Filipino photographers Hannah Reyes Morales and Kimberly dela Cruz have been awarded as regional winners in their respective categories at the 2023 World Press Photo Contest.
For Southeast Asia and Oceania, Morales won in the "Stories" category while dela Cruz won in "Long-Term Projects." The other categories were "Singles" and "Open-Format," aside from "Honorable Mention."
Morales submitted her The New York Times story Home for the Golden Gays. The "Golden Gays" is a community that came together to support and shelter older LGBTQ+ people in the Philippines.
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"This project enlists an intersectional approach to portray the multilayered experiences of LGBTQI+ identifying people in the Philippines. The photographer holds the people in such high regard and has them shining at the highest capacity. The images are stunning frames of love, joy, and celebration and the community the people surround themselves with. The project is well executed, beautifully photographed, and successfully centers the community's demonstrations of trust and resilience, instead of indulging in despair," the jury said of Morales' work.
"Thank you to Mama Mon and the Lolas, this is for them," Morales wrote in an Instagram post about her feat.
The said photographer and photojournalist from the Philippines focuses on "bringing historical memory and current events home, by looking at how they shape daily life," according to her dedicated page's biography.
Dela Cruz, meanwhile, worked on Death of a Nation, which had her document former President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war from its outset.
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In an Instagram post, dela Cruz revealed that the project was six years in the making, "witnessing crime scenes to funerals and the life that comes after for the families of war on drugs victims in the Philippines."
"The drug war in the Philippines is a topic that the jury has seen tackled numerous times, however, this project resonated as a slow, subtle, underreported perspective. The images show survivors of the detritus as well as their profound grief– apparent on the many faces of the people pictured. The photographer made intentional intimate choices and centered the experiences of families. She successfully highlights the consequences of the country's last regime, and demonstrates how the social fabric of the Philippines is forever altered," the jury commented on dela Cruz's output.
Now working as an independent photographer and journalist based in the Philippines, dela Cruz was a student activist who started bringing her camera during protests.
An independent jury selected 24 winners and six honorable mentions out of over 60,000 entries by 3,752 photographers from 127 countries. Their outputs covered stories "from the front lines of conflict, culture, identity, migration, memories of lost past, and glimpses of near and distant futures."
"At the heart of our selection process was the desire to highlight stories that not only raised awareness of important issues but also provided solutions or a call to action. We sought strong and brave stories that, in the context of our countries, may have been difficult to execute or discuss openly," Southeast Asia and Oceania jury chair Maika Elan said.
The annual World Press Photo Contest recognizes and celebrates the best documentary photography and photojournalism produced over the past year.