June 12: A chance for Luneta photographers to make ends meet
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Independence Day is usually declared as a non-working holiday.
Most offices halt operations and let their employees commemorate the freedom the country enjoys. People also take this opportunity to attend the numerous festivities with their families in different places.
But for others, the Philippine Independence Day is another chance to earn more.
Mang Rudy has been a photographer in Luneta Park for 30 years. The money he gets from taking photos of tourists used to be enough for his family. But now, he only relies on holidays – when people are expected to flock to the park – to earn more than usual.
"Habang mamamasyal sila sa June 12 kasama mga pamilya nila, kami naman magtatrabaho para kumita," he explained. "Walang holiday-holiday."
(While families will stroll around the park on June 12, we will work to earn money. There's no holiday for those who need to earn money.)
He and his wife, Myra, go to the park every day, taking chances with every person that walks on the same road where the national hero Jose Rizal took his last steps.
Myra started as his assistant in 2000 until she became a photographer herself. She spends the whole day walking around Luneta while holding a piece of cardboard filled with sample photos, waving it occassionaly to passersby to get their attention.
Rudy and Myra both reminisced the years when they would always take home something for their families after a long day in Luneta.
With 50 pesos, anyone can have two pictures taken infront of any place in the famous park and it will be given to them immediately. But the speed of photo printing is indirectly proportional to the amount of time it takes for people like Manong Rudy and Myra to earn enough money.
"Kapag swerte, P500, pero minsang walang-wala talaga," she said. "Baka sa June 12, marami kaming kitain kasi malamang maraming tao dito."
(If we're lucky, we'll earn P500, but there are days when we don't take home anything. Maybe this June 12, we'll earn more since there will be a lot of people in the park.)
According to the 64-year-old photographer, few families go to Rizal Park even on Sundays because most of them choose to go to malls. It is usually during holidays when the park is filled with people.
In 2010, Manong Rudy and Myra decided to stop using film and shifted to digital photography. He had difficulty purchasing a digital camera because it is expensive, Rudy said.
"Iyon na kasi ang uso, kaya kailangan rin natin sumunod para kumita na rin," he explained. (It's the trend now, so I need to catch up with it to earn money.)
He noticed that the number of customers has been declining in the past years, unlike a decade ago when there were more than enough families for all the Luneta photographers.
"Mas marami na nga iyong mga araw na walang kita, kaya minsan nanghihingi na ako sa mga anak ko," he lamented. (We don't earn more often now, so I sometimes ask money from my children.) – Rappler.com