WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS DOCUMENT ANIMALS WHILE LIVING IN A CAMPER VAN
by Zoe Salvador
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
OObserving wild animals in their natural habitat is always a joy. It must be so memorable to see these lovely creatures thriving where they belong. It can also be quite the elusive sight: Not everyone gets the opportunity to see these rare moments. It’s rare for anyone to go to these wonderful places without accidentally being disruptive to the resident animals. One couple, however, has made it a part of their lifestyle. PICTURE PERFECT Celine and Dennis Murillo have been living in a camper van and traveling around the Philippines, all while documenting the wonderful animals they have encountered. After a brief yet eye-opening interview with Celine, we have been given an intimate look into how they have been going about this lifelong journey of theirs. For her documentation processes, Celine mentions that she tries to capture the animals in their most natural state instead of trying to capture their attention using artificial means, such as bait or audio. She “relies only on the power of observation and familiarity.” Majority of the time, she remains outside doing her work. “I just really spend a lot of time on the field, which is where our mobile home, our camper van, comes in handy,” she says. “We often wake up early and always stay for months in a place, so having our home with us or nearby during our fieldwork is such a huge benefit.” BIRD BLISS One of Celine’s favorite fascinations is Birds. She has documented many Birds over the years, her absolute favorite being the Philippine Eagle. “My photo of the newly-fledged Pamarayeg III was hard-won,” she explains, “It was two months in the making and required seven trips to leech-infested trails, muddy trenches, and rockstrewn paths. A journey worthy of the King of Birds.” DECOLONIZING THEIR LIVES An important aspect of why Celine chooses to live this lifestyle goes far beyond the need for animal documentation. It is a part of her journey towards self-actualization. She uses the terms “decolonizing” and “re-indigenizing” because she is doing her best to bring herself closer to her roots as a Filipino. She explains that foreign depictions of wildlife are most common and we don’t often get to see coverage on the fascinating creatures we can find all over our country. “There’s always Kangaroos, Elephants, and Tigers. Where are the Tamaraws, the Tarsiers, and the Dugong?” A big part of her mission is to re-introduce the wildlife that we share our country with to the general public. She says, “We protect what we love, and how can we love something that we’re not familiar with?” [Celine and Dennis] have established themselves as an impactful puzzle piece within the picture of our nation. Celine and Dennis are a couple of wild souls with vast knowledge on the animals that make up our history. They use their influence to educate and assist people, adding to our Philippine sense of nationality. They point the lens toward our uniqueness and individuality, showing us Filipinos that our culture is extraordinarily rich. For more information on the couple, you can find them on Youtube under the channel name @ Celine and dennis murri lo. Here, they post vlogs where they give you an intimate look into their #Vanlife as well as their interesting day to day processes. It’s fun, educational, and inspirational. Ultimately, this couple is doing more than just sharing their own personal story. They have established themselves as an impactful puzzle piece within the picture of our nation. Celine is also a creator of “visual poetry.” Her film K5, short for Katutubong Kahoy Kontra Krisis sa Klima, showcases the different trees that are native to our country and how they benefit us. “This film emphasizes the benefits of native trees: that there are fast-growing ones, ones that are perfect as windbreakers and for flood and erosion controls, and that there is a whole network of advocates cultivating them and are more than willing to share their resources to anyone.” K5 is one of the five finalists for the Department of Science and Technology-science Education Institute’s Indiesiyensya Film Festival, which showcases films communicating science. The theme for this year is climate actions and solutions.