History and Heritage

Photographer of the Week: Rache Go

By Maan D’Asis Pamaran

Photographer Rache Go can be described as an old soul. Her main interest lies in preserving the remnants of bygone days that show either the preservation – or ruins – of Manila’s heritage. One of her biggest projects to date was as official photographer of the first Manila Biennale in 2018 organized by the late Carlos Celdran, along with commissioned works published in Australia, London, China, and the US.

Binondo Church (Rache Go)

“I believe that my photos about heritage help in supporting our advocacy in keeping it alive despite the changes in the modern world,” says Rache.

Ides O'Racca Building (San Nicolas, Manila)
Regina Building
Natividad Building
Escolta Two Sentinels (Rache Go)

This is why when she is not busy with her corporate work in HR and admin functions, she brings her camera to the known tourist sites and hidden treasures of old Manila, including the abandoned gravesites at the La Loma and Chinese cemetery, “being chastised by the guards and having a bigger fear of snakes hiding in the shrubbery more than rousing old ghosts,” she chuckles.

Abandoned Mausoleum Chinese Cemetery

Decaying structures that may soon give way to newer commercial establishments are other points of interest for Rache as she goes on in her mission to preserve these legacies even through photography. “One significant experience in my photography journey was shooting an old abandoned house. While everyone saw filth and decay, I saw beauty others couldn’t see. That made me realize this was what I wanted, to share the beauty I see through my lens,” she explains. “The best thing about being a photographer is to be able to share your emotions and stories, your visions, beauty beyond the filth, and to help others take a better look at the world through your eyes and your lens.”

Sunico House
Casa Tribunales de Naturales
Camarin House
Lavezares House

Her work will soon be featured in a book on the heritage of Manila by the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. For now, these are on her Wordpress blog and Instagram account, Kaladkarin Diaries. “I know it sounds funny but I started writing a blog about food, which eventually evolved into something else. Little bits and pieces of tours, events or places I have been. My most memorable photography experience was during the Philippine Bird Festival in Tacurong City in Region XII SOCCSKSARGEN back in 2018. It was unfamiliar territory for me, but a very exciting experience.”

Food Fest (Rache Go)

A BS Tourism and HRM graduate who has received training as a chef, she is what most would call a Jane of all trades. “Aside from photography, I am a co-founder of Chinoylife, an online group for Chinoys to know and share the Filipino-Chinese heritage. There we conduct events and heritage tours of Chinoy culture bastions such as Binondo and San Nicolas. I am also a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.”

Chong Hock Tong Temple

Her love for history, she says, stemmed from her idea of making it more interesting than the classes she had in grade school. Even her start in photography was old school, she recounts: “I grew up in a household that always had boxes upon boxes of old family albums and as a kid I'd sit there for hours looking at them. From the age of about six or seven, I was absolutely mesmerized at how you could freeze a moment in time with a camera and preserve it forever on paper. That was the main thing that attracted me to photography, being able to freeze a memory.”

Binondo (San Nicolas)
San Nicolas across the river
Gateway to Chinatown

She calls photography as “my art, my escape, my communication, and my story.” Aside from simply documenting the structures and relics she encounters, Rache has a noble mission for her work. “My ultimate goal as a visual artist is to create content with substance. In the world we live in, with the amount of technology that we have, it is easy to create content. However, it is usually with very little substance. The goal is to create something that would elicit reflection, and take a life of its own as it gets shared. Second is for my work to serve as my legacy, a modern heirloom for my children, and for them to get to know me not as a mother but as person through my photographs.”