By Kab. Chris Daymon

IN THE ancient medieval world, emperors are recognized to be of higher honor and rank than kings. They had special significance that they must be complex thinkers, must inspire, desire and had the ability to hold the empire together.

Mario B. Cardenas

Like an emperor, a good photographer is always equipped with his camera and a strong vision about beautiful landscape, wildlife, aerial photography, portraiture, underwater, geopolitics and cultural.

Mario Bejagan Cardenas, an architect, started photography in the late 2009. Labeled as a self-taught artist who also loves painting, sketching, 2D and 3D design, and drawing. 

A self-taught artist, Mario’s humble beginnings started in Muntinlupa, Manila. Raised in what we call “Home Along Da Riles,” a home along the public railroad transit, he experienced pushing trolleys on train rails and scavenged for reusable materials to create “new” toys when he was young. The kind of childhood that encouraged him to be resourceful, crafty and creative – qualities that would manifest in his works later in life.

Through the help of scholarships and generous benefactors, he graduated BS Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas. He set foot in the UAE in 2005 and has made the UAE his second home. He discovered and honed his artistic talents in photography in 2010 and has been making waves in the industry and global photography community ever since.

To cite some of his notable awards: Grand Prize Winner at FIBA International Basketball Federation in Switzerland, Grand Prize Winner at Mansoor Photography Awards in Dubai, Grand Prize Winner at Shots from Al Gharbia in Abu Dhabi, Grand Prize at Own Jones Architecture Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Grand Prize Winner at Fujairah Photography Awards, 1st Place Winner at HIPA Sheikh Zayed Humanitarian, 1st Place Winner at Trierenberg Super Circuit Austria and many more.

His works appeared in various exhibitions, to name a few: FIBA International Basketball Federation in Switzerland, the Huawei Next Images 2018 in Paris, France, Black & White Exhibit organized by HIPA, Art4Sight by Noor Dubai Foundation, Sony Photography Awards & Exhibition in the UK. They graced the cover and pages of various international photography print and online publications, such as BBC, National Geographic’s Your Shot, Better Photography in Australia, Illustrado Magazine in the UAE, Art of Building in the UK, Humanity Photo Awards in China, International Photography Awards in the US, among others.


Photo by Mario B. Cardenas

According to Mario: “With so many good photographers around the world, the greatest challenge, which I probably share with many photographers, is probably ‘how my photo will stand out in the sea of beautiful images.’ Winning an international photography competition is not an easy feat as there are lots of highly-skilled and full-time photographers across the globe; there are amazing photographers working on BBC, National Geographic, photojournalists, and other high-caliber photographers we are competing against with.”

“My style in photography is deeply rooted in my artistic background. I used to join in poster-making contests during my school days and it heavily influenced the way I capture and combine elements in my photos. I delve on meaning, purpose and over-all story and impact of the subjects in a single frame taken from unique perspective and point of view,” he continued.

“If I would choose one photo I am most proud of, I would probably select the below photo. It is one of my most recognized photos due to the prestige of the award-giving body, positive perception and emotional impact to the audience/viewers,” he added.

“If I were to choose a single personality to take his portrait, it would be the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. I have deep admiration and immense respect for this noble man and his outstanding leadership,” he ssid.

“As for my portrait, I usually welcome any good or aspiring photographer who are open to instructions. I prefer to have my photos done as per my personal vision and preference. I love to travel and document indigenous people, tribes and ethnic groups, disappearing cultures and tradition even in remote places. I am passionate about the arts, architecture and photography. I like to continuously learn and develop both as an artist and as a professional and achieve my personal goals, dreams and aspirations.

Part of my objectives is to show the world that Filipinos are world class and competitive; that we have talents and skills that can make a difference to the world.

Another challenge is I have a full time job as an architect which is highly demanding of my time and attention. But as I love both professions

‘There can be artist inside anyone. Only thing you need is strong determination to do it’. 

As a self-taught artist, whether you teach the things you want in life through your own methods or by following the instructions of someone else, there’s no way to predict the outcome of how similar or dissimilar your final results will be until they are done in the end,” he said.