Photo Opportunity: Insult that adds pain to injury

Photo Opportunity: Insult that adds pain to injury

By Apolinario Villalobos

Photo opportunity or “photo-ops” refers to the taking of pictures of an activity, person or group with their consent. Politicians and those in the show business, or just anybody who want to draw attention delight in this kind of opportunity which has given birth to “selfies”. Relief institutions need this to show their benefactors where their donations went. In facebook, we are amused by black and white photos taken during our youthful days, also of important events in our life, such as nuptial, baptism, and just plain family bonding.

Not all photo opportunities are delightful. Some can be insulting that can add pain to injury. This happens during the aftermath of a disaster or calamity. It is alright to record the ruins and other effects of the catastrophe. But to delay the distribution of relief goods until the arrival of the president, or the highest official of the locality, or the secretary of the government relief agency or foreign dignitaries who “must” be part of the “photo-op”, is not. It is disheartening to learn that disaster victims who hiked over hills and trekked kilometers of distance to reach a designated relief distribution area, and who missed meals in the process, are made to wait under the searing heat of the sun until the VIPs have arrived. Suffering people who are in need of immediate assistance are also victims of this opportunistic act, as their faces contorted by agony are shamelessly splashed on the pages of dailies, magazines, and TV screens.

My friends who live in a depressed area told me how they were “invaded and made fools” by students researching on poverty, disease, corruption, and their photos taken as evidence of the government’s neglect. They were promised help by the “sympathetic” researchers who, after a couple of days were never heard again. The following year, two NGOs came to do similar interviews highlighted by photo-ops. Just like the students, they were never heard again. Still, the following year, another group came and distributed condoms and family planning pills, complete with photo taking. Couples with many children were promised relief goods and financial assistance which never materialized. What hurt my friends was what the opportunistic groups did – make promises that were never kept. All they could have done was just mentioned their purpose as my friends were willing to cooperate, anyway.

The poverty and neglect suffered by the oppressed are painful enough to bear. Taking their photos and making a fool of them with never kept promises, just add insult to the injury that may need much time to heal.