Jem Guanzon: Gem/chocolate

By Bonnie Chiu

Jem is from our first batch of graduates. She joined Lensational in May 2013 after reading about us in The Sun, the major Filipino newspaper in Hong Kong. I would describe her as a gem , unique and unforgettable.

She, on the other hand, would describe herself as a piece of chocolate. To her, what is most valuable lies beneath the surface.

Meet Jem — standing in between the two worlds. Taken by Daryanti, May 2013.

Jem is 30 years old. She grew up in a village of Cagayan Valley, northeast of the Philippines, and completed a degree in health sciences at the Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines. She wants to further her studies in nursing but was unable to do so due to financial constraints. That is why she came to Hong Kong to work three years ago.

Last month, I received a Facebook message from her, announcing that she is going to work in Moscow. She was already missing all the friends that she made in Hong Kong, but believes that working in Moscow will be a good step in her career development. I admire her for her independence and courage.

Still, photography will continue to be part of her journey wherever she goes. She loves taking pictures, particularly of birds. Like them, she embraces freedom and wants to chart her own path in life.

A bird. Taken by Jem in Tai Po, where she used to work.

Jem wrote a poem for us, and I think this is the best testimonial of the power of photography:

It’s not about learning. It’s not about how you get information about the camera because all of that is in the manual.
It’s bringing out the other side of you. It’s about letting out of your hidden passion.
It’s like in a different world of the everyday life. It’s a fulfilment of a dream.
Beyond the camera, beyond the organization, and beyond the knowledge, it’s gaining friends of different nationalities.

Jem is remarkable in so many ways — and I would invite you to get to know her from her photography.

Her artwork will be featured in the Y Not exhibition, at the Espacio Gallery, London from today onwards.