Published Works from the Past Months

Can’t get enough of the “Huling Sayaw” concert of Kamikazee last December? Refresh your memories through this concert coverage I did for Rappler.

I also did an exclusive interview with the band wherein they shared five career lessons to budding Filipino rockstars.

Rockstars are definitely flocking the Philippine stage. Last January, the Japanese band, ONE OK ROCK, invaded Manila by storm. Catch my pre-concert article on Rappler.

It was amazing!!!! We love you guys so much !!!!! We are definitely coming back to Philippines

A post shared by Taka (@10969taka) on

Also last December, I covered the UP Lantern Parade with lighted floats to give tribute to the Philippine Cinema.

 

 

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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WAR: A word that speaks for itself

corregidor travel plus

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.

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?

photographer

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! 🙂

Asian Cinema Glamour at the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Alfred Hitchcock. Director. The Carpenters. Musicians. Audrey Hepburn.  Actress. The Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California is able to immortalize their sheen in the entertainment industry by providing each of them a star along Hollywood Boulevard.

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But the stars are not concentrated only in America. Asia also has her very own definition of “cinema.” She has Wong Kar Wai, Gong Li and Bruce Lee, whose shimmer also extends beyond death. Located near Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, along Victoria Bay, an equally grand honorarium is established to immortalize these passionate movers of Hong Kong cinema.

 

THE IN-BETWEEN CINEMA

According to Prof. Poshek Fu of the University of Illinois, Hong Kong has become “a principal ideological battleground between the Free World and the Communist Bloc in Asia.” Being geographically located at the middle of mainland China and Taiwan, Hong Kong’s beliefs has always been politically divided, plus the fact that they have been a British colony for more than a hundred years.

And this philosophical identity crisis has greatly influenced their cinema. On Prof. Fu’s article at the American Historical Association website, he has said that Cantonese filmmakers have showed the everyday life in Hong Kong during the time, but have “generally refrained” from giving any sensitive opinions about China nor about the foreign government.

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The viewfinder.

By the end of World War II, Hong Kong has started to take sides. Films featuring martial arts have become the trend and is said to be the outlet of the “anger and discontent” of the society towards Communism.

On his last note, Prof. Fu has said, “I came to recognize that movies, even those with apparent entertainment values, are never ideologically innocent. They are intricately and often ambiguously intertwined with history and politics.” Because of this, Hong Kong industry practitioners really deserve to be commemorated in this 440-meter walk along the bay.

THE STARS

The Hong Kong Film Awards Association Limited recognizes excellent performances in the industry by etching their names on shimmering stars.

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The “Clark Kent who didn’t need to change outfit…”

One of the more prominent names along the avenue is that of Bruce Lee’s. His contributions to both the worlds of film and martial arts are not only honored with a star along Hollywood Walk of Fame but also with a star and a bronze statue along the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong. He has not just been a star but also a shape-shifter of the Asian image as it struggles against the racial discriminations in the United States. In an article published by Time, writer Joel Steinn said, “In an America where the Chinese were still stereotyped as meek house servants and railroad workers, Bruce Lee was… a Clark Kent who didn’t need to change outfits.”

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“I hate love stories.”

On the other hand, being the first Asian to win a Best Director award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival has automatically granted Wong Kar Wai a spot along the bay. Known for the romance of Happy Together, Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, Wong has said in an interview by Time that, ironically, he hated love stories. “They sell prettiness. I don’t do that. There’s more to life than love,” uttered the filmmaker who has given love a different definition in his films.

Another name that has made waves across the globe is Gong Li’s. In an interview by The New York Times, she said, “An actor should not memorize every line but should allow new things to happen. I need a collaboration with the director and other actors, something at the location that allows something else to emerge.” And true enough, working with different directors has earned her numerous prestigious awards including Best Actress at the 49th Venice International Film Festival.

THE AVENUE

The star-studded walk along Victoria Bay has not just acted as a tribute but has also boosted tourism in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong Film Awards Diva.

At the entrance, guests are welcomed by a 4.5-meter giant replica of the Hong Kong Film Awards diva. There is also a bronze statue of McDull, Hong Kong’s most sought-after animated pig. There are also sculptures portraying key people in a film set like a director, a sound man, and a cinematographer. The newest attraction is a monument of Cantopop singer and actress, Anita Mui, who also owns a star along the bay.

At the Symphony of Lights

The Symphony of Lights.

The area also offers a magnificent view of the Victoria Harbour during the day. After sunset, establishments along the bay turn their lights on and dance to the tune of upbeat rhythms at the 13-minute show called the Symphony of Lights.

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Asia has its own talents. Photo by Mai Calapardo.

Hollywood may have been the biggest film outfit but it cannot deny the fact that it doesn’t own all the talent in the world. At the other side of the globe, there exist fine artists pushing for the richest culture and ideologies that Asian cinema can offer.

Missing KL and SG

It had been a year now since I took the multi-cultural photographs of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

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Inside the National Mosque of Malaysia.

As I wrote in the Travel section of the 2015 First Quarter issue of The Electrical Engineer magazine:

On the far corners of a photograph are limestone caves beautifully lit by the rising sun. A towering minaret and the statue of Hindu god, Murugan, compete with Petronas over the horizon. An enormous Buddhist temple oversees Chinatown, where the Merlion statue stands proudly. A jam-packed train passes by, filled with Malays, Indians, Chinese and Muslims braving the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore rush hours.

With its wide range of destinations both for the city-dwellers and the nature-trippers, Malaysia and Singapore are few of those nations which can extract the most multi-cultural photographs out of a traveler’s camera.

Get to know these destinations in a free copy of the magazine in this link:

The Electrical Engineer is the official magazine of the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. My article is at page 24.

I also wrote a different story of that trip here at Baggage Counter. 

That night, while roaming around Kuala Lumpur Chinatown searching for good food, I thought I found another Pinoy when someone shouted “Maganda (Beautiful)”. When I looked around, he was an Indian and offered me some Malaysian souvenirs after confirming that I was a Filipina. These Indians sure knew how to make a Pinay smile.

You can read the full blog post in this link.

Enjoy reading! 🙂

The Red Dot Airline: A Blessing in Disguise

As I am patiently waiting for my next trip, let me share to you once again the series of posts I made during our Palawan trip. I already shared one a few days ago. I now present to you Article 1 of 7.

The Viewfinder

Article 1 of the Palawan Chronicles

Palawan Day 1: Puerto Prinsesa


Sleep. Even on a vacation, I am in need of sleep.

I ended the Christmas Day of 2013 with a nap at 11:30 in the evening. I woke up at 1:00 in the morning of the 26th to prepare for my trip from Bataan to Manila. At 2:00, my uncle brought me and a cousin to the bus terminal. And by 2:30, the bus was driving to the city while everybody was asleep.

And surprisingly, I was able to reach Munoz, Quezon City at 4:00 in the morning. And at 4:30, I safely returned to my apartment in Novaliches.

I packed my bags and by 7:00 I was already on my way to the airport. At 7:45 in the morning, I was battling with myself if the exaggeratedly long line in MRT North Avenue could get me any nearer…

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Hong Kong and the Lost Tripod

Still can’t get enough of Hong Kong? Here is one of my very first blog posts, detailing how my friend’s tripod got lost in our first trip abroad.

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The Magical Disneyland castle.

The Viewfinder

It was the time when one of the major airport terminals in the Philippines was disturbed by a royal rumble between a celebrity couple and a veteran media man.  According to reports, it all started with the unannounced offloading of the couple’s luggage from their overloaded plane.  Still according to  reports, there were also no CCTV cameras installed in the baggage conveyor area of the airport, making it impossible to check on the actual happenings.

Unfortunately, our flight to Hong Kong was booked in the same airline.  But fortunately, we weren’t in the same airport.

It was the wee hours of May 26 when Mai, Jombits, Ami, Sheig and I, arrived at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga.

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Except for Sheig, this was our first trip abroad and we initially did not plan to check-in any baggage as we are in backpack mode, and also to…

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HONG KONG: A Reblog from Hacking Travel Asia

Chi Lin Nunnery, Diamond Hill, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

My Hong Kong travel secrets finally revealed at Hacking Travel Asia. Here is a reblog from their site.

Asia: Korea Vietnam Indonesia Thailand Taiwan Etc

Sheen Irerick Seeckts Shares Insider Secrets of Hong Kong for Expo Printing Co.

Twitter: @SheenSeeckts | https://irerick.wordpress.com/

Blog about this page and Facebook it so people will find it and love you!

Amidst its seemingly-expensive and highly-urbanized streets, Hong Kong also offers a night life fit for tourists on a tight budget.

From four in the afternoon to twelve midnight, Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok, Kowloon is closed to all traffic to give way to the “Ladies’ Market.” The place is a shopping haven not only for ladies but for gentlemen as well. All sorts of items can be found in the area: clothes, accessories, bags, shoes, various souvenirs and even toys. You name it, they have it here.

There are actually a bunch of stores selling the same items so shopping here also means using your Sherlock skills to find the right item and the right bargain for…

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