Friday, December 07, 2012

What Pablo brings in Compostela

December 6, 2012. Ja said as soon as I arrived several hours after dark, "How can you help yourself from being overwhelmed? Were you not overwhelmed? I've done that before and I was just overwhelmed. There were just so many things to shoot. Many things were happening all at once. You get distracted. You don't know where to start. You would naturally lose your focus. Even the most professional of of us, do, did you not lose your focus?" I said, "!!!" He did expect me to lose focus. I felt bad because I ran out of battery. I showed him the pictures because I felt bad. 'Ahhh!" he said, "So, you lost focus, too! You're simply overwhelmed!" I felt worse. I no longer wanted to see the rest of the pictures. Earlier, at the Compostela terminal, I texted him, I'm going home now because I ran out of lithium. Instead of staying close to my subject whose houses were torn down, I allowed my subject to guide me to a bridge somewhere because they said that bridge directly face the valley of New Bataan, where many people were carried away by the flash flood. They said it was important that I should see that bridge across the Agusan River, which overflows sometimes, and inundate the landscape with muddy water. Perhaps, Ja was right. I was also overwhelmed. I let my subjects guide me, instead of me, charting the story. When we returned to their shattered hut, their Grandma was sitting on the old sofa in the midst of the muddy sala. She sat just below her picture on the wall, the last thing staying there after Pablo's devastation. The Grandma wearing the same dress as the one in the picture. I told her to stay where she was but when I finally pressed the shutter, my camera said, re-charge the battery! The whole area had no electricity. I said I had to rush home. At the bus terminal, it was so hot I wanted to collapse. Somebody was selling water inside the old bus. He handed me one. It was warm. "Please give me a cold one," I said. The vendor looked at me, then he looked around, then back at me. He said, tongue in cheek, "There's no brownout in this town," he said, glancing at the other passengers. "Yes, there's no brownout in this town," he said. "There's electricity everywhere."

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