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.