The ever-changing Barcelona

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – My dissertation director was handling the Media and Society class last year. I joined his class upon his invitation because he knew of my background in photography and film. This class covered several topics ranging from data collection using cameras and other recording technology, to studying visual data produced by other cultures, and to communication with images and media other than the spoken or written words. The final requirement for this class was a presentation of our chosen topic or subjects.

I have noticed since 2004 that Spain has so many foreigners. This is due to the fact that the country has welcomed more migrants than any other Southern European country in the past decade. One new culture that stands out among the rest of the new migrants is the Chinese people. They are mostly the business folks who are into department stores selling all kinds of stuff, the restaurants, and even grocery stores for Asian products. The Chinese community in Barcelona is  an interesting group to study on because most of them are concentrated in one area called Fondo. Fondo in Spanish means a backdrop, a background, the bottom, the floor, or the deepest part of the ocean. Fondo is a very quiet barrio at the end of the metro line. During weekends the barrio becomes a flea market of almost everything cheap and Chinese. The place becomes a metaphor of how the Chinese people live in this busy and thriving city and how they have become a strong backdrop against a nation faced with an ever-growing financial difficulty.

With my camera and partner, we went to Fondo and took lots of photographs to document the community. The world is changing. Not only the Filipinos have travelled far and wide. Most of those from the developing world are almost everywhere now. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Chinese businessman in Madagascar or a Filipino in a far-flung town of Niger. The whole world is indeed changing its face and culture. Our movement is affecting that change. And for those who have never left home are reduced to mere audience of this global reality show.

At the end of the line!

A typical Chinese department store that has it all. Fondo, Barcelona.

The Chinese population is a good source of voters in the local elections.

The men usually come first in the park.

The park becomes the meeting point of everyone else in the barrio.

On any given Sunday, the park becomes the center for social gatherings.

Shortly before lunch, the women with their children in tow would come out of their buildings to chat with their friends. The park is now filled with friends and families gathering for the weekly chit-chat. Some come out to breath the fresh air after preparing their family's lunch.

To those who couldn't prepare lunch at home, there are several restaurants in the barrio to cater to their taste buds.

We had to stop for lunch too. Even the receipt bore the Chinese characters. The only thing we understood were the numbers.