Romeo Gacad

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Romeo M. Gacad is a Filipino veteran photojournalist and a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee whose works have appeared on the cover of various international publications including Time and Newsweek magazines. He is the chief photographer for the Manila bureau of Agence France-Presse (AFP), the world's oldest established news agency.

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Life and career

Romeo Gacad was born in the Philippines in 1959. His interest in photography began as a hobby when he was still in high school and the Editor-In-Chief cum photographer of "The Laurel" the official student publication of the Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School in Project 4, Quezon City, Philippines. After graduation, he took up a major in visual communication at the UP College of Fine Arts. While in UP, Gacad pursued his early enthusiasm and served as a photographer for the Philippine Collegian, the university's official student publication. Later, he worked as a freelancer for the Associated Press and Sigma photo agency.

As a photographer, Gacad covered some of the most momentous events in the Philippines during the 1980s, such as the communist insurgencies, the assassination of former senator and opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, and the recurring problem of Islamic separatists in Mindanao.

In 1985, Gacad joined the of the Manila bureau of the French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP). He was delegated to cover three US wars: the 1991 Gulf War, 2001 war in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He served as an embedded photographer for 41 days in the US Army 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, where he witnessed the fall of Baghdad.

Aside from these events, Gacad also covered five consecutive years of the Olympic Games: Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, and Athens in 2004.

Achievements

For years, Gacad was able to share real stories of politics, war, and disasters through the lens of his camera. For him, photojournalism is unlike doing portraits in a studio. “When covering stories about conflicts and natural disasters, part of my assignment is to produce strong portrait studies of affected people. The biggest challenge in doing this is that the photographer doesn’t have full control of the elements around him, from the main subject who can be moving about in the battle zone, the light, and the vast and intricate surroundings,” says Gacad in a Philippine Daily Inquirer article. He added, “It’s not a pretty face I look for, but those that are very expressive: faces that tell the history of their race or the purpose of their mission or those that reflect the landscape of their country.”

His photographs of the 1988 Olympics, the 2001 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq war earned him three Pulitzer nominations for journalistic photography.

In 1983, Gacad published his first book with National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario entitled “Retrato at Recuerdos” which covers the life in a peasant village in San Miguel, Bulacan in black and white.

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Citation

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