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Tom Conelly | profile | all galleries >> Asia, Africa, and Central America >> Palawan Island, Philippines: the world as it was tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Palawan Island, Philippines: the world as it was | Rural Mozambique | Morocco 2006 | Vietnam (2008) | Mexico -- Yucatan: Then and Now (2010) | Mexico -- Guanajuato and San Miguel (2007) | Oaxaca, Mexico (2014)

Palawan Island, Philippines: the world as it was

These photographs were taken on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines in the early 1980s. At the time, my wife and I lived in a village on the west coast of the island for 18 months while doing our graduate research in anthropology. I hope the photos give a sense of what the island was like and how people lived in some very remote rural areas with few roads and little in the way of a government presence. Though some people sold small quantities of crops, fish, or forest products on the market, this was largely a self-sufficient subsistence economy that was truly "off the grid". This isolated community on Palawan Island 30 years ago is not representative of the Philippines as a whole, and much has changed on Palawan over the past few decades.

In describing the community I typically use the present tense. This represents the 'ethnographic present', in this case 1980-81. The photos were taken with a SLR camera and slide film. The quality of the images, I know, is mixed. This is because I was new to photography at the time, many of the slides slowly deteriorated over the years (scratches, dust, mold), and also the difficulty of getting high quality scans. Still, I hope the pictures are interesting enough to warrant a gallery on Pbase.
Aerial view Puerto Princesa City, provincial capital
Aerial view Puerto Princesa City, provincial capital
Aerial view Iwahig River
Aerial view Iwahig River
Aerial view west coast of Palawan
Aerial view west coast of Palawan
Our house
Our house
Maggie, our bat-eared Palawan cat
Maggie, our bat-eared Palawan cat
Neighbor kids visiting
Neighbor kids visiting
Miriam babysitting
Miriam babysitting
Miriam and Maggie on one of many gloomy and rainy days
Miriam and Maggie on one of many gloomy and rainy days
Mang Luis and grandchild
Mang Luis and grandchild
New family
New family
Miss Napsaan -- a talent and beauty pageant
Miss Napsaan -- a talent and beauty pageant
Funeral -- one of many
Funeral -- one of many
Funeral in Apurawan
Funeral in Apurawan
Daan Tagbanua
Daan Tagbanua
Masbateno near Quezon
Masbateno near Quezon
Crossing the Bagumbayang River on way to a funeral
Crossing the Bagumbayang River on way to a funeral
Procession honoring patron saint of community
Procession honoring patron saint of community
Aerial overview of village center
Aerial overview of village center
Irrigated rice -- Rudy repairing water canals
Irrigated rice -- Rudy repairing water canals
Irrigated rice -- land preparation
Irrigated rice -- land preparation
Frontier life
Frontier life
Planting rice in a burned swidden field
Planting rice in a burned swidden field
Rice swidden planting party
Rice swidden planting party
How to trap a monkey in your rice field
How to trap a monkey in your rice field
Visiting the Batak - bridge to nowhere
Visiting the Batak - bridge to nowhere
Young unmarried Batak girl
Young unmarried Batak girl
Batak mother and child
Batak mother and child
Batak -- our hosts while visiting
Batak -- our hosts while visiting
Remote Batak house
Remote Batak house
Batak hunter
Batak hunter
Batak mother and child #2
Batak mother and child #2
Batak mother and child #3
Batak mother and child #3
Palawan beach
Palawan beach
Returning from night fishing
Returning from night fishing
Outrigger sailing canoe
Outrigger sailing canoe
Abandoned boat hull
Abandoned boat hull
Fishing with homemade speargun
Fishing with homemade speargun
Reef fishing just offshore
Reef fishing just offshore
Dilapidated west coast town of Quezon
Dilapidated west coast town of Quezon
Weighing the night's catch
Weighing the night's catch
Participant observation
Participant observation
Galon hunting in the forest
Galon hunting in the forest
Forest trip
Forest trip
Collecting Manila copal
Collecting Manila copal
Galon is going to collect honey from a bee hive high in the trees
Galon is going to collect honey from a bee hive high in the trees
Applying a natural bee repellent
Applying a natural bee repellent
The smoking torch drives bees away from the hive
The smoking torch drives bees away from the hive
Collecting the hive
Collecting the hive
Galon processing the honey
Galon processing the honey
Shelter in forest 'campo'
Shelter in forest 'campo'
Wild pig killed by Mang Binancio and sons
Wild pig killed by Mang Binancio and sons
Yet another injury - pierced through the foot by bamboo
Yet another injury - pierced through the foot by bamboo
Miriam and Maggie on front porch of house
Miriam and Maggie on front porch of house
Old friends
Old friends
Where is Palawan?
Where is Palawan?