Magical Manila: This hobbyist takes enchanting shots of the city

Published May 24, 2021, 6:48 PM

by Johannes Chua

We have seen so many photos of Manila… some beautiful, some not so much; some magical like it was taken from a slice of a forest, some grittier than an asphalt rock. Whatever the photo may be, Manila is a paradise for photographers, whether they are in photography because of their livelihood, or because it is a hobby during weekends. 

Donald Pancho, 57, is not your usual hobbyist photographer. His photos of the popular sites of Manila, which he posts in a Facebook account named “Mcdonald Samuel Andre,” have been impressing friends online and shared by accounts of various tourism and historical agencies.   

His photos, which we are posting a selection here with his permission, exude a golden glow, especially the ones taken before sunset. His Manila photos are enchanting in that it seems as if they were not taken in Manila per se but in some other “classical” places such as those in Europe. A case in point is his photo of the GomBurZa Monument in front of the National Museum of the Philippines. In Donald’s point of view, the shot is static yet dramatic at the same time, showing the strength from the sculpture melding with the soft hues of golden lights.

GomBurZa monument in front of the National Museum of the Philippines.

Even with all the photos of Manila in his Facebook feed, one would assume that Donald is a Manileño. “No, I’m actually from Pasay City,” he says.  

A father of three boys, he is currently operating a small family business. He says that he started photography about six years ago and it became a passion. He uses any available time to take photos and has even joined various meets and competitions. He took a break during the pandemic but started going around Manila early this year to go to resume his photography hobby.  

“I want to document places, especially Manila. I want to showcase the beauty of our city, even if I only post the photos on Facebook. It’s my way of contributing something to the community and to help in tourism efforts after the pandemic,” Donald says. “Kahit ‘yun man lang maiambag ko sa bansa, masaya na ako (If I can contribute in any way to our country, I would already be happy).”