Filipino-Australian journalist Waywaya ‘Aya’ Lowe won the Create Great Cities photo essay competition organised by the British Council, together with the British Embassy, in celebration of the Great British Festival held on 24 to 26 February 2017 at the Bonifacio Global City High Street in Taguig. Aya was awarded two roundtrip tickets to London, courtesy of Etihad Airways.

Aya’s black and white photos put the spotlight on pre-war heritage structures along the historical district of Escolta.

‘As someone who’s lived abroad and came back to live in Manila, and as a Filipino rediscovering Manila, I found Escolta a beautiful place which is the old area next to Intramuros. And I found it sad that there are these beautiful buildings and no one was really doing anything about it,’ Aya recounted when asked about her photos.

‘So I was taking pictures and I found out that there was this community of people and now it’s really grown—creative hubs and a lot of events happening there—so I wanted to try and document this slow transformation.’

The British Council received 106 submissions and selected seven finalists for the exhibition. The panel of judges included Dr Chandra Balijepalli, Lecturer, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds; Dr Caitlin Cottrill, Lecturer, Geography & Environment, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen; Joselina Cruz, Director and Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, College of Saint Benilde; and Frank Callaghan, Photographer.

It is one of the British Council’s goals to contribute to more liveable and inclusive cities in the Philippines. In November 2016, the British Council and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) launched a partnership called ‘Art for Urban Change’ which included the creation of site-specific artworks on pumping stations along the Pasig River. The partnership also included a traveling art exhibition and MMDA’s creation of a public advisory group.

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