Poetry in the eyes of a photographer

The story of a place and its rich cultural heritage can only be told best through its people: through the bright smile of an actress, the moving music of a singer-songwriter or the creative lenses of a photographer.

In an attempt to relay the story of Colon St., Robert Pableo “Bob” Lim decided to tell it through his honest eyes in Cebuano poetry.

Lim, a veteran photographer and a former SunStar Cebu columnist, launched his book “Batang Colon.” The event was held at The Archdiocesan Museum Cebu Cathedral Complex on Jan. 21, 2023, where the attendees got to witness several of his pieces in an extravagant and emotional poetry reading done by the author’s close friends and family.

In an interview, Lim mentioned that Colon St. to him is a metaphorical place that constitutes a man’s journey. As the street is derived from the iconic explorer Cristobal Colon, who is widely known as Christopher Columbus, Lim also identifies himself as an explorer where he is continuously on a journey to where life takes him.

“I titled the book ‘Batang Colon’ for two reasons. One is I was a resident for some time in Colon; we lived in a small apartment. We rented a small apartment because our parents sent us here to study in a Chinese school because we are from the province. The other one is that I’m a commercial photographer. I opened my first and second studio in Colon. This street holds sentimental value,” Lim said.

For Lim, writing is like a vocation while photography is very lucrative. That’s why he shifted to photography although both hobbies are what he wanted to do at the same time. In fact, he started as a writer in his college days, went to UP Diliman as a film major student and was entertaining the notion that someday he could venture into the movie industry. Unfortunately, 30 years have passed and he didn’t get the chance.

When he arrived in Cebu, he struggled to work in TV stations but what he didn’t know was that this would open doors for him in the field of photography. People who knew him, started calling him for pictorials and eventually he got paid doing it.

“Before, it was very hard to delve into film. It was very expensive. But I found it very interesting. I also thought that photography provided me (with) a good opportunity to earn money, especially when I got married. I got married in the early ‘80s, and I needed to raise my family,” he shared.

“Batang Colon” is the very first book launched by Lim. He writes in his free time and takes time to feel the essence of each sentence he writes. He has grown to believe in the saying, “It is better late than never.”

The book contains different genres, including romance, drama and a lot more. Today, as he is not getting any much younger, he desires to create cultural awareness in which he believes the public lacks. The reception to his book has been good, having piqued the interest of local readers.

“You’re history in the making,” commented one of the audience members during the launch.

Lim’s passion and perseverance to finish the book have inspired people around him to be their best versions. Lim said he dedicated the book to Melito Baclay, an old friend who also happens to be a writer, and to all the people who have yet to find their direction in life.

“As for my inspiration, believe it or not, are Max Surban and Yoyoy Villame. These two, they created a new contemporary literature. My poems are similar to their songs — a bit cheeky as well. However, my experience in college allowed me the freedom to express a bit of literary pretension,” Lim quipped.

There are plans to launch a second book but this time it will be all about photography. The book is very different from “Batang Colon” because it is not about words but pictures; to look at as a gallery. According to Lim, the book will come out at the end of the year or early next year.

Lim said he needs to accomplish these projects since he considers them to be very precious. Also, he plans to donate a library to be named after his parents. To him, that will be his greatest legacy.