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PDI photographer bags Sopa excellence award

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 02:05 AM June 20, 2016
WINNING SHOT This photo, titled “Holy Cow,” by Inquirer  photographer Marianne Bermudez (left), won the Sopa Award for Excellence in News Photography. NINO JESUS ORBETA

WINNING SHOT This photo, titled “Holy Cow,” by Inquirer photographer Marianne Bermudez (left), won the Sopa Award for Excellence in News Photography. NINO JESUS ORBETA

A GREAT shot.

A photo of a tethered cow leaping over Philippine Marines during live-fire exercises won for Inquirer photographer Marianne Bermudez her first award from the prestigious The Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa).

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Bermudez copped Sopa’s Award for Excellence in News Photography (Group B) in 2016 during the annual awards gala in Hong Kong on Wednesday night, besting other publications’ pictures of a rally in Malaysia and of homeless people in China and Hong Kong.

The Malaysiakini’s photo of the Bersih 4 rally, a series of rallies mounted by a coalition seeking electoral reforms in Malaysia, won honorable mention.

The Sopa Awards for Editorial Excellence serve as the world-class benchmark for quality journalism in Asia, according to the nonprofit organization.

In Sopa’s online announcement of the 2016 winners, a judge made this comment on Bermudez’s photo: “A great shot.’’

The winning photo, titled “Holy Cow,’’ was the Inquirer’s front-page  wallpaper in its Oct. 10, 2015, issue.

Picture perfect

But for Bermudez, 35, it was just a “lucky shot.’’

While on the road to cover the joint exercises of Filipino troops and their American counterparts in the former US naval base in San Antonio, Zambales, a province north of Manila, she already had a “photo in mind,’’ she said.

After all, it was her second time to cover the exercises at the naval base.

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“The photo of the Philippine Marines with the jumping cow, however, was a surprise. It was not planned at all. The area where the live firing was held was filled with about two dozen   grazing cows. And when the American and Philippine Marines began firing, the cows just went wild,’’ she said.

If at all, it was just a “very lucky shot,’’ Bermudez said.

“I was not even framing for the cow. I was focused on the soldiers on the ground when one of the cows just jumped into the frame. I got very lucky,’’ she said.

It was a back-to-back win for the Inquirer. Last year, the newspaper’s multiawarded photographer Edwin Bacasmas also won the Award for Excellence in the same category for his photo, titled “Home Street Home.’’

Bermudez said winning the award was a “humbling experience’’ given that her photo was up against excellent pictures.

“Even the nominees at our table during the awarding ceremony were from The Associated Press, Reuters and Chinese dailies, and being the only Filipinos there we were kind of just felt our way around,’’ she said.

“I have more appreciation for the Sopa awards this year, with the former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou giving a very supportive speech on a video recording, with all-out support for freedom of the press, especially in Southeast Asia,” she said.

Ma, who stepped down on May 20 after an eight-year term as Taiwan’s president, was banned by the new government from traveling to Hong Kong over concerns about his personal safety and a possible leak of state secrets.

“I didn’t know that Hong Kong was such a dangerous city,” Ma said in the video-taped keynote speech.  “Ladies and gentlemen, you better watch out.”

 Biggest honors

In the same speech, Ma also said: “Freedom of the press and standards of professional journalism have always indicated the cultural level of modern societies, and also reflect core values that Taiwan and Hong Kong share and uphold.’’

In 2003, the news story “Abadilla 5: Story out of martial law pages” won the Sopa Excellence in Specialized Reporting award in Category B, the award for local newspapers.

The five-part series, which came out on Dec. 10-14, 2002, was written by reporters Stella Ruth O. Gonzales, Juliet Labog-Javellana and Nancy Carvajal.

Last year, Carvajal was the biggest winner when she was named Sopa’s Journalist of the Year.

Carvajal bested two other finalists—Jonah M. Kessel of the International New York Times and Hannah Beech of Time—for the prestigious award.

Over the years, the Inquirer has received several awards from the Sopa, among them: Best Opinion Piece; Best Opinion Writing; Local Journalist Award; Certificate of Excellence in the Scoop Category; Honorable Mention in Excellence in Reporting of Breaking News, Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting; and citations for Environmental Reporting and Editorial Cartooning. With a report from Inquirer Research

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TAGS: Media, news, Photography, The Society of Publishers in Asia
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