Joshua T. Formentera Jr. is a social activist and a graduate in Foreign Service Major International Relations and Political science from the University of Manila (1987). After having setup and susccesfully run a travel business (1991), Joshua established Positive Action Foundation Philippines (PAFPI) (1998), a NGO working for advocacy, treatment care and support for vulnerable people, focusing on those infected with HIV/AIDS and their families. Today, PAFPI has its head office in Manila with regional centers in Iloilo City and Cebu. In 2002 Joshua founded the Centennial School of the Philippines (CSP) (2002) as a private elementary school to provide affordable high-quality education for students from deprived backgrounds in one of the poorer southern suburbs of Manila. A scholarship program is available for those families who cannot afford the modest annual fee. In 2012 CSP is expanding to include a high school. Joshua received a scholarship (2004) from the Ford Foundation to study at the Asian Institute of Management, on the Programme Development Manager. Joshua has always been keenly interested in improving the social conditions for vulnerable groups. This is an area where much work is needed in the Philippines. The country is characterized by extreme income differences and very high birth rates resulting in widespread poverty and overpopulation. The power of the Catholic Church is another challenge when it comes to family planning and prevention of the spread of HIV, as the church is a strong opponent of the use and distribution of condoms. The commitment to work actively on social issues also involves raising awareness at home and abroad. Joshua’s picture series Life Of Manila Bay is part of these efforts. By documenting the lives of struggling individuals, trying to make a living by the waters of Manila Bay – only a short distance from the luxury of the Manila yacht club and in the shadow of gleaming skyscrapers – he not only aims at telling a story about each person, but also tries to relate the condition.
" Taking photographs and documenting the lives of vulnerable persons is a deep passion of mine. In the area of Metro Manila most middle or upper class Filipinos do not perceive poor people as individuals. I aim at telling a story about each person. I want the pictures to reflect dignity and in this way pay homage to their daily struggle. Years of hardship are chiseled into the faces of the older persons. They carry their past openly for all to see. Yet, there is a determination, a pride and a sense of self-respect. It is of utmost importance that the subject of the photography feels comfortable with the situation. I always make an effort to engage with each person, talk about their life, their dreams and their struggles. The child selling flowers, the old women collecting clams, and the young boys collecting garbage each stand out in their own way. By capturing them in their daily tasks I wish to make other, more fortunate people aware of what is going on – sometimes on a daily basis before their own eyes, but which they still do not perceive.
If you noticed all of the photographs are untitled it is because I want everyone to see the photography of children, men and women that they are not different from us, they are people, they are human beings, they have rights, they need help, they need a home they need good health and they need education. After all life is about LOVE, RESPECT AND DIGNITY." -Joshua T. Formentera, Jr.