By Filipina Storyteller Jo A. Santos (photos and text)
The signs of change are everywhere. A skyline littered with expensive condominium towers and new construction sites; the spread of generic mall culture with the chain stores and high-end boutiques; the faces seemingly getting younger, more hip, and less attuned to the past.
Yet, at the margins, the old Cubao is still there if one dares to look. To the careful eye, one can see the older era grappling with the new. And it is there, at Cubao’s very seams, where my childhood memories still linger — of going to the palengke with my family, of buying Marikina-made school shoes every year, and of feeling overwhelmed by the sticky heat of the crowds and the gritty smell of commerce.
Indeed, the Cubao of old can still be found in the stories of the working class and ordinary commuters; in the faces of the poorly-paid service crew, security guards, food vendors, and those who eke out a living in the streets or who stop by for a bit of respite. For little has really changed as each find their way to cope and survive.
Jo A. Santos is a freelance photographer based in Quezon City who focuses on street, documentary photography, and visual journalism, particularly stories that delve into issues of culture, human rights, and social justice. Three of her photographs were exhibited in 2011 at the House of Representatives and Quezon City Hall as part of “KaBuhayan: a traveling exhibit on entrepreneurship for the poor”. She has contributed to alternative media groups and is an associate member of the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP). Her website is http://cargocollective.com/josantos.