May 9

There are some words. Words that along the years brought so much meaning. So much joy, so much to be thankful for, so much to ponder on.

I know you had something more to say, as I did; and yet all those years passed by and I did not steel myself for the inevitable. I’ve asked you many times, and your answer was always a dismissive “It’s alright, don’t worry about me. I’m okay, I can carry this.”

If only I could turn back time and do more of what you thought would have been bothersome to me, I would. Because it was not; and most importantly, because I love you.

I miss you so much. I know you are in a better place now—for starters, there’s no pandemic in there—and I want you to know that we love you and we always remember you. No day passes by without me thinking of you, no matter how heavy and crushing it was to see you go.

Today would have been your 70th birthday with us. And we would have celebrated it simply, just like you wanted; and we’d probably start the day with a visit to the beach, and then have your favorite freshly cooked lechon before going back home. Then we’d attend Mass in the afternoon, and have dinner at that restaurant you enjoy.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Pa!

Summer in two places

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It is kind of late to be thinking about summer when the monsoon has been strengthening and just a few days from now, the longest Christmas season in the world will start. But the thought of it—those long sunny days, crystal clear waters, talcum sand, and that crisp blue sky—has been on my mind since yesterday, and like a good old song, just won’t stop.

The thought of exploring my files to satiate this summer feels was unthinkable, until I opened a very rarely accessed folder inside the portable visual bank. I looked at each one and found myself immediately recalling one by one how it felt—from the weight of the camera bag, to the art of making do with just a few hours of sleep after a long day of travel.

These two are places I’ve visited quite often. The first is a perfect-cone yet temperamental volcano that is a rather shy one, if I may add a personality to it (as the locals there almost always seem to); the other is a tropical paradise threatened by unbridled commercial tours and increasing pollution.

They were great experiences. The thirst to go out, to explore, and to photograph the country side remain.

Fomo

It has been 4 consecutive days since I deliberately stayed away from Facebook. Notwithstanding the fact that the social media company has been frequently rocked by privacy issues, this was a really confrontational way of dealing with that fear of missing out head on.

I noticed nothing was happening, nor was I moving forward, what with all the time and resources I put on just to swipe up or down to view and review the news feed. It became repetitive, it became tedious, it became a tyranny of sorts, when I can’t even sleep without looking at the news feed first. I knew this has got to stop.

It is not a perfect nor an ideal way of dealing with this digital addiction to Facebook, but I am starting to feel good about the initial results. No longer do I feel that urge or lingering need to open the app and check the feed even if I checked it just a few minutes ago. The time spent for Facebook has been replaced by reading an e-book using the Google Play Books app, and I like it—like a child discovering a huge library full of books.

However…

I understand that in this connected world, and given the daily use of Facebook in the lives of almost all my friends and fellow workers, totally closing access to it could be counterproductive. That is why I have not deleted my account there. Yes it is dormant now, but it is there, ready to be opened.

And when it does, I am certain I will once again get to see plenty of the same.

Tree of Life

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALBERT CUINO

Easily the main attraction at the recently reopened National Museum of Natural History is the colossal Tree of Life that greets and awes visitors the moment they get inside.
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With geometry and proportions generated from the golden ratio, the steel structure has a double helix-like design that represents the commonality among all living things.

Took some time off last weekend and went out just to eat and relax. This was long overdue, and not being tied to any schedule for the day was liberating. There was not much to do other than to enjoy a few hours on a lazy summer weekend afternoon and find some good food.
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Black Wagyu is unbelievable. It literally melts in your mouth. There’s also a Takoyaki that is deliciously different from the ones I’ve tried before. Then a pizza, Prosciutto Arigula, whose squid-ink dough makes everything on top of it explode with flavor.

Luck

The previous year was all about getting portraits. Portraits that were either spur of the moment or with a bit of planning. Portraits taken either by the phone camera, or by the dedicated full-frame camera. It was all about portraits.

The first 5 months of 2018 has been a departure from that. I was surprised the desire to create images—which is totally on a different level compared to just taking photographs—became a voice so loud it beckoned me to think beyond the comfortable confines I did not expect that I was already chained into.

I have had the luck to create something this year. I say lucky, because even if one has made all the necessary preparations, the final and most crucial element of all—that beautiful, glorious natural light—can never be controlled.

 

Don’t shoot?

Sometimes, what is happening behind the camera can be as interesting as what happens while the camera is doing its work. A security guard approached me while I was making this shot. She told me photoshoots require prior clearance from mall management. I told her this was not a photoshoot (there’s no model), and I’m just a mere hobbyist enjoying the last few minutes of daylight.
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She then pulled out a piece of paper and showed me an actual permit that was issued for a photoshoot. There were names written that point to a team effort for a photoshoot. I asked her, I’m not with a team, and there is no model, and if I opt to use my cellphone camera instead, would it still require a permit? She said no.
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We talked a bit more about the merits of the ‘instructions’ she got from mall management. I shared to her my observation that the basis for the permit requirement is hazy at best, because cellphone cameras are not prohibited, and there really was no model posing or even prancing around the rather smelly waters. She told me she was just merely following orders from ‘above’. I agreed.
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I did not want to make things hard on someone just doing her job, and I was about to leave when I saw her agree to what I just told her. She then smiled and told me that it was alright, for as long as I don’t create a ‘scene’. I told her I did not want any attention.
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After she left, I reflected on what transpired and what has been discussed. I was certainly amused at the silliness of it all. Was it for reasons of security that mall management wanted the public to get prior clearance before taking pictures? That would be hardly feasible, or even logical. Why not allow people to take pictures to their heart’s content? As a business, they can even make photo contests, for starters.
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Later that night when I arrived home, I checked the details of the photos still on the SD card. I realized the exposure time of 4 minutes was approximately the length of time we were discussing that ‘rule’. It was really amusing, even the security guard found out herself.
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16mm • 243 seconds • f/14 • ISO 100

#superbluebloodmoon

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I had fun tonight taking a shot at something we won’t fully see again in our lifetime. Right when the totality occurred, I bumped the ISO to 800 to include the stars, as I felt that a pure black background is stale and boring. If what I read about this trifecta is accurate, we won’t be seeing this again until 150 years later.