There’s nothing typical about Loren Balmores, especially when she picks up a camera and take pictures of people and places, and capture meaningful moments in time. Loren, 23, is a student at the
, finishing her
degree in Modern Languages, one of the few young Filipinos who are pursuing
courses and degrees in Italian universities. University of Florence
Though she’s not considering a career in the field of photography, her passion for visual art is unwavering and intense. She taught herself about the basics and the techniques of photography and digital art and has been producing art works in good taste.
Last October 9, 2011, Loren showed what she’s really made of as she bagged the Third Prize at the 1st Photo Kultura Contest, a photography competition launched by Ugnayan ng Komunitang Pilipino, a Filipino association headed by Mr. Juancho Aquino. The theme of the contest was “The Life and Struggles of OFW’s”. The event was also attended by the Consul of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Tuscany Hon. Fabio Fanfani, and the new Philippine ambassador to
, H.E. Virgilio J. Reyes, Jr. and his wife, Mrs.
Maria Felisa L. Reyes, and various community leaders from different sectors of
the Filipino community of Italy . Among the
special guests was J. Orosa Paraiso, a neurologist and visual artist from the Florence , who also
exhibited his collection of photographs, entitled “ United States : Beyond the
Glass Window”. Bhutan
Loren’s entries are about the struggles and life principles of Filipinos living in a foreign land. The principles of diligence, faith, love, and sacrifice- these are the driving forces that push them to achieve hopes of a better life for their families. Her winning entry is entitled “The Struggle of Prejudice”. The photograph features her father standing in the forefront with his head held upright, showing his defiance against prejudice and mediocrity, while the other people stood behind him in the dim background with their heads bowed down.
Her entry is not just a simple picture but a tribute to her parents who made great sacrifices for her. In an interview, she recounted the story of how her parents, Jun Balmores and Lita Balmores, both professionals in Libya, migrated to Italy in search of greener pastures, hoping that they would be able to offer a better future for their daughter. In
they had to
give up their profession, confront discrimination, and stand against social
prejudice with dignity and integrity, with their new found faith in Jesus Christ.
With one photo she told the story not only that of her parents, but also those of thousands of other Filipino families, of men and women who crossed the borders and left their comfort zone for in search of a better future.
For so many years, the Philippine government and other national institutions have praised OFW’s by calling them the new heroes of the country. They are in fact one of the most important financial components which keeps the country’s economy afloat. The fact is the relentless Filipino diaspora and the government’s indifference (or perhaps, encouragement) to such phenomenon is damaging the cultural identity of the country, exposing a people to harassment and harsh treatment, and, above all, it’s also ripping apart families, causing so much problems and heartaches.
And it’s the very reason why Loren participated in the event. She believes that photography is not just for art and cultural appreciation but an important tool not for the community and also for the Church and its mission in spreading God’s message of hope and love.
She and her family are active members of the
. Loren is
involved in various ministries together with her boyfriend Jobert Galanza, a
fellow church worker and leader of the ADI-MEF Florence Church ADI-MEF Young Adults
Group. Most importantly, she’s also a member of the teaching force of the in ADI-MEF Bible School . She’s also a
volunteer in non-government organizations such as Florence ARCI and UNICOOP,
organizations that are working for the emancipation of immigrants and foreign
communities in . Tuscany
Indeed, there’s nothing average about her. Beneath the clothes and image of what seems to be the average Filipina girl, there’s a woman of impressive intelligence, great and courageous spirit, and a heart full of charity and faith in God. She is not the ideal modern day girl, but a genuine woman of God.