I thought I needed to go somewhere new because everything is starting to look the same.  It turns out that I just needed to change my schedule and free up Sundays for other things I enjoy, like a long morning bike ride.


Just around the corner from my house, a dressmaker’s shop long abandoned, a food vendor waiting for a big break or just to break even, and a flower shop that’s moving out.


College students, commuters and traffic stoppers.


A food cart by the pier, getting ready for the long night ahead.


I’ve always loved the glow from these pressure gas lanterns, reminds me of the time when we would light one up during those many nights of total blackout.  Siblings and cousins would gather around the light and we had great conversations.


I didn’t know these people worked overtime.


These are Cinderella shoes.. they only come out at night.

I was planning on taking a few months off from these photo walks to use that time for other things.  I don’t seem to have a reason for that now.

just moseying around


Today is walk alone and talk to no one day.  Feels kind of weird after seeing this guy who is on a high from sniffing glue, all alone and talking to no one.


The second floor of an old decrepit building as seen through a hole in the wall of another decrepit building I was standing in, ravaged by that super typhoon and will probably never get repaired.  These were big colonial houses during their prime, but are now nothing more than a pile of lumber being held together by rusty nails.


do not disturb, I’m busy


flowers for Jhadine


the balloon man must have been up all night.


There is money to be made in scrap metals, and more money if the metal is stripped and sorted by type.  Iron, aluminum, bronze, copper or brass, each is priced differently and if care is not taken in the segregation process, the cheapest material in the lot determines the buying price.


Buying and selling scrap metal is very much like any other business. The chain starts with pickers who scour garbage dumps for any scrap of metal they can find, then the small consolidators who buy from the pickers.  These consolidators are the ones who strip and sort the collected junk and sell them to junkyards, which in turn ships them to larger consolidators who prepare the shipment to more consolidators before the scrap metal finally reaches a recycling facility, then to factories that convert the recycled metal to new products to be sold to consumers.  As new and better products become available, old, obsolete and usually non-working items are thrown into the garbage bins for the pickers to collect.


This is how metal is stripped – by hand.


This pile of scrap took more than 2 trips to the breakfast buffet table to finish.


Electrical wires, taken from just about anywhere and sold for less than the price of one Starbucks coffee.


This sale would buy just enough rice for lunch.


Part of the sorting process is cutting off the contact terminals still attached to the wires.


No more second chances for these bikes.  They will be cut up and hand stripped of every piece of metal for recycling.

It seems like I’ve already shot everything there is to see here in this city, until today.  We’ve had 2 festival parades last week (finally!).  I took photos during one of the parades but I’m drawing a blank, given the fact that I’ve grown less interested in anything artificial or staged.  I skipped the other parade.  The lack of connection to the subject is the very reason why I didn’t bother to write about it.  Hopefully next year will be different.


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.


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