ENTER/Picture Power features Raffy Lerma


This image, taken by Rafael Lerma - a staff photographer at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s biggest newspaper - was chosen by Ernie Sarmiento, the Inquirer’s chief photographer.

It shows the first day back in class, June 4 2007, for pupils at Pinagbayanan Elementary School in the town of Taysan, some 80 kilometers south of the Philippine capital Manila.

But the pupils are in temporary accommodation because their classrooms were burnt down by armed men three weeks earlier when the school was being used as a voting station during local elections.

Two people - a teacher and an election official - were killed in the fire and a third person died a month later.

Says Ernie (Sarmiento): "The photo stirred the whole country wanting a speedy justice for the victims and demanded the government rebuild the school as soon as possible. For making the ultimate sacrifice to defend the ballot, teacher Nellie Banaag will be remembered for a very long time - the rebuilt Pinagbayanan Elementary School will be named after her. There were many photos of that first day of school.

We, the Day Desk Editor and me, chose this one because it represented the plight of many public schools' lack of classrooms. The Taysan photo also stood out because it hit both the government's slow action on the case and the slow progress in rebuilding the school.

On August 29, the country’s President formally honored two of the dead people by giving them the highest civilian award and the new school building was also inaugurated."

"Technically, the photo is well lit by the early morning sun illuminating the room from both the windows and the open doors. Although much of the weight is on the right side of the frame, the presence of the stray dog balances the picture. It also shows the candidness of the situation as the teacher and the students are so concentrated on what they are doing."

Featured in: ENTER's Picture Power
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