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Showing posts from 2010

ROTFL sort of

Pentax K10D + SMCP FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 AL (IF)
While preparing to take a shot of a parlor game in a children Christmas party (my last assignment for 2010), I saw from the corner of my eye this hyperactive kid teetering on his chair (2nd from left). I snapped just in time when he rolled over and I was laughing behind the camera. That set the mood for the rest of the season.

Christmas Day 2010

PENTAX K10D + SMCP DA 18-55/3.5-5.6 AL WR
Holiday greetings to all my friends of whatever persuasion--including those who, for whatever reason, does not and cannot celebrate Christmas.

To my friends who belong to another religious persuasion or paradigm, hope the holidays provide you with a break from the busyness of life and labor and that you find time with your family and yourself in rest.

To those who have suffered pain, betrayal from a loved one or just plain cynicism from the crass commercialism that is associated with this season that has buried the true meaning of the birth of Jesus, I  hope the quietness of the break give you peace and meaning.

To those who are into the parties and the presents, I hope you get what you want...

And to those who share the real meaning of life in Jesus, may this day give you hope.

Christmas in CHILD Haus

PENTAX K10D + SMCP FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 AL (IF) CHILD Haus is a small hospice that provides free temporary housing for indigent patients from the outlying provinces who have no place to stay in Metro Manila while undergoing treatment for various diseases which include cancer.  The current location (December 2010) is hosted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in the Quezon Institute complex in Quezon City.  PCSO has already moved out of that complex but is not necessarily taking CHILD Haus with it.  Thus CHILD Haus now faces eviction with its deadline up back in November 2010.  We celebrated with the electricity and water cut-off.

PENTAX K-x + SMCP DA 18-55/3.5-5.6 AL WR
My son, Khalil, and I (among other friends) are ever so grateful to be given the privilege to be designated official photographers for that event.  The stories (my favorite is here) and the lives that were shared is what gives meaning to this season.
PENTAX K10D + SMCP DA 18-55/3.5-4.5 AL WR
The photos below a…

The Best Smile Ever

PENTAX K10D + SMCP DA 18-55/3.5-5.6 AL WR
Erica is a resident of CHILD Haus and suffers from a chronic debilitating disease. We visited them to celebrate Christmas (story here) and to perhaps to give them cheer in their dreary residence (CHILD Haus, as of this writing, faces eviction from their current location.  Electricity and water has been cut-off that the aid organizations assisting in the Christmas party had to bring their own generator).  During the party, Erica routinely grew tired and fell asleep in her wheelchair then rebounded and then tire again. Sometime during that morning we caught each others eye and she flashed the best smile I have ever taken a photograph of.

Pentax ES II

Back in the mid-1970s, just when I was beginning to discover "real" photography with a Spotmatic, I saw a National Geographic ad for the Pentax ES II and I thought it was the most sexiest black camera there ever was.  I vaguely remembered that there was a black variant of the Nikon F much earlier, but then with a shape like an M1 Abrams tank, it did not appeal to me.  The Spotmatic fits my hand beautifully; now if only I could those hands on the ES II.

Superseded by the K series and blinded by the splash of the Canon A series later that decade, I have decided that whatever camera I would have next would be black.  As the stories go, I ended up with a Canon AE-1 and it was black.

I would later regret that because black was prone to brassing whenever it was scratched; the chrome/silver cameras seems impervious to that fault since a scratch would be the same color.  These days when the default color for digital SLRs is black, to have a silver camera is a novelty.  Of course, t…

Holding On

 "And the LORD answered me:
   'Write the vision;
       make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it.
    For still the vision awaits its time;
       it hasten to the end-it will not lie.
    If it seem slow, wait for it; if will surely come, it will not delay."
Habbakuk 2:2-3 RSV
I just had to type/say these verses.  It feels like the only thing I am holding on to right now.

Cosina CT1G

When I “started” again (“born again”?) my photography in the mid-1990’s, I came out into a bewildering world of automation.  I was stuck in the early 1980’s just about the time just when Canon released the T Series and the Minolta Dynax/Maxxum was just a rumor away.  My camera then—and when I woke up from my hibernation—was my Pentax MX.  It was in need of CLA and was definitely in need of a replacement.  There was no Pentax dealer at that time and so without any prior research took a leap of faith and bought a Nikon FM10.  I figured I would grow into that system eventually upgrading into the more advanced models.

But I crashed—something was amiss—the FM10 is not the FM2 or even the older FM.  I know what they are like because they were my alternative candidate to the Pentax MX back in '80's and just like the MX, those FMs where heavy and metal.  The FM10 was…well, plasticky.

I retreated.

At the next opportune moment, I sold the FM10 and found an old Pentax P30t as the replace…

Planned Obsolescence

Teaching was a passion that began in college—I was confident in front of a class that I regularly volunteered for reports and as a substitute teacher.  Subsequent community work revealed the joy of teaching kids.  I volunteered to teach Sunday school after college which in turn would lead to twist and turns in my life where I would find myself in seminary.

And I stayed in seminary to teach as well; I preferred a classroom to a pulpit.  The interesting thing about the milieu of my ministry was the choice to serve the urban poor.  Now the teaching strategy when dealing with the marginalized is non-traditional: i.e., you do not spoon feed them the data but take them on a journey to discover that knowledge.  As important as acquiring the right theology and understanding of the Bible is to ministry, equally important is the process of thinking through those things—critical thinking.  That is hard work—the rise of cults can be attributed to many surrendering just that because of the fear of…

Requiem for the *ist DS

Today we (my son and I) sold the Pentax *ist DS.  It was our first DSLR and somehow, we thought that it would keep it forever, but like all other automated electronic cameras, it had to go sometime.  While we have a collection of mechanical film cameras, anything electronic seems so disposable: think of personal computers and cellular phones.  Somehow we thought the DS would stay around as a sort of a digital classic (an oxymoron?).  Other photographers who managed to own or use one, more or less share that sense, some eventually even regretting they sold their *ist DS.

But then all good times comes to an end; I gave the *ist DS to my son in 2008 when I acquired the K10D and he has used it masterfully.  It suited him well, because starting out as a manual focus film shooter (Pentax A3D & MZ-M), whatever inadequacy the DS had was compensated by his shooting style (the DS had a cheap split-screen viewfinder installed).

Then the realization that my son focuses faster than the camera …

The Valley in the Shadow of Life

Alternative title: Final Destination...but that maybe from watchingtoo many horror movies, including a couple with the same title, duringthe run up to Halloween (2010)...

Some scenes in Metro Manila South Cemetery, a public cemetery andspecifically in the poorer sections where flooding has caused erosioncausing some of the niches to tilt. Shot with "somber" and "black &white" in mind, it cannot be helped that the place is actually full ofcolor. I had to give up how I visualized the photos in black & white and allow the color to shine through.

PENTAX K-x + SMCP FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 AL (IF)

Olympus PEN EE-2


Reminiscing about my tenth birthday took a twist when a friend found an old Olympus PEN EE-2 and gave it to my care. Most of my camera stories revolved around SLRs and a rangefinder (Canon Datematic) giving the impression that I never touched anything simpler.  But my very first camera--as in mine: not my dad's or anyone else; mine! (followed by maniacal laughing...)--happens to be this little point and shoot (not the term back then in 1970).

It was characteristically, Olympus, it was small and shot half-frame 35mm film which effectively doubled the number of exposures (to my dad's consternation--he had to pay for the printing cost) and gotten me used to shooting in the portrait orientation.  Even with DSLRs today, I still shoot over half of my photos in the vertical--even landscapes.  It had a simple exposure system which basically gave you 1/250 and 1/30 shutter speed and an exposure lock which kept you from shooting if the exposure value required went beyond…


Pentax A3D (A3000 Date) + FA 80-320/4.5-5.6 + Centuria 400 (original in color)
Song stuck in head: Windy by Astrud Gilberto


Yohei Sasakawa

PENTAX K10D + SMCP A135/2.8
Back in September 26, 2010, a bomb blast tore through a crowd of law students who just finished the BAR Exam.  One student, Raissa Laurel, lost her legs as a result of that incident.  It would take an outsider, Japanese philanthropist, Yohei Sasakawa of Nippon Foundation, to come forward and donate prosthetic legs to allow Raissa a semblance of normality after her life was rudely shattered.
A perplexed friend would wonder why it takes a foreigner to step forward when local rich politicians, who are either in the same fraternity/sorority or even from the same school as the victim, could have easily helped out.
I had a privilege to take a candid portrait of Mr. Sasakawa in a prior event.  Sir, I bow to you.

Room with a view

Pentax K2 + SMCP A 50/2 + Ilford XP2 Super
Had second thoughts here...

“Why are you still a Christian?”

When I posed that question to my students in Penuel School of Theology in a Pastoral Theology class, I got reactions of varied incredulity.  Mildly, from raised eyebrows, dropped jaws to stunned statements like “what kind of question is that”?  Surely being saved by grace, sealed by the Spirit and called by the Lord is enough for one to stay (if you’re Arminian) or be kept (if you’re Calvinist) a Christian.

My class was made up of advanced students; many were experienced pastors with years notched in pastoral work.  But that precisely was the basis for my asking that question.  Their common profile was they entered the faith in their youth, perhaps being active and a leader in church groups even while in high school.  Many responded to a call to serve in the ministry in some summer camp on their way to college which, in turn, would lead them to a Bible school to prepare them for ministry (usually pastoral or missionary work).…

The Sky Is Green


When I was still preaching, I somehow managed to impress people enough to draw their applause and their “amen’s” but somehow they never seem to hear the message.  Now that I am a photographer with an inherent motive of impressing people with my photographs, they are now asking what the message is…

IMPOSITION Pentax K-x + SMCP DA 18-55/3.5-5.6 AL WR
In the occasions I find myself preaching extensively (my primary involvement in the Christian ministry is that of a teacher so, more often than not, I am in a classroom rather than behind a pulpit) there is this sense of satisfaction to see people outwardly responding to your sermon; they would say (or shout) “amen!” or occasionally applaud when you make a point.  But that sense becomes shattered with the realization that they never heard the message.

You present the most rational and exegetically correct argument that the sky is pink and when the sermon is over, people congratulate you and quip about it b…

Pentax K-x

I have always been the person to procrastinate on new technology, never to buy anything on its first release.  There are practical reasons for that—bugs for one; it has been demonstrated that some manufacturers make beta testers out of their buyers.  Then there is the price, usually the initial release price tends to be higher than the subsequent street prices.  Included in this list are cameras, specifically digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.  My advantage, of course, is that I have a lot of cameras in my inventory already; not buying one does not paralyze me and neither does having a decade old technology handicap me.

So with DSLRs, I bought my Pentax *ist DS the year after it was released (2005) and the Pentax K10D just about the time the next model up (K20D) came around in 2008.  Now I have been saving up for the K20D knowing I can buy it cheap when the K-7 came around but the latter camera impressed me enough to want to skip the K20D.  In which case, I had to wait around …

A Fortune Cookie & A Hole in a Post

It's my birthday...wheee!

The nice neat number of half a century bodes of half-full/half-empty comments like "life begins at 50" ( in begins to what?!!!...) and so on.  For an anniversary amnesiac like myself, those neat numbers are helpful in remembering events like getting marred (sic) in 1990 and having my daughter's and wife's birthday on the same day (my son did not make it —his birthday was four days shy of mine).

Today I look forward to holding a make-up class where we will spend most of the time in a darkroom making salt-paper prints.  Something that I have not done in quite a while but the smell of hypo does bring back pages in the past (high school and college).  Then the nice neat number reminds of another neat number: 10.

It was on my tenth birthday, while traveling with my dad in Hong Kong that a fortune cookie declared that I my dreams will come true;  A couple of days later, while visiting the Tōdai-ji temple in Nara, Japan, I managed to fi…


Enough said.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Pentax MZ3 + SMCP FA 80-320/4.5-5.6 + Ilford XP2 Super
Ever since I moved into Quezon City in 1994, the immediate neighborhood I lived in was notoriously known for power outages (FWIW: that area is from the where National Bookstore along Quezon Ave., crossing Times St. towards where I live in Bulletin St., West Triangle).  Even without any apparent reason--weather disturbances or known power supply problems--the lights go off.  It is especially annoying, because when it happens at night, it becomes apparent that a block away in all directions, the lights are still on.

So you call and you complain; but it has been that way ever since.  Then a neighbor becomes the president of the Philippines and stubbornly insist on not moving in to Malacañang Palace.  Within a week after his inauguration in the end of June 2010, the lights went off again.  I consoled myself with the fact that the new president of the Philippines is also in darkness--a fact he conveniently makes known in the next press …

15 Years

My Old Room
I moved out of my parent's house late 1994 almost 15 years since we moved there in the 1980s. When we left the house where I spent my childhood, it was a clean break because it was a company house assigned to my dad until he retired in October 1980 and everybody moved out. When I moved out in 1994 with my own family, my brother and his wife and my parents stayed behind. While I no longer live there, it was in a sense an ancestral home where somehow there was someone you can go back to.

Then my mom passed away early this year freeing my brother to respond to a call to teach in a city up north in the island of Luzon (my dad passed away a decade earlier). I took this photo as I was helping my brother on his last day before moving out. The faux shoji wall is slid open to reveal a now empty room

Proudly Filipino

Pentax K10D + SMCP FA 80-320/4.5-5.6
New day, new president.  As I am writing this, the inauguration ceremony of Noynoy Aquino is taking place; I mused about running over to the park where it is taking place to take photos but decided to sit this one out.  I have had enough of President Noynoy already considering we live in the same neighborhood routinely bumping into each other in a local bookstore.

There are talks about President Noynoy residing in our neighborhood and not in Malacañang Palace, where Filipino presidents traditionally resides.  I like the idea behind that because it would put him in a place where he communicates accessibility moving away from the aloof distance of Malacañang which carries the power and distance associated with its residents dating back from the governor generals of our Spanish colonizers and later the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Yeah, for that reason I would not mind having him as my neighbor.

(He just said in his speech--as I am typing this--&…


A MOMENT IN TIME The PDML (Pentax-Discuss Mail List) Exhibit May 7 - June 12
PDML launches a new Photo Annual and does it big in the Scharpenberg Gallery in DANK HAUS, the German American Cultural Center in Chicago. Forty-four photographers from all over the world contributed to this and I have to privilege of being the only Filipino in the bunch.

Yellow Fingers

Pentax K-x + SMCP FA 80-320/4.5-5.6
Those yellow 'things' (I thought they were bananas) sitting on a window intrigued me. Lacking a pair of binoculars or any form of telescope with which to view it, I mounted my FA 80-320 zoom to see once and for all what they were. They were yellow  rubber gloves.

Since I had a camera aimed at it, I might as well take its photo.

Anita's Memory

Requiem for Anita
PENTAX K-x + SMCP FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 AL (IF)
Anita had Alzheimer's (oh, there was a medical differentiation buried in there somewhere but what difference that it really makes). In her last years, as she progressively regressed, unloading her memory in a FILO sequence (first-in-last-out). A woman of faith, she used to sing her favorite Protestant hymns that were soon replaced with the hits during her teens (ca. 1940s). Before she passed away, she was singing the ditties of her childhood.

Her disease gradually crept in probably as early as 20 years ago (1990) when under stress she began exhibiting an incipient forgetfulness. When her husband passed away in 2001, he would 'die' daily because Anita forgot about it. It was perhaps a blessing when she reached the point she forgot she was married at all--at least her husband can now stop 'dying' and she can stop grieving.

The pain of watching Anita regress was buried in emotionally 'forgetting' her…


Anita Niguidula Manayon
October 18, 1923 - March 30, 2010
I came from a photo shoot when my wife sent a message that my younger brother was about to take my mom to the hospital.  On my way to meet them in the hospital, I received word that she passed away without having left home.  The people who were around me asked if I was ever able to say "goodbye" ...well, sort of.  I think I said that years ago in one of her diminishing lucid moments.  My mom had Alzheimer's (oh, somewhere in there is a medical/technical differentiation that it is actually something else, but it does not really make a difference-she was virtually gone years ago).
I lost her a long time ago: now I can miss her.
It felt wrong to "miss" her while a shell of a beautiful, bubbly and strong willed woman still lingered around.  Having passed away, now gives me the chance to reminisce about the happy and sad times gone by.  The grieving will actually begin as those memories slowly start to return. …