“I organized a photo project called, ‘Bukas Na Puso’ meaning ‘Open Heart’ in Tagalog. I had no idea what would come from this or that it would eventually feel bigger than myself. All I knew was that I wanted to infuse a space (in all its forms) with collective healing for diasporic beings, radical softness, and the sacred act of self-preservation. The photos signify a celebration of sorts. One of resilient ancestry, the fluid nature of identity, and the diversity of divine Filipinx femmeinine energies.” - Bianca Recuenco
Bianca Recuenco is the compassionate storyteller behind ‘Bukas Na Puso’ - a striking photography project, released on Instagram in early January, that radiates with warmth and self-acceptance. After graduating from the University of Washington in the Spring of 2018, Bianca found herself in a time and space of stagnant energy, personal reflection, and redefining what caring for mental health truly looked like. ‘Bukas Na Puso’ not only captures the energy of others, but her own journey and intentionality in the realm of identity, community, representation, vulnerability, and the importance of nurturing one’s mental health.
Bianca found solace in creative expression, after asking herself “What’s something I always wanted to do, but never gave myself the permission to do?” The answer to this lead to the purchase of her first DSLR camera - marking her first serious investment in exploring photography. To Bianca, the purchase signified breaking down self-constructed fears surrounding creative pursuits. She describes, ‘the entire process was a tribute to my inner child for all the times my inner critic took hold of me, invalidating my creative expression.’ In defying fears and validating her true self, she set out with the intention to take photos that were real.
When considering the purpose of her project she describes her desire to ‘depict how vulnerability can translate into strength’ to combat how often it is perceived as a weakness. ‘Bukas Na Puso’ wraps vulnerability and the fluidity of identity in the warmth of the Philippines. Through soft orange, reds, yellows, and lush greens, the climate and culture of the Philippines is reflected in each photo. Bianca intentionally asked individuals from her fellow Filipinx community to partake as models in the project. Each portrait has a punch of personality, reflected in dynamic posing, clothing, and captivating makeup that hint at the stories of each individual. A culmination of traditional and contemporary expression fall under the same project as a dress made of inabel contrasts pink hair dye. The images spark curiosity whether it be because of the jewels under their eyes or The Kiss on their socks. Bianca beautifully captures the intricacies interwoven in each of us, and reminds us mid-Instagram scroll of the power of photography and necessity of storytelling.