The consulate and the Fifth Avenue crosswalk: The story behind a stunning Christmas card

red line

red line

Done in 48 seconds.

Done in 48 seconds.

By Cristina DC Pastor

It has all the elements of a perfect photograph: balance, vantage point, and precise timing.

The fact that this image of Philippine Consulate officers and staff was taken on frenetic Fifth Avenue during the busy Christmas season makes this photo of Cesar ‘Boyet’ Loverita one of his brilliant shots.

Boyet recalled before a Professional Development Workshop of the Fil-Am Press Club how it happened.

Sometime in November of 2016, he got a call from the consulate asking him to attend a meeting. He sat down with Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega – who had just assumed the post — and cultural officer Olive Osias-Magpile, and together they discussed photo ideas for a holiday greeting card.

“Usually, their group pictures are done at the lobby. This time they wanted something different,” said Boyet, who is from Laoang, Northern Samar, and who is the official photographer of the consulate. “They wanted a wow picture!”

The group tossed around ideas and locations, such as under the brass clock of the Grand Central Station or at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. Boyet came up with something closer to all of them.

“Why not in front of the consulate,” he suggested.

For one intimately familiar with Fifth Avenue, he shared his ideas about a photograph that would have the Philippine flag from the consulate building, the U.S. flag from Barnes and Noble across the street, and the imposing Empire State Building behind seeming to frame the consular employees.

“We brainstormed. There were many ideas, but they liked mine,” he said.

Top photo, Cesar ‘Boyet’ Loverita at a community gala; below, covering the NY Fashion Week.

Top photo, Cesar ‘Boyet’ Loverita at a community gala; below, covering the NY Fashion Week.

On November 14, Boyet put his ideas into action.

From his home in the Bronx, he drove down to Manhattan around 7 a.m. He stood at the corner of 46th Street and Fifth Avenue, just across from the consulate building and timed the traffic light. He recorded how the light stopped for 48 seconds. He went inside the Philippine Center where the employees, led by ConGen Dizon-De Vega, were dressed in festive reds and greens. He assigned each of them specific locations at a precise distance from one another. At the lobby they rehearsed running into the street, freezing to pose, and sprinting back to the consulate – all within 48 seconds! They rehearsed a couple of times. Timing was important, Boyet stressed to everyone.

Outside, he placed a marker at the middle of Fifth Avenue to indicate where ConGen Dizon-De Vega was to position herself. All the others would stand behind and around her.

“Kailangan matapos kami ng 48 seconds,” he was thinking to himself. It was almost 8 a.m.

When the light turned red, he dragged a ladder from the consulate to the middle of Fifth Avenue and climbed it. The employees scampered to their places. The first try was good except that some New Yorkers who were rushing to work would cross the street, adding unwanted elements to the composition. The consulate staff politely pleaded with the crowd to give them a few minutes of photo op.

The second try was a coup! Boyet put his DSLR camera on burst mode and it delivered up to 60 shots. Everyone was pleased.

“We had fun,” was the most he could remember.

“Distinct shot! Unique among the posts,” said cultural officer Osias-Magpile.

Word going around is that Philippine diplomatic posts around the world will try to create something just as unique and memorable for their Christmas 2017.

Copyright © 2017 The FilAm

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