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Friday, October 7, 2011


What do you think? 
Here's a feature article I just wrote about Earl Recamunda, photojournalist of Budyong, the Official Student Publication of Bicol University College of Arts and Letters, which I am currently editor-in-chief of. This is included in our first print issue. Enjoy!

By Andrew G. Gahol


If there’s one thing Earl Epson Recamunda can tell you, it’s that everything’s a matter of perspective.

Earl Recamunda
            Depending on where you’re standing, this 20 year-old Audio-Visual Communication senior assumes several identities – visual artist extraordinaire, multi-instrumentalist, fashion maverick, photoblogger, Budyong’s resident photojournalist, Guild of Visual Artists president, AVC Society vice-president, Bigshots Productions manager/director and a bevy of other things.

But right now, he’s just a Filipino foreign exchange student in Busan, South Korea, struggling to make conversation with his Japanese roommate who could barely speak English.

“It’s hard making friends here,” laments Earl. Cultural differences and language barriers are hurdles he had to jump over on a daily basis since he arrived in the Land of Morning Calm. “It took me almost two weeks to finally laugh with Takayoshi, my roommate.”

Despite the cultural pressure, Earl paces through the bustling urban jungle of Busan, the second largest city after Seoul, to his classes at Dongseo University, one of South Korea’s most prestigious universities.

Studying Film and Video all-expense-paid in a foreign country that’s never in short supply of inspiration and imagery is every aspiring visual artist’s dream. But to Earl, the dream extends even after graduation. Armed with a DSLR, his brand of artistry and buttloads of determination, South Korea is only phase one in his grand plan to take the world by storm.

Artistic roots
It’s hard to miss Earl’s lanky, 6 foot tall figure even in the most muddled of crowds. A fish out of water, he sports uncanny ushankas and beanies almost daily. His bohemian mélange of outfits can be credited to frequent visits to the ukay-ukay.

Earl reveals that something more persona-defining runs deeper than Earl’s passion for fashion. “I consider myself a visual artist above anything else,” he says.  It was in his exploration of the visual medium at a young age where his art fixation would spring forth.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was a child,” he recalls. “It all began with drawings and doodles which, at that point, I didn’t even consider as good art.”

The 2nd Dongseo University International Camp

As one of the most prolific photographer/videographers in BU, you’d think that Earl was born with a DSLR around his neck. “I first picked up the camera just two years ago right after my freshman year in BU,” Earl says matter-of-factly. “I used my dad’s Sony point-and-shoot camera and began experimenting with it.” In a span of two years, he skyrocketed from being a camera tenderfoot to a certified photographer.

After finally getting a DSLR, he went on to create a collegiate body work that was the stuff of legends. Whether it’s crafting a renegade-themed trailer for the Search for Mr. and Ms. CAL 2011 or hopping on a helicopter to shoot the BU grounds from the sky during the 2010 SCUAA tournament, no job is too overwhelming for Earl.

But Earl’s artistic niche isn’t confined within the camera’s viewfinder. He’s also a sporadic doodler, a graphic artist, an aspiring advertising director and a filmmaker among many things. “I’m into a lot of disciplines,” says Earl. “One thing I haven’t tried though is sculpture-making.”

Annyong Haseyo, South Korea!
            When asked about what being a Filipino foreign exchange student in South Korea felt like, Earl didn’t spew grandiosities of awe and splendor like most Miss Universe contestants would. “Ang layo sa BU!” was all he could let out. As we’ve said, nothing’s too overwhelming for Earl.

            After a rigorous screening process, BU selected Earl to be sent as a foreign exchange student to Dongseo University. “All the AVC seniors were told earlier this year to submit their portfolio and an essay explaining why they should be chosen to be an exchange student in Korea,” explains Earl.

The hustle and bustle of Busan, South Korea
            Last September, Earl packed his bags for Busan. His first trip abroad, landing on Korean soil was met with fascination. “South Korea is a very culturally dynamic place,” Earl says. “Nakaka-amaze rin kung gaano kalinis at ka-organized ang Busan.”

            “Everything’s more ‘high-tech’ and the only thing more amazing than the environment is the people,” he says.

Earl also stresses how surprisingly friendly and down-to-earth his Korean classmates are. But when asked whether Korean warmth outstrips world-renowned Filipino hospitality, Earl proudly says “Siyempre, wala pa ring tatalo sa Pinoy!”

            The people Earl knew in Busan weren’t all Koreans. “I currently live in a dormitory with plenty of international students,” he says. “Takayoshi Nakagawa, my roommate, is Japanese. Some of my other new friends from the dormitory are Thai, Mongolian and Cambodian foreign exchange students.”

            Earl also shared the stuff he’s learned in Dongseo so far. “I’ve learned adaptation or writing a story according to your chosen literature. I’m also learning a lot about sound and image production.”

“I think a lot of what they’re lecturing here is also being taught in BU,” says Earl. “Ang pagturo dito is more about application than about theory."

Staying in Busan at least until December, Earl misses a lot of things in the Philippines. “I want adobo and paminsan-minsan, inaasam ko rin na magkaroon ng init dito.”

Making art work

“Art is about satisfying yourself,” Earl shares. “If you can’t satisfy yourself, how do you expect to satisfy others?”

Earl's self-proclaimed masterpiece - a lightning over
Lignon Hill shot using a point-and-shoot

Pragmatism and creativity is the alchemy that tucks Earl in the heart of today’s artistic zeitgeist. Kung anong meron ka, make use of it. You don’t have to buy all the equipment to make good art.”

Earl illustrates how important practical art is by showing us his magnum opus. “It’s a shot of a lightning over Ligñon Hill,” Earl shows us. “It’s my greatest masterpiece because it’s the embodiment of what art is really all about - patience, determination and know-how.” You also won’t believe that he took this with only his dad’s Sony point-and-shoot two years ago. Not bad for a non-DSLR camera.

            Aside from the artistic aspect of the job, Earl also believes that being a good artist is being a strong-willed artist. “You can’t please everybody,” says Earl. “Creating art is also a learning process. You have critics for you to learn from their criticisms. Don’t let these things discourage you from creating art.”

            Earl gets vexed by people’s misconceptions about art. “I think DSLRs are overrated because people think that they need one to become a real photographer,” he says.

Shooting the future
            Earl looks up to CAL alumni Venus Raj, Jovic Yee and Marianne Jalgalado. “They’ve all been recognized nationally and internationally for their advocacies and achievements,” Earl says. “They know what they want and I’m sure they would do anything to get it. They saw BU’s insufficiencies, not as a burden, but as a challenge.”

            In the meantime, Earl is in no hurry to rule the world. “I intend to establish a name in Bicol before anything else. How can you be internationally known when you’re not regionally recognized first?”

            Earl is setting aside global acclaim to make way for achieving a simple ambition. “My ultimate dream is to learn, teach and inspire,” Earl discloses

            In order for him to cement this vision, Earl turns to teaching. “As part of my contract with BU for being commissioned as a foreign exchange student, I have to teach in the university for at least one year,” he says.

            Optimistic, Earl says that AVC in BU has a lot of potential. “With just a few adjustments to the curriculum and by adding more full-time faculty members, I think our program could go a long way in terms of creating successful professionals.”

            Earl isn’t sure where he’ll be five years from now, but says that he really wants to be a BU professor, though the idea of him making an international splash remains a strong possibility.

            “I’d like to establish peace between North Korea and South Korea someday,” he joked.

Photos courtesy of Earl Recamunda


  1. Wow,, nice man!!
    We wait to see your new achievement soon :)

  2. inspiring po . .gud luck for him ..

  3. professor na po namin ngayon si sir earl!!!.. so proud.!!.. :))))


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