Thursday, September 30, 2010
There is this running joke where imitation Levi's jeans, upon closer inspection of their label, is spelled "Lives".
I haven't bought any ready-to-wear pants or jeans for years. The last time I wore one was something my Mom got me in High School.
Yes, my pants and jeans are bespoke, and made in places like these.
*Toppers Katipunan working area when I was having my pants (and my dad's too) made for our wedding.
Thanks for being there, whether for serious matters or during lighter moments such as this one, when I joked about taking shots for a faux Levi's jeans ad. Not that I'm into fashion, but I just couldn't pass up the interesting light.
*Photo taken on the way to the jeepney line.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
You're right. The blur can suddenly become more clear, yielding those moments of everyday life which neither of us can ignore.
With our camera in focus, we are confronted by scenes that tug at our conscience, make us decry the status quo, and question our own actions (or inactions). Attempting to tell the stories of those around us -- even metaphorically, as the lines in this image suggest -- it becomes clear that visual story-telling is not enough, as we need to join with others in calling for fundamental change.
Never feigning neutrality, we must ultimately take a stance to be on the side of the powerless and oppressed -- through our photography or otherwise.
*The title is inspired by Tracy Chapman's song of the same name, with the lyrics:
Across the lines/
Who would dare to go/
Under the bridge/
Over the tracks/
That separates whites from blacks...
Here, one could add, "That separates rich from poor". This photo was taken on the steps of the Recto Ave. underpass in Manila.
Monday, September 27, 2010
There are times, though, when these blurs in modern life would stand still, in the way of our everyday life. Focused, we have a chance to contemplate and to take action.
I choose to take a shot sometimes.
*BPI ATM early in the morning at Philcoa, 2006.
At times, the world is a blur. People pass by, glance at your direction, and then quickly move on. Although I usually try to catch moments of meaning and significance, there are also those fleeting moments that are amorphous and never quite there. Such is modern life in a city of millions, where connecting with each other through technology has never been easier, but connecting in real time, through the hustle and bustle, has never been more difficult.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
There is comfort in blur.
I have a problem with the term bokeh though. It sounds so... sleezy.
*Shot of a glass with blurred adarna house colleagues in the background.
Before I found out that I liked taking photographs (again, aside from souvenir shots), I never really appreciated the element of blur. I had this idea that all shots must be in focus and anything otherwise should be discarded. Eventually, as I started playing around with our camera and opening my mind to creative approaches, I began to like taking blurred shots -- at least some of them. I particularly like motion blur because the suggestion of movement and the sense of ambiguity captures how we sometimes see the world, especially as things happen very fast, spontaneously, and out of our control.
Hyperreality in photos, on the other hand, where every small detail is in focus, gives me a headache. I find that seeing things crystal clear, perfectly lit, and almost popping out of the shot can be too much information for the eye. It's the equivalent of those tell-all, Reality TV shows, exposing the most frivolous, inconsequential aspects of people's lives.
I'll take subtlety or mystery over that any day.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Yes, let's take a break from the city. Despite living in an archipelago, it's been a couple years since I've been to the beach or on a real hike. Every so often, one needs a break from the smokey air, grime, and heat of this concrete-filled urban jungle.
Come to think of it, if there is anything good about the pollution in Metro Manila, it's probably the sunsets. This is of small comfort, I suppose, as the sunset in this photo makes me think of a fire in the distance -- which, in this city, is usually the suspicious fires that devastate informal settler communities being demolished.
This daily cruelty wrecked upon the poor and powerless is a mark upon Philippine society that cannot be washed away, no matter how lovely our beaches and sunsets may be.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
In the city in particular too. It makes you feel a bit dirty due to all that pollution.
Let's get out for a while.
*Mactan Island, Cebu view.
**Click for a bigger view.
I'd rather walk than take a bus, if it weren't for the travel distance and the need to get somewhere fast. Those noisy, smoke-belching, dilapidated buses seem to be driven by homicidal maniacs at times. Buses are among my least favorite things about the Philippines (especially considering all those terrible bus accidents), but I realize that you enjoy riding them. Is it nostalgia, perhaps?
Even though I've hardly ever taken them, I'd prefer a pedicab over a bus. Here's a shot of a pedicab driver taking an afternoon siesta in Quiapo -- a marked contrast from those crazed bus drivers competing with each other over passengers and swerving in and out of traffic.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Riding the MRT is either boring or high blood inducing.
Ride a bus, an ordinary one while you're at it, and late at night to boot so there is no traffic to dampen the driver's need for speed. It's like riding a roller coaster, except it lasts longer, and can be declared as transportation expense when filing taxes.
What more can you ask for?
*Barumbadong Bus alkansiyas, Adarna House Christmas gifts last year, still unpacked.
You're so taray! :) Well, we all have our MRT/LRT stories -- other people's lack of consideration, the dog-eat-dog attitude, the failure to follow basic rules, etc. Instead of a rate hike on this essential form of public transportation (which will really hurt ordinary people), the train management should concentrate on enforcing better manners among commuters. That would go a long way in creating a more disciplined and civilized Metro Manila for all to enjoy.
*A photo of how people sandwiched on the train will find any way to keep their balance.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
If it's goodwill you're talking about, the place that needs it most is the MRT.
Have you made sakay naba the MRT in the morning? Like, omg, it's so hirap. And the people are so unruly, and sooooo swapang. They make balya to you even if you're a gurl! What more pa kaya if I'm just a guy, no?
*MRT ride going to Guadalupe/Tulay
Yeah, as you mentioned, this thing called life can be one hell of a ride. Here, in this photo taken along Rizal Ave., underneath the LRT, a woman and boy ride in a pedicab which is pedaled by a man whose face looks as if aged beyond his years.
I think the man's face shows the weariness caused by hardship and life experiences in the streets of Manila. When I took this shot, I wondered where they were going, with those troubled expressions on their faces.
Like the sign behind them, goodwill towards others is something we strive for, although others may not show the same towards us -- exposing their greed, malice, and contempt. As I keep going, like this trio on the street, I try to hold onto some of that goodwill.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I don't believe in an interventionist God.
Some do though. And if it gives them hope, keeps their faith alive (unintentional Bon Jovi reference to an already Nick Cave referenced entry), I will respect that.
God has already put a lot of things at work: fate, karma, luck, free will... It actually is a beaut. The machine works on its own, this thing called life.
But Jesus though, now that's another story.
*Religious icons for sale in Baguio
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
When I was young (not that I'm old now, just not THAT young, anyways), I'd pray to God when times were tough.
Later, I'd talk to him too after praying (There is a difference for me, between the two).
Then, I stopped going to Mass. But I still went to church. Bisita Iglesia as they coined it.
And I just realized, I didn't talk or pray to any of them saints.
It's just between me and the main honcho.
*Religious icons on a bookshelf at Kitchen's Best along Pasong Tamo Extension.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
He's a survivor so far, the Vet says he's a good patient, which kinda makes me laugh as the mr. mosh I know isn't.
I'll take the Vet's word for it for now.
*Mr. Mosh at the Vet clinic with his Elizabethan collar.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
You've been stellar -- and I appreciate it. Yes, I'm hanging in there, although I feel like that song, "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day. One of Alex's favorite songs, as it turns out.
Maybe, instead of wanting to light up a yosi, I'd be more inclined to lighting candles, like the ones at Baclaran church. It's fascinating to think that the wax from probably thousands of candles have dripped onto this iron candle holder. I find the light of these candles and the cascade of wax to be beautiful representations of the prayers, hopes, and dreams of so many people.
Right this moment, our Mosh is dreaming. Now isn't that something?
Friday, September 10, 2010
Sometimes, you have to wave things off, too, so you can concentrate on things that need to be done.
Afterward, wave back at your challenges, let them know that you are ready to face them head on.
*Lucky cat charms at that Robinsons mall at Boni.
Lately, aside from other things, it's been cats -- not dogs -- that have caused us concern and worry. As you know, it wasn't an easy day for me, and I did wish to be out doing street photography and documenting the Eid'l Fitr celebrations. Although I had too many pressing matters to attend to, I did manage to take one and only one shot today. It's called leap... and it reminds me that sometimes I have to take a leap of faith...
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Yes, the PNP has gone to the dogs.
I for one think we should go back to that 60's slogan:
"Make love, not war"
I know it doesn't make sense. But this post does feature dogs.
*Dogs making a connection at our neighborhood, Alley 25.
I was supposed to say in my last entry that at least in malls, we give our money and we feel happy about it (in a consumerism-high sort of way). So why can't it be the same with the government, where we pay our taxes yet we don't feel happy (in a I'm-a-proud-tax-paying citizen-of-the-Philippines sort of way)?
Makes me want to have a balloon just to be happy.
Oh shoot, even balloons nowadays are commoditized.
Will it give comfort to dolphins that the balloon choking them is their fellow ocean dweller Spongebob Squarepants?
*Balloon Vendor along Katipunan Avenue.
But, Jordan, don't you think that malls (even the most beautifully designed ones) are also contributing to environmental degredation?
When I look at this photo, I recall Joni Mitchell's song, "Big Yellow Taxi":
"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,
With a pink hotel, a boutique,
And a swinging hot spot.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum.
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em..."
I enjoy malls as much as anybody, especially for the aircon and relief from the heat. While I do find malls more pleasant if they have trees, grass, and mist, at the same time, I realize that malls are the epitome of consumerism -- one of the reasons there is enormous pollution and environmental damage throughout the world.
Moreover, even as we like to recreate forests in a mall, just outside in our streets and countryside, the government and corporations (mining, logging, etc.) think little about destroying trees and the environment as it suits them.
*Photo taken at Trinoma mall
I was thinking about what I last posted -- about shame (or shamelessness, to be more precise). Here's a shot of a car belonging to Manila's not-so finest. This was taken underneath the LRT along Rizal Ave. in Manila.
For several days, the radio had live coverage of the CHR hearings about the botched hostage incident in Luneta, but I couldn't bear to listen to the stupid things being said. Certainly, if that was the downright horrific experience of foreign tourists, what more the experience of ordinary Filipinos -- who are humiliated, abused, tortured, even killed at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.
*My apologies to dogs. This photo was taken the day before the Luneta hostage incident.
True. And probably the reason why Malls are the new parks and playgrounds of today is how they have prioritized the need for families to have a safe, airconditioned environment for recreation AND consumption.
Our malls, like Greenbelt and Trinoma are award-winning examples of consumerist architecture and urban planning. Government should learn from them.
*Greenbelt 1 construction scenery.
I'm struck by how there are so few public parks and playgrounds in urban Manila that are accessible to children, especially those who are poor. Even for children with middle-class or working-class parents, the indoor playgrounds at fast-food restaurants or malls are more than likely the ones they enjoy during childhood. For too many kids, however, the dangerous and often dirty streets are their playgrounds.
To me, the reason there are so few parks is not the hot, humid weather, as the shade of trees and cooling winds do much to relieve the heat. The real reason, I suspect, is terrible urban planning and the failure of the State -- through the decades -- to prioritize the need for families to have a safe environment for recreation.
Left with few options when playing outdoors, urban poor children like the ones in this photo find creative ways to play in the street. Here, they use a pedestrian overpass along Commonwealth Ave. as a long slide. They have taken this ugly (and probably overpriced, poorly-designed) structure and made good use of it -- indeed, putting many adult decision-makers and so-called leaders to shame.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The street has always been a place of play for us.
Something I've discovered lately: Fastfoods are popular with kids not only because of the food, but also because of the play areas. It's a place where they get to meet friends, play with them, and say goodbye as quickly as the food being served there.
*Jet Playing at Burger King, Timog.
Your photo reminds me of how kids abound in the streets of Metro Manila, often with that unsupervised freedom that causes me to worry for their safety and well-being, and wonder if they even get a chance to attend school. Other times, I see kids in the streets who, despite difficult circumstances, still enjoy life the way only kids can.
Here's a shot of three kids "swimming" in the street in the middle of a hot day. I guess there was a busted water pipe in that area. They somehow managed to create a small pool for themselves at that street corner -- making most passersby smile, even if just a little, at this joyful moment of childhood.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
I will remember his poetry readings. To hear them is to know poetry. Written, read, and heard.
Another thing, before his passionate readings, you will first be entranced by his introductory speeches, accompanied always with his smile. He first welcomes you, make you feel at ease, know the poet before the poem. Afterward, he unleashes the fury.
I will miss him.
*Alex in the spotlight at the Anti-VFA event in Conspiracy, 040709 9:24pm
Saturday, September 4, 2010
This is my last photo of our friend Alex at the SONA ng Bayan. The consummate writer for the people.
Alex, I will miss your smile, your camaraderie, and how you wrote with such force, clarity, and courage. Your writings and poems will continue to guide and inspire us. Maraming salamat, Alex. Paalam and rest in peace.
Friday, September 3, 2010
We're a culmination of a lot of things. Influences being one. Some are obvious, some are not. Like dreams for example: if you think hard enough of the day before, you'd figure out why you dreamed about flying (watching that Superman movie), or why Tom Cruise happened to pass by and chat (Reading about Salt originally being written for him). Everything has an explanation if you give time to figure things out.
But yeah, sometimes you just shoot and let your influences do their thing.
*Silhouette of Jo during this year's Earth Day.
As I’ve often said to you, I’m more of a writer and art appreciator of sorts. Visual expression was something relegated to the realm of childhood, as I focused on other activities through the years. For some reason, lately, I’ve become more interested in capturing images that are not mere snapshots or souvenirs (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). Admittedly, I’m almost like a child, delighting in photography, experimenting with our camera, and reacting so strongly to images created by those who I admire. This is something we do share together. So here we are, continuing our photo dialogue.
Some might wonder if your influence – as a graphic designer – on me is apparent in images like this one. You weren’t with me when I took this shot, so was it just unconsciously design-oriented on my part? I remember that I took this without thinking specifically about angles or shapes (if that makes any sense) and I just clicked when the three people were in the frame. Isn’t composition really about finding an arrangement that looks or feels right somehow, whether or not it follows some “rule”? Or it could be that all those graphic design and art books stacked up on our bookshelves have indeed started to seep into my consciousness.
If that’s true, I really don’t mind. :)
*This photo was taken on August 21 at the SM Mall of Asia during a 2-day workshop and photo walk organized by the Wide Open Workshops.
We started this on Facebook. She'd post a photo, write a bit or two and then tag me. I'd see the photo, be inspired by it, reply with a photo of mine, write some witty thing, and then tag her. After a few exchanges, a dialogue appeared through images.
We stopped due to various reasons, but the wife and I believe we should continue it, and not just limit it to "friends" on Facebook.
So here we are. Take two then. Hello internet.