MONØkult Interview: Gerard Cayco

Balancing Visual and Verbal Escapism

Anne Murayama


Kids these days…shouldn’t always end up sounding like a complaint. Gerard Cayco just turned 22 this year, yet he already knows why he believes in photography. Sure, there are much younger photographers out there who are visually eloquent and outspoken. But let me tell you what Gerard sees that we don’t.

While all forms of creativity knows no age, to me it’s pretty amazing when people discover their love for a craft at a young age. To me, the earlier someone discovers his love for something, the more devoted he becomes. I have a good feeling that Gerard is on the right track.

Gerard Cayco. Manila, Philippines.

“There was a time when I saw everything in black and white.”

Gerard wrote this to me. Of course, I could immediately ask him if he meant it literally. But I figured that I might ruin something beautiful, so I let it be. He speaks in metaphors through photographs and poems. And whether seeing things in black & white was or is a connotation to him, I think it’s his own way of translating his emotions and thoughts to us.

Thanks to his university’s traditional photography class, Gerard understood the discipline of shooting in analog and still applies the same philosophy even when he needs to go digital for commissioned projects.

Black & white photography taught Gerard how to be straightforward, both in photography and life in general. To him, shooting becomes extra challenging whenever he needs to “transform” color into monochrome without suppressing creativity. He added,

“Black and white photography is both simple and complex.”

We Deserve Better is Gerard’s ongoing documentary series that illustrates the struggle of Filipinos on their daily train commute. Sifting through this body of work, I couldn’t help but feel frustration because I also went through the same hellish commute when I was still in Manila. The saddest thing about it is that I wasn’t even surprised that things have only worsened. It’s true. We deserve something else. Anything!

from “We Deserve Better” by Gerard Cayco. Manila, Philippines. 2017 — present.

Additionally, Gerard also shared that his former professor in photography, Anne Marie De Guzman, further inspires him with the craft. Her decisive and profound pictures motivates him to be better and continually improve his way of seeing through black & white.

In contrast with the universality of black & white, Gerard chooses to be native and local in terms of poetry. Directly translated as meditation, Gerard’s “nilay-nilay” is a compilation of poetry in the Filipino language.

He has written poems on waiting and longing, separating and moving on, about loneliness, and even about the waves. It’s his form of verbal escapism — the perfect balance to his visual reverie.

tuloy ang buhay

sa hindi pagsuko
sa patuloy na pag-unawa
sa walang tigil na pagkilala
patuloy ang buhay
patuloy ang paglalakbay

Kids these days…will, indeed, reveal today’s spirit in the years and decades to come. I hope that they keep on doing what they believe in.

More Info on Gerard Cayco
Instagram: gerardemmanuelcayco

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Anne Murayama

fka Erin Cross. Based in Tokyo, Japan. Black and white visual storyteller.