Old Zambo Photo Exhibit launched for ‘Imperial Gaze’
March 25, 2010

True enough, old photos freeze time and evoke a sense of nostalgia.

The National Museum in Zamboanga in coordination with the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) College of Architecture and the United Architects of the Philippines – Zamboanga chapter launched a photo exhibit dubbed as “Imperial Gaze: Representations of Far Zamboanga in Colonial Photography” last February 23.

In consonance with the “Dia de Zamboanga”, the exhibit presents rare photographs scanned from the glass plate negatives of the exceptional collection of Harry Whitfield Harnish.

Harnish was an American soldier stationed in Zamboanga in the early part of the twentieth century where he set up a studio in the city and took photographs of everyday life, landscape, architecture, Americans in the Philippines and folkways.

The exhibition is also in line with the celebration of Ani ng Sining, a Philippine International Arts Festival 2010 through the initiative of the National Committee on Architecture and Allied Arts under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; the UP College of Architecture Foundation for the Built Environment, Inc.; and National Museum of the Philippines.

During the opening program, City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr., in his message, said that this exhibit provides us a learning experience of the past. “These photographs show Zamboanga’s glorious past, blazing present and optimistic future”, he added.

UAP Zamboanga Chapter President Arch. Ludivico S. Obsequio Jr. said that this exhibit shows the indigenous and richness of our culture.

He said that this mirrors the relationship between the colonizer and the colony during the colonial American period.

“Pictures don’t lie. It reveals and conceals and it’s up to us to scrutinize for clues or answers or start asking even more questions,” he said, referring to the exhibition which invites interpretations of what the photographs say at the crossroads of Philippine history, particularly of Zamboanga’s.

A ribbon-cutting for the launching of the photo exhibit was done led by the City Administrator and assisted by Mrs. Eufemia Catolin, officer-in-charge, National Museum of the Philippines – Zamboanga Branch.

Also present were Arch. Aileen A. Ih, UAP – Zambo chapter VP for Progress and Development; Arch. Ildefonso F. Torres Jr., member, Executive Committee for Architecture and the Allied Arts; Arch. Shiralee R. Pajorito, Secretary, UAP – Zambo chapter; Mrs. Norma Francisco, Universidad de Zamboanga; College of Education, Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) representatives; and WMSU College of Architecture students.

Dion Jay E. Tality