I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always thought of black-and-white film as an easy ticket to weird, nostalgic, sad, and obscure photos. So for my first roll of black and white, I decided to shoot in a place where I think all these feelings lay rest, a public cemetery.
For almost 22 years of living in our little town called Barangka here in the city of Marikina in the Philippines, I have never stepped inside our town’s public cemetery. Until that fateful day, with an SLR hanging from my neck, and a Lucky black-and-white film loaded in it’s stomach, I walked and explored the land of the dead.
Here in the Philippines, most public cemeteries looks the same, I call it ‘apartment type’ cemetery. Tombstones are piled on top of each other to save space, sometimes as high as six or seven layers. I also saw ladders inside the cemetery, these are most likely used by people to light a candle on the upper tombs.
Also it’s common for cemeteries like this to also serve as a home for the living. I have no photos of them because I think they might not want to be photographed. But I have photos of stray cats and their dogs. The place wasn’t that dead after all.
It’s important for most Filipinos to visit their dead, to show their affection for their loved ones even if they are long gone. And most of the time, they leave things in their dead’s tombs like rosaries, flowers, and sometimes even food.
There’s a part of the cemetery where departed babies lay rest. I think it’s the most peaceful part of the place. So I stopped for a while and prayed for them.
All in all, I think my short journey left me both the feeling of spook and peacefulness. Hopefully someday, I will come back to this cemetery and shoot better photos that will bring out more the feeling of roaming in the land of the dead.