Offroading Filipino earns CNN badgeBy Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines rocks, literally.
And that’s meant in the fun, and not Earth-shattering, way. Imagine a rugged, mountainous landscape formed by millions of years of tectonic upheavals, bordered only by the world’s fifth longest coastline. Throw in a most biologically diverse flora and fauna. Sprinkle on some individuals who own offroad vehicles and are daring enough to actually use those vehicles as they were intended to be. Then, top that off with a photo and video documenter who knows how to rock and roll with images. What do you get?
The CNN’s attention, no less.
Multi-awarded photographer Jundio Salvador, 46, may be on just the right path when he describes himself as an “avid, die hard Land Rover fanatic” who has trained his eagle eyes on two things: The breathtaking sights and landscapes of the Philippines, and the way the British-born Land Rover adapts to a new, but familiar, habitat here.
Nature, man and machine have, indeed, conspired in Jundio’s video “The Secret World of Offroading”, which was shown as a CNN iReport last May 2, and earning him a CNN award badge. The badge is an award given to those whose CNN iReports are chosen for CNN.com. An iReport, which recognizes the contributor, is any interesting story submitted to the iconic cable news organization for possible feature.
Jundio expertly weaves together the exploits of the Land Rover offroading team and effectively highlights “the interestingly diverse offroading terrain in the Philippines, which not only has the common tropical terrains such as rock and mud, but also the two sand terrains—beach and desert dunes.”
The video features the Land Rover Festival to Mount Pinatubo last year, which was organized by the Land Rover Club Philippines and headed by Robby Consunji. It documented the “three-day offroad adventure and immersion of all sorts of Land Rover 60-year-vehicle variants ranging from the Series units, military version Light weights, Discovery, Range Rovers and Defenders.”
Tough love for country
It was Consunji who had been promoting offroading in the country because, as he said, one day this skill could save lives.
“Offroaders will reveal to you that not all roads in this country are as smooth and as wide as Metro Manila’s. In fact, the country features a road network that has 60 percent of the total in rural barangays, with 90 percent of these roads actually unpaved. Those are just the road conditions. Now add environmental forces at work on these roads: The monsoon rains that bring about floods, landslides and mudslides; and earthquakes that split roads apart. Then let’s not forget man-made forces at work, as well: Poor, if not corrupt, road construction standards and policies, and overloaded trucks wearing out roads too soon, if they even get paved at all,” Consunji told Inquirer Motoring in an earlier interview.
Jundio has been an eyewitness to the life-saving aspect of offroading when he participated in Land Rover Club Philippines’ disaster rescues in the past. These included the Typhoon “Ondoy” rescue and relief operations in his hometown Marikina. At the time, he had no “off-road ready” vehicle.
“That was the time I saw them maneuver through the impassable foot-deep mud in isolated areas of our suburbs to deliver relief goods.”
He also saw the group’s rescue mission during the Pedring and Quiel relief operations. “This time I had my own reliable offroad unit. I joined the delivery operations of our club to Hagonoy, Malabon and some parts of Pampanga while braving 4-foot-deep waters.”
During the Pedring relief operations with ABS-CBN, Jundio joined the broadcast network’s convoy of six-by-six military trucks to deliver sacks of rice to Hagonoy. Jundio recalled that the trucks wouldn’t risk crossing the three-meter wide Macadam passage which was already underwater because of the danger that they may slide out towards the deep, muddy gutter adjacent to the ricefields.
“One of the trucks got stuck and was about to overturn. Fortunately, with the skills I learned in offroading, I was able to winch out and retrieve the vehicle, which was almost thrice the size of my offroad vehicle.”
Besides such days of extremes, Jundio is often reminded why having an offroad vehicle pays off: “For the frequent floods and poor state and quality of our roads,” he stresses.
Jundio’s video for CNN included the group traveling “to the peak of Mt. Pinatubo while battling torrential rains”; driving to “Barangay Salasa in Palauig, Zambales where they hit the beach after climbing the very unforgiving rocky mountain trails of Mt. Tapulao”; and“easy trails where we passed by the lahar riverbeds of Delta 5 Pampanga, and then followed through the majestic mountain crevices of Sacobia River in Tarlac in order for us to reach a relaxing stopover and have a refreshing bath at Puning Hot Springs.”
On two previous occasions, two of his photos were chosen by CNN iReport. One was a picture of the Land Rover at La Paz, titled “Amazing Sand Dunes of La Paz Ilocos Norte” (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-778193), and the other, “Fun at the Surfing Capital of the North” (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-778131).
Out of the 435 entries submitted to CNN, 24 were chosen, which were further whittled down to 10. Two of his 10 entries were picked, plus he was given three reward badges from the evaluators.
“I started out with landscape photography as a hobby. As a creative artist, I always want to do things uniquely different.The best way of capturing the best landscapes is by reaching very isolated places at the right time, and the only way I can do that is to acquire a unique and reliable vehicle which can take me anywhere, anytime and ’in style’. I acquired a Land Rover, which is regarded as the best ‘4x4xfar.’”
He added: “Now that a couple of my still and video images have been seen, I intend to continue on to document and share anything that is happening around us in a way that we could better appreciate, even the simplest things in life which we take for granted.”
The video Jundio submitted to CNN iReport was in collaboration with his 20-year-old son Dionisio “Third” Salvador III .
Jundio recalled that during this Mt. Pinatubo adventure, he was driving his Land Rover Defender station wagon together with his family,“Third” volunteered to take and edit the video, while Jundio took still images.
“As a newbie offroad driver, who was just given an offroad green light after a full day crash course in one of the obstacle courses in Pampanga, I had the chance to hone more of my offroading skills during the Land Rover Festival at Mt. Pinatubo.
“I volunteered in the still and video documentation of this event mainly because I would like to contribute and share my expertise in car photography, wherein I have been blessed with local and international awards,” said Jundio.
Jundio’s major awards since he started digital photography three years ago included the 2011 FPPF-PWC Photographer of the Year( Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation-PhotoWorld Cup); 2011 Master Photographer of the Year SLR Cup; 2011 World Photography Organisation finalist–split second competition; 2010 and 2011 UK Britpart calendar photo contest consistent winner; 2011 Manila International Autoshow Photo Contest winner (two out of four categories–best indoor and outdoor car photo contest); 2010 third place Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture Searca Photo Contest.
Jundio said that his dream has a lot to do with his love of nature and photography.
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