Sunday, October 31, 2010
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
Saturday, October 30, 2010
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
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
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
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 :)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Your photo reminds me of society's interest with the everyday. It started with the everyday of the glamorous: Movie stars, Musicians, Top chefs, Fashion designers, Models. But now they are working their way to the everyday of everyday people. Just take a look at the latest reality TV shows and you'll know what I mean.
I'm okay with telling the story of those that fascinate. But I draw the line when it comes to revealing so much about them. I, for one, always want to be informed, but I, too, still want to be surprised.
*Behind the scenes of a photo shoot for Adarna board books that featured everyday people.
I like how your photo gives a peek at the man who bakes the pandesal. Men like him work through the day and even the night, making hot pandesal for those who are enticed by the smell of freshly baked bread. Similarly, the cooks in this photo work at a fancy restaurant in Makati and happened to notice me peering into the window with the camera. They look so curious, perhaps slightly amused, at this funny woman taking a photo.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
That's the reason why they invented Palaman.
Yet still you prefer your Pandesal--our break from oatmeal--plain as jane during breakfast.
Bread is the body, palaman, the soul.
I'll stop at that analogy before it gets messy, as I put a lot of soul into what I do and--
Yes, I'll stop now.
*Pandesal on the pan, at our friendly neighborhood Pan De Manila.
In between work and errands, I look forward to weekends for those moments of connecting with loved ones (both near and far) -- whether it's chatting about our everyday lives, listening to the 3-year-old nephew sing over skype, or making plans for gatherings and trips.
Or when the husband surprises me with his concoction of cheese, spices, and toast over the sounds of John Legend and The Roots. Or those other meals prepared and shared with family.
That's food for the soul made simple.
*Vegetables that my father prepared for soup, exactly as he laid them out on the plate.
Friday, October 22, 2010
After I'm done with things that need to be done in creating books--meetings, getting proofs, encoding corrections among other things--let's go and look at some, err, books.
*Proofs with correction post-its waiting to be noticed, approved, and encoded from a meeting at McDo Philcoa.
Sure, let's find time to browse at our favorite bookshops this weekend. There's a chance I might find a cool photography book on sale or a P.D. James novel I have yet to read, or you'll come across a useful graphic design magazine or one of those books with fantastic covers that you love to collect. Afterward, let's have a snack somewhere, discuss our "finds", and enjoy some quiet respite in the world of images and words.
Maybe, after such moments of indulgence and sharing, these are the traces we leave behind.
I remember Tower Records at Glorietta. You, making me put on those headphones and listen to Erykah Badu's Green Eyes. And me, making you listen to this new band called Coldplay and their song Shiver.
When was the last time we browsed at a music store?
We only do so with books now, our other love. Browsing that is.
So when are we going to Booksale Edsa Central?
*Cubao X Antique/Used bookshop.
**What our house "almost" looks like.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
When we first became friends years ago, you and I connected over a shared love of music by Bjork, Travis, Leona Naess, Joni Mitchell, Smashing Pumpkins, Coldplay, and Erykah Badu, among others. You introduced me to bands I hadn't heard of, and my love of hip-hop and R&B made you appreciate those genres a little more.
Over the years, though, I'd also roll my eyes at your ability to sing Air Supply songs when commuting, and you'd kid me when I play John Coltrane and Miles Davis (music with no lyrics, you'd say).
Indeed, with the wide array of music now available, it can be overwhelming. Perhaps the mark of a dedicated music lover is to sift through the deluge to find some of those sound gems. Or, as I tend to do, rely on the "hipster" husband to keep me abreast and check out what's playing on KCRW.com. And when all else fails, return to the old classics and rediscover the music that made me fall in love in the first place.
*Both wearing earphones, a couple goes down the street with their wares in Baclaran.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Music doesn't have that much impact for me as it did before. Sadly, it's due to technology, which has made accessibility -- both legal and illegal -- much easier.
Gone is the surprise your band has a new album.
Gone is the anxiety of when the last album copy was sold to that hipster dude.
Gone is the appreciation of knowing you saved money for that Smashing Pumpkins double album.
Gone is the attachment you have listening to that album over and over again since the other albums you want aren't available in the country, and the Japanese version sold at that hipster store is just plain robbery.
The challenge is to find greatness, those memorable moments we may overlook due to the countless possibilities available to us.
*Brownman Revival lead singer doing his rasta thing at 70's Bistro
When you introduced me to Arcade Fire's latest album, The Suburbs, and jokingly said it was Neil Young singing, I almost believed you, except that I'm familiar enough with Neil Young's voice to know better. Little by little, the songs on that album began to connect with me, and I wondered about their meanings.
When art has that certain quality -- which speaks to something familiar and yet makes me ask questions -- I feel a rush of excitement. I even get shivers when I encounter something so powerful or beautiful; shivers that, sadly, leave as quickly as they come. Other feelings, the ones that can bog me down, are not so easily lost. However, I can manage to move past them -- not to deny them, but to search for moments that bring more meaning to life.
Moving on, we search together.
*A kite falling through the sky
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Keeping our PDA (photo display of affection, as you call it) more or less rated "PG", I thought I'd try to balance it out. What better way than a pic of street angels. :)
*A Santacruzan procession in a Metro Manila urban poor community. These are celebrated all over the Philippines during the month of May. Girls are chosen to represent Reynas (including Reyna Elena or St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great) and various characters. They are escorted by boys, the last one representing Prinsipe Constantino.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
For a minute, I thought we were going to go all lovey-dovey there.
Good thing you changed the photo discussion.
But it's okay to show our friends a little PDA (Photo Display of Affection) once in a while.
Just a peek though, okay?
*Lovers on a UP-SM North jeep at North Avenue.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Reading your post, I can almost hear that Monty Python song, with the cheesy refrain and whistle. :) Ok, you've got a point, aside from Taguig folk being tough and how taking photographs is never quite as simple as it may seem. Thanks for the reminder (and thank goodness our camera survived my over-enthusiastic, amateur efforts).
Your shot makes me recall this one I took of a woman sidewalk vendor outside of Intramuros, Manila, proudly showing off her dog who keeps her company throughout the day. The woman and her dog were all smiles and showed the brighter side of life, I'd say.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Always look at the brighter side of life.
From your Husband, who grew up in Taguig (If you lived in Taguig, you knew how to live with floods).
*Family friend with his pet in the aftermath of Ondoy.
** 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 :)
Social networking on the internet still wasn't so pervasive back then, but we did have real-world social networking -- the Collegian "gen-meets", press work, and "consols".
Which reminds me... the last time we were at the Collegian office was the night of Ondoy, when we attended a meeting about VJ's book. The rain was coming down steadily, but no one found this alarming, as it seemed to be just another rainy night in Manila. Little did we realize how extraordinary the rainfall was and how the massive flooding of the following day would affect our lives and those of so many others.
Not adequately warned or prepared, we were all caught off guard, and a year later, not much has improved in terms of disaster preparedness. Even more worrisome, scientists claim that extreme weather patterns are increasing all over the world and that this is due to climate change. What used to seem so normal -- the comforting sound of rain -- now carries with it memories of trauma and tragedy and the anticipation of more to come.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
We first got close through texting, when cellphones were lumbering gadgets that didn't have cameras built in them. I wouldn't have been able to take this photo that time, much more put my cellphone in my pocket.
I wonder how our courtship would be if friendste-- I mean facebook existed then, too.
*The Viernezas going to work on a rainy day, taken with a Nokia cellphone camera.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I first met you during your alfombra days, which have gradually developed into your office shoes days and even to your New Balance running shoes and cool-looking sneaker days. And yet, no matter which pair of shoes or slippers you wear, they'll have to stand the test of the flooded Metro Manila streets.
They'll be up against puddles much less innocuous than this one; puddles which start to look like creeks, even rivers, during the dreaded storms. If I remember correctly, you didn't wear shoes in the aftermath of Ondoy, but wore tsinelas instead, as you waded through those devastating waters.
Alfombras, perhaps, would have been more fitting.
*A rare puddle during the hot summer months.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
See, I have had past experiences with Security Guards. Shangri-la Mall didn't use to allow people wearing slippers inside. Or in my situation, Alfombras.
Oh I argued, I reasoned out, but I was still a High School kid, still couldn't muster that much bluster. So I just went in the Grocery area where the security guard was more lenient and proceeded to hang around the front entrance so the security guard who didn't allow me inside could see me sip my Tall, 7-11 Pineapple juice drink.
I've grown since then, matured you might say, and understood that they are only following instructions. Which is why it was good for you to point out that the one at fault here is the management.
Now? I shoot forbidden sunsets at Shangri-la's upstairs veranda.
*Sunset after a hard downpour at Shangri-La.
Yeah, I also took a shot. We had just crossed the street when I noticed a potential shot, although I'm not so keen on the result.
Here, at least, no security guard was pestering you with the claim that photography is prohibited. That happened when we were on the overpass above North Ave., between the two malls, and you were photographing the sunset as it dipped down behind Edsa. Apparently, some mall management directive prohibits photographing "private buildings" without permission, but security guards are told that this applies -- supposedly -- to any photography, even if far away from the malls and even if the mall buildings are not in the shot. Good thing you handled the situation well by insisting on your rights.
How absurd that taking shots of sunsets, a most common subject of photography, is being denied to us. In the name of security, these unimaginative hacks treat photographers as threats, but fail to consider how easy it is to discretely photograph any building using a cellphone camera. They should stop harassing photographers and do their jobs with a little more common sense.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
This was taken the last time we took shots together.
You were the one who pointed this out. How did yours fare?
*Sunset tinged cloud over Mindanao Avenue, corner Road 20
Friday, October 1, 2010
Looking at your photo and at all those clothes being made and repaired by the tailor, I think of how skilled craftsmen/repairmen (and women) have provided services for so many generations. Now, they seem to be a dying breed, as more and more people buy clothes sold at malls (made in sweatshops around the world) or go to generic repair shops, where an anonymous seamstress or repairman sits behind a wall, separated from the customers. Such is the practice of creating distance between the producer and the consumer, resulting in lack of knowledge about these workers and their lives and conditions. The less we see, the less we empathize.
I'm told by an anthropologist that young people are now less inclined to learn from elder skilled workers and continue their traditions. I hope that's not the case. Personally, I like meeting and talking to those who make or repair my clothes, shoes, or watches. We should try to support their way of life and work -- bring our business to them and be informed consumers. We should break away from those faceless transactions and mode of consuming that mall culture perpetuates.
*A watch repairman originally from Jolo, Sulu with one of his fish on display, which he says can ward off bad luck.