Sunday, July 7, 2024

SLICES OF TIME: Reflecting social realities through the lenses of Efren Ricalde

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

SLICES OF TIME: Reflecting social realities through the lenses of Efren Ricalde gives us snapshots of the struggle of the Filipino people. The exhibit juxtaposes norms with more than 80 photographs taken in different timelines in and out of the country. Previously, the exhibit was conceptualized by individuals like Raymund Villanueva taking note of the importance of documentation of the busy city life of the urban poor and working class to the detached cycle of the remote barrios. 

One of the organizations that helped design the exhibition was Concerned Artists of the Philippines emphasizing on the visual chronicles of Philippine society. The series of photographs shows everything from the calmness the sunset brings, innocence of a kid’s smile, to the tiring day of the working class. 

Curated by multi-awarded photojournalist Mel Cortez, SLICES OF TIME features beautiful sceneries from several provinces of the Philippines and neighboring Asian countries. One of the most compelling shots in the collection is that of the central business district of Mandaluyong – the tall buildings, and almost occupied residential areas of the city. Mount Hibok-Hibok also known as Catarman Volcano in Camiguin Island is also featured as a picturesque view along with the hot spring. 

The exhibition also displays the call of the toiling masses for equal opportunity for living minimum wage, the cry of families against injustice and human right violations, and environmentalists’ distress on development aggression through time. A recognizable portrait that Ricalde framed is that of former Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) Carol Araullo, where she shows frustration as police refused to silence their loudspeakers during a 2015 anti-APEC protest mobilization at Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila. 

There are also mobilization photos in this collection from different milestones of the democratic movement in the Philippines – from the late dictator Marcos, Aquino administration, 2010 up to present. 

Organized by EMC2 Fraternity as part of the UP Arts and Culture Festival 2024, Slices of Time is co-presented by UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts and will run from July 2 to 11, 2024 at the Ignacio B. Gimenez Gallery at UP Diliman. This exhibition is in honor of fellow activists and College of Engineering alumni Mon Ramirez and Chad Booc.


Efren Ricalde, the artist behind Slices of Time, is a seasoned photographer by passion and a technical director/ IT expert by profession. He has taken advanced courses to hone his skills in photography for the people. His works are published in alternative online news media.

Ricalde has been taking photos of the common people from the different walks of life, by the people and for the people for decades now. His shots usually reflect the plight of the Filipino masses – workers, farmers, youth, professionals and the intricacies of their everyday life and survival. He believes that his talent is developed to render service to the country, in fact one of his remarkable shots is a grand tableau in the play "Maghimagsik! Andres Bonifacio: Rebolusyonaryo, Anakpawis.

Ka Efren, as he is fondly called by his close friends in the people’s movement, believes that it is his appreciation both for the artistic and technical aspect of the craft that lets him still do voluntary photography for the “common tao.” He can be usually seen patiently waiting for the right elements – composition, lighting, and subject to be framed perfectly. This keeps him grounded, seeing the day-to-day hustle of people making ends meet, appreciating the beauty of nature, and capturing the decisive moments for his portrait and landscape shots.

Ricalde is very enthusiastic of making images with narrative combined with technical elements of photography making his shots well loved through the years. He is also into compiling the most iconic portrait of the mass leaders of the movement. Some of the personalities that he has photographed are: Carol Araullo, Sarah Elago, Sister Pat, and among others.

When he is not shooting photos, he is busy playing lawn tennis, or making a new malunggay recipe.

‘Death Is Not a Failure’: Enhancing Dolphin Disease Knowledge Through Hands-on Training

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

The photo is veterinarians measuring the length of a dolphin, a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba),  (Photo credit: Eunice Jean Patron)

Albeit disheartening, scientists said the death of a stranded dolphin is not entirely a setback during the “Cetacean Pathology Training and Workshop: Pathogenesis of Common Diseases in Stranded Dolphins,” held on June 24, 2024, at the University of the Philippines – Diliman College of Science’s Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UPD-CS IESM), Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Laboratory (MMRCL).

The workshop aimed to equip veterinarians with the proper practices and skills for documenting and collecting information about dolphin diseases, ensuring that a dolphin’s death contributes to deepening knowledge about these diseases. It was organized by the MMRCL of IESM, the Microbial Ecology of Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems Laboratory (METAS Lab) of the UPD-CS Institute of Biology (IB), the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN), the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP), and the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA).

“We conduct these sorts of training to build the capacity of local government units (LGUs) and concerned agencies in their marine mammal rehabilitation and post-mortem response,” said IESM professor and MMRCL head, Dr. Lemnuel Aragones, who is also the president of PMMSN.

Data presented in the workshop show that human activities, particularly underwater noise pollution such as blasts, significantly impact dolphins. Dr. Leo Jonathan Suarez, PMMSN treasurer and Head of Veterinary Services at Ocean Adventure, mentioned that apart from body tissue injury, blasts can also cause acoustic trauma. “The ear has the most sensitive tissues for pressure-induced damage,” he pointed out. “An adult may not experience or sustain injury from the blast itself. But, of course, the sound travels really far. So, they may actually suffer the consequences of the explosion through that sound.”

As Dr. Suarez showed several examples of suspected acoustic trauma cases, he reiterated that deaf dolphins can survive, yet they will slowly suffer due to hearing loss. “If they cannot echolocate, they cannot find and catch food. They cannot avoid predators. They cannot navigate. They cannot communicate. So basically, all of their skills and abilities to live in the wild are removed,” he added.

Focusing on studies of marine mammal diseases, PMMSN advisory member Dr. Christopher Torno, who mentioned that dolphin deaths are not truly failures, highlighted the importance of dolphin disease knowledge. “Sometimes when people talk about these things, take it with a grain of salt. Tignan niyo rin. As much as possible, I try to superimpose what I've learned. And you should too. ‘Yung mga templates natin sa pathology na you might think are useless, they are very useful,” he expounded.

Dr. Torno also reminded the workshop participants to double-check the dolphin’s organs when investigating the cause of its death, even if suspicions already exist. He shared how he has made mistakes during necropsies, illustrating that veterinarians can learn a lot about dolphin diseases through these examinations. 'The information you're bringing us will benefit not just you, but this entire network. We're learning from this, and I'm so happy I can share it with you,' he said.

Dr. Marie Christine Obusan, an IB professor and one of the heads of the METAS Lab, emphasized the need for more research on dolphin rehabilitation response. “Our country represents one-third of the world's cetacean diversity,” she explained. “And there is an increasing trend of stranding events over the years.”

As a scientist mainly focused on assessing samples from marine mammal stranding events, Dr. Obusan shared her experiences working with veterinarians in the field. “I’m very appreciative of the inputs I’m getting from different experts and being mentored by different veterinarians,” she said, underscoring how collaborations with people from various fields and expertise, as well as citizens themselves, can be helpful in better understanding marine mammals such as dolphins.

Workshop organizers and participants gathered in front of the IESM building for a photo after the morning session lectures. (Photo credit: Eunice Jean Patron)

Veterinarians from different LGUs across the Philippines, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and private veterinary clinics participated in the workshop. After the morning session lectures by the speakers, the participating veterinarians conducted a dolphin necropsy in the MMRCL room during the afternoon session.

The workshop organizers have also collaborated on other medical management training programs for marine mammals. “The need never ends, as we know that the frequency of strandings continues to increase through the years,” Dr. Aragones mentioned. “We focus on topics we believe are lacking or needed to enhance local capacities.”

Dr. Aragones and his team will soon release a scientific paper detailing marine mammal strandings in the Philippines from 2005 to 2022.

‘Death Is Not a Failure’: Enhancing Dolphin Disease Knowledge Through Hands-on Training

By: Eunice Jean C. Patron
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