Published: September 01, 2022
Published: September 01, 2022

Enrique Molla: Magnifying the Voice of Indigenous People

This “Behind the Paints” article could just as well be called “Behind the Camera.” That’s because Enrique Molla, PPG resin team leader, Automotive OEM Coatings, spends most of his volunteer time behind a camera, documenting the lives of indigenous people in Colombia, South America.

What began as a shark-diving adventure vacation about 10 years ago in the waters off Colombia’s beaches ignited Molla’s passion and enduring commitment to nature, and also for the Kogi — an indigenous tribe that lives deep within the mountain jungles of northern Colombia.

“They taught me so much about nature, about a simplistic lifestyle, and about protecting and caring for our planet.”

During the Spanish conquest of the early 1500s, the indigenous people fled the coast to take refuge in the thick jungles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. Today, the Kogi continue to shun the outside world and preserve their ancient civilization in isolation under the protection of the mountains’ highest and most inaccessible peaks.

“The Kogi consider themselves ‘the guardians of the earth.’ And I am committed to magnifying their voice.” Since 2012, Enrique, the Valencia native and 32-year veteran of PPG, has taken an annual vacation — and unpaid leave — to devote time to the Kogi.

He has taken thousands of photos of the Kogi at work, at play and interacting with nature. Many of his photos have been used in Kogi-related fundraising efforts.

Enrique, the father of three grown children, is currently working as part of an effort of the Tairona Heritage Trust (a small UK charity) and a movie production company on a feature-length documentary about the Kogi.

Many people talk about sustainability. The Kogi have taught me that before we think about sustaining, we must concentrate on the earth’s health. And that’s what the Kogi — and I — are committed to.

Click here to read previous “Behind the Paints” features.