As a support to the Filipino community in Germany, I am again running the topic on this photo that launched many opinions, most of them are resigned to the fact that poverty is a reality in our country. But no matter how few and wide is the voice that clamors for under representation (or misrepresentation), it is still a national concern that Manila is represented by poverty ALONE in an exhibit in a foreign land entitled Mega Cities.
Singly, the photo actually has, admittedly, its strength as a message to the Philippine Government in getting its efforts together in eradicating poverty in the country. However, let it be remembered that this photo is exhibited together with other photos under the title MEGA CITIES, and the exhibit is not about poverty or about poor governance. The exhibit is about culture and progress as shown in other photos included in the exhibit. All photos are here. Any professional curator will reconsider balance in deciding what to include, and sadly, Manila was not given justice in this lone representative photo.
To quote a Taiwanese Facebook Friend Karl Jone, he said that "regardless whether rich or poor, every city is unique and Manila is unique and deserves more compliment." This comment from him sums up in the most simple term why we are clamoring or we should be clamoring about this lone photo. Because as megacity, Manila can also be more than poverty ONLY just like Mumbai and Sao Paolo in their double photos in the exhibit. The art curators of this exhibit indeed overlooked balance for Manila here, wittingly or unwittingly.
Here are two related stories I posted. Please see for more criticism on the photo chosen to represent Manila. http://footandfire.blogspot.com/2014/11/is-including-defecating-person-in-photo.html and http://footandfire.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-obscene-detail-nobody-wants.html.
Here is the latest correspondence between the exhibit author Turmforum and the Stuttgart-Ulm Rail Project Society (Originally in German; Translation done by Peter Billard and provided by Naomi Billard).
Dear Ms. Billard,
Thank you for your communication through the Turmforum contact form of 30 October 2014, which I would like to answer as follows.
The aim of the MegaCities exhibition now on display along the passage to the platforms at Stuttgart Main Station is to show the diversity of these cities. Information on this is provided by the introductory text at the start of the series.
The pictures have been selected from private photographs that have already been published in the Internet. These show snapshots of life in these cities. There was never any intention to discredit individuals or entire nations, nor was this the case.
For the photograph under discussion, the incident described by you was as such not apparent and also has not been noticed up to now. The woman cannot be identified, and so there has been no violation of her personal rights. A photograph showing this incident that as such is unmistakably identifiable or that would allow the woman to be recognized would not have been exhibited by us.
Since the start of this display, we have received numerous positive responses. Your communication is the first of this nature. This suggests that, for passing pedestrians, the incident as such is not apparent and that the photographs are not perceived to be offensive. Notwithstanding this, we will put up the next photographic series around the time of the New Year, so that the picture referred to by you will no longer be on display.
I hope that this helps in responding to your complaint.
Response to this Letter by Naomi Billard:
Dear Mr. Bösinger,
Thank you for your answer to my complaint concerning the depiction of Manila in your display. Your belief that this remained previously unnoticed is unfortunately misplaced. Just a few weeks ago, my husband noticed that Manila is presented in a poor light when compared with the other cities. Although rundown socially deprived areas are also shown for these cities, mostly they also appear with more attractive views. By the way, other new and attractive views of Manila are to be found in the Internet, e.g. Makati, Metro Manila.
Only after I examined the Manila picture more closely did I notice this woman. Nevertheless, her depiction was not my main concern, although particular stress was laid on this in the press report. In my view, it is saddening and also incorrect to impart such a one-sided impression of a Manila slum. Manila is a vibrant and interesting city that deserves to be shown to the international public in a more nuanced fashion. I would have expected this from Stuttgart, that lays claim to be a "Partner to the World".
I would have expected from you in your response at least an apology or an expression of genuine regret. Unfortunately, you have merely attempted to make light of the matter and to imply that I was the only person who criticized your display, and therefore naturally not to be taken seriously. Could you imagine that, in an international exhibit, Germany were to be depicted only by an image of rowdy hooligans in Cologne or of urinating drunks in Stuttgart? I am certain that this would arouse quite a commotion in the relevant bodies and the general public. I may assume that your organization would certainly not have agreed to such a one-sided depiction.
I have since received plenty of supportive messages regarding my concern and these have strengthened me in my resolve to point out issues that for many may only be of significance at second glance. But it is usually this impression that remains.
I therefore hope that you can now better understand the reason for my displeasure and my disappointment, and that it may be possible for your organization to, at the very minimum, add a pertinent comment to your display.