Life is like a bullet

My recent obsession with photography got me back in multiply.com. Here I’ve learned some tips from enthusiasts who spent time, effort and money to satisfy their craving for at least one nice shot.

Re-visiting the site put a smile on my face when I saw the last photos I posted prior to the Basic Photography class. This set made me proud of my (dark) self. I call this one ‘Life is like a bullet.’ And here’s how the story goes.

Bullets have goals too. To serve their purpose they need to be fired–come to think of it, they’ll be the only ones who won’t raise an eyebrow in front of Donald Trump when he says, “You’re fired!”

gun1
The goal

The way into the goal must be identified.

gun2
The way.

Like people, some bullets are real…

gun3
The real deal.

.. And some bullets aren’t. They are the posers.

gun4
Poser.

Unfortunately, the posers in our midst do have the same ambition like us. Sometimes they get in the way to reach our goal.

gun5
Ambitious guy.

And sometimes, they even find the gate ahead of us just a step short of achieving the main objective.

gun6
The interview.

Sooner or later though, someone will find out.

gun7
Exposed.

When the real deal takes over, it will make it to the headlines.

gun8

Photo Loco

Just like any other hobbies I previously had that once I had my mind set on it I can’t help but fidget to satisfy the urge. I’ve seen myself before running around the house like in a CQB setting. I’ve seen myself aim the fishing rod on an imaginary fish pond while I’m on the sofa. I’ve played badminton with my wife despite the low ceiling and short space at home. And right now, me and my IXUS are best buds. Photography is it.

After yesterday’s photography class closing ceremony, I’ve been seeing lots of things in a very different perspective already. It’s like one of those days when my mind is so full of things that I’d be walking almost absentmindedly while simultaneously running several tasks at once.

It was also yesterday when my addiction to shoot people, objects, and sceneries to name a few cannot be ignored. At one point, I caught myself talking with some of my colleagues but with my mind wandering around and wondering what angle I can shoot them to show their best side – not to be misinterpreted as if most of them hasn’t got one. Hahaha. Come to think of it, it’s a challenge of some sort.

I also had the temptation to spend some extra time at the parking lot after work, with the intention to capture car trail lights. I could have been seen crawling on the parking ground with my IXUS mounted on the 3-inch tripod and pointed at the parking exit. Good thing sanity and self-preservation prevailed.

Reaching home didn’t help either. I entered the gate with my mind thinking about how the gate grills will appear in the morning. And upon nearing the door with my smiling wife, made me recall if portraits are meant to be captured with an evaluative or center-weighted metering mode – although I know that she’ll appear good whatever the setting is anyway. Ehem.

That didn’t stop right there. Dinner did not escape my photo adrenaline rush as well. Imagine a 5-year old kid appearing to help arrange the table with nothing but play in mind. I was like that. Last night, the red table mats’ lines appear begging to be shot. The same case of curiosity with the buttered bread’s color and texture details. Of course, not shooting the mouth-watering pasta also made me feel guilty of foregoing an opportunity. Fortunately, I was so stuffed by the end of the meal that shooting the food morsels was spared.

table mat

I don’t know when this photography interest revival will end. But for now I’m just full of ideas that if I’d be left alone even at the parking lot, I’d be very busy come rain or shine. So to my friends, colleagues, web network contacts, please bear with me if I’d be speaking about f-stops, lighting sources, perspectives or resolutions in the next days to come. And lastly, expect me to be as pesky as a fly as I’d be all over you in the name of photography.

***

yarn
Stuffed from a good dinner, I pressed on with shooting my wife’s cross-stitch yarns – much to her annoyance.
stove flame
I ditched the brewed coffee over the instant Nescafe this morning just to see how the flames under the kettle will appear.
onion
Never have I been so interested in cooking ingredients. This is an onion, right?
masked
Mi loco.

I Shot Several People

My enthusiasm with photography led me finally to sign up for a basic photography class as part of our company’s livelihood/upskilling program.

It’s been awhile since I actually got so interested again with our Canon IXUS 70 which by friends’ and some of my colleagues’ standard, having one is already considered Jurassic, reason I secretly kept my distance from this point and shoot camera. Another reason was because despite having much of the basic photography literature just within reach thru books (I’ve got a couple at home) and the ever trusty internet, sometimes the tips just don’t seem to make any sense to me. In short, I got bored.

But having no other choice other than the gas welding session which I have already signed up for, I decided to give photography another chance. I tried again today if my fate with it will once again develop.

photo image

The first day of the class with professional photographer Mr. Benjamin Rivera started late. But promised, he made up for it and when the session began I got so excited that I can’t remember dozing off despite some dragging moments in his lecture. I was either taking notes, or was tinkering with my IXUS trying to figure out what aperture, exposure value or focal length is all about. Of course, I shot several people with this tiny amateur’s weapon of choice–guilt free. So as they say that a picture paints a thousand words I’m ending the text with my some of my own shots.

mentoring
Mentoring. 
want one
Am I ready to own one?
Bananas
Cafeteria bananas.
Lecture
Lighting techniques demo.
Sephia
Attempt at sephia.
Light exposure
Long shutter game.

By the way, if my renewed enthusiasm with photography continues, I might once again frequently update my multiply.com account. And before I forget, I have several colleagues (contacts) whom I look up to. Check their multiply.com portfolio:

Dencio – http://dmbarbaira.multiply.com

Ronald – http://ronald1027.multiply.com

Abet – http://abet913.multiply.com

Bloody Bisaya

I have forgotten all about this issue that has created another stir among majority of the Filipinos led supposedly by our nationalistic and caring brethren here and abroad. But just as I was about stretching my yet sleepy self out of bed I heard it from the news again.

This is about the discrimination issue being raised when a comedy show somewhere in Europe featured a helper being made to perform an indecent act in front of her British master. This short scene once again made it to our national news — both print and broadcast — and everyone jumped into the bandwagon like ants smelling an open sugar container. Everyone called foul. And once again, as always, everyone called for an apology from the ‘racist’ party — this time, the Brits.

This news is not new. The recent one that I can recall was when actress Teri Hatcher’s character made a remark questioning the credentials of Filipino doctors during one of the Desperate Housewife episodes. This one too angered all Filipinos. Some even rallied behind to have the show and Teri Hatcher banned here in the Philippines. Of course, do I need to mention that an apology was demanded from Teri Hatcher?

News such as this is like an irritating itch. I hate it but I’m amused with it as well. Why? Because most of us are quick to point out discrimination coming from foreigners but have totally forgotten that it has been actually happening here in our country. We’ve stereotyped people coming from the provinces and treated some with less respect.

Case in point. If someone speaks with a thick Visayan accent, most would call them dong. I learned from a friend that this is an insult especially if used in Cebu–also a Visayan province. And not only that, most shows portray their household drivers, maids or sidekicks as Bisaya. We enjoy seeing them being slapped in both comedy and the dreaded telenovela shows. For most, having a thick Visayan accent is synonymous to being illiterate or ignorant. How rude.

So what are we going to do about it? I’m from Bacolod where most will immediately call one coming from there as Bisaya. Should I demand then an apology from the rest of the fair skinned, fluent Tagalog-speaking Filipinos? Should I waste my time and effort to get my message across? Unfortunately, I just did but frankly, I don’t give a damn. However, unless we get our acts together here in treating the rest of our countrymen fairly, let’s not be surprised and stop feeling discriminated if foreign shows brand us as cooks, janitors, gasoline attendants, dog-eaters, fake doctors, fake nurses and illiterate sexy maids. Live with it.

***

Here’s what I read from yesterday’s Francis J. Kong article that made me relate it to my subject matter:

From the Albany Journal, 1890 comes this material…A true Christian never looks down on anybody, and yet this habit of looking down on the less fortunate acquaintances is common enough to make the following advice given by the Albany Journal to its young readers, very timely:

“Don’t look down on a boy because he wears shabby clothes; when Edison, the inventor first entered Boston, he wore a pair of yellow breeches in the depth of winter.

“Don’t look down on a boy because his home is plain and unpretending; Abraham Lincoln’s early home was a log cabin.

“Don’t look down on a boy because of the ignorance of his parents; Shakespeare, the world’s poet, was the son of a man who was unable to write his own name.

“Don’t look down on anyone; not just because some day they may outstrip you in the race of life, but because it is neither kind, nor right, nor Christian.”

***

Did you know that?

Recently I discovered some fascinating facts:

*There’s a book in the bible called Job. (From my mother who sent me a personal message for my Playing With God post.)

*A man named Expeditus did exist. And guess what, he is the now the saint for people with urgent cases. (Saw this one among the statues inside the humid Dasmarinas church.)

***

 

We’re Moving Out

I’ve got a very big family and I’ve known our home as the most secure among the neighborhood. It was where we were always proud to be Inside. And like the rest of my siblings, I also look up to our parents and I was ever so proud to be one of their children. But then time changed and it’s been a year or two since our parents have given us the hint that they’re up to something. And what that is, we were clueless then. By the middle of this year though they told us the shocking news–the house we’ve known to have endured storms and earthquakes is crumbling. That shocked us. It can’t be true. The news was like coming out of a very bad nightmare that despite the earlier hint, still caught most of us unguarded.

That being the reason, it surprised us no more when the next thing they told us was their idea to move out of our current home, a home where I’ve spent most of my life with the rest of my brothers and sisters, old and young alike. This is where we learned to crawl, walk and eventually stand up on our own. This is where I learned and understood how to deal with the rest of my siblings in harmony. We’ve had our differences for sure, but we managed to hold on together with the values that have bound us as one family.

Now, since they decided that we finally move out in 6-9 months time and have announced the location of our new home, they have now started orienting each member of our family of the phases that we will undergo to make the transfer a smooth and successful one as much as possible. We were all ears and so eager to hear about it.

Of course, not all of my siblings are happy with the news. Some are excited but most I can sense are not yet prepared. The older ones for sure have lots of memories in this present home and younger ones have still lots of things to prove and experience. But then, mom and dad have made up their mind.

And so after asking the rest of the members what they think of the transfer and if they wanted to move on or not, our parents stood steadfast. Despite the obvious pain they have to deal with, mom and dad have to finally kiss goodbyes to those who have chosen to part ways. But just like any responsible parents will do, they did not forget to partake what they have to those who will be left behind hoping that my brothers and sisters make use of it wisely.

On my part, they haven’t talked to me yet but to keep me busy they have assigned me to do my share in packing up things this week. Some of my siblings have done their share since a month ago. Now it’s my turn. Our home is almost half empty but there’s still a lot to be packed.

Rummaging to what is yet to be boxed, the nostalgia of yesteryears seems to rewind just like in the movies. I can vividly recall the days when mom and dad would give us a new toy and each one of us would gather around it wondering what it was for and but making sure it works at the end of the day. Sometimes we’d argue over it and sometimes we’d work together like we have one mind with one goal. And with each success we made in putting it to work, mom and dad would always clap their hands, give us a pat at the back and more often than not, treat us to a well-deserved meal or even give us some tokens or gifts for the job well done. Those days will be missed. Hopefully, in our next home, they’ll do just the same.

It’s been two days after I started observing and taking charge in the packing of several of our toys with the help of the people whom our parents hired to do it for us. Some of these people are familiar to me as I’ve played with them when I was a bit young in this soon-to-be-our-ex home. Now we still know each other and I’m still as eager to play and help them box the toys.

Tomorrow the packing stops. Just for two days at least. I heard that our parents will be handing out some envelopes to all of us. It’s probably for Christmas. I don’t know. Whatever it is, thanks anyway mom and dad.

Disclaimer: The characters and events in this story are fictitious and if there’s any similarity to actual events, person or entity…then, it must be true…well, partly true.

Heroes Wanted: Dead or Alive

Just like any other typical Sunday at home, I once again savor the fact that today is another day off after a stressful week at work despite taking a leave last Thursday to finish a painting task at home and several other business in preparation for “the baby.”  And so, as predictable as clockwork I was out of bed early to send my wife to work and soon found myself in front of my beloved sunny side up breakfast and Sunday newspaper.

I’m not really sure if today is some sort of holiday to honor our heroes but the main section of the Philippine Star has its editorial regarding heroes in our midst. It mentions that today is Ramon Magsaysay’s 101th anniversary. While reading it something captured my attention:

“…This year’s Ramon Magsaysay awardees include two from the Philippines…”

This line made me paused for a moment as I can’t seem to gather the relationship between the words Ramon Magsasay awardees and the phrase include two from the Philippines.

Correct me if I’m wrong but a Filipino awarding body will of course give honor to Filipinos, right? Well, after flipping more pages later, another article titled “Touching History” (by Michael Charleston B. Chua) washed away my inch-deep knowledge of this award. I learned from this article that the Ramon Magsasay Awards is an international body that honors not only Filipinos but other Asian heroes as well. So that explains it.

What I find alarming though with those articles is the fact that the majority of recipients of this award are not Filipinos. Even more troublesome is that those Filipinos being honored are not even popular in the Philippines. Do the names Gov. Grace Padaca and Jaime Alip ring a bell? If you’re not an elementary student who has current events or history subject, I doubt that these names are in one of your brain neurons. That’s how serious is our need to have a hero–a Filipino hero. Do you think we have one? Is it Ninoy?

During my elementary days, and despite the innocence, I can still somehow recall the emotions of so many people from the news about the assassination of this opposition senator. The major effect of this event took 3 more years before most Filipinos got grumpy and fed up, marched to the streets, formed the famous People Power, ousted the Marcos dictatorship and eventually seated to presidency Ninoy’s housewife, Cory. I knew from then on that hope for a better Philippines has blossomed… or so they say. Like most pinoys during that time, Ninoy was my hero, too.

Ninoy
I’m also Ninoy.

But once I graduated from college, started to work and had my own time in front of the TV, I began to learn further about the Philippine political scene. I soon realized that the yellow ribbon song, Ninoy, Cory and the People Power at EDSA were nothing but hype and it worsen when EDSA became synonymous with civil disobedience and short term memory loss. I suspect that it may even be a creation of some spin doctors trying to insult the minds and hope of most Filipinos. The reality is, I figured, Philippines is going nowhere. The crooks were never gone; they just changed form, political parties, and surnames.

That’s how pessimistic I’ve become when it comes to politics. Actually, I’ve been pessimistic on most aspect of the Philippines – should I say, just like most Filipinos do? I’m wondering now who’s to blame for all this. And the answer is? It’s not Erap. Not FVR. Not even GMA. Then who? Surprise! No one but us. Yes, us. Everyone has their own share of this downturn we are experiencing for years now. Everything we did, like paying bribes, not paying the proper taxes, buying pirated items, refusing to register and vote during elections just to name a few, are factors that bad politicians (is this an oxymoron?) and their evil allies enjoy. One way or another we are guilty. We are feeding their greed.

As much as I’m tired of reviving (my own) hope over and over and over again, I still guess that it’s about time that we bring back the slogan”Tama na, Sobra na (enough is enough).” Everything we do right now has its effect and every contribution even in small ways will help in the recovery of our nation. My mind is holding me back from saying this, but let’s start believing that change is possible…let’s cross our fingers, exhale deeply and let’s do our part – consistently.

So in order to do my part right now, I’m setting aside at least some part of pessimism especially now that some group started this advocacy to bring back the spirit of heroism by founding the iamninoy movement.  This is long overdue but I consider this a good move and a good start. I do hope that this gets a good media exposure. I hope the media (especially TV) stop their senseless, exaggerated news. Most people are bored of negativity. It’s high time we discover more heroes, dead or alive. From them, let’s look back, review and learn from our past mistakes. Let’s move on.

 

We are Damned

donut choices
Damn centerpiece. (Photofunia done by wifey)

Whoever coined the phrase “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is just damn right. In our elementary science class, we were told that we humans actually belong to the animal kingdom but what sets us apart from our crawling, flying, swimming and walking brethren is the ability to make choices, not instinctively, but intelligently. (Although the bible is one proof that our great great great ancestor Adam might have instinctively given in to Eve’s temptation to take the supposedly fruit of knowledge. The irony. Whatever the real reason is, I think we won’t know, but I have a hunch. Hint: they were fully naked.)

I find this capacity to think and to decide a double-edged sword. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Each action we make right after a decision would be understood differently by different people. Reminds me as well of Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. Remember? So does it mean that Newton may have been the man behind the damned phrase? Possible. Whoever it was, he has my respect because such is so short yet full of meaning. It summarizes one lifetime of decision making into just eight words.

So why the fascination with this damn phrase lately? Here are some reasons that it’s just damned if you do, damned if you don’t:

  • Bayani Fernando who has been in the news, forums and FM radio more often recently. Ever since I learned about this guy’s work, principle and vision, my admiration for him started. I’m one of those Filipinos who look up to a strong leadership that have become so scarce for years here in the Philippines. I read from one survey that he’s not winning approvals from most people because of the way he operates–i.e., quick and he doesn’t care who gets in the way. Although he’s got some kinks to work out within the MMDA, I believe that his personal policies are firm and he’s just the type of leader WE NEED. By the way, he has mentioned that he’s running for president in 2010.
  • Motorcycles. Due to new LTO guidelines, frequent accidents involving motorcycles, and wifey’s protests, this is hot topic. It’s now a fact that with the current gas prices up and will go up again, which is a prediction that doesn’t need a Nostradamus, everyone now thinks of an alternative to go around. Those who used to take the public transport (e.g., buses, jeepneys) and even with their own cars are now considering buying scooters or underbones. It’s a no-brainer. With the almost unstoppable gas price hike, an alternative transport is a must have. However, if a motorcycle is your choice, it requires a fully functioning brain to drive it defensively. Brain drives rider. Helmet protects brain. Take note.
  • And then this. Company business updates that gets majority of the employees jumpy and It’s just same story with a title that changes every time, as I always tell those I usually converse with about this topic—that’s 15 directly under me, and several other colleagues. At times I find this topic dragging which makes me think of recording my replies for the next similar discussion. Sooner than soon, this story will end but I can’t divulge just yet. I’d rather do it as a Grinch-who-stole-Christmas type story. You’ll read about it soon.

So are we damned? You’re guess is as good as mine.

***

 

The Rock Star in Me

“…Well we all just wanna be big rockstars And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars…” – Nickelback, Rockstar

“…Under the big top world We all need the clowns To make us smile…” – Journey, Faithfully

Other than being Pilots, some boys for sure dreamed of being Rock Stars. It has something to do with being free, being able to get that high. I know most teenagers would discover it in no time if you know what I mean.

Of course, most kids have also heard of fairy tales, whether they admit it or not. These fairy tales they would sooner or later discover as what enlightened adults call fiction. In short, it is not true. Does not and will not happen. For some, however, fiction could become reality. They would become Rock Stars.

For Arnel Pineda, this is exactly the case. He is the Filipino equivalent of the character Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) in the movie Rock Star. If you check the film bit by bit, the resemblance of his and Arnel’s story is almost the same:

  • Chris Cole was discovered by Steel Dragon’s guitarist thru a tape recorded performance of his cover band, Blood Arnel Pineda was discovered by Journey’s Neal Schon thru a YouTube.com video of his band Zoo while performing the song Faithfully.
  • Chris Cole was contacted by a band member and dismissed the first phone call as a  hoax and Arnel Pineda reacted just the same.
  • Both characters eventually became lead vocalist of the band they just used to idolize and copy after being invited (and flown in) for an audition and passed.

Watching Arnel’s cover of Faithfully that was shot in Hard Rock Café and uploaded on YouTube sends goosebumps as I’d always remember the scene from Rock Star when Chris Cole did his cover of Stand Up. Both stories are must-know of any Rock Star wannabee.

So tomorrow if anyone by chance sees a bald driver doing air guitars and some passionate head bangs while stuck in traffic, most likely that would be me.

My Love-Hate Relationship with the Videoke

In my list of my most hated things, the videoke would be there. I would wonder every now and then if there was a necessity for it to be invented but since it’s already in existence I have tried my best to deal with it.

The videoke is like the eye. It’s the window to one’s self. I’ve discovered a liking to some people when I hear them sing—my wife can decently sing any of The Coors song. But along with the appreciation of others singing the lines—appearing as foreground to mostly naked women gyrating on the background—is the loathing that I feel once off-keyed people start singing their favorite piece.

I’ve almost despised friends when I learned that they’re into videokes. Just this December while on vacation I had a drinking session with my high school best friend and I almost scrambled out of the neighborhood bar when I saw him checking out the song list. Trying to be game and giving him the benefit of the doubt I anxiously waited while the waitress punches in the magic numbers. A canned drum roll followed.

He selected U2‘s Sunday Bloody Sunday. I secretly glanced at my friend just to give a quick check if he’s somewhat similar to Bono. Hmmm. Obviously not. The song’s intro finally signaled the start of the song. Then it happened. I almost cursed in protest and thought if my friend could be sued by U2 for performing their song in a public place not to mention the bad rendition. It wasn’t Sunday, but I’m sure it was Bloody–as the Brits would say. I’m sure I was drunk that time but the alcohol didn’t work to a favorable opinion.

Now I’m being hounded again by the presence of this singing machine. Just outside and in front of our house is a party in progress. And the magic box with TV monitor, round colored keys and 15-inch speakers was just delivered. We’re in for a long night. My only hope right now is that no drunken male visitor would sing a Celine Dion song while we’re trying to sleep tonight. That is if we can achieve sleep. Whoever invented this machine, I hope you’re in the “hottest” place right now.

By the way, possessed by the spirit of alcohol, I also sang a couple of songs on videoke before and my faves are The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling and 500 by the Proclaimers. Well, sometimes the good guys take revenge.

***