PHILIPPINES. Quezon City: A Filipino citizen can fill the shoes of a photojournalist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone owns a smartphone that can capture an image and upload it to social media. The founders of Photographers on Demand (PonD) News Asia pushed it further for news coverage.
The pandemic crippled the news media industry and left them operating at 50% capacity. This occurrence mostly affected the freelance photojournalists that got cut off from the payroll. As a consequence, news media have been struggling to cover as many areas as possible for reportage.
Filipino citizens can help with this dilemma and capture reportage photographs. PonD News Asia creates that bridge. Richel Mascariñas and Edwin Tuyay created this concept during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photojournalists on demand
Quarantine cancelled the launch of the PonD app on 25 March 2020. Instead, Mascariñas and Tuyay, along with veteran photographers Mel Cortez, Jimmy Domingo, and Voltaire Domingo, extended it into local news wire with Filipino citizens involved. He said, ”We thought of the PonD News Asia because of the lockdown.”
There are currently 35 Filipino citizens working as news stringers with news media like the Daily Tribune and Manila Standard. Daily Tribune’s picture editor Yummie Dinding shared her insight, “I hope that PonD continues to grow and able to cater more content, so photographers and founders can benefit.”
Feedback from Filipino citizens
PonD News Asia stringers share their feedback and experiences. Transcontinental Times selected three stringers and their stories.
Vivian Marasigan Valdez has been a mobile photographer since 2011, and she shared her experience. She said, “Seeing my photos featured as the cover page of a newspaper gave me a place in photojournalism. To inspire me more, I hang a large print of that image in my bedroom. PonD News Asia allowed me to reach my dream to become a photojournalist.”
Photographer Allan Peter Sinco, who is into culinary and patisserie, joined the roster of news stringers. He said, “I joined the team without hesitation. After the mentorship and patience of Edwin Tuyay, I got ten of my photos published with two of them as a front cover.”
Rico-Teodoro Jose has practised street and documentary photography for five years, but with PonD News Asia, he can learn more. He said, “PonD News Asia helped me achieve the dream of my images published in a newspaper. It is my first time to work for a news wire as a Filipino citizen photojournalist. PonD News Asia became a pathway for us.”