5 and counting

5 years have passed since Haiyan put our lives in shambles.  The memories are still fresh, but we move on.  Life goes on.


Shoot, said the boy, and I happily obliged.   It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the streets taking photos, and this is just what I needed – a confidence boost.




A few months ago, our local government launched a campaign claiming that Tacloban City is home to the happiest people in the world.  Considering that happiness is fleeting, so maybe they’re partly correct, but happiest?   For sure this boy riding a scooter is happy.

Home of the happiest people…

I asked a friend who avidly defended the controversial PR campaign to visit the settlement in Sabang District known to locals as “Seawall”.  He said he was going to visit the area to prove that people living there were counted among the happiest people in the world.  Since I haven’t heard from him, I went there to see for myself if things have changed.  Barely, but given that this was the 5th year anniversary of the great deluge, people weren’t really celebrating.  I’ll have to come back some other day.



I have always been a subscriber to keeping things simple, and for the past years I have shunned the annual commemorations which have been getting bigger and fancier, and at the same time marginalize that sector of society that was hit the hardest.

This photo of a man lighting candles for the loved ones lost during the typhoon is as real as it gets.  No fanfare, no spotlights, no media circus and all that hoopla.  In short, no politicians were around.  The dearly departed are very well remembered, but the living have been forgotten.  Such is the irony of life.


Rest in peace.


Silent night.  Sad, sad night.


A birthday candle for a second life.  Many weren’t as lucky.


One day this little girl will understand why candles are lit every 8th of November, and know about the family members she will never meet.






Boboy, Calay, Paks, Doming, Lilia, Beyoy…. the list goes on.



They will be remembered until this generation passes on.



Candle lights and city lights.



The seawall.



Meanwhile, on the main street, more candle lights.




Boys playing with fire.





I said goodnight to the furry shopkeeper on my way home.




Talahid sunset

This is one of those things that will last forever; this is our legacy to future generations.


shooting through water

4 days and counting….or is it 5 days? or 6?  Seems like I’ve lost track of time and still there is no end to the downpour.  2 typhoons in December and 1 early this January; it’s like we’re back in January of 2015.


With visibility this low and temperature even lower, I should’ve stayed in bed….


…and miss all the activities that happen only during a heavy downpour.


I don’t know if there’s an English word for “tatsi”, but I’m guessing there’s probably none.   The game is closely similar to playing marbles except that coins or bottle caps are used. Yep, we played in the dirt back then and had a blast. Too bad a lot of kids now prefer gadgets over street games that they miss out on the beneficial microbes in the dirt that made those of us who had eaten dirt immune to minor sicknesses.



This could be the last time I’ll see children playing in this flooded highway. Repairs were supposedly done today and it shouldn’t flood anymore.

Imagine if I decided to stay in bed…


Can’t stop beach lovers from taking a dip, even in bad weather.


There isn’t going to be a catch today. Even fishes like to stay in bed on rainy days.

dusting off

It’s definitely been a long while since my last post.


These photos have been sitting in water for 6 months now.


It’s time to dig them out from the storage bin and brush them up for show….


..and then line them up for delivery.

Not sure when the next post will be; I haven’t been taking photos lately.  I’m still looking for inspiration and waiting for something to drag me out of bed on Sunday mornings.


This is Bool, Culaba, my mom’s hometown, and it is my first time to visit the place.

There were no welcome banners when we arrived because nobody was expecting us.


We arrived at an hour when most people would be taking their afternoon naps.  All is quiet on the home front.


An abandoned drawing on the ground where girls play “sagodsod”.  We don’t see much of these drawings in the city anymore where most kids prefer to stay glued to their phones and tablets.


Wood rot on the church wall.  I can already hear the call for donation.


This is probably one of the few fishing villages without a fish market.


Leftover fish being dried by the road side.  With the right amount of salt and fried until crispy, this goes perfectly well with rice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


What’s the use of drying the nets when it will be thrown back to sea again tomorrow?


The bottom might be rocky but the water is crystal clear.


And the water’s edge is just a few steps outside the ancestral home.


The local convenience store where transactions are done via voice command.  No need for a shopping cart nor waste time hunting for the things you need.


The best halo-halo in the whole village, according to the lady who makes them.  I bet she subscribes to Mary Poppin’s spoonful of sugar theory and adds her own version in the tune of “a heaping spoonful of brown sugar”.

This trip is nowhere close to “spending a great time at the beach” sort of thing.  It isn’t the kind where you take as many selfies as you can to show off to friends and people whom you barely know on social media.  This is a totally different experience altogether.  It is the kind that says “welcome home”.

where’s summer?

I have been expecting warm sunny days and been looking forward to taking the motorcycle out for a lot of long joy rides weeks ago.  It is now April and here I am looking up to the sky every few minutes, waiting for it to clear up, but end up woefully shaking my head and thinking to myself – there goes another weekend.  The weather has gone bonkers.


I like rain to cool things down on a hot summer day, but not rain that seeps into every bone in your body.  I like rain when it brings people out to enjoy the shower; not when it drives people to stay warm and dry indoors.  Photography is in a way like fishing, there’s very little catch when it rains too much.


If I had a tree at home, I’d probably hang my camera and wait for summer to arrive.


Until then, there’s not much to do but wait for sunshine to show up on the horizon.



Ever wondered what it is like to live in the countryside?


There is little to no digital distraction.


There’s no rush.


Nothing to do but go fishing on a Sunday afternoon.


Of course there’s harvest day.  It can be on a Sunday, or any day, but the day of the week doesn’t matter any.


Except when it is a rainy day.


Surely there’s enough time to ponder about life’s mysteries when you’re living in the countryside.


165 kilometers from Tacloban is the municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.  Another 24 kilometers from there, the pilgrimage site that is Sulangan.


While everybody else was at the church, I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass without taking a tour around the place by myself.


As with most coastal villages, the main source of livelihood for the people of Sulangan is fishing.


The fishing activity here doesn’t start early.  It is past 6am and the boats are still parked on their stilts.


And off they go at 7.




And that is all the time I had.  I’ll have to come back on my own next time.


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This is the first long club ride of the year, and here I am at the halfway point – roughly 85 kilometers from where we started.  This is where I had to wait for the truck to come pick me up; suffering from cramps on both legs is not the way I wanted to finish.

I was back on the bike on the last 32 kilometers of the trip after a much needed rest.  The whole trip took about 11 hours, stops included.  The route is very scenic with enough climbs to make it interesting.  We’ll organize a bike tour someday, hopefully soon.

All photos were taken with my iPhone 5. I’d take a camera over any phone camera any day, but there’s no better camera than the one at hand.  I miss my Lumix LX5.


gone fishing

Today I went fishing….


..not fish for the dining table, like what these boys have fished from the nearby rice fields..


..but this kind of fish.


They also go into a bowl.


if they’re lucky enough to find a new home.


For now, this is life in a tiny bubble.

Can you imagine what it is like to live in a plastic bag, pondering whether it is half full or half empty?


Today I found myself on a short road trip to the nearby town of Dulag, Leyte.


The coastal winding road leading to it offers a lovely view of the ocean that never fails to make me stop and enjoy the view.


Even a fish vendor takes time out to listen to the waves crashing on the rocks.


And this is something I haven’t done for a long time – charging into an incoming wave.  I should do this again soon.