Monday, July 7, 2008

Going, going, and now at pause...

Meet Chonga from Oaxaca, Mexico, (left) and Geraldo from Banaue, Philippines... Just two of the many beautiful people I've met on my recent travels...

When the sun is shining and there's not one cloud in the sky, I usually feel the urge to be outside and to enjoy what the day has to offer, hanging out with friends, meeting strangers, enjoying a brew, and taking photos. But not today... I feel like I've been doing that for the past year! I'm staying home for the next couple of days to organize, sort, and touch base. I feel like I've been on that go--almost in a dreamy state of mind, living my dream but also realizing myself and getting in touch with the different realities life has to offer when traveling. IT HAS BEEN AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! after all that flying and soaring, I now feel the need to plant my feet in one place... for now at least...

Slowly climbing down from the 242-stair Piramide del Sol created by the Aztecs... (photo credit to Elliot Taylor)

Being on that "go", is such an adventure. I was and still am addicted to that wanderlust. Connecting with strangers, meeting new life-long friends and comrads, learning from every experience, exchanging stories, and soaking in the earth's oceans, mountains, pyramids, terraces, and forests. Just living. Yes, addicted to that wanderlust--addicted to a drug I could no longer afford! So here I am, locking myself in this house for a few days--focusing on what I gotta do to get to that next step, by building from what I've learned and experienced...

I may have a nostalgic state of mind, but I think its also nostalgia that allows me to embrace what the present offers. One must live the present moment, but not forget the past. It's about applying what one has learned from the past to the present. And if not, then its like taking for granted everyone you met and experiences you lived. So with that in mind, I am trying to take every piece and fit into this puzzle I am currently figuring out. But isn't everybody?


I went to Mexico to attend the Foundry Workshop . During the first week, I met Stanley Greene , who was my instructor during the workshop, and became acquainted with some incredible and inspiring photographers. But it was not until the end of the workshop, that I really got to know some amazing folks like Elliot Taylor , Gidi Morris , Christian Hansen , s. b. ramin, Sandy Hooper, and Iman Al-dabbagh. Not just on a photographic level, but better, personally getting to know them. If it wasn't for the week and a half after the workshop, I probably would have walked away from the trip quite disappointed for reasons I'll get into some other time... but honestly, Mexico is exactly what I needed to fill-in a space in my mind and heart I could not figure out how to fill after coming back from the Philippines.If Mexico was "epic," Philippines was a saga.


I was not quite sure how to describe how I felt when I got back, but it could almost be described as an incomplete feeling. I found it hard to look through my thousands of photos that I had taken during the course of the six months. Personally attached? I think so. Images are very powerful. They stick out in one's mind.

My friend Christian told me that a friend of his worked on a project and it took him two years later to look through his own photos. I guess it's a process for one to detach themselves from such a personal experience. People can do it easily, and others, like me need fresh eyes to look at my photos... an outside perspective. Because damn, words cannot describe--nor can I explain, how these past few months---from the moment I decided to spend 6 months in the Philippines--and the hellos and goodbyes in between---to the moment I got back from my trip to Mexico. A chain of events all intertwined and woven together to create a tapestry so vivid in color and emotion.

The photos to the left aren't even photos from my project I've been working on about Filipino women, their struggle and resilience--- cause spending time with those women and their communities gripped my heart and will not let go... the post production part is the hardest... but these photos I've posted are threads of that same tapestry--- people whose names I may not remember, but whose eyes I've looked into. And being in countries where language may sometimes be a barrier, communicating through one's eyes and through one's smile conveys a lot. I love photography! The camera is almost an excuse for me to meet and learn from people. It's my tool of expression...

Photo taken by John Javellana

The Hellos and Goodbyes

I guess it is something one must get used to when being a journalist--- or just a traveler in general. The hellos and the goodbyes. Whether its the constant arrival and departing from family or friends at home, or the single hi and byes to people I photographed and lived with not knowing whether I will ever see them again, or the strangers who become friends along the way. It is definately bitter-sweet, but would I have it any other way?

As I sit here in front of my computer, shunning the outside world, I contemplate the past year. I did a lot of moving and going... all in the name of trying to figure out if this is the lifestyle that I want. If you ever talk to a photojournalist who has been in the business for years, they will tell you that it is a lifestyle, a way of life---full of adventure, but also a lot of sacrifice and risks.

Going to workshops or meeting other photojournalists I got exposed to the lives of these people who pursue their passion and sacrifice a lot for what they believe in. It is definately inspiring... and it really is motivating. It is one of the things that keeps me going...But that's just HALF of root of the motivation--- the other half roots from the inspiring individuals who have stories to share and whose voices need to be heard. As a photographer, you are showing their world with the rest of the world...and to be part of that--- is amazing.

The godfather of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote, "I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discover of the world around us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds-- the one INSIDE us and the one OUTSIDE us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. AND IT IS THIS WORLD THAT WE MUST COMMUNICATE."

For anyone and everyone who has been part of this this soul awakening journey, thank you. NAMASTE...