Saturday, December 29, 2007

After about a month in Bangkok, and on our final day (this was about a week ago, before leaving for Koh Chang), I finally found the time to get to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

I made the decision to go at about 5 a.m. when I had finished work that morning so, I read a little, grabbed some early breakfast and headed out to explore. I knew I wouldn't get to see it if I didn't go then, so sleep seemed to be even less of a priority than usual.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to devote as much attention as I would have liked to it as my phone kept ringing and ringing and ringing, but still, it was better than not going at all.

This shot is a perfect example of me thinking in desktops/wallpapers when out shooting. However, I am particularly fond of this one because it wasn't until I made it my wallpaper that I realized that the design was a peacock.

Fortunately, my eye is a little sharper than my brain, so I framed it just as I would have had I realized it was a bird.... and despite my childhood traumas with peacocks, I love this shot.

Need a hand little guy?

One of the two Golden Phra Chedis (or pagodas) at Wat Phra Kaew, constructed during King Rama I's reign.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Since there will be a lull in interesting subject matter for the next few days and I've been stuck on the ship for the previous few days, I thought I would give my monthly Linda check-up with what I wouldn't really consider interesting as so much funny.

So, not only was this one of the most fun productions of my career, but it's also rather entertaining to anyone who knows the girl pictured - jeans, t-shirts, flip-flops and an ipod full of rock'n'roll are a must 98% of the time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So aside from being a funny picture (to me), this sign was the start of a great little adventure.

So there we were on the Bangkok Skytrain filming a "day in the life of" segment, which involves following a model for a day. When we cut the scene and had not yet arrived at the destination, Annabelle and I had a seat and started to chat about our next mode of transportation to get us to the casting (with the help of our one and only map).

Right before we arrived at our stop, I spotted this sign out of the corner of my eye and needed to snap a shot. Successfully doing so, I was quite relieved when I realized the skytrain's doors had not closed quite yet... that is, until I dropped my lens cap.

And you guessed it, as I went to pick it up, the doors slammed shut and I was on my way to the next stop - without a crew, without a map, without a phone (it had been given to another production team), and only 100 baht (about $3.00).

And I didn't really care. The prospect of finding the casting in the middle of Bangkok without any of the necessary tools seemed like a good time.

After an hour of "lost in translation" moments and a few motorbike rides, I finally made it back to the team. I mean, I was on a mission.

There's obviously a longer version of this story, but this is a bit of why this picture is absolutely unforgettable.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Meh, not a bad place to hang out.

(Koh Lao Ya, Thailand)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What would you do if you were invited to the King of Thailand's 80th birthday celebration?

Well, go, obviously.

All kidding aside, this was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Thousands, I mean thousands of people, singing as one nation by the glow of yellow candlelight.

The best part? We had front row seats to this once-in-a-lifetime event. Literally, once in a lifetime. Because Buddha passed away at 80, the King's 80th is treated in a different manner than all past and future birthdays. Not only was it a bigger event, but everything in the vicinity of the Grand Palace was lit with white light. Beautiful.

As a final note for the blog, I would like to say that the devotion to this one man is unreal. You see it on the street everyday, but it just doesn't hit you until you see what I saw on the 5th.

Or until you get thrown in jail or deported for speaking ill of the King, whichever comes first.

All the little dots in the background are the candles lit on the stage.

Since I wasn't getting answers from anyone (including the internet) about the appropriate dress code for the King's birthday, I just wore the one and only dress I have with me, which is black, and borrowed a wrap from one of the models in case bare shoulders were not appropriate. As it turns out, the shoulders were fine, but it was the black that was somewhat inappropriate. As the color of Monday in Buddhism, yellow is very important because the King was born on a Monday. Black, as you may have guessed, is the color of death.

Yeah, I know. I felt like an idiot for about 30 seconds, particularly when standing on stage in front of an entire Thai nation clad in yellow, that is until I started speaking with the woman pictured.

She told me that the King said, "It isn't the color you are wearing, but it's what's in your heart that counts."

Cliche perhaps, but it made this little Westerner feel much better about her ignorant wardrobe selection.

Sawatdee ka, little Miss.

One of the most incredible evenings of my life.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Haha. Thailand's version of um, snowmen...

I don't even know what to say.

I think the one has rolls for buttons.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I love when eyes match water. Ivanina, my beautiful Bulgarian friend, was just perfect for this shoot.

Believe it or not, the background is the evening sky in Pattaya, Thailand. This shoot was for another FTV collection.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This shot is of one of our lanterns for the full-moon party we had in Koh Phangan, Thailand, which, by the way, was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Thousands of people on the beach, mostly hippies and backpackers, specifically coming to Koh Phangan every month for this one party. But hey, congrats to all those hippies - they've effortlessly earned the reputation of keeping the world's biggest full-moon party alive.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I like to call this shot:

"Hello Pittsburgh!

- With love from Thailand."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I did a catalog shoot for FTV the other day and I figured I'd post a picture of my work for once and not just my play.

It may not seem like it, but I do actually work ... a lot.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Initially, shooting huge ship parties seemed lame and redundant to me, but worth a trip around the world. Now, I realize that there really couldn't be a funnier job. As the night goes on, you can convince people to do almost anything, so all I need to do is compose it in a cool way and then I have something different annnnd funny. I haven't quite figured that one out yet, but there is certainly not a party shortage on this damn boat, so I think I'll be ok.

Part of the team at the party last Friday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

For all of you who I told I would be in Saigon until Friday, I lied, I'm sorry and I'm now in Thailand - Bangkok to be exact.

Did you know that Bangkok is just a take on an abbreviated form of Bangkok's formal name? Well, it is and if you can say it, I'll give you a prize: Krungthep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahadikok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

annnd it means: "The city of angels, great city, residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn."


(Shot taken as the ship cruised down the Chao Phraya River)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This. was. a. good. bowl. of. soup. Even better, it has a fantastic history.

It may look like your average Pho Bo, but this bowl comes from Pho Binh (or Yendo Cho), the secret headquarters of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Even the soup shop's waitstaff was made up of VC infiltrators.

At 8:00 p.m. on New Years Day in 1968, on the 2nd floor of this building, central command gave orders to attack all southern cities - hello, Tet Offensive.

Since I was eating on the ground floor (shown below) and wasn't seeing any stairs, I asked the waitress if it was possible to see the infamous room. She asked me to wait for a bit, then lead me through the kitchen and up a dark and narrow staircase. I entered P5 only to experience a bit of historical shock. I'm a history major, I couldn't help it.

I have a ton of pictures, but it really wouldn't do that feeling justice. It's a strange feeling too, because this was 100% from the enemy perspective. Or maybe it just had to do with the sheer magnitude of that offensive and how it altered the war. Very weird feeling.

P.S. - this shop is by no means in the tourist area. I was the only foreigner in this place.

Oh and later that day I almost got myself killed in the War Remnants Museum. I'llllll just leave it at that.

A drive-in? Pho on the go! Haha, it's late here, ok?

I really have no idea what this woman was doing driving her motorbike in the shop. The break light was a good sign.

After fighting with the cab driver (who spoke about 3 syllables of English) for about 20 minutes, I finally made my way away from the heart of the city and into the more, let's say, "local" side of Saigon on foot and again, it started to pour. I was being way too Western when I thought that I would find my truly Vietnamese coffee accompanied by a newspaper and a decently comfortable chair in a dry environment.

The above photo was the result of my 10-minute walking survey, asking where to find the best cup of coffee. I learned, as well, that you need to specify "Vietnamese" or you will be sent to Gloria Jean's.

This woman is known in her area for her coffee and I was almost surprised to have her beckon me out of the rain, as she pulled up a plastic stool (about a foot high) next to her. She also spoke very little English, but I was quite happy to just sit and watch both her and the rain. Condensed milk is the Vietnamese way, so I asked no questions and went with it, even though I never take my coffee sweet. I did ask to taste the coffee before she poured it on top of the milk, just to make sure it was as rich and tasty as I had heard. I'm still wondering why they cut that nice, smooth flavor with that sweet, thick crap. Different tastes, I suppose.

I really wish she would have spoken English, or me, more Vietnamese. Actually, no, I've decided Vietnamese is one language I will never even attempt. The accent is in no way appealing to my ears, so much that it's the 2nd reason I couldn't live in Vietnam. The 1st being the simple fact that I'm not really down with Communism, contrary to what my SpeechComm class of last semester might believe.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Saigon night - out of focus and over-exposed. Artsy, huh?

Hey, I needed to do something cool Friday night. Huge fashion show and party on the ship. Not really my scene, but if it let's me travel the world, fine with me. Besides, my wish came true and someone fell in the pool. Haha, and then jumped back in again and proceeded to be dragged out by Vietnamese police officers. Funny, funny, funny.

Not too shortly after that another of my wishes came true. Six more days in Saigon! More war museums for me!

Anyway, Saturday day was mostly work, but then at night I headed out with the production guys to grab a bite and some dessert. I, of course, had my lil itinerary (and in a quietly pushy way) suggested that we head to Madame Ngoc's Com Nieu Saigon.

I was with a crowd that generally prefers the high-class, white-table cloth kind of place, so when we arrived, they were a little less than thrilled. I was just hoping I was going to see some rice tossed across the room - oh yeah, com nieu is crispy Vietnamese rice prepared in clay pots which are then broken and tossed across the room from waiter to waiter.

Unfortunately the lighting was crappy, so there really wasn't much I could do about pictures, but on the bright side, we did eat frog. The eye fell out on my plate. Haha, no, I didn't eat it. Thought about it though.

Next, we wandered about in District 3 for a bit trying to find a dessert place. These boys have figured out pretty fast that giving me dessert is always a good thing. We stumbled upon the MGM Cafe, one of the biggest cafe/nightclubs in Saigon (I don't understand the cafe/nightclub concept, but whatever) and ended up ordering ice cream. I had the 3-scoop special of taro, durian and rum. Taro (ube in the Philippines) has become one of my favorite flavors. I've only seen it in chip form in the States, but it's everywhere in the Philippines. Durian, also a fruit I became more familiar with in the Philippines, is definitely not my favorite taste or smell, but it was supposed to be a specialty ice cream flavor in Vietnam (you could smell this ice cream coming, so much that I was almost impressed at the fruit's ability to hold it's smell) so I had to try it. By the way, the actual fruit has the consistency of brie. A fruit that is like cheese? Food for thought or thought for food?

And well, rum is rum, though I did expect the alcohol to be boiled out, but c'est la vie.

After our moderate experience at MGM (no relation to the lion), the boys hit the clubs and I went home. I wanted to get up early to go out and get a Vietnamese coffee and a newspaper.

(Photo: view of Saigon from the ship, if that wasn't obvious, which it may not have been.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hi Mom, still alive, don't worry.

After finishing a photo shoot in the rain, we were all playing around in some traditional Vietnamese clothes. It's kinda fun to be surrounded by people who know how to play with cameras ... so my mom will finally stop asking me what I look like now.

As if I've changed since I was 4. See, even look at the profile picture - still the same since I left - almost identical even.

and yes, I know I am wearing 2 hats.

First of all, before I get on with all the Saigon info, I'd just like to say that before I left Cebu, I got my hair cut ... for about 110 pesos ($2.20)... by a flaming homosexual named Mr. Bunny ... and it was the best haircut I've ever had.

Ok so anyway, we are still in Saigon and aside from the computer work I've had to do I've been out and about exploring. My responsibilities with the network have grown to producer as well, so I have a bit more on my plate than I had anticipated, but hey I work best that way.

The first day we got here, Eddy and I went out to grab dinner at a Vietnamese place. The food was pretty good, but the more notable experience was getting there. From the port, we were greeted by gads and gads of Vietnamese motorcycle drivers, wanting to take us around. I looked over at Eddy with a "hey, let's go" smile to see his wide-eyed "I've never done this before, are you crazy?" grimace in return.

Obviously we ended up on the bikes and I could hear his charming Romanian accent scream, "I weel keel you!" from about 20 meters behind me. It was raining decently hard and we only had one umbrella (no slickers either), so I let my Romanian friend have it. When we got to the restaurant, I was drenched, but it was worth every minute.

Yesterday I headed out to do my location scouting with part of the team and was again greeted by the motorcycle flock. This time we wanted to get lost on foot, but our friends really didn't understand that. Three of them followed us for close to 40 blocks, picking up new friends every time I stopped to pull out my map (Yes, I put together a location package of where to shoot, eat, hang out, visit, etc. I often question myself if I'm more of a travel agent or more of a producer - but no matter, I like that job too). Finally, when confronting one of these guys for the last time, Cholo had to pull me back as I was getting more and more angry with my requests of "Please Stop! We would like to walk!".

Now for my highlight of the day: We enter a currency exchange, my two Filipino friends pull out US dollars and I pull out Philippine pesos.

"Guys, where did you get that?"
"Oh, we brought it from home."

I haven't had USD for 3 months. What the hell. The Vietnamese teller looked rather confused as well.

However, the woman shown above was definitely not confused. She lured me into her trap of freshly made Vietnamese waffles pretty easily. All it took was the aroma and a smile. These food vendors can usually see it in my eyes if I'm going to buy and she was no exception. Besides, she was really sweet so who cares if I spent 30,000 VND - same as I spent for some handmade porcelain bracelets (about $2.00) - for a bag of these freshly made delights. Though I couldn't understand the Vietnamese name for them, I did make out that they are made of coconut milk and rice flour. Also, I was very happy to find out that they get better as they get older - a much better crunch.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wednesday night:

"Hey Al -"
"Yes, Dwight -"
"You know how to edit on FCP?
"Want to go around the world on a yacht?"

Friday night: Left Cebu with one bag, a back pack and my baby for Hong Kong.

Saturday morning/afternoon: Ran around Hong Kong, tried to order a waffle and a fresh carrot juice at a stand on the street (no luck, workers spoke 0 English, but fell in love with Daifuku instead -proceeded to buy most every flavor), went on a quest to find my favorite Japanese shampoo/conditioner I had found in Malibu once (success!).

Saturday evening: Departed Hong Kong by yacht for Saigon (Formally Ho Chi Minh City, but Saigon is used as well).

Saturday night-now: swaying away en route to Vietnam, trying to keep myself and my computer from tipping over and I'll have you know that the computer has been doing a far better job than this girl. Every time the boat hits a bad gust of wind, I feel like Mrs. Banks during Admiral Boom's daily cannon-firing (Mary Poppins, kids, come on).

Now that we're all caught up with the past few days, here's the sitch: I've temporarily waived my contract with the production company in Cebu to work for a partner fashion network as their journalist/photojournalist (who sometimes edits when needed) on a yacht that goes around the world. I signed on to be an editor for the network, but as it turns out, they needed both a journalist and a photographer on staff and heeyyyy, guess what, three for the price of one! Not a bad deal for them and not a bad gig for me.

Prior to leaving, with the yacht anchored in Victoria Harbor, the production team decided to hang and have a few drinks out on the deck Friday night. It was a great moment to really look around and be thankful. I glanced toward the city and was awestruck - by past, present and future. I know Compton, I'm lame and I'll "go eat rice." I know, I know.

We should arrive in Saigon tomorrow night, but for now, POSTS!

(Photo: sunset on Saturday as we depart)

Friday, November 02, 2007

I saved one of my favorite pictures for last. This was taken in Dapa where I was surrounded by little kids asking about my home, my appearance, my relationships, you name it. I decided to capitalize on the interrogation by snapping off a few shots and I was quite happy with them.

I'm also going to back track allllll the way to the beginning. Wanna know how I got this gig? By hanging out at the coolest place in Cebu.

When I arrived here, I was on a mission to find the original music scene. Without much luck for the first few weeks, I finally stumbled upon "Outpost". Outpost is an old house, converted into a bar/restaurant with live local and national acts most days of the week.

Outpost was started by a bunch of guys who also happened to start an outdoor equipment company called Habagat. The vibe is so chill, with indoor and outdoor seating, great food and awesome people. Naturally, since I found it, I've been there at least once every week. When you're at a joint that much, you kinda get to know the owners, or at least a few of them.

On a Friday night, about a week before the race, Randy came up to us and asked if we'd like to cover Carrera Habagat. A week of camping and running around on some islands sounded perfect to me.

We bought our tickets and headed to Surigao with the rest of the Habagat guys. Ahead of the race by two days, Randy and co. had booked a pension house for us to stay in.

Wait, wait... this is another good visual for you guys:

A single pension house room, only 4 actual beds with at least 4 mattresses on the floor. Me plus a roomful of mountain guys ranging in age from 26 to I don't know, 50ish?

Haha, I loved it. The guys spent a majority of time making fun of me because I didn't understand their jokes. A lot of the time, jokes translated from Visayan into English lose their punch in the punchline - so when the line is delivered, I generally just stare back. It either makes no sense or just isn't funny. However, I then became the joke, so that was ok - haha. Very cool group of guys.

Oh and they also managed to snore quite harmoniously- I would imagine it takes either great skill or very close friendship to produce that symphonic of a sound.

From Borgus, we proceeded to General Luna, the finish line of the race. I can honestly say that going on this week-long excursion was one of the best decisions I've ever made - right up there with switching into Steve Manuel's photo class junior year and moving to the Philippines.

The final night was a giant celebration, with Buzzy cooking fresh cuddle fish, octopus and pretty much anything that he could get straight from the sea.

We stayed one more day in Siargao, biking and hiking before we were slated to head back to Surigao on a ferry.

When we got back to Surigao the next day, we had about 7 hours before our overnight ferry back to Cebu. Luckily, one of the guys we were traveling with happened to be a tour guide in Surigao sooo I finally found what I was looking for: the local delicacy.

Called Sayongsong, it is a sweet treat made of finely ground rice, sugar, coconut milk, oil annd some other things that I couldn't quite make out. The consistency is somewhere in between bread dough and pie dough and best eaten hot - straight out of the steamer (we were lucky enough to catch a fresh batch). As you can see, the banana leaf is kinda like a cupcake paper, but if you let it sit a bit, you get a hint of the leaf, which is a nice touch.

Only 5 pesos a piece - about 10 cents. So if you know me, you would know that if the price is right and it's delicious, you can count on some coming home with me.

We walked about Surigao for the remainder of the day and finally boarded the ferry. Our cots were awesome. We reserved cots right next to the captain's quarters, out in the open air. The sea was calm and the night was spent jamming out on our private deck, as we were traveling with a band from Cebu.

I was sitting on the edge of the deck, watching the ferry push water out from under the boat, enjoying the hum and vibration of the engine along with the music. Out of nowhere, dolphins came popping out of the water, criss-crossing back and forth underneath. I've seen dolphins before, but never lit by the moon. This is lame, but I wouldn't trade that sort of serenity for anything.

Our next destination was Borgus, more-or-less a breaking check point in the race. This CP was the rappel site, located on a cliff above the sea. We ended up staying at this point for two days, traveling by night to get there. It was a nice hour ride on the back of the bike, with me just starring at the stars as we flew by. Aside from the noise of the bike, it was the kind of silence that only a certain mindset truly appreciates. That was one of the first times I grew curious about lives at home.

In any case, the first overnight was spent on that cliff above the sea, in a non-waterproof sleeping bag, sleeping with one tarp above us (set up on sticks) and one below annnd guess what ... it frickin' poured. Now I can, with confidence, say that I've slept in a large puddle. I mean what was I supposed to do, but go back to sleep? There was absolutely nothing I could do.

When I awoke, I was obviously drenched and in desperate need of a shower. Luckily, there was a missionary aways down the road that came up to offer us just that. This missionary is unlike any I've ever heard of, as it was started by some surfers that wanted to do things in addition to surfing and partying.

Not only did they provide us with fresh coffee and fresh water, but they let us borrow some of their surf boards. By the way, Siargao, the island we were on is the surfing capital of the Philippines, hosting at least two international surfing competitions at its increasingly more famous break, Cloud 9.

We took the whole morning to surf with the rationale that by the time we were done, we could catch the tail of the race to photograph the stragglers. Good plan, right?

The second night, we slept on the beach. Not a soul around with the light of the CP shining in the distance.

Back to the pic: I love fresh coconuts. A nice young fellow climbed alllll the way to the top of a coconut tree situated on the cliff to pick one for me. Such a refreshing snack. I think I had about 7 coconuts over the duration of the trip.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Riding the motorcycles to a small town north of Dapa, we arrived at about sunset. We were ahead of the race by a few kilometers, so we stopped to check out the town, heading straight to the horizon line on the water to catch the sun's descent.

When we got there, there was a massive group of kids jumping off the pier, making for the perfect photo opportunity. Though I tried to persuade them to do back-tucks right in front of the sun, to get the cleanest silhouette, the kids grew shy.

Still, this shot will do.

Since each member of the media was not following a specific team, coverage of the race got a little tricky in the last two days. The idea is that the teams have to navigate any-which-way through all terrain in order to get to the end, so naturally they split up. This point hit in Dapa, where we had motorcycles + drivers waiting for us that would stay with us until the finish line - anywhere we wanted to go.

Soo yes, we rode motorcycles through the little towns and jungles of Siargao in attempt to cover all of the teams. Shooting from a motorcycle isn't exactly the easiest thing to do at first, because sitting backwards can be a bit of a challenge. You've got to have all your settings fixed prior to crossing yourself (haha, just kidding) and shooting.

The eyes say it all.

Don't know - I just like it.

Coconuts drying on the dock in a town on Bucas Grande. This experience was particularly funny because though I've gotten used to people staring at me, I haven't grown accustomed to being followed by crowds of people. I couldn't even get shots of the racers on this dock because there were too many people surrounding me. I felt like the pied piper* to some degree, but it's rather interesting to be such a temporary novelty.

*Uh yeah, it was brought to my attention that I'm an idiot and had another cheerleader moment. See comment for further details.

"I told you not to go, you go, look at!"

Let's set this scene: 8 p.m., about 8 of us sitting in a banca outside the mouth of Sohuton Cave. All you could hear were the night creatures and the jokes of my lovely Filipino crew.

We had a great time sitting in the water, waiting to film each team pass into the cave. Such funny guys, and yes, I was the only girl. Loved it, of course.

The teams were unaware that the current coming from the cave was pretty strong, so they had a little bit of trouble entering the cave. When all the teams had passed, we finally got to go in annnnnd it was awesome. Water caves at night are sweet.

In this shot, Bordie (camera guy) just looked so pensive and professional that I couldn't resist the angle. He ended up really appreciating the shot too, which made me happy.

The quote from above was kinda the theme of all the teams getting stuck outside the cave. That is the direct English translation of the Visayan "I told you so" phrase.

It fits quite well into my everyday speech.

Bancas to Sohuton Cave on Bucas Grande.

Earlier in the day, we had some time to swim about in the perfectly serene alcove, surrounded by beautifully lush mountains. The water was so inviting, that nothing was going to prevent me from going swimming. Jurgen let me borrow his mask and snorkel, as I was an idiot and had forgotten mine. It made for a delightful afternoon.

Yes kids, this is work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Haha. This chicken definitely did not make it across the road.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm already out of order, but that's ok. Since we came over from Cebu with the Habagat guys, we were in Surigao three days before the race - plenty of time to buy our provisions for the week to come.

I just assumed I was headed to a normal, small grocery store to pick up my crackers, water and canned goods, but when I arrived this was the outrageous scene I saw. Initially, I thought that these baskets were extraneous items, you know, "in case" you forgot something while in the aisles, but I was informed, however, that the baskets belonged to one person per line.

What?!? My parents don't even buy that much at Costco!

In any case, the amount of goods being purchased was mind-blowing, but with good reason: Many of these people come from smaller towns and islands around Surigao and visit the "big city" to buy their monthly stocks- be it for personal use or to resell in their stores.

My lens wasn't wide enough to capture the insanity of this store, nor was there space to move back, but I needed to do something while I waited with my few items in the back of one of these lines.

Nice visual, huh?

The first leg of the 4-day adventure race was a 70 km bike to Hayanggabon, a small coastal town east of Surigao. Though the heavy rain made for a messy ride, and was really not in the media's favor, it was a much appreciated break from the hot, humid air.

Of course, I rigged up my trusty camera rain gear - masking tape and a variety of plastic bags. I think I have this down to a science now.

The starting line of Carrera Habagat in Surigao City, located on the northern tip of Mindinao.

Full coverage of the past week is probably going to take me some time. Not only is there a lot of information, but I think my internet is mad at me for abandoning it for a week and not missing it at all. I will try to keep everything in chronological order as much as I can, but that's not a promise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I really don't think I could have asked for a better set-up if I had drafted my contract myself. When there are projects in production, I shoot. When there are no projects to shoot, I work in sound.

Lately, most of my time has been spent on the Foley stage working with Mr. Greg Curda. (For anyone unaware, Foley is art of re-creating natural sound effects for films in post-production.)

Always looking like a lot of fun, I had no idea that setting up the stage for a film could be equally as entertaining as performing. Sooo a few of us in the sound department headed out to a few junk yards in Cebu to find things that sounded cool. A job where you base all your purchases on sound? I like. The funkier it sounds, the better.

As you can probably guess, this shot was taken at a junk shop specializing in old car parts. The heap of engines created a decent enough texture for me to snap a shot.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last weekend, Kaloy and I needed a breather from the insanity that occurs in Mactan from time to time. Perfect solution? Hopping in his green-apple-colored '69 VW Beetle (plus CD player obviously) with no destination in mind and heading south.

We stumbled upon many places, but of all our destinations, Argao was by far my favorite stop. Founded in 1608 by the Spanish, it is one of Cebu's oldest towns. I liked it so much that we plan to head back there another weekend for further exploration- and of course, more torta.

Pictured above, Argao Church (Church of San Miguel Archangel of Argao) is the 2nd oldest church in Cebu. We took our grand old time appreciating all of the craftsmanship in both architecture and art - dating back to 1733. You can't really see it in this picture, but I thought the murals on the wood-beamed ceiling were particularly cool.

Friday, October 12, 2007

While eating lunch, Kaloy and I were fortunate enough to happen upon Alex, the officer of tourism in Argao, who told us a few cool stories about his hometown. However, what I was most interested in at the time was torta.

As the owner of the cafe as well, Alex took us on a little tour of the torta-making process, starting with his own backyard oven, fueled with coconut husks. Literally outside. Then we headed over to his grandmother's bakery. Same deal - outdoor ovens/coconut husks, but this time we could actually watch them being made, which I loved. The smell was absolutely heavenly.

(Photo: Baker preparing to slip some torta into the coconut-husk ovens at the 2nd shop.)


Some may know it as a Mexican dish, but in the Philippines, torta is a scrumptious cake made with pork fat, flour, sugar, a whole lot of eggs and coconut wine in place of yeast. These cakes are a specialty of Argao, a town about 66 km south of Cebu City. There are plenty of family torta recipes, so you've just got to find the one that pleases you best.

Both torta I tried while in Argao were delightful - very different, but I ended up buying a box to bring back to Mactan with me - only 30 pesos a piece!

Cheap and delicious. Good by me.

By the way, torta is generally served with a bitter chocolate drink (mmmmm), also native to the area. Yet another reason for me to love Argao.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A wide-eyed Miss Almira with 3 of her closest buddies.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Guys, meet Miss Almira. We got to know each other through a bit of miscommunication actually, but I'm so very glad. As part of a mentorship program in Cebu, I was assigned to a little boy named Ariel. However, when we pulled out of the orphanage, Ariel was with a separate mentor and Almira was sitting by herself.

So I asked her if I could please sit next to her and she meekly nodded her head. Now a strange thing occurred on this bus, or at least something that never dawned on me ... about half the kids ended up with motion sickness (apparently) because they aren't used to riding in air-conditioned buses over long periods of time (we were going to "Crocolandia" about an hour away. Cool huh?). There was only one nurse on board and she had her hands full with all of the other kids, so I did my best to help Miss Almira. However, the truth is, this little girl was so self-sufficient I didn't really need to do anything.

When we got off the bus, Ariel and I met up, but much to my surprise, Almira found me again and we did a formal "kid-swap" with the other mentor. We kinda just clicked.

We hung out the rest of the day, playing games with the other kids, taking pictures, looking for cats, dancing, etc. The funny thing was that she would get a little camera shy when someone other than myself was taking picture of her. You can kinda see it in this picture, but it was rather endearing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Well, yet another adventure in Dream World. Everything about this shoot was more-or-less impromptu and everyone did a great job with it. I'm attempting to forget the insanity that preceded this shoot, but what I do remember is that I had milk fish and rice for dinner that night. Delicious.

P.S. - I'm having issues with presentation of the colors in this pic. Opened in photoshop, the colors are correct. I'm kind of curious about this one, so if you get bored, just IM me with the info on how your monitors read it. Danke!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Yes. I get it. I cropped in a square. I know.

Haha, the best part of this shoot was that I got to work with Sammy, a very talented photographer/designer/all-around creative. If you ask him, he will be modest and tell you he is not a professional photographer. However, his work speaks differently of his abilities.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Obviously taken during one of MG's underwater shoots last week.