'Marooned' OFW in Manila Bay Captures the Sunrise and Sunset During Quarantine
Over 20 years ago, a young Negrense searching for greener pastures found himself in Manila. Oscar Puey Hinolan spent his late afternoons strolling along Roxas Boulevard. "I was always amazed by the show each time the sun sets." He would never have thought that decades and a pandemic later, he would witness that magical view over and over again—as a quarantined OFW on one of the 19 ships stranded on Manila Bay.
"We arrived in Manila Bay April 22. As per DOH [Department of Health] policy, we were asked to be on quarantine onboard our ship," said Hinolan. At the time of his interview with Esquire, the ship's passengers had already completed the 14-day period and were waiting for the health certificate that would clear them of COVID-19. They took the test 10 days earlier.
"We were actually in lockdown before coming to Manila Bay, but we were asked to quarantine again when we arrived," he explained.
Hinolan has been working on cruise ships since 1997. He started as a casino dealer on a ship stationed in Hong Kong, then joined one of the bigger shipping companies in 2004, where he eventually became assistant casino manager. He's worked on 12 out of the company's fleet of 26, working through the U.S. Europe, and Asia.
On the first day of quarantine, his wife, the ship's Youth Activities manager, developed a cough. It was most likely due to an allergy, but, erring on the side of caution, she opted for isolation. He realized his room had a balcony. "Yes! They gave most of us a cabin with a balcony," he remarked happily, a luxurious far cry from the usual crew quarters. To be productive, he dove into photography tutorials and materials that he never had time to read before.
Hinolan has been into photography for the last eight years, ever since a fellow OFW ran short of money and sold him his Sony DSLR. He continually upgraded, buying secondhand cameras in Japan where there is a cottage industry in used equipment. Currently, he uses a Canon 5D Mark II, a Canon 24-105mm L IS USM, and a Velbon tropod.
"At 7 km or more away from my subjects (the Manila skyline), I would take between 12 to 20 shots panning, stitch and enhance them on Lightroom and Photoshop—which I started to learn around a month ago starting our lockdown onboard," he said.
Sunset: May 1
Mother's Day sunrise
May 9 sunrise
Twenty-two years since he admired the famous Manila Bay view, he would be spoiled by it. "Here I am, on Deck 7—just the perfect height to see enough of everything around and on the horizon—of an amazing cruise ship, having the chance of a lifetime to take photos of the world's most beautiful sunset." The boat would cruise around the bay, too, sometimes putting him in the perfect position to shoot the sunrise bathing the metropolis.
Hinolan decided to share his photos to lighten the mood of the pandemic. And there couldn't be anything more symbolic than watching the sun rise and set as we wait things out.