Friday, December 31, 2010

Hot feet

Hot feet

Yeah, the firecrackers are already being set off all over our neighborhood, making it sound like a warzone. Like this scene I captured during the Chinese New Year, let's hope that people avoid the dangerous explosions and have a safe and joyous New Year's celebration.


*A child sits on the shoulders of an adult who darts across the street to avoid unexploded firecrackers.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the year after

Each of us have our own Christmas stories, and regardless of social pressure, not all must involve Christmas trees, Noche Buena, and gifts to be unwrapped come Christmas eve.

Not yet over though, better get ready for the fireworks.

Chinatown road after the fireworks


*Ongpin St. after the fireworks during the 2010 Valentines/Chinese New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Day After

The Day after Christmas

As the festivities wind down and the music stops playing, hard reality again sinks in. We witness how everyday so many go without adequate food and shelter in a land of plenty. Like this young boy playing with his precious toys, the day after Christmas.


*Along Mindanao Ave.

Friday, December 24, 2010

tap, tap, tap

band conductor at trinoma landmark

Music plays a special role in the spirit of Christmas. They are like heralds announcing its coming as you walk along, minding your business. Halloween only has visual cues, with the costumes and scary decorations. But Christmas? You hear Jose Mari Chan and his daughter sing what's truly in our hearts and you know there is no escaping it. It's coming, whether we like it or not.

Choirs give Christmas a holy perspective. And bands, a formality that it is an event worth celebrating. Christmas songs on the radio condition you, and carolers are like alarm clocks reminding you of something you already know.

Oh, and Yoyoy Villame is also all year round, too. :)


*Band Conductor at the Landmark food court in Trinoma.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Union Station musicians


Like the drummer boy in your photo, the various sounds of the holidays can be bittersweet. Other times, the music can be lively and joyous. And sometimes, in the spirit of this painting by Edward Ruscha, the music can be comic and absurd. For what's the holidays without hearing at least one Yoyoy Villame song?


*At Union Square Station and the MOMA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

pa rum pum pum pum

True. And goodwill and generosity should not come only when a newborn king is here to see.

Little drummer boys are all year round.

little drummer boy


Monday, December 20, 2010

Barely hanging on

Barely hanging on

And for others, the holidays aren't really a time of celebration and leisure because food and a place to live are hard to come by. Although, maybe, the goodwill and generosity of some can help the less fortunate feel something of the holidays, even for a short while. Or better yet, people can take a stance against policies that create the conditions for poverty to flourish.


*An elderly woman begging at the stairs of an underpass in Manila.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


But those exit signs are for emergency purposes only, right?

For some, they are like this Sales Lady on the jeep. She just rides along. Inevitably she'll pass by Christmas and New Year, but they are not her stop.

SalesLady on Saint James-C5 Jeep


*Sales Lady at a Saint James-C5 jeep

Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Exit

No Exit

Just the thought of Christmas and the impending New Year's celebrations (with the nonstop firecrackers, smoke, noise, and other annoyances) makes me feel like this woman. She stands in a direction opposite from the arrow, defiant to convention.


*At the MOMA

Thursday, December 16, 2010


And here's our Santa Claus to scare the carolers away.

scary santa

It's not that I hate Christmas carolers, it's that carolers nowadays border on being beggars, not making any effort to sing or finish their songs, but expect you to give them money just because.

What I do is tell them to finish their song, ask for more, and that's when I see the fun in caroling. And they do, too. Then I give them their pamasko.

Whew, for a moment there I thought I'd become a Scrooge :)


*Santa Claus decor at the gate of "Santa's House" on Policarpio Street at Mandaluyong.
**Thanks to Boom for getting the idea to pass by while we were in the area.

Decor Galore

Policarpio St.

Reindeer in the Philippines

I like our online Christmas tree! At least you've put traffic lights to good use in that image. As for us not putting up any Christmas decorations yet, well, maybe viewing these scenes from Policarpio St., Mandaluyong, can make up for it.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

slave to the decor

Hey dear, we haven't made our home "christmasy" yet. We don't even have a Christmas tree!

Wait, let me get a shot of Quezon Avenue traffic...

Delta-Quezon Ave. traffic

There you go. Now all it needs is a star on top. Wait a moment...

Delta-Quezon Ave. traffic with star

There. Our online Christmas tree.


*Quezon Avenue traffic near Delta.


IMG_0089 leap

Ballet at the mall

Me? I'd rather leap off the stage and wear loose clothing. Not that I have anything against the costumes worn by ballet dancers, who dance exquisitely and look spectacular. Their artistry and technique are wonderful to behold and capture, even if briefly, at this odd angle. By performing parts of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker at a mall, they reach out to ordinary people who have probably never seen ballet live before. I can imagine how some young girls and boys in the crowd would be inspired by seeing such beautiful dancers.

But this does mean that the holidays are just around the corner. For better or for worse.


*At Trinoma mall over the weekend

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Curtain call

trinoma nutcracker ballet presentation

Just in time for our cue this holiday season.

But is the world our stage, or is the world the one watching us on a stage?

And are you required to wear a tutu, and me tights, to do ballet?


*Nutcracker presentation at Trinoma

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Past, Present, Future

Past, present, future

Me, too. And I'm glad to be out again with you, taking photos, learning, and exploring the stories and multifaceted sights around us.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


I'll resist replying to you with any of Newton's three laws of motion.

I'm just glad you're back :)


Standing still

At sunset

After all this traveling, I am finally standing still. My body clock and eyes adjust to the changes in time and light, and I am caught again in linguistic shifts. As I familiarize myself with the familiar, I realize that standing still is only momentary. Even in stillness, one can move forward.


*Taken at the Getty Museum, with the sound of U2's Running to Stand Still in my head.

Monday, December 6, 2010

In Transit

in-between mrt cubao

Hey dear,

Don't forget to catch your plane. Unlike the MRT, it's harder to catch the next ride with airplanes.

So says the MRT expert.


*In between MRT coaches at MRT Station Cubao.

Friday, December 3, 2010

sharing the sky

batangas sunrise
Can't wait too for the sun to rise with you beside me.


And not a moment too soon, as I need a sub petting the cats.

Lunar connections


I take comfort in the night, knowing that you are awake and going about with your daily life. I take comfort in the moon, knowing that it is the same moon that you see and love, at the end of your day. Just as I do.


*At the Getty

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Colors of the Night

road 3 corner tandangsora
I see us together in different ways, like in this shot at Road 3, corner Tandang Sora, where shades of blue and red, our favorite colors, mingle in the night.

Yours has the wholesome scene of a corner store with kids, while mine is a bunch of topless men drinking the night away.

Two completely normal street scenes by the way.

Oh, We used to hang out at Tandang Sora a lot. When there was a Wendy's Hamburger joint there, a 24 hour grocery store, and a Lugawan at the corner with five bucks getting you lugaw (rice porridge) with sahog (err, inards?). The tricycle ride from UP to Tandang Sora was something too. The speed, the bumps, and the curves made it your midnight carnival ride.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

My blurred sight

I wish you were with me, too, when I saw this couple holding hands in a museum. This is an accidentally blurred shot, taken quickly as I was walking through. I like the blur, though, because it makes the couple less distinct and reminds me of us together, looking at exhibits. And somehow, those in the background, could also be us, more child-like, playing with light and shadows.


*At the MOMA

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In these crowded streets

LRT2-cubao station
True, I was hurt when you deleted my last post. It's the reason why I haven't posted since. Like a thorn in my side, I accept that it's the kind of hurt only a loved one can give you.

And I miss you too. I wish you were there when I saw this ray of sunlight over the passengers of the LRT2 at Cubao.


Thursday, November 4, 2010



When I think of loneliness, I think of that song "Eleanor Rigby". I grew up listening to the Beatles and as a kid, this particular song would fill me with sadness, even though I couldn't quite grasp all the words and meanings. I did begin to notice lonely people in the world around me -- from ordinary "respectable-looking" folks to street people wandering from place to place.

Like this man sleeping on a thin mat on Quiapo bridge, with a sign about a missing woman named Tomasita Chin posted above him. Where do they all come from and where do they belong?


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

alone, naturally

boyet silhouette-copy
It was only late in my life (College, haha) when I found—written in words, crisp and succinct—what I have been trying to grasp ever since I started watching movies on my own. I forgot if it was in a book, a magazine, or even a TV show at that time. All I know was that it was a manifesto I felt vindicated with:

There is a difference between solitude and loneliness.


*Boyet, the most trusted messenger from Adarna House (Well, he was only one, but still...)

In my solitude

In my solitude

As Tolstoy once wrote, “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” But if those incompatibilities are too much to take, it sure can be hell for the partners involved.

For some reason, I have very few street photos of couples but many photos of people alone -- like this photo of a man who was sitting at a table next to us. Why people alone seem more interesting to me, I'm not sure. Well, this image makes me recall the song by Duke Ellington (which Billie Holiday sang unforgettably):

In my solitude you haunt me
With reveries of days gone by
In my solitude you taunt me
With memories that never die
I sit in my chair
Filled with despair
There's no one could be so sad
With gloom everywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I'll soon go mad
In my solitude
I'm praying
Dear Lord above
Send back my love
I sit in my chair
Filled with despair
There's no one could be so sad
With gloom everywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I'll soon go mad
In my solitude
I'm praying
Dear Lord above
Send me back my love

During this long weekend of Undas, when many honored and remembered those who have passed away, I also thought of those who have lost their love and are left in solitude.


heavenly reds

the red sky

manley and michelle ringbearer
Your post was based on your favorite color, so I'll reply with mine.

I remember going out of our apartment then at UP Village and seeing this red sky. I had to go back and get the camera.

The kids, on the other hand, were part of Manley and Michelle's wedding entourage. I believe the small kid was the ring bearer. Here he is, being a kid, catching bubbles, regardless of the formal attire.

For these children, marriages are considered happy endings, heaven in the lives of two people. Only upon growing up will they realize that, depending on the two parties concerned, marriages could be heaven OR hell.


Or limbo too :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heavenly blues

Heavenly blues

A home to many

An escalator, a stairway... these ways to heaven sure do vary. At the Manila North Cemetery, however, where urban poor families have little choice but to live amidst thousands of graves, I'd say that heaven and hell (and everything in between) are in pretty close proximity.

For these children, the cemetery during the daytime is a cheerful yet macabre playground full of colorful cherubs and religious figures. During the night, though, I suspect that ghost stories abound, the dreamworld takes hold, and nightmares seep into an already harsh reality.


*Scenes at the Manila North cemetery during the long weekend of "Undas" or Day of the Dead.

Monday, November 1, 2010

going up

MOA Escalator
Will they be buying an escalator to heaven?

It makes you wonder.


*Escalator at MOA.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Sleeping through the sights

Capturing the sights

The ornate and the prosaic

In the heavens

Sorrow and revelry

I caught some scenes that I never would have expected, but then again, this is the Philippines. Never say never in the land where people ice skate in a tropical country, next to statues of the Virgin Mary.


*Scenes at the Mall of Asia during a photowalk organized by the Wide Open Workshops

light of foot

So did you catch stuff?


*Kid trying to catch bubbles being, well, "bubbled" at MOA.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A light step

A light step

Me, too! I'm looking forward to the photowalk later today. During the last one, I enjoyed playing with the elements of light and geometry, looking out for interesting people and stories, and letting myself just click away. Like your photo of the Jollibee mascot crossing the street, the odd and unpredictable may be just around the corner.

I've come to realize that street photography (and maybe photography in general) is also about being patient and yet still ready for anything -- as sometimes, the spontaneous occurs, merging with the design elements, and bringing a touch of magic (for lack of a better word and in the spirit of Halloween. haha.) to a scene. And when that happens, I hope to goodness I'll be quick enough to catch it.


*A photo taken at the Mall of Asia during a street photography workshop organized by Wide Open Workshops.


I sneak this post tonight while I'm working on some logos, and you are fast asleep.

A photo walk with you tomorrow, with your street photography pals.

I'm excited, like a kid being treated by his parents at Jollibee.


*Jollibee mascot crossing the street at Welcome, Pasig City.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I think that I shall never see...

In the spirit of that famous poem:

Plastics are made by tools like me, but only God can make a tree.


*Tree along University Avenue at UP Diliman

The machine and desire

The machine and desire

That tradition you mentioned continues, as it's a normal sight to see kids scrambling to take "baths" in the rain or swim in the most unlikely (and unsanitary) of waters. Unfortunately, their eagerness to enjoy themselves, as generations of kids have done in the past, is marred by the heavy pollution in the rivers, seas, flood waters, and even the rainfall.

And yet kids are exposed to pollutants of many kinds -- some of which are less obvious. The cheap plastic toys and all the ads that target children are also forms of pollution, as shown in this glimpse of mall culture, where the desire for plastic toys and instant gratification is created in brightly-lit machines.

For sure, adults are just as vulnerable to this pollution. Look at all the things we buy (plastic or otherwise) that we don't actually need. And the "essential" tools we do need are not durable or quickly become obsolete (like cellphones and computers). Some are even made with toxic materials that we expose ourselves to every day.

In a way, we are like those girls swimming happily in polluted flood waters. And maybe we're just as naive.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

street pool

Ondoy-Taguig-street03, originally uploaded by rjordanpsantos.

In Taguig, when I was young, our streets were our swimming pools, too.

When it rained that is. Oh, during tropical rain disasters, too.

I miss saying to my Mom "'Nay, ligo lang ako sa baha, ha." (Mom, I'll just take a dip in the flood, okay?) It's the kind of thing to say as a kid when those kind of catastrophes happen.

And these girls are just continuing that fun, but gross tradition.


*Street by my parents' house a few days after Ondoy.
** Again, taken with our Canon PowerShot A620 when it was a bit wonky after the wife took a shot of the recent Solar eclipse WITHOUT ANY FILTER :)

Street chess

Street chess

As you know, I love street photography for those moments that reveal so much about life around us. Like your photo of the girl with the spiders. Like these kids playing chess right on the street. Upon closer look, these images are not simply photos of children; these are stories about the kinds of lives they live, the places where they play, and the games they enjoy -- which, like the betting and the spider fights, mimic those of the adults around them.

When I took this photo, I realized that these children were playing chess outdoors, without tables and chairs, because their cramped homes are without good ventilation. And maybe, the girl at the corner wanted to play, too, but the boys were absorbed in their long chess match and didn't pay her any attention.

This speaks to me of the complexities of childhood, not idealized or simply looked upon with nostalgia.


An excellent way to immerse in street photography is being offered by Wide Open Workshops ( The video below says it all. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You probably had a hard time catching up with those snails. Moving subjects are always the hardest to shoot.

I bet spiders would want to be mundane, too. Sadly, they are stars in the world of human play and gambling. Their popularity, though, is probably not to their liking.


*Neighborhood girl with her gagamba on our street.

The mundane




Semester break
Semester break

That fascination with the lives of others gets tedious. People who love nothing better than to wag their tongues and be gossip-mongers are, frankly, boring people. Rather than obsess about celebrities or the everyday lives of everyday people, I prefer to find something mundane and photograph it. Create a little story and enjoy quiet glimpses at life which many pass by but don't take a moment to see.


*A series of shots taken while walking my dog outside the College of Fine Arts, after visiting UP Vet.