Last Saturday I had the privilege of having an impromptu photo shoot with these lovely little girls who were playing in Fort Santiago. The photos were simply stunning and as I was uploading them to my computer, I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to print out a batch to bring back to the girls (printed photos are quite common in the States but here it’s quite a rarity that a lower-income family would both have a camera and the money to purchase prints). And so I found myself selecting the best group shots and a solo portrait for each child and getting the batch printed at my nearest Kodak store.
Now, mind you, I had no idea how I was going to find these girls again. They had looked very comfortable in the park (like it was their backyard), so I was hoping they lived nearby. My game plan was this… 1.) Walk the perimeter and see if I could find them again 2.) Show the pictures around (like you would with a missing child) and see if anyone recognized them. I know, not the greatest plan, but I was out of ideas!
The perimeter walk was unsuccessful so I went up to the entrance guard and showed him the pictures. He seemed to recognize them and said something about the parking lot and pointed me outside the park. Wild goose chase, here I come! When I got to the parking lot I stopped the first woman I saw and showed her the pictures. Low and behold, one of the girls was her niece! She proceeded to shout rapidly in Tagalog and all of a sudden 2 of the 4 little girls came running over. I can’t tell you how pumped I was to have found them!! It turns out that all 4 girls were cousins and their parents and relatives sell food, souvenirs and horse rides to visitors of Fort Santiago (hence why they looked so comfortable – they lived right in that parking lot!)
I had just started handing out the pics to the girls when we were mobbed by a crowd of friends, neighbors and relatives (probably 25-30 people). The pictures were grabbed out of our hands and passed from person to person, rapidly becoming covered with hundreds of grimy prints. :)
It was pure joy, I tell you, to watch and be part of that scene. To stare into those little girls’ faces and know without a doubt that they felt beautiful in that moment. To make them forget that they’re playing in a parking lot wearing mismatched clothes and covered in dirt.
Because what I do know is that every girl deserves to feel special, no matter what her family’s financial situation.
And to think, all it took was $1 of photographs…