PHOTO ESSAY: The Emotions of Good Friday

It was that familiar sound of wooden whips striking people’s backs.

It was around six o’clock in the morning when I arrived at St. Michael Parish Church in Orion, Bataan. People were already flocking the church vicinity when I recognized that nostalgic noise. Emotions suddenly came rushing in, as the church grounds transforms itself into a 21st-century Via Dolorosa.

 

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Awe.

 

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Disgust.

 

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Belief.

 

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Numbness.

 

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Skepticism.

 

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Pain.

 

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Sympathy.

 

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Suffering.

 

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Agony.

 

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Pity.

 

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Questioning.

 

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Anger (in the eyes).

 

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Standing up.

 

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Worry.

 

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Blame.

 

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Concern.

 

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Gauging.

 

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Questioning.

 

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Deciding, in the name of the Father, and the Son…

 

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Questioning.

 

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Questioning.

 

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Questioning.

 

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Final decision.

 

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“Why?”

IN PHOTOS: Visita Iglesia 2016 in Bataan

Are you tired of your same old itinerary every Maundy Thursday’s Visita Iglesia? Why not try seven churches somewhere outside Metro Manila?

Bataan is a peninsular province about two hours away from Manila. But the place does not only boast of its historical landmarks and good beaches, but also of its centuries-old churches that sure will boost your Instagram followers in no time.

Here is a sample line-up for next year’s Visita Iglesia in Bataan:

 

Parish of St. Michael the Archangel

Location: National Road, Barangay San Vicente, Orion

 

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Parish of Saint Peter and Paul

Location: National Road, Calungusan, Orion

 

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Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church

Location: National Road, Pilar

 

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Parish of Santo Cristo

Location: Naval St. corner Sarili St., Cupang, Balanga City, Bataan

 

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Cathedral Parish of St. Joseph

Location: Capitol Drive, Poblacion

 

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Parish of St. Dominic

Location: National Road, Abucay

 

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Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer

Location: National Road, Calaguiman, Samal

 

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Banda ni Kleggy at UP Fair Overdrive 2016

I took some photos of the Filipino band, Banda ni Kleggy, during their performance at the UP Fair Overdrive Wednesday 2016. Check them out on my sister blog, Rhythmic Feels!

Rhythmic Feels

It is now again the season for the University of the Philippines (UP) Fair. This yearly tradition, which happens on the week of Valentine’s day, has always been a celebration of the Filipino independent and mainstream music industry. Bands from all over the campus, as well as world-renowned Pinoy artists have always gathered at the Sunken Garden to make the UP crowd more rockingly insane.

On February 10, the second day of the week-long event, entitled Overdrive, the organizers are able to come up with the best music line-up for this year’s fair.

One of the band’s who have left the crowd waving and wailing on that night is Banda ni Kleggy. With his catchy moves, vocalist Kleggy Abaya has never failed to attract more people to come near the UP Fair stage, especially with the song Discolamon. A certified dance floor piece, it describes a love that…

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Pursuing Polaris, Seven Years Ago

It was the year when DSLRs started capturing video, and memory cards began dethroning mini-DVs in the film and photography industries.

 

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At the Dominion Bus terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Circa 2008.

 

 

The year was 2008. It was the semestral break of our third year in film school. For the following term, we would be asked to present our production theses and proposals. And the pressure was just so overwhelming that we felt lost and did not know what to do.

We all knew where our compasses pointed and so we decided to find ourselves further north. We went on a trip, not towards the Cordilleras where most people would go to, but somewhere northwest.

After more than eight hours of traveling by bus, we found places willing to share their experiences with lost souls like us. And they were none other than the provinces of Ilocos.

 
A Place to Look Around

In Science, the first step in the scientific method had been to observe. And where could we go to see an overview of the whole situation? High places had always been perfect spots, just like the Bantay Belfry.

Situated on top of a hill, the campanile of the municipality of Bantay provided one of the best views of Ilocos Sur. Built during the 1590s, the brick establishment served as a watchtower for enemies since the Spanish Period up to World War II.

The Bantay Belfry, towering over Ilocos Sur.

The Bantay Belfry, towering over Ilocos Sur. Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

 

But the tower was not made only to spot intruders. It was also a good place to check what the vast world could offer young castaways like us. And upon seeing the entirety of the picture, we decided to visit the Spanish checkerboard of the nearby city of Vigan.

 
Crossroads at Vigan

Intersecting roads might be more confusing to those seeking the right path. But the timeless beauty of the cobblestones and the capiz shell windows were telling us that they might be holding the lead to our search.

 

 

A piece of technology amidst the centuries-old surroundings. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

A piece of technology amidst the centuries-old surroundings. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

 

The Heritage Village of Vigan never lost its magic through the years. The calesas continued to transport guests back in time. The place was even hailed recently as one of the New 7 Wonder Cities of the World.

Calle Crisologo and its old Spanish houses would always remind us of our rich history. The place taught us, that for us to be able to move forward, we should, every once in a while, look back to our past.

 
Pottery is a process

Pottery had been a craft practiced around the world ever since mankind began. And it remained to be a process ever since.

 

Danboard overseeing the burnay-production. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

Danboard overseeing the burnay-production. Photo by Sheig Encelan.

 

The Pagburnayan of Vigan, located a few minutes from the Heritage Village, was a living demonstration that the best things in life never happen overnight.

From the gathering of clay to the molding of the jars up to the kilning process, pottery sure was a craft requiring specific skills and a lot of patience. And so was film and other significant forms of art.

 
Test of Strong Winds

So did we really have the patience? We braced ourselves and embarked on another three-hour bus ride to witness the coastal towns of the nearby province of Ilocos Norte.

And just before we reached the municipality of Pagudpud, the first test of endurance greeted us, “Hello!” Strong winds came rushing, blowing away everything on its path. And they were no ordinary winds. They were strong enough to make 20 colossal pieces of steel rotate to produce energy.

 

The epic Bangui photo of Sheig Encelan. windmills

The epic Bangui photo of Sheig Encelan.

 

The Bangui Wind Mills, inaugurated in 2005, were one of the major sources of electricity in the region. Because of the strong winds, the shore was covered with chunks of polished stones instead of the usual white sand.

Journeys were made exciting by these strong winds. And the best way to get through them was just to glide and go with the flow.

 
A Long and Winding Road

A few more minutes on the journey and the winds finally subsided. But it was just a starter. We were welcomed after by a majestic view of the West Philippine Sea and a significantly winding road.

 

Are you willing to go through Patapat Viaduct? Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

Are you willing to go through Patapat Viaduct? Photo by Ami Gatchalian.

 

The 1.3-kilometer Patapat Viaduct connected the Ilocos Region to Cagayan Valley. The word viaduct came from the Latin words via meaning ‘road’ and ducere, meaning ‘to lead.’

The ride through it was nice and sweet. And true enough, this winding road was really kind to lead us to our final destination.

 
The North Star

Finally, the fine white sand beaches of Brgy. Saud in the town of Pagudpud brushed the soles of our feet. And being on a journey to find our true north, the Polaris Beach Resort caught our attention. And luckily, they even offered us a fair student discount.

It was already dark. The six of us sat quietly by the shore, staring down at our sand-laden feet, while enjoying the sweet hum of the waves.

Everything was so calm and serene. There were no bars by the shore. There were no drunk people dancing around bonfires. There were no loud music. It was just the sand, the sea and us.

Hours passed by quietly. Drowsiness was slowly pushing our backs flat on the sand. Looking up now, we finally saw what we were looking for.

Apparently, we were not alone that night. We were accompanied by the stars, beautifully arranged in the velvet sky.

And there at the center was the genuine Polaris, outshining all the other stars. And the experience was like an electric shock to our veins. Right there and then, sweet smiles were etched on our faces. Every trace of being lost was now temporarily gone.

 

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There was a rainbow behind us. There was… really. haha. Pagudpud 2008.

After 3 days and 2 nights, we were able to find what we were looking for. We went back to the bustling streets of Manila bringing with us those shining ideas for our theses.

Seven years after, in the year 2015, we are still wandering, this time in this so-called real world. And being lost in the real world is nothing compared to being lost at the university. We were now on an intensified search of ourselves, hanging somewhere in the time-space continuum.

Consulting the compasses of the real world can be overwhelmingly confusing. They point to a variety of paths that lead to a variety of goals.

But upon looking back on this trip, we are reminded. The night sky offers a wide range of stars and dreams. All we need to do is to find our true North Star, the one that outshines them all.

PUBLISHED: The Coolest Japan Experience in the Philippines

Authentic Japanese drum performance? Sushi-making from certified Japanese chefs? Yamada Nanami from AKB48’s Team 8? No, we were not talking about Tokyo. Last November 7 and 8, at Trinoma mall, Quezon City, the Philippines experienced a different and authentic perspective of Japan through the Cool Japan Festival 2015.

 

AKB48’s Team 8 in Manila.

 

“The event, being an effort to empower the cultural and economic friendship between the two countries, was an exchange of the coolest Japanese traditions and trends, and the warmest Filipino values” said the article that the Viewfinder wrote for Rappler. Catch the rest of the viewpoints that enlightened Filipinos about the Japanese culture in my published piece entitled, “IN PHOTOS: Highlights from Cool Japan Festival 2015.”

Take a glimpse of some of the other photos that the Viewfinder was able to summon through her lenses.

 

The lovely ladies of AKB48:

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Niigata’s Sato Shiori.

Kyoto’s Nao Ota.

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Nara’s Momoka Onishi.

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Kagawa’s Yurina Gyouten.

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Hyogo’s Yamada Nanami and Gunma’s Maria Shimizu.

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Akishibu Project:

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Alodia Gosiengfiao, cosplaying Hatsune Miku from Project Diva:

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An on-site cosplayer:

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Characters from the anime Doraemon:

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Gian playing with the camera.

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Nobita trying to kiss Shizuka.

The traditional Japanese drum performance by Tokoro Taiko:

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MT. PULAG: Cold as It Can Be

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“But merely conforming to all the rules does not prove one’s worth to witness what the spirits of Mt. Pulag have to offer. Ambangeg’s three-hour trail is relatively welcoming and hospitable to mountain novices said to be because of a certain spirit that joins visitors at the foot of the mountain. And this spirit seemingly evolves, as if being nourished as the altitude gets higher and higher. So by the time trekkers reach the camp site upon sunset, it finally transforms into a full-blown Guardian Spirit of Cold.”

Have a glimpse of one of the best sunrises of the country on my published feature on LiveToExplore.ph!

WAR: A word that speaks for itself

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A half spread photo and a feature on Corregidor Island.

 

The island is like a re-enactment of that calm-before-the-storm scene from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, before the surprise attack. The winds are quiet, sending gentle waves at the North Dock. The Philippine flag is fluidly dancing through it, enjoying its long lost freedom. The ruins stand dignified under the sun, boasting of its survival all this time. And the cannons are sitting lazily and cozily on the battery concretes.

But all of a sudden, the island is jolted into battle mode, as a ferry filled with tourists docks in the shores of Corregidor. It is as if history, experience and trauma suddenly send a silent air raid alarm, awakening the whole island.

At around past nine o’clock in the morning, the visitors, who seem to be recruits newly introduced to war zone, have already disembarked from the vessel and are gathered around the pre-war tranvias. By this time, Corregidor is now all-prepared to make its transformation and transport these new soldiers back in the time of war.

 

The Viewfinder gets you back in time on her feature on Corregidor Island, which just got published in the pre-holiday issue (Vol. 7 No. 3) of Travel Plus magazine.

Grab your copies now to find out how the island explained the word war to visitors.

Travel Plus magazine is available on all leading bookstores and magazine stands.

And as the soldiers now leave the island, Corregidor can now go back to rest while the tourists bring with them a deeper understanding of the island and this powerful word called war.

Seeking Davao

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“Business travels or work-related trips are always tight on schedule and may only include one rest day or none at all. But traveling to a city like Davao, with all the metropolitan sheen all over it, and upon seeing its vast greeneries from the plane ride, a true traveler would definitely set his or her goal.

Official business focuses on the city proper. But the adventurer will not be able to resist the temptation and will eventually sneak out. He or she can definitely find a way to escape work through the urban forests of Davao. And if one is keen enough, one could even find a natural wonder that is three hours away from the bustling streets of the metro.”

More of Davao on the 2nd Quarter issue of The Electrical Engineer! Digital copy of the magazine can be accessed here.

The Viewfinder

What is a View?

The Baluarte de San Diego at Intramuros and the Manila skyline.

The Baluarte de San Diego at Intramuros and the Manila skyline.

Be it a good scenery or a bad display, anything within sight is called a view. And depending on one’s sight, a view is also a perspective or a way of looking at things.

What is a Finder?

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Photo by Johnessa Gabrillo.

Whether it be because of personal will or someone else’s, a finder is anyone who seeks anything.

What is a Viewfinder?

Photo by Johnessa Gabrillo.

 

It is that small box, usually on top of cameras, where one takes a peek of our beautiful world, before hitting the shutter. It has different shapes, forms and sizes, depending whether one has a film, video or a photography camera.

Literally, this small box is something that a person uses to find a view. It is where the photographer first recognizes his or her photographs. It is where he or she looks to adjust the framing. It is where he or she refers to check on the depth of field.

It is also where the filmmaker finds a view and creates a scene in it. It is where he or she consults to know where to position the actors. It is where the director confers to know the scope of activity he or she will put in the scene. It is also where he or she monitors the mood of the lighting and the mise-en-scene.

But a viewfinder can also be a seeker of a different view, a different perspective and a different way of looking at things.

Today, I am freeing the counter of the accumulated baggage through the years. Today, I am opening the gates and letting all the weight go. Today, I am making this stagnant venue into a wandering viewfinder, a fluid peeping hole that just goes with the flow of life, travel and movies.

Today, this venue will be your viewfinder to the world; a place where you will visit not only to check on different destinations around the globe but also on the people behind and in front of the cameras. Today, Baggage Counter grows up not only to be a travel blog and a venue for films and movies, but also to find a new viewpoint in life.

Today, Baggage Counter is signing off.

The Viewfinder is signing on.

Enter as a Visitor, Exit as a Filipino

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Where would this door lead you?

I finally reached the great white portal once again. The metal gate was still open, as if telling me not to close it as I took my exit. Maybe it was also Dr. Cuanang’s idea to leave it open all the time, so people could freely enter and exit as Filipinos with a deeper understanding of our own society.

Here’s a published work on GMA News Online featuring the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo, Rizal. “Pinto” is the Filipino word for “door.”

Spread the Filipino talent and culture! 🙂