Meet the Fellows: Kimberly de la Cruz

Kimberly de la Cruz, a freelance photojournalist based in Manila, has been immersed in covering the horrors of drug war the drug war in the Philippines for the past two years. Now, she’s traveling to El Salvador, where she looks forward to telling new stories and exploring her creativity behind her camera.

“I’ve always reported in Manila and coming to El Salvador I think could be fresh, and I could break a lot of barriers that are existing in my base in Manila,” Kimberly said. “I’ve always been curious about doing a lot of stories outside of the Philippines.”

She said she sees photos as an experience, and she aims to offer viewers an honest portrayal of the people and places she photographs.

“I’ve always wanted to explore photos that could actually make people feel or actually transport them to the scene that I photographed,” she said. “Photos are revelatory in a way. It’s a visual experience, but at the same time it stays with you — how the photograph makes you feel, makes you think.”

Kimberly fell in love with photojournalism from the first time she started taking photos for a local media outlet. But covering her country’s human rights crisis since President Rodrigo Duterte launched the “war on drugs” in 2016 has also made Kimberly feel like an active citizen on the right side of history in the Philippines.

“What I like about journalism now is the battle between good journalism and fake news because when you’re actually informing people, shaping public opinion, educating people about what is happening,” she said.

“As a journalist you are always biased to the truth so whatever is the truth you report it, and if people don’t like it, they will call you unfair,” she continued, highlighting negative reactions to her and her colleagues’ drug war coverage, such as trolling. “What’s unfair is when you are killed just because you were on some kill list.”

– Heather Gies