LOOK: Gender issues, discrimination as told through this OFW photog’s lense

Alexa Villano
LOOK: Gender issues, discrimination as told through this OFW photog’s lense
Filipino photographer Joan Pabona belong to a group that took part in the exhibit entitled '(Fe) male: Gender through the Lenses' in Hong Kong

HONG KONG – The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is cliche but it’s a powerful one.  And it’s precisely how the likes of Joan Pabona and a group of budding photographers based in Hong Kong feel about the photos they take.

Pabona is one of the Filipino photographers whose photos are featured in (Fe) male: Gender through the Lenses, a photo exhibit which opened last September 30 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In an interview with Rappler, Pabona, 1st runner-up of this year’s National Geographic Photo contest said her group, Lensational Hong Kong, began discussing the project sometime in January.

Yung Lensational kasi empowering women,” Pabona, a Filipino Overseas Worker based in Hong Kong explained.

So ngayon, nag-invite kami, though student na ako nung 2016, so nakiki-join pa rin ako para to support Lensational,” she said of the organization, which was founded in 2013. 

(Lensational is about empowering women. So we invite [budding photographers]. I was a student in 2016 but I still join up to now to support them.)

Before doing photography, Pabona would hang out with other OFWs in Central, where many of them spend their days-off. Wanting to make use of her time, she got into photography and started taking  photo-walks with other Filipinos in Hong Kong.

The exhibit, she said, focuses on the issues of gender awareness, feminity, and religion.

Kailangan din i-topic iyon kasi minsan, may discrimination,” she said. (It also needs to be a topic of interest because there’s still some discrimination.)

The exhibit is a project of the group – a mix of Filipino and Indonesian photographers based in Hong Kong – which held a photography workshop for members for 6 months starting January.




GENDER THROUGH LENSES.  The exhibit runs until October 14 at the Chinese University Hong Kong. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler


FESTIVAL. The Festival of love under Gender and Religion ​seen as profoundly threatening, or disdainfully dismissed because of ignorance, misunderstanding, or other factors of personal and institutional resistance. Photo courtesy of Joan Pabona

Aside from Pabona, fellow Filipino photographer Grace Tagum Orbon, and Indonesian photographer Dwi Purwanti are among those who participated in the exhibit.

 WOMEN OF KIANGAN. These women flock together in the side street of Kiangan’s town proper for their jeepney ride. Most of them are carrying their child or goods from the market. Phot courtesy of Grace Tagum Orbon

AN OLD WOMAN FROM KIANGAN. She is on her way home coming from the market. She is not very shy to greet a stranger like me and smile straight to the camera as I am at her face. Photo courtesy of Grace Tagum Orbon

SHARED WITH LOVE. Photo courtesy of  Dwi Purwati.


SOUL RECHARGED. Photo courtesy of  Dwi Purwati.


(Fe) male: Gender through the Lenses runs until October 14. – Rappler.com

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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.