Thursday, February 28, 2008

Born Into Brothels

I've always wanted to watch this movie, and i even bought the dvd for a friend because i knew someday i wanted to borrow it from him and watch it. But since I'm thousands of miles away from home---and from Iowa---I gotta rely on google video.

If you havn't heard about Born Into Brothels, its a documentary about kids growing up in Calcutta's Red Light District. Zana Briski is a photographer who gives them cameras, in which they use to shoot their surroundings and their daily lives, learn the art of photography, and become photographers themselves.

It's a beautiful documentary, so if you got about an hour to spare, watch it =)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Disconnected to Reconnect

Time was suspended in between the sky's clouds and the land's mountains, in a small town called Lubuagan.

Before I embark on another journey to the mountains this weekend--the Cordillera Mountains for the Panagbenga: Baguio Flower Festival--I wanted to share my experiences with last week's trip through the north of Luzon to the Kalinga Mountains. It was truly an amazing experience.

An excerpt that I wrote in an email to a close friend of mine read, "Seriously one of the highlights of my life was riding atop on a jeepney through the Kalinga mountains, rivers, forests, and waterfalls on an unpaved road for three hours to a small village hidden in the mountains. It was surreal. And having moments like that when I do feel mother nature, mother goddess, god, the spirit, the divine, and all that is love, I feel so "high", so close to myself and to the soul of the world. Its moments like those that I truly feel the present moment and everything before and after is a part of that moment...everything matters and nothing else does at the same time... its when I do feel the most alive."

I know pretty deep, but shoot, being so close to mother nature, one can't help but feel spiritual. Here is a pic of me on top of the Jeepney.

Here's another of the landscape that I witnessed for three hours!

The trip was only supposed to be two-days for the 13th Annual Ullalim Festival in Tabuk,but it turned out to be a week's adventure through Northern Luzon. The Ullalim Festival is 4-day celebration marking Kalinga's 13th Foundation Day, in which Kalinga and Apayo became seperate provinces. It's a celebration that brings the different indigenous tribes of the region together.

Following the festival and the trip to Lubuagan, the gang-- who just until recently were strangers to eachother-- went our seperate ways. Paulette to Japan, Paul to Manila and Kulot to Baguio, while Aisha and I proceeded north.

At Pagudpud, Illocos Norte. Saud Beach also known as the "Boracay of the North"

We also stopped and passed through Laoag to meet with my Tito Oscar. He took us to Paoag. The North definately has a different feel to it--very peaceful, clean, and the people so warm. Since everyone in the North speaks Illocano, I definately was reminded of both my Grandma and Mom. The Illocano dishes and the language... the North is rich in culture and natural beauty.

In Paoay

In Vigan, Illocos Sur

Baluarte's mini zoo. Cute ain't he....

Vigan is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the Philippines. Hence the really old, yet beautiful architecture.

I had to take a photo of this church looking McDonald's....crazy...

Overall, it was a great adventure. I must admit that I was not so interested in traveling North before-- I don't know why. But so glad that I did. Definately a beautiful surprise. Just another reason as to why I am so in love with the Philippines... A disconnection from the rest of the world for a reconnection with myself=)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Seriously, what have I been up to...

One of my new year's resolutions this year was to stay connected--- meaning, trying to blog as often as I can. I havn't been doing that as often as I want to or intended to.... I apologize! So, allow me to take you through a visual trip of a couple of things I been up to....

One of the things I did was revisit Jerry, the man I photographed in Kawit, Cavite, whose house got demolished because of the road widening and development of the city.

It felt really good to see him and his family again. I have this thing where I don't forget about the people I photograph---i don't think any one can really forget, but I mean, I try to at least see how they are doing... call it attachment, but I call it being a human being. I didn't go there with intentions to further my photo piece of them, but merely just to say hello and see if there was any progress with their situation. I wanted to see if, by any chance, did the publishing of their story, help them at all... I met them in August, and saw them this past December before Christmas. Jerry doesn't fish anymore, but sorts through trash and is a barber as a part-time gig. Their situation hasn't changed much. His two kids still go to school without wearing any shoes...

Jerry's story is one of many throughout the Philippines. I went to Baseco, one of the poorest areas in Manila, where I met up with the "Nanays" who are fighting to keep their homes. Like Jerry, residents living in Baseco are told to leave their squatters.

This is a home of one of the Nanay's. During the stormy season's, since their homes are not on solid ground but built atop land fill, their homes are torn down and rebuilt. Their homes move around, literally.

The purpose driven woman...

A sea full of garbage that makes up the shore of the beach these residents live right next to. Yes, those are my red boots...

This is a white-sanded beach that was supposed to be a resort a long time ago. But instead garbage and waste line the shore of this beach.

I found these kids digging up dirt for work.

It took me a while to upload these photos and to write about it... I'm not quite sure why. I guess its my process of processing... I admire these Nanays for showing us around and sharing their stories of everyday struggle. I look forward to continue to work with them.

I actually ran into them while I was shooting a protest last week. Two weeks ago was Social Action Week, and one of the events I covered was the Anti-war, Anti-American Occupation in Mindanao protest. Click here to watch a piece Aisha, a talented writer and poet, and I made:
Social Action in the RP.

Well, besides all that, I've been reading a lot, soul searching, fact finding, learning a lot, and I finally got a bike, so I look forward to waking up 6am just to ride to the bakery and pick up some fresh pan de sal, a Filipino bread. mmmmmm.....

And on that note, I will leave with a quote...

"The heart in its purity knows no boundaries.
Its only longing is to connect with other hearts.
Samples of tissues taken from live hearts beat in their own rhythms.
Laid together touching in a petri dish, they instantly begin to beat together.
This is alchemy. The transformation from separation to wholeness."

-text found by Perry Argel in Melbourne on the seat of a citytrain
(from Katrin de Guia's "Kapwa: The Self in the Other.")