I really admire individuals who remains humble and down-to-earth despite their achievements and status in life and those who are passionate in everything they do. One of them is Yen-Yen, an Ilongga traveler, photographer, and a professional nurse currently based in Singapore. She has visited the province several times and as she said she was captivated with everything in South Cotabato.


Some of her photos were featured in Vogue Italia and most of these were pictures taken during her travels in South Cotabato. Just recently, she was also featured in Manila Bulletin. In an online interview, Yen-Yen shares more about her, her photography and what is South Cotabato to her.


Hi Yen, please tell us something about yourself.

I'm Jaylyn Jolito Montiague, preferred to be called with my oriental nickname Yen. I was born in Manila. Raised & grew up in Spanish- influenced towns of Miag-ao & Guimbal in Iloilo.

I had this love at first sight for South Cotabato and Koronadal City when I visited my relatives whom I haven’t seen for long years.

Currently, I am living independently here in Singapore for nearly 9 years because of my profession as a Nurse, which I considered my life.


I love to explore & embrace everything what life has to offer me. I am a travel and road trip enthusiast. I am into various forms of arts. A fan of extreme sports and I love to take a risk sometimes. A furrfect family lover, I have almost 15 cats at home, mostly abandoned cats that we heartedly adopted with my uncle Huahee & Bantay (dog) bestfriend. Humbly, I am a photographer by heart.


How and when did you start in photography?

In my childhood years, I am already enchanted with camera and the art of photography. By the time I got the chance to work here in Singapore in year 2006, I bought a compact camera on my first salary. Just point & shoot everyday. Then I bought few more cameras for upgrading. I love documenting my life's journey far away from home . 

Then, when I discovered DSLR, I invested on it. I started with Nikon D3100. Youtube, books & online articles are my teacher. Brainstormed with all the terminologies of Photography 101. Experimented with taking shots manually. I enjoyed exploring the wonders behind the lenses & how it freezes the time through every captured moments. I was thrilled!

To enhance my knowledge & skills, I attended the Basic Photography Workshop conducted by one of the known artist in the Philippines, Mr. Jim Paredes, that was held here in Singapore in 2011.

I also learned from my dear friends who are professional photographers and hobbyists during each photoshoot sessions or when we do our meet ups. Whenever I am free, I will explore my camera and do a photo-walk with my friends or on my own. Photography for me is about learning everyday. It never stops.

To learn more about other forms of photography skills and because of my passion, I was honored to be one of the student of Mr. Manny Librodo, named by Scott Kelby in 2010 as one of the Top Five photographers in the world. I've learned a lot of things especially on post processing, as the highlight of the 2 days workshop. He is such an inspiration, with his words of wisdom and encouragements. And what lives into my heart on that day is his sense of humility despite of his achievements in his works.


Photography to you is?

Photography defines my creative imagination into reality. The enchantment of transforming every subject is colorful & meaningful no matter what it is black or white. I love the connection & the engagement I can share with the viewer in this form of art, which I considered a living testimony of the ethnicity & culture of the different people & places, the grandeur of nature & the beauty of life through my lenses. I simply love & enjoy my journey with the wonders of photography.

This is my time keeper as it brings me back to the past at the present time. My happiness, my life’s simple pleasures.


I’ve seen your photos submitted/featured in Vogue, most were taken during your visit in South Cotabato, can you tell us why?

I love the hospitality and warmth of the people, the preservation of the richness of the respective cultures and the beauty, refreshing and majestic view of nature. So every time we travel for a road trip, I always keep my camera ready on hand because I know there will always something special that I can capture which only happens once in a life time.

South Cotabato to you is?
South Cotabato for me is a happy place.

What's your favorite photo taken in South Cotabato and why?

I have a few favorites, but among all of them, it's the photo that I took in a jeepney set up that I entitled as “The Joyride”, which I submitted & approved by Vogue Italia.

No more space to sit available for me, even the extension stool. But it doesn't stopped me to still go for a ride to continue my journey to Lake Sebu for a tour. So I decided to sit down on the jeepney's entrance foot step with excitement. While waiting for the driver to start the engine for a happy trip, all the passengers are busy with their own business chatting and fixing their stuffs on their seats. And this little boy having his tea break, I feel this is a perfect moment to trigger the click. 

Why this is my favorite because their actions speaks the usual scenario inside the jeepney, that I myself can truly relate into.

You’re planning another visit here next summer, three (3) things or places that you really wanted to do or visit?

My 3 things to do on my list.
Travel and explore more the beautiful hidden treasures of South Cotabato.

Take portrait photos of those people who are old, old maids, LGBT in their golden years. I want to capture their stories. I want to be part of it through my photos. I want them to feel that somehow, somewhere, we are here who still value & respect their existence in the society. They are not alone.

Enjoy every single day with my family & friends. And hopefully I can share my knowledge & skills & be an inspiration to those people who have the passion in photography.

The 3 places I wanted to visit.
1. uma (farm)
2. Tboli
3. Lake Holon & Mount Melibingoy (Mt. Parker)

I Love South Cotabato because?
South Cotabato is HOME.

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