Friday, January 27, 2012

Of dragons, lions, temples, and streets

Inside Seng Guan Temple

A fire breathing performer during Chinese New Year



An unusual group of lion dancers

Lion dancers

At Estero

At Estero

A girl and a dancing lion

Instead of elephants in the room, let's get back to the dragons and other mythical (and ordinary beings) that abounded during the recent Chinese New Year celebrations in Manila.

From the streets to the temples, it was challenging to see and capture the order within the chaos. Amidst the crowds participating in the festivities and rituals, there were also scenes that revealed the complexities, divisions, and contradictions in our society. Families with little means mingled next to the privileged; barefoot children danced with their homemade, papermache lion to the beat of a tin can drum, mimicking the more lavish lion dancers. While several people fell victim to criminal syndicates and petty thieves, others showed a generosity of spirit and shared food and money for the occasion. And in a few rare performances, children and adults played traditional Chinese instruments to crowds more attuned to the louder, garish music of the modern era.

Perhaps these photos lack the fireworks of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Still, here's a glimpse of what I saw while roaming the streets.



greenbelt window display with an elephant

I'm glad you brought that up, dear. It is one elephant in the room that photographers should acknowledge.


*Greenbelt shops closed for the day with one having an elephant in the window display

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My mind's view

Red ceiling of a jeepney


Mall employees during the Xmas rush


While traveling from Manila to Quezon City over the course of an afternoon, I pass by familiar sights. Once in a while, though, I notice something unexpected and feel the urge to take a photograph. For various reasons, I derive meanings from such shots, whether they be street photography, abstract, personal commentary, or otherwise.

As these photos are not long-term explorations on a subject-- not the photographic equivalent of essays, research papers or investigative reports -- does that render them mindless and simply to be dismissed? Does the fact that I create such images necessarily mean that I cannot, if I so choose, also "write" in-depth reports through my other photography projects?

Certainly, I don't think so. I've known lawyers who draft well-researched, compelling briefs, as well as compose verses on love and loss. I've known tough journalists who also write children's stories and other forms of fiction, prose, or poetry. There are civil servants who issue straight-forward reports, and yet reveal such depth and lyricism in their literary pursuits.

Visual language is still one that I am learning and exploring. Just as haiku poems and journalistic pieces can be written with the same hand and pen, I likewise choose to use my camera in various ways -- revealing and interpreting what I encounter, what my eyes see, and what my heart feels.


*Some photos taken on one December afternoon.

Monday, January 16, 2012


jesus at a tricycle

In my experience as an observant Catholic, the idea that God is everywhere is not enough for most of the congregation. They need something to grasp onto. An event, an icon, an outlet, if you may. Like that Feast of the Black Nazarene thingee. The more hardcore, the more fulfilling for some.

Me? I find God in the most unexpected places, both literally and figuratively.

Oh, and Jesus too.


*Head statue and sticker of Jesus on a tricycle in Pasig.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Glimpses of Nazareno 2012

Into the streets of Manila, millions of devotees (and many photographers) descended, endured, and surely pondered about this experience. It was a challenge to be alone in such a crowd, but here are some glimpses and impressions of what I saw.

My audio slideshow of Nazareno 2012


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

exile on mall street

kid whirling at trinoma landmark

The street used to be a family's outside house extension. Living room, dining room, guest room, playground, and comfort room all rolled into one. Lately though, it's the malls becoming everyone's new house extension: dining area, living room, guest room, study room, playground, church, hospital, sari-sari store, and palengke all rolled into one with a pinch of escapism and consumerism.

During the Spanish period, towns were made surrounding the seats of government and worship: The town hall and the Church. Today though, you'd see condominiums and townhouses made around malls, some even physically connected to them.

I decide not to think about what the next evolution of place would be after that, though. For a guy who works at home, I think I have my hands full enough already.


*Kid whirling around in front of Landmark in Trinoma

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Children in Binondo

Children in Binondo

Yeah, kids learn early about certain realities. There's no avoiding it, especially for kids in the streets.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

hey kid...

mother and baby at marikina-cubao jeep

look into my eyes, into my eyes, not around the eyes, into my eyes... and you're under...


You're still young, and the world has more than 7 billion people, and counting! There is pollution, famine, war, politics, you name it. But guess what, everything will be fine. Remember that when anything bad happens in your life, just use that googly woogly eyes you're doing to me right now and everything... will be... just... fine... 3,2,1, and your back in the world.



*googly woogly eyed kid at a Marikina-Cubao jeep

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't throw in the towel

Girl along staircase

baguio 22

Taking a break

Playing at the market

Well, just don't throw in the towel, no matter the challenges (end-of-the-world scenarios, climate change, socio-economic and environmental crises, or otherwise) that lie ahead in 2012. Like these children in Baguio, let's maintain our curiosity about what's around us and embrace life with a sense of fun and spirit. That, perhaps more than anything, is what inspires me to keep shooting in the streets.


Monday, January 2, 2012


red towel at sampayan

And if we want to survive it (2012 end of the world and all, yadda-yadda), we better not forget this.


*My towel, for the most obvious reasons.