Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In remembrance of a talented grandma

I first encountered or first heard of this dynamic granny just after his audition in 2010. I just found out today that Jayne Cutler died a year after this audition. I also just found out that he was able to make it to the finals of that season of Britain's got talent. Below was the video of her audition.

Here's another video of Granny Jayne Cutler.

An 80-year old bested a lot of younger talents during that 2010 season of got talent. Who would have expected that?

Below is the report of daily record.co.uk

"She ... toured the UK with the other BGT finalists. And there were predictions that she would follow in the footsteps of Scots singing sensation Susan Boyle and become a huge star.
But pub singer Janey turned her back on fame to spend time with her family. Before she ditched the limelight, she recorded an album with a group of seven Chelsea Pensioners.
On the album, she sang Men In Scarlet with Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins and Dame Vera Lynn.
"Janey is survived by seven children, 13 grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Banaue wakeskating, waking up call

The wakeskating incident in Banaue has drawn so much praises and criticisms, even among the people who are from the area have divided opinions.

For some, it's a degradation of nature and to the spirits of the land, but to some, an opportunity. For a few, it's just survival.

Some environmentalists criticized the activity saying it will destroy nature and even Ifugao Congressman Baguilat see it as inappropriate. A rice terrace is for planting rice only said some.

Some defended the activity since the viral video will surely promote the place and bring more tourists in bringing more income to the business establishments in the area dependent to tourism.

The landscape scene at the back of the 1,000.00 peso bill after planting season.

But do we really need to promote the already famous terraces with such activity? Isn't it already famous that's why those wake skaters were attracted to do their wake skating in the first place? Isn't it the other way around that those wake skaters are the ones promoted by the already famous place that is considered by some as the 8th wonder of the World?

To some who defended the activity, they say that tourist arrival is dwindling especially to the West Side where apparently it was taken out of the Heritage site list.

Then perhaps the answer goes back to the basic. Why was it made famous in the first place? Was it because of fun activities? We all know it became famous because of the awe-inspiring view of the terraces and the beautiful native huts that once were there. Only pictures of that once beautiful place were enough to encourage people to visit the place. There was no need to stage promotions like the wake skating stunt even when trips to go there was not as convenient as today. Yet tourists flock the area like pilgrims on a journey to their holy place.

If you go now to Banaue, you will see modern buildings and houses and a lot of terraces not maintained. It is disappointing and some parts are already off the list of the World Heritage Sites. The reason why people want to go there is slowly disappearing.

But can we blame the people? I guess everyone deserves progress in every way. Who wouldn't want to live in a better house with less maintenance? Who wouldn't want to earn better income doing more convenient work?

But then, the place is dependent on tourism and because of progress, we are taking out the very reasons why tourists are visiting our beautiful places? Can we get our tourists to like our place once more without the need to do stunts like the controversial wakeskating?

I guess that depends on what we want to trade for it. Are we willing to tear down our beautifully made concrete houses and create a hut with straw roofs that we need to change every five or ten years? And do our people who mostly are now educated willing to go back to work to the land and maintain it so that tourists can keep coming? 

Yes there are trade offs that need to happen if we need our old famous places back but I guess we will not be seeing that happening soon, maybe never. 

But as for now, as many from that place commented, they needed the promotion and as far as the viral wakeskating incident is concerned, it will surely bring many tourists back to that place. Some would say it is a "band-aid" solution that will last as long as the viral video is still going around. Surely some tourists will still be awed and some will be disappointed. Some will surely try to do the same or similar stunt.

I guess for now we have no other options but to use similar solutions to bring tourists to those people dependent on tourism activities. Everybody needs food on the table. On the part of the stuntmen, they are just doing what they dreamed of accomplishing and shouldn't be blamed. In the first place, our tourism slogan is "More fun in the Philippines" (which we "again" copied from the 1951 More fun in Switzerland campaign) and we shouldn't be angry at people having fun in our tourism sites? And another thing is they asked permission from the owner of the privately owned property and were allowed to do the activity. To the owners of the place, it's earning a living.

But will it destroy nature? Terracing the mountain already destroyed part of nature. But will it destroy the terraces? Probably if it becomes a regular activity. Those are the things we will be trading off when it comes to commercial promotions.

So until the people there are willing to trade-off convenience for tourism marketability, we will be needing more similar promotional activities to invite tourists in. 

But could there be a better way? Perhaps there is and that's up to the people living there. They already allowed this commercially made activity, perhaps they are willing to open up for more ideas. If I am to be asked, I have my own opinions. But who would listen to someone who never own a parcel of land, much less a rice paddy? Perhaps someday I will write about it.

And what can the government do? No matter how many budgets the government will allocate to repair the damaged terraces if the people there have already changed their ways, I believe it will just go back down again. It will need constant maintenance and the longer it was neglected, the rehabilitation expenses will be higher.

I guess we can never bring back the old glory of the Banaue Rice Terraces. It's not the people's fault and it is not the Government's either. We asked the government for better roads, they provided it. It gave us convenience to transport better materials to build our homes leading us to transform our lands to modern metropolis. Soon it will just like be any other places else where in the Country and will not be so attractive anymore.

The so-called progress and the ever changing way of life will continue to transform the land and the people and will continue to adopt to the changes. I guess the only thing we can do is to conserve what is left and find better ways to promote and advertise our wonders.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Do artists think alike?

Someone commented recently about my photography habit, "dakayo nga talaga photographers, agpapada panunot yo" (you photographers really think alike). 

It made me think and I remembered one time I was with some photographers looking at world war two ruins. One of them commented that it would be nice to have a photo shoot with models near the ruins. A distinctive effect with a stunning beauty as the subject and frenzied ruins in the background.

But what I have in mind was completely different. I was hoping some very old war veteran will pass by with wrinkled expression of a distraught face to match the ruinous background showing the chaotic past of the place. I prefer to have the very person who witnessed the transformation of the ruins from its old glory to be part of my image.

Both ideas would show art but with different impact. Artists may agree to so many things but they don’t necessarily think alike. In a hyperbolic comparison, some think vertically and some horizontally.

But one thing is for sure, each artist will always see an art from every scenery. Some would focus on a single shape or image while others consider the whole scenery. Some would focus on a single mountain concentrating on its shape with the sun setting in the background. Another would shoot the wide skyline showing its glorious transformation from blue to reddish orange with the group of mountains in the horizon. Another would attempt to combine them all in a single frame, a unique mountain shape as the foreground, and a background of a thousand mountains in the horizon and the changing hue of the skyline above them.

What artists do have in common is their way to communicate to the people in a non-linear way. Their images would grab attention and merit hours of discussion by critics and fans alike. For me, art is not just self expression but more on how you show the viewers your way of seeing things. If you can do that in your works, your art will be more appreciated. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's Your Artistic Value?

I often hear question on how much should you charge your photography specially in events like weddings. It's simple, what level is your artistic value? If you think it's cheap then charge 1,500 for a wedding. If it's above average then charge accordingly. Some charge 8,000 to 10,000, some are higher at 15,000 to 20,000 while some are charging as high as 50,000 to 80,000 a wedding.

Read tips from such sites as the following:


These sites will teach you how to compute your overhead expenses like the worth of your camera and gears,  how to price according to your competitors, how much your clients can afford, will you scare off potential clients because you charge too low or too high, etc. etc.

There are many sites that can guide you how to price your work but it all boils down to your worth as an artist after you deduct all of the necessary overhead expenses.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Filipino Setting New World Record for Longest Name

A Filipino is set to break the World Record on Longest Name. The 15-year old highschool student from Pangasinan is born Ratziel Timshel Ismail Zerubbabel Zabud Zimry Pike Blavatsky Philo Judaeus Polidorus Isurenus Morya Nylghara Rakoczy Kuthumi Krishnamurti Ashram Jerram Akasha Aum Ultimus Rufinorum Jancsi Janko Diamond Hu Ziv Zane Zeke Wakeman Wye Muo Teletai Chohkmah Nesethrah Mercavah Nigel Seven Morningstar A. San Juan CCCII

The current holder of the title of a given birth name was Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr. If you follow the pattern, he was given names with the alphabet as initials. Another long name holder is Englishman Barnaby Marmaduke Aloysius Benjy Cobweb Dartagnan Egbert Felix Gaspar Humbert Ignatius Jayden Kasper Leroy Maximilian Neddy Obiajulu Pepin Quilliam Rosencrantz Sexton Teddy Upwood Vivatma Wayland Xylon Yardley Zachary Usansky. This Englishman also followed the alphabetical pattern. He, however, wasn't born with the name but renamed himself as an adult.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Color of Politics: Baguio - Benguet Election Day

Politics in Baguio and Benguet is probably one of the most peaceful for the reason that there are no violence reported. In spite of some threats and vote buying reports, no political related killing was committed. Here is a series of photos taken during the election day in Baguio and Benguet. Throughout the City and the province, posters and streamers are abundant. There are posters located inside the 50-meter required distance from voting precincts set by Comelec like this one in Irisan located just at the entrance of the school. Searching for name takes several minutes and several hours to fall in line to cast your votes. The Irisan school went the extra mile by computerizing the names of voters to make it easier for them to find their names. Some can't vote because they are registered as Overseas Absentee Voters. It may take a while to fill up your balota specially if you haven't listed the people you want to vote. Some voters arrived at the last minute because they hate to the long lines. After the voting comes the counting watched closely by voters and supporters of politicians. Some foreign observers joined the watch team to witness how democracy is unfolding in the country. Community leaders sign the results of the counting when no questions or problems arise. Only one machine malfunctioned in Baguio caused by defective CF card. Another problem was the ballots mistakenly shipped to Compostela Valley supposedly intended to Barangay Lualhati in Baguio City. The defective machine from Upper Kayang Barangay was brought to Convention Center where it waited for recounting. In spite of the two precincts not counted, Comelec declared that the votes will not change the results of the winners and declared the City's next leaders on May 14, a day after election.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kwentong Party List

Challenge: Make a story using names of party lists. Let me try.

Ang aking AMA, SANLAKAS ng mga BAYANI, umutang sa ATING COOP ng BINHI at ABONO, at sa tulong ng ARARO, AANI ng BUTIL.

Ang ADING ko si ADAM, ay isa sa ATING GURO na may 1 ABILIDAD. Sa mga KABATAAN, ARAL at ABAKADA tinuturo nya, gustong magsilbi sa BAYAN MUNA. Ngunit ALAY BUHAY, aking kapatid ni walang KAAKBAY. Kaya kapatid ko, A TEACHER, sa OFW FAMILY sya na ANGKLA.

AKO si GABRIELA, ANAKPAWIS na NARS , taga punas ng pwet ng SENIOR CITIZENS. Ang inyong ABANG LINGKOD, ang nais ay AANGAT TAYO. Ngunit dahil BUHAY di AABANTE sa AMIN, sa ABROAD MIGRANTE na. Ang tanging KASANGGA ay ang ALYANSA NG OFW.


Click here for the complete list of the approved party lists.

(I don't intend to discredit any party list, just want to show life's realities in the country that could have been the reason why these party lists were created in the first place.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Tide Recedes

The poetry titled The Tide Recedes by M D Hughes. My dedication to a great maestro and artist who left us one of his greatest compositions, the Panagbenga Hymn.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Last Tree

"Do we have to wait for the last pine tree before we even think of preserving it? Do we have to wait for a disaster to happen before we come to our senses. We are the most intelligent of all species, why do we have to be the most destructive? Do we really have to destroy in order to to survive. Can't we instead save what we have left while we can? They say it is for our children, I believe it is our debt to pay for taking so much and we will not want our children paying for the consequences of what we owe." Baguio Smile

Just thinking out loud after reading that Japan is spending 150 million yen (£1.2 million) to preserve the last tree that survived the Tsunami last year in a thick shoreline forest. Story here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Muslim Power

An army of Muslim women are the main attraction of the long civic parade of the City's female forces in celebration of the women's month last Friday, March 8, 2013. (Sunstar Baguio)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Panagbenga Upclose: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Panagbenga closes after five weeks since its launching on February 1. And once again, we receive negative and positive feedbacks from visitors, critics, observers, volunteers, documenters, politicians, etc. etc.

On the business side, I do believe the festival does help garner income during this festivity that once was a lean season before the creation of the event. The festival’s purpose to help the hospitality businesses during this season is doing its purpose.

Credits go not only to the organizers who conceptualized the idea but also to the members of the media who started covering and promoting the event from its conception until it grew to what it is today.

I only started covering the festival in 2005 as a hobbyist photographer challenging myself to get better photo with my next shot. I still haven’t found the Panagbenga masterpiece that can show the meaning of Panagbenga in just one photo.

But here are some of my documentations for this year’s events, not the best photos I got coz I'm reserving them for something else, but few chosen photos from the 2,000+ shots I took that I thought would best describe the scenes that unfolded during the 5-week festivities. The good, the bad, the ugly - but it's up to you to judge which is which.

A cushion of flowers. After dancing the tiring 4 kilometer street dance, this participant still have a smile left for photographers.

A touch of Benguet. A dancer donning the "kayabang" a unique carrying basket found only in Benguet.

Beads to the teeth. A dancer donning Cordilleran inspired beads with braces that seem to supplement the costume.

Aloha dancers. These dancers lead by Karren Anton had been gracing the festival for years.

Flower face. Even the teacher accompanying the young street dancers is decorated with flower paints adding attraction to the parade.

Learning from the pros. Little kids watch the street dancers intently. Perhaps they will soon be the ones performing in the streets.

The birdsmaster. Once again, celebrities became added attractions to the float parade where they became the main subject of the crowd.

Everyone is a photographer. As celebrities passes, all cameras from the crowd go up even the sorts that can't take acceptable images.

China girl. Baguio's sister Cities joined the parade exposing their cultures and some legs.

Giant sunflowers made of flowers

This little policeman is one of the street parade's attraction frequently stealing the show.

Instead of watching the crowd, these two crowd control volunteers have chosen to watch and document the parade instead ignoring the instructions they agreed upon as volunteers.

With not enough accommodation during the peak of the event, these people came prepared but most of them did not use proper waste disposal that the area smelled of human excrements and garbage.

Big network floats are crowded with so many people that getting a good shot of their float is next to impossible. Perhaps they have immunity to the rules that only few people should accompany their floats.

And the celebrities themselves don't follow the rules like Garry V who went down from his float to take pictures with the crowd disrupting the flow of the parade.

And this new TV network reporter thinks he's immune to the rules ignoring the instructions that there should be no live interviews during the parade.

This giant bird could have been one of the unique photography subjects without those ugly ads. This company should learn to create a technique that can include their logos without creating a mess of the design.

But in spite of the negative images, there are more positive ones to look up to. After all more than a million visitors each year come to watch this biggest crowd drawer in the North.

With the huge crowd that came to watch the events, the hospitality businesses and the flower industry thrived and the once lean season is now the peak of Baguio and Benguet.

Unfortunately, some of the most unique part of the festival are not seen by most.

Here is a lady participant of the competitions in the Pony Boys' day where the City's horseback riding business owners participate.

Participants of the horse racing competition, some riding on bare backs, eat dusts as they try to outrun each other.

Contestants fought for the last chair in the Pony Boys version of "trip to Jerusalem". They call it the "musical chair".

Another unique feature of the festival is the family painting activity dubbed as "let a thousand flowers bloom" where anyone can join and interpret the festival on canvas. The paintings are later showcased in the main parades.

There's good, there's bad, there's ugly, but this is our festival where even a balloon vendor enjoys to document.

There are more positive and negative things to talk about Panagbenga and with my own collection of photos alone, there are the heroes and the "epals". But I still believe our festival is one of the most orderly in the Country.

And many of the businesses and participants are rewarded, some with good businesses, some with prizes. Even this photographer was fortunate enough to win a third prize in the Photo competition. And even the trophies are beautifully carved with designs that depicts the unique culture of Benguet.

So the best way to say goodbye to this 5-week festival is with a bang. Until next year.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Flowering Baguio

It's the season of blooming in Baguio with the opening of Panagbenga on its début this 2013. Once again, Baguio's main thoroughfares are adorned with flowering faces and decorations as elementary school dancers participated in the opening street dancing competition. The following are some of my shoots during the parade. More to follow as the events unfold during this month-long activity. For the schedule of events, click here.