Photographs by Joper Ofrasio
Words by John Marantal
Published on March 1, 2021
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The set is composed of candid images photographed next to bangka, a native watercraft.
A number of bangka when photographed appear as a series of still-life. When photographed with human, they become a set of accounts reflecting diverse lives.
Since 2018, Joper Ofrasio has been capturing images of bangka — mostly in black and white — using analog cameras. Ofrasio explains what draws him to taking pictures of the subject, “I admire the resilience of bangka. Unlike ships, they are designed as simple. They are made of wood. Yet, they can sail and stay afloat.” He adds, “Bangka is one of those modes of transportation that have been devised from our ancestors. It expanded and evolved but the aesthetic is still kept as how it was born.”
Unbeknownst to him, the fascination turned into an accumulation of images. They were taken during his weekend travels with friends from his home in Legazpi to nearby towns including Tiwi, Bacacay and Manito. The photographer recalls, “In Manito, the sea was exceptionally calm. There was a sole, small and buoyant bangka. At the back of it was the majestic Mayon Volcano. When both the volcano and the sea can be destructive and dangerous, at that time, they were a complete placid.”
Some images were captured by the photographer when he was alone. “If there is a place where I would go to meditate, it is the seashore,’’ he shares. A self-confessed shy and introverted person, Ofrasio confides that his style is an extension of his character thus he frames moments candidly. Armed with film cameras and paparazzo instinct, he creates portrayals of sailings and encounters, explorations and friendships, childhood and old age.
Ofrasio started with film photography when he became a member of Camera Pasapasa, an analog photography club in Albay. He considers the medium as nostalgic and as an escape from the digital world.
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