Saturday, November 17, 2012

Out on a limb


Traveling, even to familiar places, is never easy for me. I'm swept into a web of memories, stories, heightened senses, and the complexities of personal relationships, seen and experienced up close. To retain my perspective, it helps at times to be around nature: to breathe in the fresh air and let my eyes and limbs do the walking. I took this photo last weekend and maybe it can give you a sense of that moment when I looked up and saw this above me. How odd that it is a black and white image when I usually prefer and have a better feel for color.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

goodbye's eve

I for one realized that after all this time, I have yet to take photos at the airport whenever I drop you off. Even when I wait outside till you give me the go-signal that all is okay at customs and security. And that my wife is clear to leave me for a spell or two.

So I did, and found this kid, a reflection of what I was going through. Much more obvious though, as he is still far from being an adult.


*Kid moping amidst the bustle of the airport.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Hallows' Eve







I missed spending All Saints' Day with you and documenting the traditional observances in Manila. Catching, instead, a bit of All Hallows' Eve, here are some sights leading up to that spooky night.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


philippine glag at mrt boni station02 092312
I think a person's roots which are constantly looked for have much more meaning than what a person is born with.

Recently, while travelling, I saw this Philippine flag hanging on a wall at the Boni MRT station. I was surprised with myself. Instead of feeling nationalism, I felt it was out of place, without purpose, abandoned even as Araw ng Kalayaan--the most probable reason why the flag was hung there--was over three months ago.

The flag for me was like a representation, of the likes of Santa Claus, Cupid, or the Easter Bunny. Excited to see them during times when they were expected, but unwelcomed guests when not.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A nomad with roots


Your photos remind me of how Taguig is your hometown. It shows in the way you observe and photograph life while riding jeepneys, trains, and buses. Your eyes are trained from years of long commutes to and from Taguig.

Unlike you, I can't actually name my hometown. Where I was born is different from where I spent my early childhood. Which is different from where I went to grade school or went to high school or went to college. Which is different from where I studied and worked later on. It's different still from where we live now.

Lacking a specific hometown used to bother me before, but I've come to realize that my family, friends, and experiences are what made each of these places my hometown, at least for a little while. I don't feel unrooted; I just feel that I have roots in various places. Certainly, I still care about these places, wanting to return to them again and know them better. Being a type of nomad has probably influenced how I see and react to the world. I pick up quickly on people marginalizing those different from themselves and treating others poorly. I also have little patience for narrow, provincial attitudes, or when small-mindedness clouds people's beliefs about religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and gender. Does this translate into my photography? Building upon my experiences, I think it's the process of making images (and learning from the images themselves) that challenges me to go beyond myself and still dig my roots deeper.

Through photography, I keep searching for that sense of being at home, of finding my hometowns, both outside of myself and within.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

full circle

I came to Quezon City to be with you.

It's actually a full circle thing. I was born in Quezon City, but grew up in Taguig. I studied College at Quezon City, worked at Quezon City, too. I'd also go to Quezon City to do that boyfriend thing.

And now, I live in Quezon City in a little apartment full of books with you.

I miss my travelling days from Taguig to Quezon City though. Here is a documentation of my last travel to the place where I grew up.

dog swimming along mindanao corner road 20c 061712
A dog enjoying the waters at an abandoned lot along Mindanao Avenue corner Road 20.

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A Blind singer at the Quezon Avenue MRT Station.

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Two girls holding hands along EDSA near Megamall.

crawling vines on concrete wall ortigas01 061712
A vine snaking along a concrete wall also along EDSA near Megamall.

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A woman in a contemplative mood, oblivious of the vehicles passing by in front of her carinderia along Signal, Taguig.

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A kid trying to open the door of an Alfombra store along Pateros.

lola mom and son at jeep taguig03 061712
Grandma, mother, and sleeping son waiting anxiously for the traffic to move along Pateros.

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A kid hanging behind a jeep (sabit) while his friend tries to catch up at Pasig.

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A girl comforting herself by sucking at her arm on the MRT.

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A mother with her tres marias on the MRT.

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A man hanging on while waiting for the door to open on the MRT.

cafe breton trinoma girl taking a picture for customers 061712
And lastly, a Cafe Breton service crew taking a picture of some customers while I wait for you.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

On my way home tonight



While riding the FX on my way home tonight, the oppressiveness of the city seeped into me, as did the weary faces of the other commuters. Faces drained from work, from family, from problems, from long hours in traffic, from our collective history. Here was a multitude of life stories, yet only the sounds of car horns and vehicles traveling along uneven roads punctuated the silence between strangers.

To get home to you in our tiny apartment, to share stories and laughs together over dinner -- this helped to wash some of that dreariness away.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

creature comforts

main libe museum mannequins at closed mini showroom

Your photo reminded me of a certain irony I saw, tucked inside a room in the UP Main Library museum. During an event where dozens of mannequins are exhibited wearing various Filipiniana dresses, a few of their lot are left alone, naked in what seems to be a video presentation room with no audience.


*main libe museum mannequins at a video presentation room, turned storage.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cold Comfort


Quite often when I take pictures, I am moved by what I see and by the people who I meet. I keep thinking about the stories, about the environment, about the implications, and about what I can possibly do. Now and then, I wish I could tune it all out and switch off my thoughts and emotions, and I have been able to do that at times. Yet, I've also experienced having to put a camera to my face and take pictures just to hide my tears. But that's who I am and that's why some of my photos, even the street photography, are important to me in a way that's not always easily explained or quantified, regardless of what others might think of them.


*Along a flooded street in Barangay Landayan, San Pedro, Laguna

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


man holding jollibee's hand

And we took comfort in those waitings. The in-between moments where there was longing, but assurances, too, that someone's correspondence will come soon, and for the meantime we must live our lives.

Nowadays, we take comfort in instantaneous things. And for those things instantaneous, there is a mascot for you to hold onto.


*man holding on Jollibee's hands for comfort during the past storm with no name.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We used to wait

Night in Manila

Now our lives are changing fast/ Hope that something pure can last*

I know that you needed time to reply. Much has happened lately, and there's much to reflect upon. There's also something to be said about resisting the instantaneous and the so-called ease of modern communication. Taking the time to think, to write, and to just be. Waiting, like we used to in the past, for the letters that we wrote to each other. Letters, not text messages, that I still remember and cherish many years later.


*Lyrics by Arcade Fire

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


mother and daughter waiting at sm north sale

Thanks for waiting by the way. In a world where things are posted on the internet like there is no tomorrow, my (lack of) actions could be considered so yesterday.


*mother and daughter waiting in the midst of an SM City North Edsa sale.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

When the night is cloudy


As that same Beatles song goes:

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be...


Saturday, July 28, 2012

mourning has broken

virgin mary sticker at taxi north avenue

It occurred to me that my last post here was when my Dad died. 40 days has passed, and Catholic custom dictates that his passing be commemorated.

Me and my Mom were talking about this, on how we should follow religious custom. But Dad wasn’t a religious man. He believed in God, but not the Catholic Church.

So I’ll just commemorate this day in my own way.

Dad will understand.

But will other people? In the words of The Beatles:

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…

Dad digged The Beatles. And Mary too.


*virgin mary sticker at taxi window along north avenue.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Caught in a wire


Just to follow your metaphor, sometimes a kite gets caught in a wire. It gets entangled high up in the air, out of reach and hampered from flight. Still, with a bit of persistence and tugging, kids (like these ones from our neighborhood) may just be able to set it free. Even if they free the kite, however, there are many more wires throughout the city, and too few parks and fields for kite-flying. The environment is full of man-made obstacles that are built in the name of "development" which so few of us question. And that, I suppose, is just part of the challenge.


Monday, June 18, 2012

strings attached

I was gonna write a very long, in-depth analogy of nationalism being a kite. Then I thought to just quote Celeste Legaspi's Saranggola ni Pepe:

ruined kite at apartment roof
Matayog ang lipad ng saranggola ni Pepe
Matayog ang pangarap ng matandang bingi

philippine eagle davao
Hinuli ang ibon, pinagsuot ng pantalon
Tinali ng pisi, hindi na nagsinturon

kids sabit at jeep
Dumaan ang jeepney at gumuhit pa sa kalye
Mauling ang iniwang hindi na tinabi

marikina-katipunan jeep


*downed kite at rooftop
**caged Philippine eagle
***sabit kids playing at jeep
****lola with apo waiting for the jeep to move

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Otherside

The otherside

I missed covering the Independence Day commemorations this week due to a prior engagement. Still, I thought about the significance of creating, documenting, and remembering our history, as well as relating it to current events. When all's said and done, sovereignty and independence are illusions presented to us in school, by the media, and by the government through colorful spectacles and grand speeches -- illusions that don't hold up to the critical eye which questions and protests against domination, whether by other States, corporate interests, or groups based on race or religion, among others. Even on the otherside of the Pacific, powerful symbols can be interrogated by artists and scenes can take on other meanings. Nevertheless, it takes much more imagination and courage to consider what freedom really looks and feels like.


*At the MOMA with David Hammons' African-American Flag and other art work on display

Thursday, June 7, 2012

and then some

isaw at UP Arcade

True, dear. We also went to the isawan along the UP Arcade with some friends.

We didn't have isaw and nor did they, but we did eat dirty ice cream, fish balls, squid balls, chicken balls, and buko juice, which also have street cred.


*isawan along UP Arcade

Monday, May 28, 2012


Rice porridge stand

While I tend to take street photos with people in them, there's no absolute rule that requires people to be in the shot. Sometimes, I'd rather take photos of street food and just enjoy a food trip. Well, we did eat a lot of lugaw yesterday, didn't we?


*Although not the place where we ate lugaw, this photo was still taken in Quezon City.

Friday, May 25, 2012

in these crowdless streets

And I for one have been shooting some street photos without people.

mindanao corner north avenue road signs with shadows

Is this street photography? Memories of that quintessential question "SP ba ito?" comes to mind again, as street photography they said, MUST have people in it.

centris sunday market tree02 020512

Well, they are. Street photography that is. They just so happen not to include, uhm, people.


*Signage shadows for Mindanao and North Avenue
**Trees nestled in shadows at Centris

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Outdoors


Yes, people come and go, physically or otherwise. The only thing that seems to give me peace of mind in this ever-changing world is Nature -- where human pettiness, egos, and divisiveness seem so paltry and remote. Where little else matters except for humility and respect for life and the natural environment.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


jet at door

Speaking of doors, I'll soon be missing Jet's knocks at our door. Sharing with us his childhood experiences and stories, punctuating our adult lives with whims and fancies of youth today.

They being our neighbors was one of the things we factored when we decided to live here. But people come and go, and I speak only of physical distances.


*Jet during one of his knock-knocks.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Light through doors and windows

Woman at a church

Like the photo you posted, doors and windows fascinate me, maybe just as much as light does.

Somehow, it seems best not to shut out the world, but rather to keep the doors and windows of our mind open to enlightenment and more possibilities.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


astore salesperson door reflection

I hope you don't mind, but I'll go literal on my reply to your spaces in between.

It's the only thing I can muster to your very perceptive post.


*reflection of a saleslady on a glass door.

The spaces in between


I was with you the night you took that photo on the way home to our apartment. It's interesting how so many of our photos are taken during those times in between places, when we are traveling or commuting with a heightened sense of seeing and alertness.

Whether or not such photos -- of the times and spaces in between -- can be deemed documentary or street or whatever label, I'd like to consider them simply as they are: images that speak to a subjective point of view, when one's eye, mind, and heart compel one to click the shutter. Images that not only present a reality at that moment, but also reveal something about the image-maker, particularly how s/he makes sense (or not) of the chaos in the world around us. Images that say something, even if not apparent right away.

I have a set of photos that, to me, speak to the spaces in between. Public, private, physical, historical, and emotional spaces which intersect or act as barriers. Finding that connection is part of an ongoing process for me, and maybe it helps to share these photos and see if they connect with others, like you.


Monday, May 7, 2012

face value

carinderia stall with tarp cover with face at mindanao avenue black and white 081411

I can figure out some here and there.

I see faces in the most surprising places, too.


*Tarpaulin with a celebrity's face adorning it, used to cover a carinderia cart along Mindanao Avenue.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The face

Cat chiaroscuro

The cat? He's just here. Waiting for you to come home.


Now how about this one? Can you find an unexpected face in this reflection of the floor of a jeepney? Several people have. Sometimes, I can't predict what people will find even in my own images. Every so often, their reactions and interpretations surprise me, and I learn something new about other people's ways of seeing.


*While riding a Katipunan jeepney

the catch

cat in front of up arcade03 030312

That post of yours reminds me of those Where's Waldo? books, or that I Spy series.

My turn. So where's the cat?


*A cat at the UP Diliman Arcade area