“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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Japan: Autumn Leaves and Nosebleeds

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Tourist Spots are like Alcohol. The worst ones leave a bad taste and the best ones keep you asking for more. Not that I know much about wine, but for me I’d never think twice about coming to Japan the same way I won’t refuse another glass of Martini.

Unfortunately, the signs didn’t look good even before my trip began. It started with one innocent sneeze while I was still packing my things then soon came that sneeze’s brother, sister, pet dog, and before I knew it was the whole family. I had the feeling that the stars and galaxies conspired that day to align themselves in the sky and jinx my trip.

It’s easy to say it could have been worse…until I forgot to bring my tripod.

As usual, this Japan Trip was primarily business with me just making extra arrangements to stay longer so I can go around. Now that I think of it, having the trip partly business and partly sightseeing painted to me a more complete picture of the Japanese way of life. For three days, me and my colleagues went to this factory to witness a new equipment that our company bought undergo a series of tests. This gave me a chance to see the famous Japanese work ethic which blew me away.

In the factory, there was this guy who manually recorded the test results for us every 5 minutes for the entire day during our 3-day test. In those 3 days, I’ve never seen anyone show such enthusiasm and pride in the face of an obviously boring and repetitive task. I was impressed how this guy never even once faltered as he timely and carefully read each instrument and wrote them down in his paper. And when he is not doing that, he goes to his computer to encode it so he can “Work on other things after the test” as he says. What’s doing the same thing again and again for 3 days anyway? It still doesn’t make someone superhuman but what if that person has been doing that job for 15 years? Now that is something. To be fair, this guy was also in charge of setting up the whole test which entails configuring all the equipments to match the conditions set by customers like us.

I can recall countless other examples demonstrating how the Japanese put so much Passion and Respect in whatever they do. From the lady behind the counter at McDonald’s who greets us with the same lengthy speech every morning to the guy serving us doing his best to explain what is in our Ramen every evening, Japan’s work culture was like everybody else’s work culture shifted to high gear. At some point I remember telling myself how I wish this culture was contagious so I can bring home some of it.

Our booking for this trip was nothing less than a challenge as well. As our main destination was Ritto, Shiga which around 20 minutes from Kyoto, our travel agent must have had the impression that flying us through Tokyo is a good idea since they sound almost the same (Tokyo and Kyoto). Unfortunately they’re far from close so we had to ride the Shinkansen…Unfortunately 

A view aboard the Nozomi Line Shinkansen

A view aboard the Nozomi Line Shinkansen

But of course, I couldn’t just pass through Tokyo without looking around. I managed to squeeze in a few itineraries in the morning the day before our group headed for Kyoto.

The Statue of Hachiko outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo

The Statue of Hachiko outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo

A typical scene in Tokyo's Akihabara District

A typical scene in Tokyo’s Akihabara District

The tree-lined path leading to the Meiji-Jingu Temple

The tree-lined path leading to the Meiji-Jingu Temple

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Barrels of Sake wrapped in straw offered to the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Barrels of Sake wrapped in straw offered to the Meiji Jingu Shrine

The Fornt Gate of the Meiji Jingu Temple

The Fornt Gate of the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Seeing the Shinkansen for the first time stirs up a childish awe far from what you’d feel when you see Europe’s TGV or ICE. With a fuselage resembling Donald Duck, it was like a Disneyland train ride on steroids. However, despite being more technologically advanced, the Shinkansen (Nozomi Line) is slower on the tracks than its Euro counterparts at least for the Tokyo-Kyoto route.

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Let’s leave that statement as it is we don’t want to be talking about System Reliability, Track Design or Motor placement here do we?

On reaching Kyoto Station, I was surprised to see that it was just as hectic perhaps even more than Tokyo Station. Having arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I saw several Japanese ladies in their elegant Kimonos out and about the Station. Later I learned Japanese women wear their Kimonos as men would wear their Tuxedos whenever they attend significant gatherings.

The Internet offers vast amounts of information on what places to see in Kyoto. My bag was literally bursting with brochures and maps I printed out in advance as I tried (sort of) planning my sightseeing itineraries in Kyoto. However with my nose acting up and the cold weather not on my side, I had to trim down my list.

There is no way I am taking Fushimi Inari Taisha off the list and it was the first spot I went to just in case I can’t get enough of it in one day. It was an advantage that I was still adjusting to the new time zone that I always woke up early in Japan. There’s almost nobody around in the temples early in the morning so I didn’t worry about Photo Bombers in my photo and by the time I was done and already leaving, I was Photo Bombing other tourists’ photos.

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I definitely had my fill of Torii Shrines because the place was so full of it. Apparently, the eye-catching orange shrines are donated by Japanese businessmen to pray for wealth to Inari – the God of Rice among other things. Besides the shrines, statues of foxes or kitsune can be seen everywhere. The kitsune are considered as messengers and commonly depicted biting a key to unlock the rice granaries. To simply put it, donate a Torii, be kind to the Kitsune and hopfefully you’ll get yourself a rice granary. Well…something like that.

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Next Stop was the Nijo Castle. To me, the highlights of the castle were its amazing autumn foliage, unbelievably manicured gardens and its inspiring lagoons. Of course, there is the Castle but since they don’t allow photography inside, tourists tend to just breeze through that part and spend most of their time in the gardens. What I remember about the castle interior though is that the wooden floors squeak. According to the guide, these floors are actually called “Nightingale Floors” because they were specifically designed to squeak not in an annoying tone but somewhat resembling birds chirping. It was very convincing especially when groups of people walk on the nightingale floors as the squeaks sound as if a group of birds were playing outside the windows.

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Last on my list was Arashiyama to see the Bamboo Forest. Although it might sound strange to include the Bamboo Forest as part of my itinerary when there’s plenty of it where I came from, this was entirely different. Back home that is Philippine Bamboo, what they have here is Japanese Bamboo get it?

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

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And like I said earlier, being early to places like the Fushimi Inari and the Bamboo Forest makes a big difference because your photos can be easily bombed with tourists. Also, never forget to bring your tripod because cold mornings and low light don’t mix well.

There’s more to Arashiyama than just the Bamboo forest. By midday, the place was buzzing with businesses catering to tourists selling anything from Cakes to Trinkets and even Mushrooms. Rickshaws are also everywhere in Arashiyama and the drivers are friendly too. They do not hesitate to give you a small bow even if you just cross glances.

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The Tenryu-ji Temple grounds are among the best places to enjoy the autumn leaves in Arashiyama. Actually, it was a bit late since it was already the first week of December nevertheless, the leaves were still impressive. The Temple itself and the Sogen Pond are among its highlights and are said to be one of the great examples of Zen Architecture.

Tenryu-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

Tenryu-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

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After the Tenryu-ji Temple, I decided to walk further towards Togetsukyo bridge. Here, Mt. Arashiyama and the Oi River provides a wonderful backdrop for doing just about anything. The road running parallel to Oi River was also lined up with Rickshaws waiting for tourist patrons. Everything seemed to be in order and despite of the volume of tourists, cleanliness was impressively maintained. A Tourist Trap in its negative sense was far from the impression I got of Arashiyama.

My flight home was through Kansai Airport in Osaka so I hurriedly went back to the hotel after finishing Arashiyama to get the rest of my bags. Osaka was not very far from Kyoto so I chose not to ride the Shinkansen. This time I got on the Haruka Express which was a flat nosed train and looked more muscular compared to the Shinkansen. The ride to Kansai Airport was smooth and quiet all throughout. After a short nap, I spent the rest of the trip reviewing the photos I took. It was a proud moment for me as I realized that a few days ago I was only looking at these places on the National Geographic website while now I’ve actually been there and I have my own photo to prove it.

Probably that comforting thought and the Zen Gardens taking effect were the reasons I wasn’t sentimental about leaving this time. But I am definitely coming back.

Who knows?

Cherry Blossoms?

An Unfinished Business – The Makiling Botanical Gardens

It will almost be a year now since I first went to this place and I’ve been wanting to come back ever since. Although this forest is brimming with tales of the supernatural where unsuspecting visitors could wind up lost for days, I managed to come out unscathed. Maybe it was the stories but shooting alone here was nothing less than surreal. It’s not difficult to imagine fairies and ethereal beings appearing in the steps or a windblown sound calling your name coming from the far distance. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience and a true shooting challenge. I remember how the sound of the birds can be heard all over the place when you first arrive and how later on you will forget when everything became silent. Was the forest striking a pose? or was it pondering what to do with us measly outsiders. I was on the edge because of the place’s legend and it won’t take much to throw my thoughts to full blown fear, I had to carry on because I’ve  never been to a place with such mystery.

 

It was only this month that I was able to drag myself and my wife to come back. The last I was here, the river alone consumed most of my time and prevented me from venturing out further than I originally intended. Taking photos along the river was a challenge in itself as you scamper for the best angle you can think of and then there’s the rocks that you have to step on to. There’s also a multitude of opportunities with the insects living on a world of their own. I never would have realized this if not for my wife who’d occassionally sit down to observe them.

Not only did we enjoy taking photos while we were there, we also enjoyed the time just being together and not being bothered by anything. I recall the tranquility of the place seemed to amplify our conversations as if they were echoing in a dream. Some may find it romantic, some may find it eerie but I found it nostalgic.  Although I can’t exactly tell what compels me to come back again and again, it could be the scent of mystery in the air or the thrill of conquering my fears.

…or was it the sound of my name blowing in the wind?

The Makiling Botanical Gardens is approximately an hour and a half drive from Manila.  The Gardens is within the grounds of the University of the Philippines Los Banos and has an entrance fee of Php 20.00.  Legend has it that the Spirit of Mariang Makiling lures outsiders to the depths of the forest confusing them until they lose their direction for days.  The well-known cure for outsiders experiencing this was to remove their clothes and wear them inside-out.

Missing Mycaela

It’s been a while since I last posted. It’s not that it was a dry spell for me between those periods but it was actually the opposite. A couple of long travels here and there and some revisits to old sites and cooking were among the many things that occupied me.

But the truth is… I am suffering from a case of Writer’s Block eversince.

For the past weeks I’ve been trying to get the creative juices flowing but I was unsuccessful. Trying to figure this out, I realized that there was no way I can get the old momentum back with such emotional load inside me. The first phrase that came to my mind was “to unload” but that is not what I really want because no matter how difficult this is for me, I will never give this away because I know the only way memories will remain with me forever is for me to cherish both the smiles and tears that came to our lives.

I was thinking of “sharing the load” perhaps and tell you the story about what happened.

As you may know, me and my wife are married for 8 months now which basically means barely enough time yet for a baby to be arriving. However, my sister who was married 5 months earlier gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a few days after me and my wife were married. For a few days, our honeymoon plans were stalled as I attended to my sister and because we were so excited about the baby. Mycaela Amber or “Plum Plum” as she was called was my first niece and the first grandchild in our family. For me and my wife, we saw Mycaela as if she was ours. It was a very long time ago when our household was once reeking with our childish shrieks and squeals. As me and my sister grew up those noises eventually faded and was replaced with the monotonous of grown-up voices. Everyone had best wishes for Mycaela’s arrival and we were so eager to be with her as she goes through her toddler years.

For 6 months, our family was all about Mycaela. My work schedule became more bearable as I eagerly waited to get back and visit her, my wife who wasn’t a whiz on carrying babies became such an expert as she like my mother and father were guilty of monopolizing playtime with Mycaela.

Conversations once dominated by “what-I-want’s” and “what-I-want-to-do’s” were replaced by “Mykaela-needs…” and Mykaela-must-have’s”. Not so long ago, everytime I go to malls, my eyes were instantly fixed on the latest gadget while now my eyes playfully trailed on stuff toys and trinkets wondering if they will bring a smile on Mycaela. It was amazing to realize how something inoccent as a baby can turn our lives around at the snap of a finger while for years we’ve consistently failed one New Year’s resolution after the other about being more selfless and less materialistic.

I never thought that the words “All good things come to an end” had so much truth in them at that they can happen even in the most unimaginable of circumstances. When it did happen it was so tragic that it felt like our hearts were shattered a thousand times over.

On August 27, 2012 Mycaela the angel that she was made her way back to heaven and left us beyond sadness, struggling to understand that it was God’s will.

Plum Plum knew it wasn’t her time yet to have an ice cream so she pretended having one in her hand.

Plum Plum loved mirrors. She always breaks out a laugh when she sees her reflection.

Here’s PLum PLum with my dad. They bonded well together.

At the back of my mind I felt how this event was so unfair that something as innocent as her deserved this. I was consoled when somebody told me that Mycaela could be having a hard time herself right now letting go of us because she knew she was going to a better place – a much better place than where we are right now.

I was not wrong when I told my sister that Mycaela was a Gift from God because she blessed our lives and changed it more than we could ever imagine. She showed us our Hearts and taught us that it can be broken whoever we are or whatever we have. She taught us Love knows no bounds and that Life is finite.

Most importantly, she thought me that when answers to questions begin to lose meaning and everything else fails…there is Faith.

Plum Plum loved our sofa. Here she was a bit anxious with my wife showing her an iPhone

Finding the “Sense of Place” in Singapore

With some stroke of luck, I was able to get my wife to tag along during my business/vacation trip in Singapore. Me and my wife decided not to schedule other travels this month since the rainy season has already started and because we wanted to prepare very much for Singapore. From the countless stories we’ve heard from friends and relatives, we were convinced we could face some steep spending there so we thought our wallets and credit limits could use some rest and make sure they are in the best shape when we trot around the Lion City.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel practicing the Light and Sounds Show for the coming Independence Day celebration

Indeed, Singapore was brimming with sights and things to do and to say that it is one great travel destination is an understatement and something sort of like re-inventing the wheel. We know a lot of friends that have gone to Singapore telling tales of the wonderful locations they went to and the irresistible shopping deals they came across with and that helped us to realize that we didn’t want the stereotypical Singapore Trip but instead we wanted the well-rounded experience – we wanted to find the “Sense of Place” in Singapore.

The countless choices of places to go and things to try out will totally disorient anyone upon setting foot in Singapore City. In our case, we found it best to really identify first what we wanted – a gameplan of sort and work our itineraries according to that. Without any debate, me and my wife agreed that we prioritize the “Cultural” rather than the “Urban” Singapore experience. We thought that it’s the fusion of different cultures that makes Singapore the unique and vibrant city that it is and we were not disappointed going down that route.

The three major cultural groups in Singapore are comprised of the Chinese, Indians(Tamils) and the Malays. Although Filipinos are scattered everywhere like we always are anyway, we didn’t make it along with the big three. We chose to visit first the destinations representing these cultural groups and if we are lucky to have time to spare, we can go on and see the Urban sights of Singapore.

Fortunately, Singapore’s public transport system is well designed and very practical that there is no landmark that you cannot reach without any or the combination of the MRT or the Public Bus. In Singapore, unless you are the anti-social type or have money to spend you can forget about the Taxi. When me and my wife figured out how to go about the city hopping in and out of the different MRT lines, there was no stopping us where to go next.

Having booked our accommodation at a hotel in Little India, we decided to explore this side of Singapore first. Our first stop was the Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple that is not very difficult to miss with its colourful and intricately carved murals covering the temple domes. Nearly reluctant to enter the temple premises and just contenting ourselves to admiring the temple from across the street, we finally went in when we found others tourists entering the temple without any problems. Yes, shutterbugs we may be but being a place of worship, we were very careful not to upset the locals. Ironically, when we entered the temples we even found a small group conducting a photography walk inside the grounds.

The locals were generally shy and it was difficult to chance upon worshippers praying in front of their Gods as they tend to finish their prayers quickly when they know somebody was shooting at them. After several attempts I felt not to disrupt the locals any further and just leave them do their prayers peacefully.

Time passed by quickly in the temple and after some Street Photography along Serangoon Road the next thing we knew was that it was already dark. We detoured from Little India and decided to take dinner first and since most of Little India’s temple won’t be any good in the dark, we went to Marina Bay afterwards.

The Marina Bay Sands hotel did not disappoint as we nearly drained our camera batteries shooting long exposure shots of the bay and the Hotel from every angle imaginable. Minus the view, the Marina Bayfront at night is not far from what you’d see in the Philippines. Every now and then you’d see some love-struck couples lost in their bubble, some anonymous guy snoozing away in one of the benches and some avid health buff going for a night run. The nightscape around the bay was just spectacular that after having our fill of the Marina Bay Sand Hotel we walked further hoping to get closer to the gleaming Fullerton Hotel and the Singapore Omni-Theatre, Esplanade Theatre (which looks like a thousand miniature Sydney Opera Houses by the way) and the famous Merlion Statue. Unfortunately, we found that the Merlion Statue was under makeover and was covered with tarpaulins and scaffolds. We were a bit disappointed having to miss this iconic landmark in our trip but as a consolation, we stumbled on another Merlion statue in our second-to-the-last day in Singapore at Sentosa Island although this one didn’t spit out water but looked like it wanted to munch on tree leaves.

We headed off for Chinatown the following day looking for the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple which was packed with visitors and locals when we arrived. Later, we found out that some kind of religious convention was happening on that day which was very fortunate for us as numbers of monks in orange robes and maroon sashes flooded the place. I realized this was were the monks we’re seeing in the MRT were going to.

Besides monks some devout local parishioners (I believe) were in their black robes and participating in the event as well. Not really understanding what’s going on, I think they were chanting a repeating prayer in unison something similar to how Catholics would pray the Rosary. Despite of the event, tourists were still everywhere and like us admiring the whole celebration at the same time discreetly taking photos inside the temple.

Right there, it was easy to realize the many obvious as well as quirky differences between the Hindu and the Chinese Temples. But in any case they all deserve respect and that’s what we tried as much to do.

After the Temple, it was the bustling Chinatown Street which we had to tread on midday. Too bad, the red Chinese lanterns dotted on the streets would have been a pretty sight in the evening. But anyway, It was an interesting walk still as you find out stores selling nothing but Hello Kitty stuff, antique shops selling “rare” stones, curiosity shops where you can get your name engraved on a grain of rice, even an authentic Tin Tin store and of course – Chili Crab restaurants.

Me and my wife didn’t get to try even a tiny bit of Chili Crab in Singapore first was because we just recently ate crabs before coming to Singapore and next was I didn’t want to be bothered by high blood pressure during this trip. Yes, spoil sport I admit but I’ve tasted quite a lot of Chili Crabs in the Philippines and impressive as its reputation might be, I was pretty sure the Chili Crabs in Singapore at most will just be a close permutation of the ones I already tasted. Besides, we had to be on the go and had a lot to cover.

some Temple at the peaceful Chinese Garden

Another scene at the Chinese Garden

Don’t worry, just because we didn’t have the appetite for Chilli Crabs on this trip doesn’t mean we didn’t splurged on food. I’ll be preparing a separate blog for our food escapades. Hint: I left for Singapore 73kg and returned to Philippines 76 kg.

The next day our stop was the Malay Heritage Town. Of the two previous cultural districts we’ve been, the Malay district was the most quiet and orderly to be honest. But unlike the two, the Malay Heritage Town had fewer landmarks but some construction going particularly on the Malay Heritage Centre and the Arab Street tell that they are not left out by the government and will soon be bustling with visitors.

The Sultan Mosque was the most prominent and imposing landmark upon reaching the heart of the Malay District. The golden dome and the artwork surrounding the temple windows unmistakably reflect the Muslim heritage of the place. Together with the clothing styles of the locals in the area gives you the impression that you are in a totally different place.

Sultan Mosque

Since getting to Singapore, I’ve been admiring the meticulously adorned windows and verandas on old houses. I’ve read before that the government exercises an active role in preserving these old houses despite allowing them to be opened for businesses. Even signboards, I learned have controlled dimensions to promote the visual appeal of the old houses. This is one among many things our country can pick up particularly the current situation in Batanes where the old heritage houses are steadily becoming outnumbered by more updated houses. How I wish I could have gone up to one of the windows of these houses to see up close the details.

The subsequent days had our sightseeing mellow down as I went on to attend my original purpose of travel to Singapore which was to attend a Training Course. My wife had to continue with the sightseeing by herself which led her to the Singapore Botanical Gardens and back to Chinatown to buy some trinkets to give away when we go home.

A Gazebo at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Old Hill Street Police Station was converted to an eye-catching Art Building

inside Fort Canning Park

We felt we’ve seen the major landmarks representing each of the Cultural groups in Singapore and decided we can set aside our final day in Singapore in Sentosa Island. But before going to that, we had to drop by the Gardens by the Bay which just recently opened a few days ago.

Coming out of the Bayfront Station, we saw the “Supertrees” ominously standing up from beyond the Dragonfly Lake. It was still a few minutes past sundown so the sky still had some bluish hue on it and the Supertrees were not yet fully lit not making for a very interesting scene. We decided to enter the gardens through the Dragonfly Bridge and made our way to the Supertree Grove. By that time it was already dark and it was the Supertrees time to shine.

Nothing like we’ve seen before or even heard of, the carefully designed fusion of metal, lights and vegetation really lived up to its hype and probably more. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the backdrop also added an extra punch to the already stunning view. Right there it was time to set-up tripods and we contented ourselves with long exposure shots. By the time we were finished shooting, the ticket booth that allows you to go up the bridge joining the Supertrees was already closed but the awe went on as the light show which they call as OCBC Garden Rhapsody started . Soon we realized our vantage point from one of the benches was not bad after all.

We had our dinner at the Peach Garden Noodle House which served the best tasting and most enticingly plated Hor Fun I had so far. After that, it was time to head back to Little India for a well deserved rest.

We were down to our last full day in Singapore and surprisingly our energy levels were still high. Not minding the sore foot from all the walking we did or the disturbingly bloated feeling from the eating binges, we headed on to the Harbourfront Station to make our way to Sentosa Island.

It was raining heavily when we arrived at the Harbourfront and we had to spent around an hour strolling around the station Mall before starting to look for the Cable Car Station. It was very hot and humid totally unnatural considering it just stopped raining but we managed to find the Cable Car station and were soon headed to Sentosa Island. The cable car had an Angry Birds theme at that time and was very apparent with all the stickers and advertisements plus the large Angry Bird stuff toy passengers can cuddle.

This time, we did not have any particular destination in mind so we just let our legs decide where to go. Eventually, we reached the Merlion Plaza where we saw a gigantic statue of the Merlion. I thought it was a fair enough consolation for missing the original Merlion at the Marina Bay. Next stop was the Resorts World Sentosa where the well-known Universal Studios is located and the Maritime Experiential Museum.

This innocent looking area is a treasure trove of gastronomic proportions. All of the famous hawker stalls in Malaysia are represented inside this foodcourt presenting endless choices of authentic Malaysian and Fusion cuisine.

Again, time went by so fast and soon it was sundown. We would have gone to see Siloso Point and the beaches but our old friends who live now in Singapore began texting starting to look for us. It was a great experience to say the least and it was true that one day is not enough in Sentosa Island.

Our final day in Singapore finally arrived and we strangely find ourselves less cheerful than in the other places we’ve been to. We thought it was clearly a reflection of what we felt and that is wanting to stay longer. We were like kids let out of the playpen arriving in Singapore and we did enjoy every moment of it. This time pulling the plug was not as easy as Puerto Princesa or as waving goodbye to Paris. Singapore was different and diverse but it was easy to be accustomed with.

It was like nursing a hangover returning to the Philippines looking at the skyscrapers and wishing they could be a bit brighter and the skyline a little more exciting. But this is where I live and this is where I belong. I shouldn’t be hung-up with wanting to stay in another country but I should be proud to be able to get there and back to tell the story.

But what makes me prouder?

After some haggling with the taxi driver and as we spiralled down the interchange, Traffic greets us. Taxi driver responds sounding off his horn in succession, Jeepney cuts us from the right, Motorcycles on the left, peddlers on the sidewalk and pedestrians everywhere.

I knew I was right where I should be…I was home.

“Beep beep beep beep
Dadalhin ko kayo kahit saan
Beep beep beep beep
Dalian n’yo, hindi pa ‘ko nananghalian” – Juan dela Cruz Band

Life in Mono and Random Thoughts

Color is among those things in our lives that is easily taken for granted. Its significance is often lost as our attention is drawn towards its superficial qualities rather than its very essence. Color – its abundance or lack of it are like Apples and Oranges and are entirely worlds apart.

Recently, I was rummaging through the photos I’ve collected and I was surpised how some photos I used to ignore suddenly unfolded with different character when they were converted to monochrome. I was surprised how turning to monochrome allowed me to see the others things that were going on in the photos. When I first captured these photos I felt that there was something about the scene but I just wasn’t able to figure out what it was. With too much information, I was easily overwhelmed and failed to realize the beautiful converge and divergence of lines, emotion and most importantly context.

This brings me into thinking how life is for people who are color blind. Are they less fortunate or is it us? Do they get to stop and smell the roses while we remain lost and amiss from too much stimuli around us? Or maybe it shouldn’t be thought of as a disadvantage in the first place. Life in Color or without may never be a question of reality as I’ve always thought that for us individuals, Reality is relative because reality is what we see and interpret through our senses which can never be identical. Similar but still not identical.


“I find hope in the darkest of days, focus on the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”
– Dalai Lama

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