Phil Borges’s photographic projects focus on endangered cultures and tribal people around the world. His subjects range from Tibetans marginalized by the Chinese occupation of their homeland, to the drought-stricken tribespeople of East Africa.
Phil, a recent chapter president of The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), received the Pacific Northwest Media Inc. Photographer of the Year award in 1992. Tibetan Portrait – The Power of Compassion, has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries throughout North America and Europe.
Throughout 1994, Phil Borges traveled through Tibet as well as parts of Nepal and Northern India, where thousands of Tibetan refugees now reside. He began photographing and interviewing them in an effort to understand what had happened to their country and their culture. He found a deeply spiritual people struggling to survive and maintain compassion in the face of tremendous aggression.
The invasion by the Chinese Communists in 1949 resulted in the death of 20% of the Tibetan population and the total destruction of all but a handful of their 6000 monasteries. The repression and aggression continues to this day. As the Tibetans work to save their unique culture and to regain their country, their internal struggle as human beings is to try to reconcile their non-violent principles with the rage that can arise when harmed. It is an extreme test of their commitment to compassion, to their religion, and to their culture.
Phil Borges is also the director of the Bridges to Understanding. This project electronically links American children in Seattle, the San Juan Islands and Los Angeles with an Arctic Village, a Navajo community, a Peruvian village, and Tibet through shared storytelling, video-making and photography.
His project Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World (2007) celebrates ordinary women making extraordinary differences in their worlds. The photographs and stories in Women Empowered focus on the empowerment of women in developing countries. They portray women who have broken through barriers of convention and oppression to improve their own lives and the well-being of their communities.