She's considered as Focus Bulacan's "Iron Lady" due to her undaunted commitment to uphold club rules and also as tribute to her long-standing service and support as officer. A native of Malolos, she was working as a powerplant construction and electrical design engineer when she was assigned to Japan to coordinate her company's projects. It was there that she realized the need to document life's moments with a camera.
Now employed in an Australian mining company as an electrical and instrumentation designer, photography has somewhat taken a backseat while she also juggles duties as wife and mother. Despite her hectic lifestyle she continues to fulfill her role as a Focus leader, a responsibility that she has skillfully managed all these years.
Ma. Katrina "Katcen" Centeno-Verzano is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
How did your photography story start?
K : Year 2011 when I was assigned to work for 10 months in Nagasaki, Japan. It so happened na meron kaming Japanese supervisor na photo enthusiast at niyaya kami mag-travel with him to explore Nagasaki. Digicam lang ang dala ko noon pero kapag umaalis kami pinapahiram niya sa akin 'yung mga dala niyang DSLR.
You’ve obviously undergone a change in lifestyle now that you have a family. What do you miss most about photography?
K : Nakaka-miss 'yung monthly photomeets lalo na 'yunh mga outside of Bulacan. Ang dami ko din kasing natutunan sa ganun, mula sa settings ng camera pati composition. Sa Focus Bulacan photomeets ko din na-experience mag-shoot ng iba't ibang genre.
You’re one of the founding officers of Focus Bulacan. How do you feel that seven years after, Focus Bulacan is still very much active and you’re still helping guide it?
K : Sobrang nakaka-proud na ang layo na ng narating ng grupo. Hindi man ako naging passionate and successful sa photography pero nakakatuwa na isa ako sa mga nag-strive para marating nito 'yung success and fame sa ngayon. I'm also very grateful na for years, pinagkakatiwalaan ako as officer, from Activity Committee, Finance Officer, and ngayon as Senior Membership Officer.
What’s the biggest challenge in serving as Focus Bulacan officer?
K : Habang dumadami ang members nagiging struggle sa officers 'yung communication between members at 'yung pag-instill ng sense of responsibility. And since may family na ako at employed din...mas nahirapan ako sa pag-manage ng time kung kailan ko isisingit ang pagiging officer, lalo na sa meetings na kailangan ng physical attendance.
What do you think has been the best achievement of the club so far?
K : For me ang best achievement ng Focus Bulacan sa ngayon ay 'yung pagiging well-known at established niya sa photography community. Imagine noon hirap kaming humanap ng sponsors para sa funding ng events and activities namin. Ang hirap humanap ng connections. Pero ngayon isang message lang sa kanila madali na sila mag-"yes". Also, for seven years nakita ko 'yung personal, professional, and career growth ng members and previous members, with Focus Bulacan as their stepping stone to know more of their passion. Marami sa kanila may sariling photo and video or studio business na. Their success story is Focus Bulacan's success too.
What’s your favorite Focus photomeet or activity?
K : Favorite ko 'yung foodtrips at photo travels. Photo travel siguro dahil 'yun din ang nag-introduce sa akin sa photography. And pag malalayong photomeets kasi nagkakaron kami ng maraming time for bonding and communication with other members during travel time.
What was the most memorable photography experience you’ve had?
K : First noong January 2017 sa Batanes. I never imagined na ma-e-experience ko mag-landscape and mamasyal sa Batanes for a cheap travel cost. First two days ang ganda ng panahon, it's stunningly beautiful everywhere. Pero 'yung next days umulan and na-stranded kami sa island, the rest was adventure. Another memorable sa akin 'yung summer outing sa Dingalan, Aurora, May 2018. Parang 'yun na kasi ang last na nakasama ko ang group after my lifestyle change and a chance na maisama at maipakilala ko ang baby ko at asawa ko sa group.
Where would be your dream photography destination?
K : I'm praying na makapag-travel ako with family for a month sa Japan, Hokkaido and Tokyo. Then noong napanood ko ang "Crash Landing On You", gusto ko na din ata sa Switzerland. Ang ganda ng landscapes nila, though this is really dreamy knowing how expensive 'yung pagpunta doon.
What remains in your photography bucket list?
K : Hindi ko pa na-experience mag-shoot ng Hot Air Baloon event, sports photography and live concerts. Parang 'yang tatlo na 'yan ang gusto ko ma-try in the future kapag may time na ulit for photography.
Which photo are you most proud of?
K : 'Yung photo ko sa tulips field with windmills. Ito kasi 'yung isa sa unang photos ko sa Japan. Dito ko na-realize na napakahalaga mag-capture ng moments para ma-preserve 'yung memories. And also, I'm proud na isa 'to sa mga photos na na-feature sa Focus Bulacan exhibit. (Photo shown above.)
Are there any similarities about motherhood and photography?
K : Siguro pareho silang trial-and-error and continuous learning experience. Sa photography, sa una mahirap, laging sabaw ang shot, walang story or di ma-gets ng iba, "ano 'tong shot na 'to?". Just keep on practicing, read a lot especially your camera manual, explore more to know your genre and break some photography rules para makuha mo 'yung best shot for you. Sa motherhood, walang manual pero learnings from others' experience, and reading a lot about kids' behaviours. Sometimes breaking the "pamahiins" and setting our own rules on our child's upbringing and as my child grows, I keep on learning din through him.
Katcen's other favorite snaps (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
What's your message to Focus members and fellow officers?
K : Keep on supporting the group. Always respect each other's differences and opinion, take responsibility of every action or decision na related sa members or sa group. Never burn bridges, ayusin anumang conflict sa grupo. We are not just members and officers here, we are family. Enjoy the company of everyone, attend every photomeet, join contests and makisali kahit sa non-photography related kalokohan. Time will come na mag-iiba din ang priorities ninyo, change of career, having your own family or maybe running your own business, but never forget Focus Bulacan. You'll someday realize hindi lang photography learnings ang meron ka, may life lessons din.
Your message to Focus followers.
K : Thank you so much for your undying support sa Focus Bulacan. Part kayo ng success ng grupo na ito. Thanks for supporting our events and activities, and please keep on doing so. You inspire us to be better on our craft and you help us improve as a group.
Priorities in life may change but when one is committed to a cause, there's always a way to contribute. Katcen is prime example of how we could make our presence felt even in absence... like how she remains a guiding light for Focus Bulacan in spite of being fully-engaged with her family and career.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.