Drenched

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A traffic enforcer dons his blue raincoat and stands in the middle of a mid-day downpour in the middle of Metro Manila.

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Today has all been about staying at home, since the alternative would mean having to endure the maze of everyday traffic under the unceasing heavy downpour, as a severe tropical storm has whipped up a nice wet welcome into the wet season. And in retrospect, these rains allowed us to bond with our increasingly energetic boy who seems to have has an unending source of energy and a keen sense of exploration.

There is nothing like the patter of rain on the roof that lulls the mind into sleep, particularly if the rain lasted the entire day, from the moment you woke up, to the moment you prepare to go to bed. I already thought of going to sleep as early as two hours ago (8:40 PM), but I decided to write a bit.

I rarely visit social media these days ever since I started avoiding Facebook. I still feel the occasional temptation to install the app on my phone and login, but then that’s as far as it goes for me about that social network.

It is something of a joy, the realization that I’ve broken that addiction by confronting it head-on, and cutting the avenues to access it. I know I will not delete my Facebook account for a very few valid reasons, but it no longer unconsciously controls me to spend time just to swipe up or down, looking at the same posts of everyday life.

What others have written about—the joy of missing out—is true. There’s more time for other pursuits; and one’s mind is detoxified from the endless stream of content that the social network presents to you based on an algorithm that has observed a user’s online behavior. What a joy it is to see things from a fresh point of view, one that’s independent of a social media timeline.

Good night.

Dealing with this addiction

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 FOMO 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 get to see once more plenty of the same. (Photo above is from Lifehacker.)

A day at the museum

We have been looking forward to visit the National Museum of Natural History for quite some time, ever since we learned that it was undergoing renovations a few years back. It reopened its doors to the public last May 18, and the day after (a weekend, Saturday) we visited it.

As expected, the lines were long, and the crowd was eager to come in. The entire building was literally buzzing with people. Security was tight, and museum personnel (some of them in plainclothes) patrolled and mingled with the crowd, most probably to manage and ensure safety.

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALBERT CUINO

The main attraction is the gigantic ‘tree of life’ structure that is placed at the center of the building. There are galleries, exhibits, paintings, plus the skeleton of a giant crocodile, and the bust of the national hero. I tried to read the notes of each item, the text of each display, and took note of how it all adds up to the natural history of the Philippines. But it was not enough, with all the information contained and displayed inside the huge museum.

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALBERT CUINO

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALBERT CUINO

However, not all of the six floors of the museum were open. I count at least four that were still undergoing works, and the smell of paint would sometimes waft in the air. It was somewhat disappointing, and left the impression that the opening was rushed to meet the International Museum Day 2018 celebration.

The Tree of Life at the National Museum of Natural History

Which leads me to a sober realization that day:

Majority of the national museum’s visitors spend more time taking selfies and group photos than spending time to absorb the rich materials readily available in the open galleries.

As I descended down the stairs, on the way to the exit, I hoped I would be proven wrong by the many others outside, patiently waiting to go in, while waiting for their turn under the heat of the afternoon summer sun.

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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.

Time off

We took 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 bond together over some great food we found.
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Black Wagyu is unbelievable. It literally melts in your mouth. There’s also a Takoyaki that is quite deliciously different from the ones we’ve tried before. Then a pizza, Prosciutto Arigula, whose squid-ink dough makes everything on top of it explode with flavor.

I created five

And just like that, it is already May. We are five months into the year, and along with it I feel the need to take stock of the creative journey so far this 2018. It helps provide context for me, as I don’t want to be going on from one point to another mindlessly.

The previous year was all about getting portraits of the family. 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 experienced this before, a good seven years ago, when I first started getting serious about creating impressionistic landscape photographs. Along the way the focus died a natural death as I ventured into other areas like taking photographs of rock stars and rock concerts. Rediscovering it, and going back to it in 2018 appeared easy at first. However, the creative muscles I used then has lacked exercise, and the necessary discipline has to be reignited again to start the engines of creation and to keep the cylinders running on full blast.

These are five images I have had the luck to create so far 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.

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALBERT CUINO
The first time I saw this appear on the screen of my camera, it felt like I was looking at a polished marble floor where I can walk and run from where I created this to the other side of Manila.
The Ortigas Central Business district starts to glow under the gathering twilight.
The Ortigas Central Business district starts to glow under the gathering twilight. This is a two-second exposure.
Albert Cuino: This is an image composed of 70 photographs stacked into one image in post production. The resulting image show streaks of clouds instead of cottony ones. Since this was achieved without filters, the threat of color casts are none.
This is an image composed of 70 photographs stacked into one image in post production. The resulting image show streaks of clouds instead of cottony ones. 
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The Dance of Gondolas.
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One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in my entire life.