By Liza Agoot

Baguio Flower Festival (Panagbenga) (File photo)

BAGUIO CITY – Eight Persons with Autism (PWA) put to test their years of photography training during the Baguio Flower Festival (Panagbenga) during the weekend.

The eight PWA were accredited by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) and granted access to vantage locations during the street dance competition and floral floats’ parade which featured 33 participants.

“Masaya po naman (It was fun),” Joseph Noli Vizcocho, 31, said.

Typically, Vizcocho and his fellow PWA would be lumped with professional photographers and other media practitioners.

He said it was not an ideal situation for them and they prefer to cover events “in a relaxed mode” without being boxed out to get better shots.

Vizcocho, who hails from Benguet’s capital town of La Trinidad, has been studying photography since he was 14.

This year, Vizcocho described his experience as “beautiful with a variety of street dance competitions, different costumes and attire.”

To ensure an orderly coverage, he said they dutifully followed the coverage rules provided by the BFFFI.

For instance, whenever he moved from where he was standing to take a shot, he asked permission first from a media assistant assigned to the location.

Immersion for PWAs

Baguio Photographers Club’s Ompong Tan and Joseph’s father, Noli Vizcocho of the Autism Society Philippines-Baguio, organized the first photography activity for PWA here in 2009.

They also hold regular photo shoots and exhibits at SM Baguio Mall and an annual PWA photography seminar.

“The parents wanted this for their children because they have been into photography for many years, and they are pretty good. So we asked for approval for their immersion and they enjoyed it,” Tan said.

Training PWA

Tan said training a PWA to be a photographer is a tedious process, with each trainee usually needing two assistants.

“We always do one mentor and one documenter for each PWA, with the parents joining and teaching us how to handle them,” he explained.

Andrew Pinero, BFFFI media committee co-chair, said they did not hesitate in accommodating the PWA.

“We are glad to contribute to their experience,” he said. (PNA)