With Passion & Purpose: Photographs by Rick Rocamora

WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE: Photographs by Rick Rocamora
At the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Opening Reception: 13 June 2012
Pasilyo Vicente Manansala
2/F CCP Hallway Gallery

Artist's Talk:
21 June 2012
Bulwagang Luna (3/F CCP Main Gallery)
3:00 PM  - 5:00 PM

Documentary photographs have been described as “conscious acts of persuasion.” For San Francisco-based photographer Rick Rocamora, this has certainly been the case since taking on the camera in 1985. Before then, he worked in the US pharmaceutical industry in sales and management positions for 18 years. Rocamora, however, has always had a strong sense of activism shaped by Philippine conditions in the 1960s and 1970s. An anti-Marcos activist, he decided to leave for the United States in 1972 and gained a US citizenship in

Rocamora’s first series of documentary photographs tackled the plight of the Filipino World War II veterans, a concern that led him to eventually make a fulltime commitment to photography more than 25 years ago. Using his gift of persuasion, but this time through images, Rocamora brought attention to the struggle of these unsung war heroes. Titled America’s Second-Class Veterans, the poignant and often disturbing images were instrumental in exposing the abuses and scams that beset the Filipino veterans. Rocamora states that in the process of compiling this series, he “lived the life of a veteran” allowing him to produce pictures that tell the most intimate stories of his subjects. Moreover it has been noted that he portrayed these men with “tenderness and respect…their dignity is undiminished.” He has since taken on various advocacies as evident in the many completed and ongoing series he has pursued in the US, Central America, and the Philippines.

His images from his motherland have been described as “very painful and does not uplift the image of the Philippines … to the outside world.” To this, his response is to underscore the responsibility of a documentary photographer of not hiding “the truth but instead use our work to call attention to issues of our concern or encourage debate.”

During frequent trips to the Philippines, Rocamora would spend most of his days roaming around Metro Manila where poverty was palpable and real. An ongoing series, This is Our Home, is about homeless families who he realized are not transients. He would see them on his return visits in the same place thus establishing friendships. From this he compiled a photo essay on Rodallie S. Mosende: Hope among the homeless of Paterno Street” which influenced a benefactor to grant Mosende a 4-year scholarship starting this school term.

For Rocamora, the exhibition title With Passion and Purpose is an apt statement about his vocation and the advocacies he is committed to. He selected seventy images to represent his other series such as those dealing with the Muslims after 9/11, inmates in city jails, juvenile detention centers and maternity wards. Also first to be presented in public is his series of the 1081 Claimants – headshots of the claimants under the Marcos Martial Law Victims.

The exhibit opens on 13 June, Wednesday at 6 pm at the Pasilyo Vicente Manansala (2/F Hallway Gallery), CCP Main Theater building and will be on view until 12 August 2012. Viewing hours: 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. For more information contact the CCP Visual Arts & Museum Division at 832-3702 or email ccp.vamd@gmail.com.

The exhibit is organized with assistance and support from: Human Wrongs, Philippines, Think Tank photos, GAIA South, Inc. Environmental Consultants, UP Sigma Rho Fraternity, Canon Philippines, and Krispy Kreme.


RICK ROCAMORA has won awards for his images and picture stories from Asian American Journalist Association, SF Bay Area Press Photographers Association, New California Media, Media Alliance; he was awarded a California Arts Council Art Fellowship and a Local Bay Area Heroes Award from KQED and Union Bank of California for his work about Filipino WW II Veterans. His work has been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and other national and international print and online publications.

His work is widely exhibited in national and international museums and galleries. His work is part of a collection of American arts most recently exhibited at the Court of Saint James in the United Kingdom and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. His work is included in the traveling exhibition “Points of Entry-A Nation of Strangers,” which was exhibited at the Smithsonian, Center for Photographic Arts, Museum of Photographic Arts, and other venues. His images are part of “Pork and Perks – Corruption and Governance in the Philippines” a National Book Award winner in the Philippines in 1994. “Second-Class Veterans” a film produced by Don Young that profiled Rocamora’s undying efforts to document the day-to-day lives of Filipino veterans was broadcast on PBS stations in 2003 and 2004. His book about Filipino WWII veterans, “America’s Second-Class Veterans” was published in 2009.

He is also working on a project about Muslim-Americans after 9/11, Immigrant entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Overseas Filipinos and “Balikbayan” Journal, a visual diary of his occasional visit to his motherland, the Philippines. His commissioned coffee table book project “Jewels of Rio Tuba” is scheduled for publication before the end of 2012. Several of his images are now part of the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Rocamora co- founded Exposure Gallery in San Francisco with Pulitzer winner Kim Komenich.
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