They were activists, wanting to change society by arousing and organizing amongst the masses. They were ordinary civilians, going about their daily lives. Suddenly, they disappear. Desaparecidos is the Spanish word meaning “the disappeared.” It was coined in Latin America where thousands became victims of enforced disappearance implemented by tyrannical regimes.
Enforced disappearance is “committed by government officials or by organized groups acting in behalf, or with the support, consent or acquiescence of the government,” according to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance. It is among the most common human rights violations committed in the Philippines, often by suspected military agents in the name of counter-insurgency. Under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, there have been 184 desaparecidos, the highest since martial law.
SURFACING, a photographers' initiative led by the Free Jonas Burgos Movement and Desaparecidos, is an effort to create and sustain public awareness on the issue of enforced disappearances. It shows the lives and struggles of 14 families of the disappeared, as well as that of the disappeared.
“A photograph is an expression of absence and a form of transport,” says writer John Berger. Let these photos express the pain and injustice of the desaparecidos’ absence and transport us to the reality that we need to face and collectively challenge.
December 5-11 Slideshow at Robinsons Galleria Cinema Lobby
December 9 North Edsa MRT Station c/o Larawanology
December 10 Plaza Miranda mobile exhibit
December 11 UP Film Center