How much does a tattoo cost?


For a little more than $1, a henna tattoo.


What you see is not necessarily what you get.. but you definitely get what you paid for.


This epic faith won’t last.

the end of summer

Summer has officially ended….


… but a little rain won’t dampen the spirit of the boys heading home from a day well spent floating happily on an inflated rubber tire in the bay.


On the side of the busy road near the bend at Anibong stands a nondescript work shop.


In it one can find a plethora of handmade tools, among them being a couple of calipers made from scrap iron…


..and the main machine that brings in the business: an electric water pump motor hooked to a set of pulleys that drive the steel rod of a homemade wood lathe.


Not having enough resources to buy the right tools for the job hasn’t deterred Bitoy dela Rosa from rigging up a contraption that more or less does the same job.


This piece will be the main leg of a new coffee table.


The final touches.


Sanding the wood for a smooth finish.


The end result after a few hours on the lathe.


While most woodcraft shops would already have lathe duplicators to make quick work of things that need to be duplicated, Bitoy has to painstakingly create exact duplicates the old fashioned way.

Bitoy occasionally moonlights as an instructor in a vocational school but would prefer to get a job abroad to better support his wife and their 7 children.

how was your weekend?


Was it a happy wash day?


Or did you go bird watching?


Or maybe spent it with your very best friend?


Or did you have some bonding time with dad at the movies?

Whatever it is, I hope you enjoyed it very much.  As for me, it’s breakfast at the local fastfood joint with the family, and no, I don’t interrupt the moment by taking selfies. Maybe somebody can take candid shots instead.

rushing to meet the water

I almost missed the tiny figure amid the ruins of a once beautiful beach house if not for the bright yellow vest as I sped past on my Sunday photo drive.


I would have missed all the fun.





Leave it to kids to have as much fun as they can have.


shopping in the dark

The Tacloban public shopping center used to be a bright place with many small shops.  It is almost a city block in size and features a wide open grassy space in the middle that was accessible through 4 passages, one on each side of the complex.  I still remember playing “sato” (a native Filipino game) with my friends there.

About 3 decades ago, that open space was rented out to a single mall operator.


A lot of people haven’t been to the inside of this aging building, and there aren’t many reasons to be in here except for those who have some business to conduct with the very few stalls that are still open for business.


A seamstress in the making in a small tailoring shop inside the building.


This billiard hall is now back in business after the typhoon.


Looking through an open wall inside one of the shops.  “Kumusta, kaibigan” greeted the shopkeeper.


The small canteen caters to the stall owners and their employees.


Somebody didn’t want his photo taken.


Letty is a friend whom I would stop and have a chat with whenever I’m touring the shopping center.  She’s been here as long as I can remember and she’s already been through hell and high water.


I have shied away from visiting temporary relocation shelters for many reasons, one of them being the lack of dignity afforded to the residents in these communities.


These bunkhouses are separated by a single sheet of plywood which offers very little in terms of privacy.  There isn’t even a ceiling to shield the interior from the heat radiating from the hot tin roof.


Outside, buckets and basins holding stored household water line up the alley.  Bathing is done in the open by young and old alike, but with clothes on.


A typical bunkhouse is approximately 100 square feet.  It serves as the living room, dining room, bedroom, entertainment room, and whatever room it needs to be.  It is barely the size of a single hotel room and and it doesn’t have a toilet.


Months have already passed and there is still no update as to when a permanent shelter will be provided, or if there will be any.  All they know is that one day they will have to move out again.

But the worrying is best left to the adults.


Kids should enjoy their childhood, and they should enjoy their cold “halo-halo” on such a hot summer day.


or an ice candy.


They should have time to play games..


..or to cook their own barbecue.  I had to step in and tell them that burning plastic wasn’t healthy.

But the real reason for coming to the Abucay temporary bunkhouses was to fulfill a commitment to a project which our camera club has decided to undertake.  Our project for this day was to mentor and guide young photographers in taking family photos of the residents of this community.  The photos were then printed, framed, and given to the residents who were just as happy to have something to hang on their wall.

The photographers themselves are evacuees who come from 3 different temporary relocation sites.  They have taken a short course on photography, thanks to UNICEF, and we are providing them a continuing education through an indirect partnership with UNICEF.


These siblings now have a group photo in their home.  Not this particular shot, but very close to it.  My young photographer friend did a very good job of capturing their lovely smiles.


This might be the first time this kid saw herself in a photo.


Even the adults got so excited when they saw their photos.


This activity was a success and for sure our young photographer friends were very proud of themselves.  Best of all, the residents each received a priceless souvenir to remember this day.

fun day


I took a stroll along Magallanes Street today and found myself chatting with this kind lady who will be turning 80 in a few weeks.  She was finishing her early morning chores of washing dishes and utensils, and very much thankful for being able to do these tasks at her age.


This is one of her more than 20 grandchildren getting ready to hit the waters.


Just a few steps outside the front door… the biggest personal swimming pool.


With a pool this big, everybody is welcome to jump in.


..including puppies.



Even a dog has to be pampered once in a while.  Everyone deserves to have a great weekend.  I hope you had one.


It just doesn’t feel like a weekend is complete without a photo walk but there are times when we can’t do anything about it.  One day is just not enough to do everything I want to do, especially when it involves hitting the snooze button a hundred times before getting out of bed and catching an afternoon flight.  There will be other days, so says a dear aunt of mine.

Thanks to social media, I’ve been able to make friends with people whom I haven’t met yet and this is our first meeting in person.  The best part is this being a photo walk in Navotas.


We arrived late in the afternoon just as the day shift was about to end.  No unwanted medical emergencies today besides the medicine cabinet suffering from a loose vowel.


The little girl didn’t want to be framed, so she slunk further back into the seat where she got caught between a truck and an SD card space.


Boat on the rocks during happy hour.


All eyes glued to the ladies volleyball championship on TV.


A dog day afternoon.


The real Filipino convenience store is way better than 711; you can get whatever you need through credit without ever needing a credit card nor a shirt on your back.


All I want to do is bicycle, bicycle…


Look out below, the sky has fallen!


The sun, the sea, and the silhouettes of ships against the sultry sky.


This beats staring at all those photos on Facebook.


I should buy something similar so I can take my wife on a bike ride.  A dutch cargo bike, perhaps.


This is a far as “riding off into the sunset” goes.


A majestic sunset.  I would never tire of this view.


Thank you, Amado, for taking me on a tour at a moment’s notice.  It was a great first meeting and I will be looking forward to more photo walks in the future.

Palm Sunday


It’s that time of the year again when the pious gather around church altars to have their palm frond crosses blessed by priests.  It’s also a time when enterprising people get to share in some of the blessings by way of selling palm frond crosses outside these churches.


The significance of these crosses may have been lost in me, but not the realities of the daily struggle these people go through just to make ends meet.


No one is too young to work if the situation so dictates.


And no one is too old to be exempted from work, especially if they cannot afford not to.


But the best story of the day was from this very nice lady who was sitting by the side entrance of the church compound.  She talked about her grandson who has been left in her care since he was 6 months old.  There was a lot of pride in the way she talked about her grandson’s academic achievements and how responsible he is with the money he earns from helping her sell her goods.  She is one happy and proud grandmother.


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