Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To the Man at the Marco


Back in October 2013, after I dismissed the class at a university at 9 pm, I crossed the street to cover a late night presscon in a hotel. On the third (or was it the fourth?) floor, we were all awaiting, ambush style, for the main source to appear  when I looked up at a man looking down upon us from his hotel room window.  This was my thoughts to the man:  Whoever you are, I want your life. If it’s not for sale, just give it to me for free and I’ll make you happy, do you think I talk like a whore? Come on down here, where Mick and I am squatting, looking up from among these cameras and TV crews, all waiting in ambush to interview the mayor; Mick, contemplating of a probable life in Jakarta, while I am thinking of buying a camera, how can I buy one, I need one very badly, what are you thinking standing there, opening your door like that? Are you looking down upon us, wondering, what are those cameras, those tripods doing down there, swarming like bees, what are they, TV crews, reporters? Those people with notebooks, pens, recorders, readied; why are they squatting like that? How about the others, how long have they been standing there, waiting? What’s up? Who are those people inside the function room, where their eyes seemed to be fixed upon, who are they really, these people? So many of them, waiting, when it’s almost 11 pm, only hour before midnight, what are these people waiting? Aren’t they going to get some sleep?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Losing my yellow coin purse

Losing my yellow coin purse is really very difficult because it brings back the devastating feeling of all my previous losses: those bagful of clothes long, long ago, I left in a hotel after I heard the devastating news about you; or that stupid brown wallet I lost inside the busy Marawi public market in June while taking shots with Mick and our Maranao friends; or how it felt to lose my beloved eyeglasses one Tuesday in April while shuttling from a magazine office to a TV network and finally, to a big newspaper compound at the heart of Jakarta. Or, how it was to leave the newly-found Rachel Cusk's book on a seat of a jeepney. They were not really worth millions, especially my yellow coin purse, which only had six one peso and two 25-centavo coins in it; but there’s something about losing that makes you feel empty and dry. There’s something about the absence of the thing you lost that makes you look around to notice the color you once took for granted but now makes you think of the missing object with ache. Now I look at them and take notice: the yellow tupperware glass standing tall amid all the clutter on my table, the yellow container thrown in a grass-covered lot next to our house, the yellow cover of Ken Auletta’s book “Googled,” my yellow underwear. I remember the day that Ja left and we ran out of cooking oil. Is that the way relationships are measured? Through the sheer number of yellow cooking oil containers bought from a convenience store, used up and emptied? [This post has nothing to do with Pnoy's yellow, which I vehemently detest!]

A Harried Visit to My Mother's Garden

I’m still in the midst of a very difficult assignment but I can’t help posting this here. It’s always gratifying to find out it was not my eye that was at fault, afterall; nor was it my poor overworked point-and-shoot. Something else is the reason why I can't take the kind of shots I wanted to take for a long, long while.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Birthday Wishes

I never used to celebrate birthdays—but increasingly, these years, I get a certain wish, a strong, quiet but maddening desire, to be with myself on this day; to do nothing, to spend time with myself (of course, with dear ones); but primarily, to see the beloved hermit in the form of an Old Man with the Lamp on this very day, very far away from society. But normally, this wish doesn’t usually happen to me. In 2007, I remember spending this day right in a newsroom in Cebu, trying out a copy-editing job with friends and strangers who never had an inkling it was my birthday. I read a lone greeting from a friend (it was from Ca) in Davao when I sneaked peek on my FB—or was it my email? They never knew I was in Cebu, spending the graveyard hours copy-editing. In 2008, I was inside a dorm in Quezon city’s barangay Loyola Heights, battling with thick theoretical readings for our Media Ethics class at the Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) at the Ateneo the following day. I was already very drowsy because it was already deep in the night so I told Prateesh, my pretty Nepali roommate, I can’t take it anymore, I got to sleep and leave my readings in the morning; but Prateehba was so insistent that I should not sleep. “No, no!" she said. "Do your readings now. You won’t be able to wake up in the morning.”  “I can wake up,” I said, confidently. “My body has an inner clock that’s working perfectly.” Prateesh insisted that I should not sleep so, I read a few more pages for a while and only went as far as Herbert Marshall Mc Luhan and never got to John Rawls’ Theory of Justice, which was my report the following day (how I figured out John Rawls’ theory of justice the following day without reading him is another story) but on this night of my birthday, I simply could not take all those readings anymore, I was already very drowsy as I declared to Prateesh, “I’m not going to brush my teeth tonight because it’s my birthday.” I can still see the shock and amusement on her face. She laughed so hard that she totally gave up making me read the rest of our readings. It was Bryant who discovered the following day it was really my birthday (I think I had forgotten it) and he rushed to join us with the Indonesian gang for some simple fun at the mall.  The following years, my wish to be alone on my birthday remains a wish that has never been completely fulfilled and satisfied; and this year, this month, I’m afraid I’m going to spend my day exploring a Unesco mountain.  I only wish I get to see the hermit.  It will make up for everything.   

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just a Glimpse of Iligan

We climbed up the top floor of the other building (what do you expect if you're with an excited bunch of photojournalists?) Pam, whose friend showed us the way, was always willing to climb anything; she's the type who won't think twice of climbing the highest tree in a jungle just to get the vantage point of a photograph, any photograph; as she did when she climbed the unfinished building inside the MSU campus to take a perspective shot of Lake Lanao. Here, we took what Ja and Sean would refer to as the sniper's view of the Iligan City Hall; even as I was trying to suppress my inherent fear of heights as we inched closer and closer to the edge.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Anatomy of Pablo

I was trying to organize my files when I came upon the photographs I've taken in one of the series of stories I covered in the aftermath of the typhoon Pablo. The photographs showed me something that I did not see at the time I was covering the stories. Years after the killer typhoon that ravaged Mindanao towards the tail-end of 2012, I feel the need to look back and bravely take account of what I did and what I failed to do in those stories.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Another View from Our Office Window

Everybody is looking forward to the weekend while I'm still trying to cope with my writing backlogs.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Jeepney seen from a Jeepney

I know that if I show this picture to Ja, he would stare at it very briefly and then, swiftly, he would look away.  Oftentimes, he'd let out a sigh. A long,long sigh. If I'd ask him, what's wrong? Isn't this picture cute? Ja would not even utter a word. He would just give me one long, sorrowful look, and then, he'd go back to his business. Ja is my photo-critic and I exactly know what he wants in a picture.  He wants a picture that tells a story; the kind of pictures with people in them doing some actions; of course, I don't need to say that they should be well composed, the rule of thirds and all, you know, the kind that gets published in newspapers. But I don't know how to make myself want to take those pictures to please Ja. I only want to please myself.