Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year of the Dragon

Dragon and bird

Here's to more traveling, more art and photography, and to an exciting and meaningful year ahead. Happy New Year! Welcome to Year 2012!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

tree duty


And here I am again, putting up our online Christmas tree.

Happy holidays dear.


*One of the numerous Christmas trees at Trinoma, with one of the numerous kids running around that mall this time of the year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Poldet: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Politikal

Poldet: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Politikal

Poldet: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Politikal

Poldet: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Politikal

True, GMA's arrest is something to celebrate, even though she should be held in an ordinary prison and not given special treatment. Many still are keen to celebrate the impending arrest of General Palparan, the notorious human rights violator who is currently the subject of a manhunt for the abduction and torture of 2 missing UP students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

When the "Berdugo" is finally behind bars, perhaps justice will be served for the hundreds of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and other abuses suffered under his reign of terror. It'll be a bittersweet celebration, though, as many continue to search for their loved ones, activists are thrown in jail on false charges, and extrajudicial killings still persist, even under the current Aquino administration.


*Photos taken during "Poldet: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Politikal," a cultural presentation about political prisoners and the struggle for freedom in the Philippines.

Sunday, December 11, 2011



I, for one, think that a few people celebrated Human Rights Day earlier, with GMA finally being detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center last Friday, in lieu of the election fraud charges leveled against her.

When I was visiting Veterans last July, I saw these festival pasabits outside one room, and wondered what they were for. Now, I would like to believe that these were decorations placed five months early in celebration of GMA now being there.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Burdens of injustice

Burdens of injustice

Art is indeed for everyone. It strikes at our collective conscience, depicting the realities of human rights abuses through imagery, words, and performance. Too often, though, when artists are dissatisfied with the status-quo and clamor for freedom and justice, they are attacked and imprisoned by the powers-that-be. One such artist is Ericson Acosta, who has been in jail for nearly 11 months on trumped-up charges, has endured torture by the military, and is now several days into a hunger strike.

Photographers, as well, have been harassed and attacked for covering protest rallies and documenting human rights violations. Photographers have also lost their lives for revealing truths that gun-wielding forces want hidden.

On this International Human Rights Day, we're reminded that impunity continues to reign in the Philippines and elsewhere. Art reminds us, too, that these burdens of injustice weigh heavy on our society and reflect on all of us.


*Performance artist Terence Tey Krishna Lopez outside the Commission on Human Rights, as families and supporters protested the illegal detention and torture of the "Morong 43" health workers held in a military camp.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

let's see...

hand at window

For everyone I guess. We all need it. Whether we're aware of it or not. It's like rain. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we don't. Regardless, it will always be there.


*Kid's hand checking if it is still raining while on the road.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For whom?

For whom?

Just a question to consider.


*Outside "Le Petit Artisan". Taking off from an idea that you had for a shot.

Monday, December 5, 2011


scary-man at b side, the collective


Sorry. I just realized I didn't get to post a scary photo when Halloween came. I was supposed to, when you posted your All Souls' Day photos, but I got distracted.

You were saying?


*Jack Nicholson poster (I think) at B Side, The Collective.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life as it is*

Behind the canteen

Through photography, I interpret life as it is and realize that creating images is not as simple as it seems. Every choice made reveals who we are as image makers, our views and biases, and how we respond to life around us. I'm becoming more aware of the limitations and dangers of photography, how trust is built and can be misused, and how photos are only glimpses, through the photographer's eye, of what the truth may or may not be. For more often than not, there's much beyond the image that needs to be explored.


*This title is lifted from a comment to my photo left by Jani, a friend on Flickr. The photo was taken behind a canteen near the site of the recent PCP workshop at the FSC Forest Complex, Subic Bay.

Friday, November 25, 2011

through photography

buendia jeepney driver with family photos

And what better way to make people remember than through photography?

Like this Jeepney driver at Buendia, Makati, who surrounds himself with a shrine of family photos to accompany him on the road.


*On a Buendia jeep after attending the opening of Jes Aznar's Under the Lord's Shadows, a photo exhibit that, as Iris Gonzales says in her blog "provides a deeper look into the source of conflict in Maguindanao, the very same conflict that led to the massacre of 58 people, 32 of them media workers, two years ago."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In remembrance

May we never forget

Yes, may we never forget.


*Taken on Sunday when Philippine Center for Photojournalism members and friends flew kites in remembrance of the 2nd Anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

comfortably numb

old and young lady at ortigas mrt station

That is the challenge one faces, after witnessing things too much—may it be injustices, wrongdoings, or just plain rudeness—one must never be comfortably numb, never to react accordingly to matters one knows are not right.

As a matter of fact, we don't have to react all the time. We don't have to be heroes or martyrs for all things not right. One must simply acknowledge these, and one step has already been made to solving them.

For example, "poorism photos." I've been hearing a lot from you and your photography peeps about these kind of shots. I've heard everyone's sides, and true, one must never take these kind of photos for the sake of one's portfolio. But never to take these kind of photos because you are tired of them and there are other things to shoot seems kind of off-putting for me. Not to document the lives of impoverished people would not make the problem of poverty vanish. It would simply make us forget such a problem exists.


*Beggar at the stairs of Ortigas MRT station steps

Monday, November 21, 2011



Seeing your photo, I wonder how children feel when riding the trains -- perhaps excited and a bit scared because of the crowds who push and argue just to get a ride or find a seat. I'm also reminded of this photo I took, with a sign that reads:


Signs like these reflect values of care and consideration towards others, which are a rarity in the stampede of commuters. These values are particularly lacking among those who drive on our roads and even among the strangers we encounter in our daily lives. There's hardly a day when I don't witness the dog-eat-dog attitude and feel outraged, especially on trains, when people push and shove others, cut in line, and think only about their own convenience.


Friday, November 18, 2011


kid peeking at mrt train

Look no further for meaning with that ID photo, dear. That was found by someone on the train, and—-as tradition dictates for any lost documentation or identification—-posted in the nearest public area where the person has the most chance finding it, if they come back.

I do agree, though, a lost photo's identity would always be a mystery. Until we find out the truth, it is the next best thing to be known for.

So, should we call him Rosebud?


*Girl peeking to check if the next MRT train is on its way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lost and found

Picture on the train

And this guy, is he missing, too? Or did he place his own photo into that plastic handle on the train? Perhaps, this was a way of asserting his identity in the midst of the millions who commute everyday. That his ID photo, normally used for job applications or government documents, would be better displayed in the most unlikely of places, instead of being filed in stacks of bureaucratic paperwork or thrown away like the photos accumulated by companies and agencies year after year.

So that maybe, if his photo is noticed and acknowledged by others on this train, his face wouldn't be lost in the crowd.


*Seen while riding the MRT

Friday, November 11, 2011

the grid

missing sign at mrt

Living off the grid, that's the modern term for what you were talking about. It sounds so macho though, so Hollywood. Because of its military origins perhaps? Or the romanticized portrayal of men (and women) on the run, or not wanting to be found.

Yes, connectivity and information are most abundant these days, but still is limited to those who have access to the technology that supply them. For some, communication still comes in the simplest of forms, and sometimes—as has been through the years—given in the most desperate means.

So have they seen this kid yet?


*DIY Missing person sign at the MRT.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Using a cellphone -- on the train (like in your photo) or elsewhere -- has become ubiquitous. While technology allows for immediate communication with others, sometimes I wonder if we have become too connected and accesible. Sure, all this connectivity can be genuinely helpful, but there are also negative consequences.

And maybe this is why turning off, logging off, meditating, clearing one's mind, or spending time away from all the actual and virtual noise becomes a necessity. It's a way of reconnecting with what's truly important.


Saturday, November 5, 2011


cellphone call mrt

That first photo of yours is a combination of Halloween AND All Saints' Day!

Some people think of All Saints' Day as an occasion, or as the Catholic church officially says, a "solemnity."

I think of it as a way of communication. Of keeping in touch with your dead loved ones, be it just one-way.

If the communication were two-way though, now that's Halloween.


*Guy calling someone at the MRT (I know, a not-so-very-halloween photo) :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Saints and Angry Birds

Instruction #3

north 02

The night of All Saints' Day

Night in Manila North Cemetery

north 13

north 26

Visiting the departed

north 09

north 10

Halloween has come and gone. All Saints' Day, too. We didn't wear any costumes, but we did light a candle in remembrance of loved ones and friends who have passed away.


*Scenes last night at the Manila North Cemetery

Sunday, October 30, 2011

dress code

toppers katipunan window display

When I read your last post, I asked you if we got to use that title before. You said no, and regardless, that was really the title you thought for the post.

Well, I checked, and we did get to use that title already.

I'll just read between the lines with what happened there :)

Hey, Halloween is coming. We haven't dressed for the occasion for long time.


*Toppers Katipunan window display

Friday, October 28, 2011

Between the lines

Between the lines

Yes, laws can be used to perpetuate injustice. News reports can be misleading, even untruthful. And discourse is not always enlightening.

That's why, when analyzing statements, articles, laws, reports -- whatever the text may be -- it helps to read between the lines. It helps to consider the context. And it's useful to realize the intent of the writers/speakers and not see them as infallible, no matter their claims of authority.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

evil empire

the fort buildings

Long ago when we used to meet at Rockwell, I had this feeling that the isolated tall buildings there were of the "evil corporation" type. You know, the ones the hero has to go to in order to defeat the powerful, scheming villain who just so happens to be waiting inside along with his henchmen and the hero's captured love interest.

See, my mind has been wired on what a villain is supposed to be. They even have categories: The evil corporation, the military tyrant, the powerful dictator, the wealthy drug lord, the secret organization, the religious cult, the powerful politician, the fanatical muslim leader, the mad scientist, the invading alien race.

I for one though, think that bad people have learned from all the revolutions and uprisings that toppled their brethren. They hide in laws, rather than be outright evil in their actions.

The good thing is that the ones opposing them, the good guys, are also evolving in the fight.


*Buildings being constructed at Bonifacio Global City.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Target markets

The Queue


All too often, we are reduced to being target markets. As passive consumers with never-ending "needs" created for us, we are herded like cattle into the fantasy world of shopping malls and amusement zones, so that we hopefully forget that our real needs are not being met. So that we fail to realize who really is in control and whose crimes -- which wreak havoc the world over -- continue to go unpunished.

But more and more people are waking up, and the OWS and other movements are growing everyday. These are exciting times to see what happens when the 99% refuse to be targets and make their demands heard loud and clear.


I believe the children are our future

eva toyfrom-ogie

It’s tough to be a kid nowadays. Especially if you are an Anime character. Chances are, you are the only one capable of piloting huge, lumbering mechas while all the professional adults are just background characters who both support and doubt your capabilities at the same time.

Why is the fate of the world in your hands? Why is the fate of that other world—full of fantastic, magical creatures much more powerful than you—also in your hands?

Well, if you happen to be the target market of such media, you have no choice but to walk the heroes' path for them so that target market of yours can relate with you.

What's that? The only thing these Anime characters want to do is just go to school, watch anime, play video games and somehow get the attention of that cute classmate of theirs? No problem, they'll get to do that, too. And yeah, it's harder than riding a giant, lumbering mecha. Kids can relate to that.


*Evangelion Revoltech toy bought for a steal from toy seller Ogie

Friday, October 21, 2011


Watching "The Farmers and the Helicopters" (2006) by Dinh Q. Le

It pains me to see the incredible cruelty and callousness that people show towards each other and towards those who are most vulnerable in life -- children and animals, especially. And sometimes, I see that same cruel tendency in children themselves, who act out the very violence that they witness or perhaps seems normal to them, and target other children and small animals. Once I had to stop a group of neighborhood children who were pestering a kitten and on the verge of torturing it. On several occasions, I've seen children taunt and bully those they deem as weak or different. Cyberbullying now forms part of our vocabulary, as the internet is seen as another venue for bullying by children (and adults).

How sad it is to see the ugliness of human nature manifest in such young, seemingly innocent faces. It's so easy to sentimentalize childhood, but when I remember it from a more realistic perspective, I recall the complexities of feelings and experiences that we as children encounter even if we don't have the maturity to understand them.

I'm struck, though, by the powerful role that adults have in guiding children. To lead by example is, ultimately, the best way to guide them, especially in times full of violence and conflict, when the lessons of history seem lost on too many. And it is in moments like this one I captured, when an adult (a father, I presume) explains a video installation to a child in a museum, that I cling to the hope that future generations will learn to analyze history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

And maybe it's just wistful thinking, but I likewise hope that adults in the present will consider how each decision we make -- how each action taken and statement uttered -- affects not just those immediately around us, but also the younger generations who look to us for guidance and form part of our communities.


*Watching "The Farmers and the Helicopters" (2006) by Dinh Q. Le at the MOMA. This video installation featured scenes of the helicopters used during the Vietnam war, the recollections of ordinary Vietnamese people, as well as current scenes of Vietnamese farmers who are now using helicopters (built in Vietnam) to transport farm products for the good of their community.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the saddest sound

woman playing solitaire with dog near ATM

I recently heard what, for me, is one of the saddest sounds in the world: the wails of a kitten, thrown into the street to fend for its own.

Scenes like this remind me of that passage in the bible where god assigns man as the caretaker of all animals in the world. Has man fulfilled this role? Looking back, it makes me realize how the Catholic Church's teachings are too man-centric. The kindness of men, the evils of men. Man's folly, doom, salvation. The list goes on. But does the Catholic Church have any statements on animal cruelty? Endangered species -- god's creations all, about to be forever lost in the world?


*Woman playing solitaire with her dog near an ATM at Roxas Blvd.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How sweet the sound

How sweet the sound

I find it amazing to hear the sounds that birds make, which can be described in so many different ways: chirping, tweeting, cackling, even singing. I love hearing birds in our urban neighborhood -- their lovely, calming sounds which contrast with the roar of tricycle engines, and people talking, yelling, or singing (headache-inducing) videoke.

I wonder, though, how birds manage during the difficult, hot and rainy seasons we have.

The behavior of birds really does say much about the state of the world. I read recently how many bird species are shifting their migratory patterns due to habitat loss and the warming of the planet. As many experts point out, humans aren't the only species forced to adapt to climate change, yet human behavior contributes the most to this phenomenon and its onerous effects.

I hope that somehow birds and other species manage to adapt and survive. And I hope we humans drastically change our ways. It's hard to imagine a world so silent, without the sound of birds and other animals, like a foreboding scene in a film or novel. Which is why, when I take photographs of wildlife, I wonder at the temporal quality of their beauty. Just as with so much that we photograph, we are documenting something that has already passed and will surely change, whether we like it or not.


*Taken during a hike in a desert canyon

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday in Tomas Morato

tomas morator pigeons at flight

Yesterday, I was still thinking of what to reply to you, when I saw these pigeons flying around. I realized that one of the things I associate with floods is Noah's dove messenger, coming back with proof of land and life after the floods the old testament God dished out.

It's a cool imagery. A lone dove, flying solitary amidst a flooded landscape. And where did the crow go, right? Why didn't he come back?


*pigeons at tomas morato

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunday in Quiapo

Family outing

What one carries

Market in Quiapo, Manila

Under Carriedo station

Quiapo Church

Indeed, the sun was a welcome sight after two typhoons hit the country. On Sunday, people were out in the streets of Quiapo, buying and selling goods, crowding into church to hear mass, or going about their business. Life seems so normal and uneventful, yet just outside of Manila, massive floods continue to displace thousands in Bulacan and other provinces. Life in those areas has been turned upside down, as people and animals try to survive under abnormal conditions. We in Manila know this, but how odd it seems that while most of us go about our daily lives, not too far away, devastation is affecting so many.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

here comes the sun

apartment laundry hanging

I heard a lot of excitement from photographers during that last storm. First time for me to encounter it, and true, you do get a lot of great shots when people aren't in their comfort zones. You know, floods, strong winds, strong rain, your home suddenly having a swimming pool, or actually being in a swimming pool, along with your neighbors.

Today though, that is replaced with the sound of excitement coming from Ate Odet, now that the sun is back, finally, the clothes can be properly dried.


*Neighborhood laundry

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winds are up

Winds are up

Déjà vu hits us yet again. It's hard to sleep with Typhoon Pedring's strong winds (which we had earlier) and the constant rain, bringing back memories of Ondoy's wrath. Right now I worry, not so much for our own safety, but for those who are more vulnerable because they live or work near the rivers, dams, and oceanfront, with many already being forced to evacuate. Extreme weather seems to be occurring more frequently everywhere in the world, and most of us are still unprepared for the consequences.


*Typhoon Pedring in Quezon City

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

there is a light

JL burgos at conspiracy looking at his Mac

Yes, to the brave people who never give up.

For with them, there is a light that never goes out.


*JL Burgos, brother of Jonas Burgos, at Conspiracy Bar and Cafe.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A deafening silence

Families and supporters of victims of enforced disappearance

Where Activist Jonas Burgos was abducted 4 years ago

Pictures of the dead and disappeared

Pictures of the dead and disappeared

Photography means many things to different people. Among its various aspects, I recognize and respect its potential to speak truth to power. It adds a visual voice to those who speak out against injustice. Who speak for those who cannot speak. For those who have been silenced.

Today is the International Day of the Disappeared. It is a sobering reminder of the thousands of victims of enforced disappearances -- in the Philippines and around the world -- taken away from their loved ones and communities by State agents and held in secret detention sites, most never to be heard from or seen again. This commemoration speaks of an almost unimaginable cruelty inflicted not just on the disappeared persons but also on those left behind.

I know that photography can't change this situation. Photographs seem such paltry things in the face of the powerful forces that perpetuate or condone these crimes, or allow them to go unpunished. Still, I see photography as a way to counter that deafening silence, and so I add my small voice to those who are much braver than me, who never give up on finding their loved ones and friends, and work tirelessly to end impunity and injustice.

Photography also means saluting their bravery and never forgetting.


*Photos taken during the 4th year anniversary of the abduction of Jonas Burgos in April 2011 and during the State of the Nation Address protest in July 2011.