the yearender

As 2016 comes to a close, this will probably be the last post for the year.  2016 has been a very slow year of blogging, mainly because I failed to begin the year with a goal as I did in the past.  So, come 2017, it will be at least one blog entry every fortnight.  Here’s hoping for longer weekends in the year to come!

On a side note, some of you might have read or heard about what is happening in the Philippines’ war on drugs.  What both the local and international media has failed to emphasize is how bad the illegal drug situation has gone out of hand over the past years because the previous administrations have turned a blind eye on the issue. Even I was surprised at how extensive this drug problem is, but the good news is that we now we have a duly elected president who is actually doing something about it.  While there are questionable methods being employed by government enforcers, there is also an equal or greater possibility of drug syndicates killing off anyone who can be linked to them.  Worse still, there are plans to destabilize the Philippine government by people who have been so used to wag the dog but dare not try it with our current president.

I want this drug problem eradicated and I want to make it clear that we will never have another president who has the balls to address this issue head on.  What I wish at this time is for the international community to lend support to our fight against illegal drugs.  Our country needs support, not condemnation nor interference.

That aside,  it is still peaceful here, and we go on with our daily lives.

And here I end my blog for this year with photos from one of my favorite spots.






Merry Christmas to you all and a Wonderful New Year.  Thank you for dropping by.


in pursuit of distractions

I have been pursuing too many distractions lately (yes, life is too short to get stuck in just one) but have found something that just goes along well with updating this blog.


This is Samar, the island just across the bridge.


and that is the open road.

live to ride, ride to live

Today is a lucky day.  I chanced upon Gil Raagas, a 78 year old cyclist.  Cyclist, not the racing type, but one who has kept his bicycle in good running condition and is still using it since his father gifted it to him on his graduation day in 1952.


He has a small workshop in his house where he creates modifications to his bike from junk.


He is a retired motorcycle mechanic and a telecommunications engineer before that, when the telegram was king.


That is no fancy toolbox nor are those fancy bike tools, but they serve the same purpose.  It sits above the bottom bracket, and it’s his design.  How cool is that?


Another remnant of a bygone era – the Sarao custom built jeepneys.  This emblem will be welded onto the handlebar.


At 78, he still bikes a lot and even climb hills on it.  I’m adding that as one of my goals.


The mirror is from his vintage 350cc motorcycle.  “Live to ride,  ride to live.”  May the 1952 Challenger take you where you want to go, and may the wind be always at your back.


I grew up around people who fix broken things – cobblers and watch repairmen.  Most of them are still around, plying their trade.  It is very likely that they’ll be continuing their craft for a long time still.


This is something you see on many sidewalks.  They are still thriving in this age of digital watches.


Most, if not all, buy and sell jewelry as well.  What’s a decent watch without some nice jewelry to go with it?


I have always fancied myself learning the trade given my knack for taking things apart, if only I had the time and the patience for such delicate work.


Old and new mechanical watches share a lot of parts in common, quite unlike computers and mobile phones where anything older than 5 years is best dumped in the recycle bin.


Fuji lighter fluid, still in the same red plastic bottle from a lifetime ago.  We’ve sold cases of this in my father’s store.


This was all the time I had for today.

thin catch

A couple of weeks or maybe 3 have already passed by.  I’ve been out a few times then, once I came back with nothing.  It’s not the first time this has happened, but what’s worrisome is that I don’t seem to mind anymore, unlike before, when coming home empty handed was something akin to going fishing all day and coming home with nothing for the dinner table.


I still am thankful, though, for being able to afford this luxury.


This thin catch is a sign of things to come unless something is done, and done right.  International agencies have poured in a lot of resources to provide livelihood for the locals in the continuing effort at rebuilding after Haiyan.  These fishermen were provided boats, fishing gear, supplies, fish cages, fingerlings, feeds and everything they need.  Their operations were subsidized and everything was good… for a while.


Despite having been given the initial capital and equipment, the bountiful harvest has come to an end.  The fish had to be harvested prematurely because the subsidy for the feeds ran out.  There was barely enough to be sold at the market as part of the harvest was divvied up among the members.  There won’t be much income from this, if there is any as these small fries will only end up on the dinner table.


Somehow, as one of my friends believes, the universe will always set things right.  Let’s just hope that that is so, and not at the expense of the innocent.



just looking

When I started this blog, I couldn’t wait to upload and post the photos I’ve taken earlier in day.  That was then.  Now my photos sometimes remain in the camera, untouched for weeks.  I’ve come to recognize the issue; it’s not procrastination but a lack of motivation to bring my work laptop home to download and edit the photos.  Tonight, I brought my laptop home.  The thought of these photos waiting to be processed is beginning to disturb my conscience.

Where to begin after a long break?  The public market.  Lots of people there and no one would notice.


Watching eggs, eggs, and more eggs day in and day out.


Ol’ blue eyes.  I don’t know why anyone would put this doll head on a motorcycle.


Behind bars.  I think I may have disrupted their peace and quiet.


I have never considered getting tattoos and probably will never get one in this lifetime but that has never gotten in the way of my curiosity.  Some people probably look at tattoos with disapproval while I, on the other hand, am fascinated by them, excluding of course those inkblots that look more like doodles and chicken scratch.  Then again, everybody has his own story to tell.


This is no ordinary tattoo shop.  In fact, it is a not even a tattoo shop but rather is a junk shop.  And that isn’t a tattoo machine.  It is an empty ballpen tube, a sewing needle, a motorcycle tire spoke, an electric motor from a discarded CDROM drive, a cellphone charger, all held together by some scotch tape, sewing thread, glue stick and one small screw.


The pattern is hand drawn using an ordinary ballpen.  And it is done on sweaty skin on a hot summer day.


After failing to draw a decent pattern, the subject finally decided on getting 3 stars under the old tattoo.  His 3 children perhaps.


The neighborhood boys have also come to watch.


I forgot.. the foot switch is an ordinary light switch and it’s probably skin ink and not printer ink.   Maybe one of these days I will get lucky and be able to watch a professional tattoo artist at work.


It’s Election Day in the Philippines today.  We’ll finally be done with the political posts on FB and other social media sites.  I’ve done my duties as a citizen of this republic and I am looking forward to a better future for this country.

Meanwhile, it’s time to chill out on this hot summer day.


It’s been more than a month since I’ve last taken my camera out for a walk.  I guess I just needed a break and hopefully be able to see the same everyday scenes differently.


Gory Friday (Warning! graphic content)

Every year on Good Friday, a passion play of the life of Jesus happens all over the country. I’ve seen a lot of these plays as a kid, during a time when taking week-long vacations in some exotic destination was still unheard of.

As luck would have it, this is the first time I’ve seen it up close.


Penitentes line up in formation, getting ready for the procession at high noon.  Water is sprayed, maybe to cool off or to take the sting off the open cuts that have started to bleed.


A few hard smacks on the back to start it off.


The whip is made of leather or nylon strips with wooden slats tied at the end.


2 rows of 5 cuts on each shoulder blade. He asked for 20.


That’s 10 for him.


I may have heard 40.


The procession begins.  The scene, from the main players to the street audience, could have very well been an accurate portrayal of what might have actually happened.


And he falls on his knees; one of the many along the way.


Does this absolve any of their sins?


At the foot of the hill.  It is going to be a long hard climb.


and the burden is heavy.


Calvary Hill.


To the faithful, the stations of the cross.


As if the whipping wasn’t enough..


Smart phones have taken away so many things, like a person’s dignity and the solemnity of this play’s ending.  Much worse are those taking selfies.  Sometimes I wish people would practice restraint, or maybe just learn to be respectful.


The final moments, the relief upon knowing that the nails are going to be pulled out in a short moment.  And one last click of the phone camera.


catch of the day