Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Christmas Season in the Motherland

For the past couple of years I’ve lost the “Christmas spirit” or maybe my perception of the idea of the Christmas spirit changed. Whatever the case, hearing about how Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines, I thought I could possibly rekindle that warm Christmas feeling. The excitement of the day nearing and the satisfaction that comes from just giving presents… but its about three days away from the 25th, and I feel farther away from Christmas than ever... its not a bad thing, because I’m loving it here in the Motherland…

The Philippines is a very religious country, which predominantly practices Catholicism. There is Islam and several other Christian sects, but the Catholic religion seems to be the most common in and around Manila. One can hear Christmas songs starting in September, throughout the “-ber” months- October, November, and December. Kid carolers go door to door singing Tagalog Christmas songs, receiving pesos for sharing their voices and Christmas cheer. And the countdown to Christmas starts nine days before the 25th, which marks the beginning of Simbang Gabi, in which every morning mass begins at 4:30 am.

From mass people then either go to school, work, or what seems to be the most favorite pastime here: shopping. Malls are landmarks here in the Philippines! I don’t want to go off on a tangent about consumerism and materialism, but those -isms are deeply saturated in the Filipino culture---western thought, media, and style have crossed the ocean and is mostly accepted and growing by the minute! “It’s development, it’s growth, it’s good for the economy,” I suppose one can believe that, but all I see is my own roots slowly disappearing, as the American colonization still continues til this very day…using the media as their own tool to control… but ANYWAY…

"Lil Flesh" is found in the middle of Divisario wearing a grill.
Shopping chaos.

A parol, which is a Filipino lantern, made out of Coke cans? How more western influenced can one get. Yet, very creative....but still there are huge christmas trees made out of Pepsi cans found at the malls...

That was my tangent… I could go on… but its still an ongoing analyzation in my head that I am still in the process of…

But switching gears… Last week, I went to the Dutdutan 2007 Philippine Tattoo Xpo, and had a crazy great time. As the non-stop buzzing of the needles could be heard throughout the whole event, I took a whole bunch of photos, met other photogs and artists, watched and listened to local bands, and got another tattoo! Sike, I wish! I will though…..especially after witnessing some amazing work of the tattoo artists over here. I had some friends visit these past couple of weeks, and before one of them left, he got a tattoo of the map of the Philippines. It was done by Ricky Sta. Ana of Skinworkz, who did an amazing job.

Photos from the xpo:

Friday, November 30, 2007

I fell through a flight of stairs….

I went to my dad’s hood in Taywanak where I’m related to everyone on one solid block. It is either you’re my cousin, my uncle, aunt, or my dad’s first cousin, a niece or nephrew- some kind of relation. It my cousin Daniel’s 7th birthday, and here in the Philippines, when someone turns 7 or 18 it turns out to be a huge fiesta where everyone is invited. Everyone knew who I was but I had to be reintroduced to everyone. It was cool taking shots with the drunk uncles…haha… their pretty funny. But I think the most memorable thing of yesterday’s celebration was falling through some stairs…. Such a Diana thing to do!

It was raining the whole day, and there’s a “bahay kubo”- a kind of outdoor tree house made of wood and bamboo. There was loud music playing from the bahay kubo, Avril Levine, Fergie, and other music considered popular out here. So in pursuit of trying to play something more pleasing, I climbed up the stairs as my cousin’s friend was about to go down the stairs, which caused the whole staircase to collapse! Haha… I was more in shock then in pain…and everyone was laughing at both of us. My ankle was bleeding, got a few bruises, but nothing major. Just a little sore today….haha…

So it’s been a little bit over then a week….what have I been up to? Where do I begin?!?! Ummm… the first couple of days were settling in with the fam. Then one day met up with Paolo, another photojournalist out here. We went to a video launch called the “State of the Philippine Penal System.” Apparently, it was this big event where the Chief Justice Renato S. Puno was present, and I had no idea. But it was definitely inspiring. There were 5 short film viewings about the penal system in the P.I. I’m pretty sure that some of you are probably familiar with one of them from youtube, “Dancing for Discipline.” I think the documentary was produced and edited really well… it was quite funny and entertaining. The documentary we watched wasn't from the clip on youtube, but rather the doc was inspired from it.

I’ve also attended some classes at UP Manila. One of them is Filipino History, we’re covering WWII and reading the text, “The Philippines:The Continuing Past,” by Renato and Letizia Constantino. I also attending Developmental Studies in Third World Development- seems like a really interesting class. We watched Mail-Order Wife, a mock-documentary by the same producers of Swingers and Go. Although I didn’t get to finish the whole movie, I highly recommend it. It got me infuriated just thinking about how women are bought and treated…and the stereotypes of women… something to think about.

I’ve also just been connecting with people out here. Fishing for story ideas and organizations I may be interested in working with. I’ve been COMMUTING a lot! The traffic out here is insane! Although, Cavite is only the next city over from Manila, it takes 2 to 2 ½ hours just to get home! The buses are ALWAYS crowded… I don’t mind it too much, cause I’m seeing a lot of the city on foot, but it gets tiring.
Although I’m supposed to be out here for work an all that jazz, I’m kinda just enjoying living… eeee….. I’ll get to work soon….

But I must admit, one of my greatest accomplishments so far is introducing Alicia Keys and art to my cousin… She’s 16, and a first year nursing student. When I first met her in the beginning of the week she said her favorite musical artist was Avril Levine. Her room is full of Avril, her backgroud on her friendster is Avril, and she loved the “girlfriend” song. But after introducing her to Ms. Alicia, she loves her…. And we just bought some paint, and she totally loves it. Got her a sketchbook and everything…But I swear, I’ll get to work soon…

Texting is a part of daily life here...its their first means of communication rather then a telephone call:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Barely settling in...

“Oh shit, I’m in the Philippines,” those are the words I whispered to myself while looking out the window as my plane descended bringing Manila’s landscape into view. This is my second day here, and it still is settling in. I got all my things unpacked and woke up to a brand new room this morning, but I still can’t fully grasp that I will be living here. Sure, I’ve been here a couple of times before, sure I’ve traveled before, but this time it’s different. It’s a whole new discovery and mentality…. I am used to traveling with a group, other students, or friends, but this time it’s just me for an extended about of time. The first of many lone adventures…Granted I am staying with family, it’s an environment that is different, and FAR AWAY from home. Although, I have to come to think of the Philippines as a second home. A home I’m still discovering…

Before I left my dad told me that in one of the drawers in his room I will find old letters from mom to him. Low and behold, I found birthday, valentine, anniversary, and Christmas cards addressed to dad. Some letters had my foraged signature- as I was only one or two- and Elmer’s scribbles… one of the cards was written when I was in my mom’s tummy kicking and making it hard for her to sleep. Restless since before i was born. Reading those cards definitely gave be insight on the love between my mom and dad, and the struggles my mom must have went through being a single mom in America while my Dad was overseas working for years- not able to see my mom or his kids for a year at a time.

Those cards are just a snippet of what I expect to learn about the lives of my parents, my family, and all that comes with living in the “motherland” for the next six months. Six months?!? Still can’t believe it.


I’m in between books right now. Still reading “All About Love,” by Bell Hooks, just started “Screaming Monkeys,” and in the middle of reading again, my own traveler’s manual, “The Alchemist.”

I usually underline really good quotes that stick out to me, and it seems that I’m underlining everything in Bell Hooks’ book. She quotes Parker Palmer in The Active Life: Wisdom for Work, Creativity, and Caring:
“To be fully alive is to act… I understand action to be any way that we can co-create reality with other beings and the Spirit…Action, like a sacrament, is the visible form of an invisible spirit, an outward manifestation of an inward power. But as we act, we no only express what is in us and help give shape to the world; we also receive what is outside us, and reshape our inner selves.”

Then there’s Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images. In referring to an article that decribed a young Filipino-African child as a “monkey,” Evelina Galang writes, “In the end, we concluded that the reason things like this happen is because our history books- and I mean our American history books-do not cover this, our Asian American history- the atrocities, the accomplishments, the contributions, the acknowledgment that we are a part of this America, not visitors, not ghosts, not foreigners, not monkeys.”

I also like how she describes the artwork in this book as “ the most abstract, the voice that is deepest inside us that has the longest route to travel before it could be heard.”

And finally, there’s Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I finally got my original copy back- the copy that has all my marks, sidenotes, and highlighted quotes. “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Obsessive Wanderlust"

This short film was done beautifully and holds truth- at least my personal truth- as to my thirst for traveling and photographing.

MediaStorm writes:
Combining passages from his up-coming book with photographs, video, and Super-8 film, Evidence of My Existence brings to life a deeply personal account of 17 years spent moving from one new story to the next. Like the book, it is a manic exposition on a life in photojournalism, and on the consequences of obsessive wanderlust.

As the video opens, Lo Scalzo is a blur to his wife, her pathological tolerance long ago worn thin. She is heading to the hospital with her second miscarriage, and he is heading to Baghdad to cover the American invasion of Iraq. He hates himself for this—for not giving her a child, for being consumed by his job, for leaving her again. But how to stop moving? Travel is a compulsive craving. An addiction. Heroin. The buzz is euphoric and the opportunities are infinite, all open to him as a photojournalist.

For Lo Scalzo, as with so many photojournalists, it’s about the going."

Click here:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Three to four hours full of math problems, strategies, and formulas, calls for a break. A little distraction, if you will...

So I've been spending almost everyday in the city...whether it being an adventure with folks I havn't hung out with in months or years, studying at Muddy's, photo events, or just a lone adventure of picture taking and/or reflecting...

I think reflection is vital...Whatever one does from day to day, whether or not u have one crazy schedule, or even if you don't--- reflection is an important element towards growth.

The more time I spend in the city, I fall in love with it more and more.... I can't get enough of it. The people, weather, diversity, memories, events, adventures, all that good stuff... and I think that is why I got all sentimental yesterday. The whole day was thinking of how much imma miss everything when I'm in the Motherland for six months. Don't get me wrong, these nostalgic feelings aren't going to stop me from going, but it definately makes it a bit harder.

Anyway, getting sidetracked.... gotta read... =)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

why i hate starbucks...

I was rummaging through my old documents in my computer, and found the letter I wrote Human Resources after having my San Jose boss from Starbucks cuss me out during his drunken state. Just wanted to share:

June 14, 2006

To whom it may concern:

One of Starbucks Guiding Principles is to “provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.” The phrase respect and dignity is reiterated throughout the Partner Guide and the Standards of Business Conduct booklet. It is these very words that describe what is expected from every partner, no matter what position they hold at the workplace.

On May 19, 2006 Starbucks partners from the store on the **** and **** in San Jose conducted our store meeting at Gordon Biersch. The meeting started at 4 p.m. and ended at about 5 p.m. The partners also had dinner reservations following the meeting at 7 p.m. While waiting for our scheduled dinner, we socialized for two hours, in which alcohol was involved.
The dinner was meant to be a celebration for two baristas who just turned twenty-one. When we were seated for dinner, our party sat in two large tables. The whole Starbucks ***** team was present, along with their guests, past baristas, and customers from the store. It was with these customers of whom I was conversing with, when out of nowhere my manager, D*** ********, who is sitting at the other side of the table, said, “Diana, fuck you. Fuck you.” He repeatedly cursed at me with two of his middle fingers up in the air. I looked at him in disbelief and said, “D**** are you kidding?” He kept his middle fingers up in the air and continued, “Fuck you Diana. Fuck you.” I looked at my assistant manager, *********, who was sitting two seats away from him, and asked, “******, do you see this?” She replied, “Don’t take him seriously right now Diana. He’s drunk.” And he continued to curse and even put one of his middle fingers in his mouth, pulled it out, and said, “Fuck you.”
Overwhelmed by surprise and anger, I left the table and went outside to get some air. When outside I told three other partners about ******** actions. They replied, “Don’t take it personal. He’s always like this. He just yelled at another barista. He yelled at me before. He pushed me against the wall last time we went out.” I was not only surprised at the fact that ********* had done this before, but also that everyone simply excused him. I replied, “Just because he is drunk and he is known to do these things we are supposed to accept this behavior? Because he is our boss, we are supposed to accept this behavior?”
These partners convinced me to go back inside and eat dinner. I started eating my salad and realized that I could not be there anymore. I wanted to leave. I went to the restroom in which D******** followed me and tried to block my way. He asked, “Where are you going? Where are you going?” I replied that I was going to the restroom. He proceeded to the men’s restroom and I proceeded to the women’s restroom.
While in the restroom, one of the partners asked if I was okay. She was the partner that was sitting right next to D****** when he said those remarks to me. She said, “Do you want me to talk to him? I feel offended myself. That not only makes you feel uncomfortable, that makes me feel uncomfortable.” I told her, “No, no. You shouldn’t talk to him. I will.” I then started to cry. I was treated with disrespect and embarrassed. My own manager cussed me out in front of my partners but also in front of customers. Customers that replied, “Is that who you work for?” I felt as if I had no voice because people seemed to accept this behavior. I felt as if it was my fault for his verbal abuse. I questioned what he thought of me as his employee. I felt belittled and disrespected.
By the time I went back to dinner, D***** left with his wife. Everyone was relieved that he left. I definitely was relieved myself, but I had a heavy feeling still weighing me down.
The following morning I received a phone call from D*******. He apologized for what happened the night before. “I only blacked out once before from drinking, and last night was the second time. I don’t know what I said to you, but I know it was hurtful. I’m sorry. You’re a valuable partner, and I don’t know why I said what I said.”
After thinking about the situation and having the scene play over and over in my head, I decided to tell my district store manager, *******. I told her the whole story and she replied, “First of all, I wanted to apologize on behalf of Starbucks. But since it was off the clock and alcohol was involved, Starbucks isn’t involved… You’ll definitely get a second apology, but what do you want? Do you want to get transferred? Do you want a couple days off?” I told her that since I just transferred to the store, I felt it was pointless to transfer out again and I could not afford to have a couple days off either. Penny then told me to give her a call if I feel uncomfortable at work.
A week passed and although D********* did not do anything more to make me feel more uncomfortable,[sidenote: besides try to kiss my ass] I still felt uneasy. I thought that maybe I could deal with working there. But the truth is, I can’t work with someone that verbally harassed me not knowing where his anger came from and why it was directed to me. So I thought maybe I could transfer to another store, but after talking to the district manager and the San Jose Partner Resources Associate, it seemed as if drunken harassment was an accepted behavior by Starbucks managers. The way the situation was handled made me not want to work for the company at all. If Starbucks stands for treating its employees with respect and dignity, but has this situation pass without any kind of suspension or an AA class, it makes me question Starbucks as a company. What is even more embarrassing is the fact that even other store managers know about this behavior. They even joke about it. It’s embarrassing to work at a store whose manager has such a reputation. It makes me wonder why Starbucks as a company is not embarrassed by such behavior. His own baristas, other store managers, customers, and the district manager know of his disrespectful behavior.
According to the Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct, it states:
“Of course, you may keep your personal activities outside of the workplace confidential. However, you should always keep in mind that you are a representative of Starbucks.”
******** is a store manager. He is supposed to be a leader and he is supposed to treat all his partners with dignity and respect. On May 19, 2006 I was denied that treatment. I feel I was verbally harassed. According to the Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct, “Harassment can take many forms, including unwelcome remarks, gestures or physical contact… verbal abuse, threats, taunting or leering.” I feel his words, “Fuck you Diana” are unwelcomed remarks and his middle fingers in the air, as well as the sucking of his middle finger only to pull back out and repeat the words “Fuck you” was definitely an unwelcome gesture.
The Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct continues to say: “Starbucks works had to train effective, supportive managers and to treat all partners with respect and dignity.” ******'s words and gestures towards me that night were neither supportive nor respectful.
Prior to this event, truthfully, I was already thinking of leaving the company because I wanted to put more time into school. But a part of me still wanted to stay because I thought about the partners I work with, and the benefits and flexibility of the store schedule, especially for students. But after rethinking the situation that happened that night, and after thinking about the hypocrisy of Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct and the Starbucks Guiding Principle regarding respect and dignity, my decision was made. My last day is July 9th.
I did not write this letter in order to get ****** fired. That is probably the last thing I want. But rather, I wrote this letter so that if an event similar to this were to ever happen again, the correct measures will be taken. I wrote this letter for the partners who have already experienced this harassment, but have not come forward for one reason or another. I wrote this letter so no other partner will have to experience the lack of dignity and respect I experienced that Starbucks claims to have for its partners.



By the way, last I heard, he still works for Starbucks...

need a break...

These past two days I have been studying hard for those GRE's.... the math portion at least. And I'm not one to enjoy the terms PEMDAS, FOIL, and all those math terms that have somewhere slipped through the wrinkles of my brain. So I decided I need some form of outlet...or distraction...finally decided to scan some old negatives and my first roll of my HOLGA. lovely, and fun...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The state of the world today...

For the last couple of days, I have woken up to the sun shining through my window, the warm air, and a good mood. This morning I woke up to a cloudy sky and a feeling of just staying in bed all day... and then I got up to see what's going on in the world. Hopped on Democracy Now, and got even more depressed...

Some people say they don't watch the news or read the newspaper because it is just too depressing. And then I think, well, do people not want to face reality-that there is a lot of fucked up shit going on in the world. I mean, would they rather know what's going on with Britney Spears, rather than what is going on in Darfur or in Iraq? Okay, how about not take it that far, but instead, would people rather know what's going on with Brad and Angelina, than know what's going on in their own neighborhoods- the schools that are losing funding for afterschool programs, the organization that is raising money for Hurricane Felix victims in Nicaragua, or the 90-year-old man who throughout his lifetime has been fighting for veterans rights, but will eventually pass before ever seeing his cause win.

I guess, for the majority, the answer is yes. People generally don't want to be brought down with the news. They got things going on in their lives- careers, families, entertainment news, life... I mean I get that feeling too sometimes.. just right now after watching the news I got that feeling again, that "what do we do now?" feeling. That feeling of overwhelment and anger of the state of the world today. That feeling of helplessness when hearing and seeing the monks in Burma who are dying and getting beaten because of their SILENT and NON-VIOLENT protests. The feeling of, "man when is this going to end," when I hear about the number of civilians that have died because of the ongoing conflict on the Gaza strip between the Palestinians and Isrealis. I don't even have to hear about news in Iraq, because just with that one word-Iraq- comes feelings of anger and sadness. And then I get that feeling of DISGUST, when I continuously hear about President Bush's ridicuolous remarks and his euphamisms to make the war seem like we're "liberating" Iraq. And then after hearing other country leaders speak about a "man" who is a money hungry dictator who uses corporations to profit off of people's suffering and is the world's number one human rights violator.... one cannot help but feel helpless.... and then that question surfaces again: What do we do now?

At this point in time, we are surrouonded by so many outlets to news, through the internet especially, and we are all more connected globally as well, yet, why does it seem like either things are stagnant, or getting worse? And why does it seem like people aren't doing much to change it...

Yesterday, I went to a free Photoshelter 2.0 workshop, and listened to Michael Zagaris, a photojournalist, as he spoke about growing up in the 60's, and taking photos of rock and roll bands in the 70's,80's, and 90's. His stories were inpspiring as well as entertaining, as he shared descriptions of bands he met, drugs he did, and his philosophy about life and society. After his speech, i coversated with him about history, revolution, social problems, etc...I asked him, "you mentioned that the social climate in the 60's is almost the same, if not worse, then the social climate today. There's a lot going on with the war and everything else. But it seems as if the youth were more involved then, then they are now. Why do you think that and what would be your advice to the youth today?" We went from tangent to tangent, but basically he put it this way, as an individual contribute as much as you can with the people around you. Share yourself, your art, your help to people you know, you don't know, your community. Put it out there....

It was quite interesting how what we talked about conincidently co-insided with issues that I'm reading in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. It's an insane book! So good...Here's a short film about the book that inspired Evs, Sato, and I to start a "book club." Cause as Aristel, a good of friend of mine says, "Reading is selfish." Meaning, share, share share! Not just books, but thoughts too! The world works like that sometimes...coincidences and parallels. I love it...


A Film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein, directed by Jonás Cuarón.

Aristel also said something else I wanted to quote. He told me, "Don't be a theif. There are two ways to be a thief: to steal or to with hold."

Share...communicate, express....reveal...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I'm addicted to inspiration

Inspiration comes in many forms...whether it being a photo, a stranger, a song, a friend, an artist, a book, a poem, a movie....the list can go on and on. Inspiration is almost an addiction to me. It's a drug that helps me see the world in a different light, from a different perspective. It's a drug that heightens my awareness. It's a drug that can change my frame of mind. It helps me grow, and helps me change.

But one can take these dosages of inspiration and allow such luminance to slowly fade, only to be just that- candy for the mind, sweet and giving a short high- but only to eventually die. Far too many times I have indulged in these sweets, but recently have I realized that if not applied in my life or in my art, it becomes forgotten. Inspiration disappears if one does not allow it to shape into an influence, or if it isn't shared...


With the rise of multi-media and video in the photojournalism world, one can almost forget the power of a single photo. I was reminded of that last Thursday. I went to the opening of the Gordon Parks. /Michael Cheers photo exhibit at the MLK Library at San Jose State University.

Besides my amazement of Gordon's accomplishments within his life- a photographer, writer, poet, and director- ( the definition of an artist in its purest form)- I was mesmerized at the fact that he shot photos during such a time in history when racism was undeniably apparent and accepted. I admire his courage. He was an African American photographer shooting photos of America's landscape as he saw it- shooting photos of poverty, segregation, gangs, the struggle of civil rights, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, etc.

I really liked how Cheers placed his photos below Parks' photos: illustrating that INSPIRATION is passed on and lives on. Also, having both photos positioned the way they were, helped the viewer see the beauty of photography, but also see that the same issues of Gordon's time is still very alive today...

"The camera is not meant to just show misery," Parks explained. "You can show beauty with it; you can show things you like about the universe. It's capable of doing both."

My Nanay's hands...

My sister's feet...


Music is art's microphone. I truly admire how an artist can take the simplest forms of sound and combine it with rhythm and vocals to concoct a track. I'm in awe when one can actually feel the artist's soul in her voice. And my mind boggles when the artist verbalizes his view of life and society in a rhyme that flows so damn well...

Ms. Lauryn Hill puts it as this:

Colours of sound
Scales and beauty
Audio scenery
Electric love and
Rhythmic symmetry
Written in memory
Beautifully crafted scenery
Complex or simplicity
Sonic energy
Piercing insensitivity
Sympathetic poetry
For some even identity
Collective entity
Something to belong to
A source of energy
The possibilities....

The CD I've been overplaying in my car is Talib Kweli's album, Ear Drum. Inspirational in so many ways! His lyrics touch on religion, war, posers, REAL hip-hop, politics, relationships, and "the nature of the world today." Its refreshing to hear a lyricist who speaks on reality rather than the illusion of materialism and fame. Listen!!!!

INSPIRATION #3: PEOPLE.... be continued...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My cousin asked me today if my trip to the Philippines felt like a vacation... and i would have to say, within the 2-and-a-half weeks that I've been here, only one day has really felt like a vacation. If it was not family business, it was reporting, photographing and connecting--which I don't mind at all, i mean, that's basically what this trip was meant for.

I do regret not being able to update this blog as much as I wanted to. I havn't had much time to sit down and upload photos everyday.

One of the events that I did go to was on the International Day of the Disappeared. It is a day that remembers those who have been arrested and are imprisoned in places where their relatives do not know of. I met with a photojournalist, Luis Liwanag, who has been an inspiration and a great help to me while out here in the motherland. Here are some photos:

A man places photos of people who have "disappeared" or have been arrested for political or unknown reasons.
The International Day of the Disappeared on August 30 is a day created to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives.

The sign reads,"Gloria Arroyo, AFP, and PNP: Where is my dad." Those present at the rally, which started outside of University of San Tomas, were family memebers of those who have disappeared.

It was my first time to me at an event in the Philippines with other photojournalists present. Since I was not wearing a media badge, someone came up to me to ask where I was from and thought that I was from the CIA. Apparently, the CIA photographs protestors and demonstrators for their records...

A young boy looks out at the crowd of protestors marching the street.

Hundreds of demonstrators caused a traffic jam in one of Manilla's main streets.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Boracay Blvd

Boracay is usually associated with white sand beaches, blue green water, and a tourist attraction. But that's actually, Boracay Island... the exact opposite from the Boracay Blvd I visited early Monday morning. Instead of white sand beaches,it

shores were covered with garbage and rubble, instead of blue green water is murky brown water, and instead of a tourist attraction, it is an area that residents are being driven away from their homes.

Signs are posted in front of homes and along the road that read, "We're not against the development, but include us in the development," or "Negotiation, rather then demolition."

According to residents living there, the area that they have been residing at for almost all their lives---some about 50 years--- are being asked to leave because the space they are occupying is government owned. The government is now planning to develop roads, buildings, and factories and need the residents to leave. Some have no where to go and are asking for some kind of compensation to start over. Some are given money that is not enough, and some have had their houses demolished without given a cent.

Many residents who have revolved their lives around fishing, find themselves jobless because fish no longer occupy the water that is polluted from the rubble and garbage of the demolition. Many residents have no where to go and have no money to support their families....

Here are a few photos, and I will update the story as much as I can.

Signs that read, "We're not against the development, but include us in the development," are posted along Boracay Blvd in Cavite, Philippines. Residents living in shanties are forced to abandon their homes, which will be bulldozed to make way for roads, buildings, and development.

Maria Casquio, 47, and her grandson, Louis Casquio, 1, sit outside of their house on Boracay Blvd. Maria has been living in this area for 10 years, and does not know where she will go if her house is demolished. Residents want to negotiate with the government, rather then be forced to leave without any options. "Negotiation, rather than demolition."

Right along the highway lies mountains of garbage and heaps of gravel that once used to be where homes stood but were torn down.

Nehalie Legaspi, 47, has been living and fishing here all his life. His income is based on the fish, crab, and shellfish he was been catching. But lately, since the demolition started, many of the fish have retreated out of the area, making it harder for Nehalie to make money.

Jerry Amistoso, 37, a father of three kids, had his house was torn down a few weeks. His life has revolved around fishing, now he is left with no job to support his family.

Children living in the area bathe in the unsanitary water---jumping, laughing, and playing.

After having his house torn down, Jerry was lucky enough to find a place by his sister's house, right across the road from his old house. Unfortunately, the community he just moved into will also eventually be demolished.

After sharing his story Jerry begins to tear because he feels like he cannot help his family. They only eat twice a week he said. He has been trying to look for a job, but it is hard because, "All I know is fishing and the sea."

Jerry has a family of three--- Charlene Mae, 9, Jake, 7, and JP, 2.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

From death to rebirth

"Do you like sunsets or sunrises?"

That is a question my uncle asked me about eight years ago. The question was prompted after I showed him some photos I took of several sunsets... I answered, "Sunsets."

"You know," he said, "You could tell a lot about a person from their answer to that question..."

And then we would talk about death, birth, and get into what kind of person I was simply because I liked sunsets. He was the deep and philosiphical uncle who encouraged me to do what I LOVE. and that made a world of a difference to me...

I've been replaying that scene a lot in my head lately... i suppose more so now since he recently passed away. Whenever I did visit him in the hospital, it was usually late, when the sun was setting, with deep orange saturations and hints of purple peeking out of the cloudy skies.

I thought of him again when I arrived at the airport here in Manila. It was about 5am, and morning traffic was just beginning. As the sky transformed from dark to light my senses awakened to all that was the Philippines--- the jeepneys, the traffic, the humid weather, the pollution, but also family, the food, and the familiarity of it all. While the sun was rising, my mind was racing with thoughts of a new beginning.

It's definatley exciting...

It's a Sunday afternoon right now, and I'm residing in Dasmarinas. It's my third day here, and it's been filled with visiting the fam, EATING, sleeping, and MORE EATING. I'm getting restless tho...i've contacted a few people and organizations, and gotta plan on meeting with them this upcoming week...

We'll see... eeeee!!!!!

As for photos, I will upload as soon as I can hook up my laptop somewhere....

Sunday, July 8, 2007

This is amazing....

I love how Mr. Koci Hernandez not only inspires, but shares a whole lot of info, sites, insight, and all that good stuff. With Vuvox I made this in literally less than 2 minutes... how fun!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I miss her

She made me feel sane.
But she disappeared.
Her spiritual trips, made me feel okay to fall on the pavement face down, smiling.
Her exuberant energy spun around in a foreign yet familiar cosmos that I danced in.
Her third eye pierced through everything, heightening my own awareness.
Her understanding of the world was like going into a rabbit hole
that I had an invitation to.
Her wonderland was full of nonsense, but had a deeper meaning,
sometimes beyond my comprehension, but not far off from my understanding.
Her tears revealed a struggle that no one knew but her.
Her scars concealed pain that only she can open and close.
Yet she had a strength that she was blind to, and beauty that was beyond her sight
Inner strength I hope she finds,
Beauty within I hope she realizes.

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's nice how one thing can lead to opening another door. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, I'm reading the book Can't Stop Won't Stop and just finished the chapter entitled, "Furious Styles." It outlines the unique styles of the elements of hip-hop from DJing, B-boying, and graffiti. In between reading the book, I find myself researching the different artists, music, movies, and people that are mentioned. For example, because of the beautiful invention of YouTube, I finally got to watch the movie, Style Wars, which by the way, made me fall farther deeper in love with New York. I also had the chance to look up a woman photojournalist named Martha Cooper, who also happens to be an anthropologist and also interned for National Geographic, so my curiousity was definately intrigued. She is known for documenting graffiti artists during the 1970's, and gaining access to "crime scenes" and gaining trust with graffiti artists. There's a recent interview with her that gives more insight to her photography and her perspective of today digital photography.


Anywho, I wouldn't be a photojournalist if I didn't decorate my blog with photos I've been taking on a daily basis. Gotta keep my wandering mind and constant framing eye happy even if it isn't a daily assignment, or a huge project--- but rather my daily life. A vidographer from the NPPA Multi-media workshop said something to this matter, "In order to capture the moments in other people's lives, one must be able to recognize the moments in their own lives."

Cousin Oliver on his cell phone while bro driving on 101..

Pieces of my first day in SJ after suffering from pnemonia:
Crossing San Fernando after going to booksale in San Jose.

At my favorite bowling alley 300: