June 27, 2009

Capturing Vietnam

This is an accidental photo. I was on a bus moving along a freeway in the outskirts of Hanoi going to the airport when I took this shot. I am not even sure what this image is that I had captured. It looks like a woman with an open umbrella in a shed waiting to catch a ride. But, sitting on what seems to be a rounded steel bar? Must have been very uncomfortable. What this image is, it's anyone's guess.

Again, the photo was taken by accident. I was desperately trying to capture a different thing - an image of a farmer working on his/her field in Vietnam; a scene I wanted so much to capture but had not been able to since day one of my trip to Vietnam. And it was already the day of my return trip back to homeland.

The trip to the airport unexpectedly presented itself as a good, albeit my last, chance to finally capture the image. The freeway was lined on both sides by greenery -- farms planted to rice, vegetables and various other crops; and the fields were replete with workers tending to their land and crops.

But while I was presented the chance, the actual photo-shoot was not easy. The bus was moving at warp speed (as to why is another story) and I was seated along the aisle. I had a P&S equipment that could zoom-in 10x but could not do continuous shooting (if I miss a moment, that's it). Most significantly, I was torn between holding up my camera playing cat-and-mouse with my desired image and just relaxing and relishing with my own eyes what could be my last view of Vietnam. Nostalgia was also setting in. This particular trip was like cruising along the South Luzon Expressway going towards the province of Laguna- prior to the 90's, that is, before housing began replacing the green farmlands.

Needless to say, the desire to click away won. After a series of hits-and-misses (producing a collection of both sensible and "abtract" images, if I may say, including the photo above), I was able to capture this photo:

This is an image of a Vietnamese farmer (người nông dân). Here, she is a chị nông dân or a female farmer (only women wear the ubiquitous non la or conical hat). Here she tends to her farm of rice; rice that may eventually find its way atop the Filipino family's dining table. (The Philippines' yearly rice imports of 1.5-2.0 million tons mostly come from Vietnam).

My trip to Vietnam would only have been partially-made had I not been able to capture this image. This photo is my way of paying tribute to this feeder of Filipino families.