX, no. 6, Oct.-Dec. 1978, pp. 149. Office of the Secretary of the University, osu.up.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/gazette/1978.pdf.

 

Yñiguez, Boy. Phone interview. 11 July 2022.

 

Yuson, Alfred A. “Farewell to Peque.” Philstar, 18 May 2020, philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2020/05/18/2014660/farewell-peque. Accessed 16 June 2022.

 

Yuson, Alfred A., editor. Espiritu Santi: The Strange Life and Even Stranger Legacy of Santiago Bose. Water Dragon Inc., 2004.