Going  Back to My Roots

I started photography shooting random things on the street. And after joining a photowalk way back 2010, I realized that my forte was portraitures and street photography. So if you backread my blog, you’ll be seeing of street shots from all the photowalks that I’ve been doing ever since.

Anyways, here are just some portraitures of the kids that I was able to shoot somewhere in Manila. Hoping to capture more interesting portraits this year.

Nearly harvest season in the Philippine Cordilleras so the transition of verdant paddies to golden rice fields. Here’s one of the five clusters of Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List - the Bangaan Rice Terraces (Hagdan-Hagdang Palayan ng Bangaan).

Bangaan, Banaue
May 2015


Scenario: I just had my photoblog/website renewed for another year, so to commemorate its supposed utility, I think it’s best to blog something.

I know.

Nowadays, If you’ve been lurking here (still) from way back when (and I thank you for that if you still do), I haven’t been posting much, more so literally blogging something, in the “writing” sense of it all; I would just dump a set of photos, throw in a cryptic passage and hit “post”. That’s my thing and would still be my thing for many nights to come. 

Just not tonight I guess.

Wagwan so far in my pocket Universe? Funny though that I have this tenacity to update you on my current “being” when I literally haven’t talked about anything (at least directly) in this patch of space, but assuming that you are informed through some mystic means or Twitter, let me indulge you.

I’ve started my graduate studies. 

Master of Science in Development Management.


Yeah, I know.

It’s something that will sooner or later happen cause I really want it to happen and now it did, and now I’m almost (like 3 days and 2 major papers to go) done with my first semester.

Two things: (1) It’s, if not better, exactly how I pictured it to be; and (2) it’s the best part of my week. I gave up my Saturdays ‘cause I’m part-timing a.k.a. I still have my day-job ‘cause money, but so what?

Fuck yeah school. 

!!! (for authenticity of emotion)

And, I’m stuck in a creative rut.

For the longest time, I’ve found it extremely difficult to finish a piece of writing, song or prose. It feels like there’s this intangible menacing juggernaut blocking my writing juices from ever ushering into fruition, anything.

It sucks. Why? ‘Cause I know exactly why I’m in this and I know exactly what to do but I’m too damn afraid (or hesitant for that matter) to do it. Gist: I’m not happy with what I’m doing and so far, I’m doing nothing about it.

For the longest time (I’m growing quite fond of that intro sorry), I’ve been convincing myself that the other beautiful aspects of my life: (a) time spent with my significant other and (b) grad”fuck yeah” school, would compensate for the fulfillment pangs.

And they did.

Alleviation is different from medication, though.

I want to see, listen, hear, smell and feel the north, south, east and west. I want to translate this flooding of senses into something tangible, into something new, with and through my being.

I want to travel. I want to sweat, burn and earn my colors. I want to scale more mountains, cross more seas, interweave with more people and bask in their beautiful existence; frame all of it, 

and share everything.

I want to write. I want to finish my songs. I want to start new songs. I want to record again. I want to play gigs again. I want to whisk the night away in the clamor of notes; mine, hers, theirs, and everyone else’s.

I want to learn. I want to know. I want to study about power relations, conflict, empowerment, participation, emancipation, development. I want to have answers to the questions sprung from the unfairness of life. I want to challenge the status quo, and unfold further questions (and headaches) in doing so.

The only “thing” I don’t want to frame, in a tangible space at least, is myself. 

I want to live.

So I went.

A van, a ship, and another van was all it took to bring my feet at the base of another mountain. This time, I won’t be summiting the sleeping deity; I would instead be living with its children for a brief three days,

to Understand, and heal.  

(and finish a video project serving as the final output in one of my courses HAH)

Sorry, I’ve probably rambled too much already. As always, I’ll let the images do the talking a.k.a. photo-dumping time. !!!


Here, are framed moments of our stay with the Gubatnon Mangyan of Sitio Pugo, Brgy. Gapasan, Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro.

Three days, etched in my heart forever. 

Thank you Universe, for weaving their beautiful lives with ours.

Thank you.

Now, I know what to do. 

anonymous asked:

Agree with the 'tomboy' and 'lesbian' confusion. But sadly, that's the mindset here in the Philippines, huh? Just like how the general masses think that all gay men dresses like a woman. This is why we need more (proper) LGBT representation in the media. Everyone needs to be better informed. It's about time for people to stop treating this issue like a taboo.

Yes, yes, yes! The problem here is that we confuse performativity with identity, and performativity and identity with orientation.

Also we should take into consideration that despite the changing times, our culture is still bound to strong Christian beliefs. We’re still conservative that’s why our representations are mostly based on stereotypes and the traditional notion of gender binaries, hence problematic (but then again, we should be thankful for the visibility because it affirms our community’s existence in the society). GMA 7 is trying to open the minds of the masses, but we should also consider that it is a crucial move for them to breakout this kind of show about a minority to a majority that makes up a huge portion of their audience. Of course like any other business, they’re primarily after the profit–the advocacy is just secondary.

As for the “gay men dresses like a woman” thing, it’s important to take note that the “bakla” identity is inherently different from “gay”, “bisexual trans or cisgendered male” and “transwoman”–it involves language and history. (For further reading, see http://journals.ateneo.edu/ojs/index.php/kk/article/viewFile/809/840 and http://www.panitikan.com.ph/content/philippine-gay-culture-conclusion

As a side note, look at the reactions of our people on Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. It is really foreign to us because of its Western roots.

With regards to female sexuality, identity, and expression however, we don’t have that much of literature yet–which is sad. (Shoutout to the academe!)

Oh well, at least it’s open for discourse now. Let’s just hope for further developments and do our best to educate our fellowmen whenever there is an opportunity.

MANILA, Philippines – When Ruperto “Ka Uper” Aleroza was just a boy, his fisherman father would walk to the beach, throw a net and catch fish.

From the abundant waters of Batangas, his family could easily earn the equivalent of P1,000 in a day. They could afford to set aside some fish for their own meals and use the profit for the rest of the catch to send the kids to school.

Ka Uper followed his father’s footsteps and became a fisherman at the age of 18. Now he is 61 and things couldn’t be more different.

“Ngayon, kailangan na namin mangutang sa iba para makabili ng makina at bangka at mas malayo. Mahabang oras, malaking gastos, maliit yung kita.”

(Now, we need to borrow money so we can buy a machine for our boats and the fishing area is farther. It takes a long time, we spend a lot and we earn so little.)

He’s lucky if in a day he can earn in the hundreds. Even then, debts have to be paid.

His story is the story of most small fisherfolk in the Philippines who, on a daily basis, face dwindling fish supply, polluted ocean waters, climate change, and the threat of displacement from their coastal homes.

Who are the small fisherfolk?

Small fisherfolk, according to the definition set by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), are those who use fishing boats of 3 gross tons or less. They are also known as municipal fisherfolk.

In 2011, there were more than 469,000 municipal fishing boats. Marine municipal fisherfolk caught more than 1.1 million metric tons of fish that year. The most common species of fish they catch are Frigate tuna (tulingan), Roundscad (galunggong), Indian sardines (tamban), anchovies (dilis), squid and Yellowfin tuna (tambakol).

Commercial fishing vessels, on the other hand, are bigger boats – more than 3 gross tons. While small fisherfolk are given priority access to fishing grounds within 15 kilometers from the shoreline, commercial fishing vessels can only fish beyond the 15 km zone reserved for the small fisherfolk.

Some local governments, however, allow the bigger vessels from 10.1 to 15 km from the shoreline.

But enforcing these parameters is tricky because of the “free access” nature of the sea. It’s much harder to delineate boundaries in a medium that by its very nature shifts and flows.

It’s led to a world of problems for small fisherfolk. Many commercial boats cross over to the small fisherfolk’s fishing grounds. Often, these vessels use large-scale fishing equipment such as trawlers or fine nets which catch everything in their path – whether mature or juvenile fish.

The result is overfishing and, consequently, dwindling fish catch for the small fisherfolk who were supposed to be given priority access to their own town’s marine resources.

In the 1970s, Filipino fisherfolk would catch 20 kilograms of fish a day. Now, they catch only around 4.76 kilograms a day – barely a 4th of the amount during the good old days. 

Can overfishing be conclusively attributed to the commercial fisheries sector?

For starters, BFAR data shows that though around 99% of operators in 2002 were municipal fishermen, commercial fishermen raked in 48% – almost half – of total fish production that year, even if they made up only 1.2% of the total number of operators.

This may also explain why poverty incidence among fisherfolk is so high. Almost half (41.4%) of Filipino fisherfolk live below the poverty line, earning them the label, “poorest of the poor.”

Nature can’t keep up

Overfishing is what has forced some small fisherfolk to resort to illegal fishing practices like dynamite fishing and muro-ami, said Aleroza, whose advocacy for the welfare of small fisherfolk led him to serve as the current chairman of the Committee on Fisherfolk Settlement of the National Anti-Poverty Commission-Fisherfolk Council.

According to BFAR Director Asis Perez, some 10,000 incidents ofdynamite fishing are still recorded everyday.

Illegal fishing practices used by some commercial fishing vessels are particularly devastating for fish stocks. Some common practices are the use of trawlers, fish nets with holes less than two centimeters, and payao, a fish aggregating device that uses bright lights to attract big populations of fish.

These are destructive because they catch all kinds of fish, regardless of size and age. Catching juvenile fish reduces the ability of fish populations to replenish themselves.

According to the World Fish Center, fish are being caught at a level 30% above that at which they are capable of replenishing themselves.

No wonder BFAR found out that 10 out of 13 major fishing grounds in the country have already been overfished.

Overfishing is just one of the many threats to fish supply and the fisheries sector.

Fish stocks – and the fisherfolk who depend on them – have to survive alarming ocean pollution levels and climate change.

Hardly are there coral reefs in the country without plastic wrappers or bottles stuck in holes or crevices where fish used to live. Only around 5% of the country’s coral reefs are in excellent condition (White and Cruz-Trinidad, 1998).

Pasay City collected 127 ten-wheeler trucks of floating garbage from Manila Bay in a span of just 4 days back in 2012. Manila Bay is considered one of the country’s major fishing grounds.

Climate change is causing ocean waters to warm up in unprecedented levels, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This can cause widespread coral death.

The unabated accumulation of large amounts of carbon dioxide in the air is also affecting marine life. Oceans absorb around 25% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere each year. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, the acidity of oceans increase. Thus, seawater becomes corrosive to the shells and skeletons of many marine organisms.

Living in the ‘no dwelling zone’

Another threat to fisherfolk is literally closer to home. A “no build zone” policy issued by the government as part of rehabilitation efforts after Super Typhoon Yolanda may not be in the best interest of fisherfolk.

The policy prohibited any structures from being built within 40 meters of the shoreline, recognizing the threat of storm surge and sea level rise to such buildings.

But in March, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson recommended a change in terms: from “no build zone” to “no dwelling zone.”

This would allow buildings, such as resorts and other tourist establishments, within the 40 meters. But no one is allowed to live there. (READ: Leyte fishermen say no to no-build zone)

“This is a problem for tourism because what if there are investors who want beach resorts? How can you implement a no-build zone, so to be practical, let’s make it a no dwelling zone,” he Lacson in an interview on ANC.

The statement was a slap on the face for Aleroza.

“Talagang mawawala kami ng hanapbuhay. Pag na-privatize iyon, may bakod na 'yun, may bayad na 'yun. Pag pumasok ka doon, may entrance fee ka na eh.”

(We will really lose our livelihood. When the shore is privatized, they will put up a wall, they will charge fees. When you try to go inside, you have to pay an entrance fee.)

Most fishermen live on coasts in order to have easy access to the sea. This is where they bring their boats to shore and where they dry their catch.

The government should include small fisherfolk in making guidelines for the “no dwelling zone” policy, said a distraught Aleroza.

Some fisherfolk are willing to compromise, said Ariane Jaraplasan of NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR).

“Based on our discussions with small fisherfolk, they are willing to relocate. They know the risk of living in the foreshore coastal areas. They’re willing to move 100 meters as long as they have access to the sea because that’s their source of livelihood,” she told Rappler.

Fisherfolk wishlist

Despite the daunting challenges, Aleroza believes it’s not too late to uplift the lives of fisherfolk and save Philippine oceans.

On May 30, a day before National Fisherfolk’s Day, he and other fisheries reform advocates will march to Malacañang Palace to submit to President Benigno Aquino III a proposal on how to save Philippine marine resources.

Entitled “Roadmap to Recovery of Philippine Oceans,” the document was collaborated on by various fisherfolk groups; NGOs like Worldwide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace and Save Philippine Seas; and scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and Conservation International.

It details possible solutions to overfishing such as stronger enforcement of marine boundaries and capacity-building for local governments to protect marine resources.

The creation of a Department of Fisheries is also another option being mulled by some advocates. Creating a dedicated department instead of just a bureau under the Department of Agriculture may mean bigger funding to beef up the sector.

Priority must be given to bringing back healthy marine ecosystems, said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner Vince Cinches.

“Even if you develop the industry, you have to go back to the ecosystem from which the industry thrives. Address the problem of overfishing, address the problem of coral degradation, the problem of disappearing sea grass.”

Even if these solutions are implemented, Ka Uper knows he may never get to fish as his father once did.

“Mahirap utusin ang kalikasan pero yung pagkasira ng tao sa kalikasan, kayang kontrol-in (It will be difficult to order nature around but destruction by humans can be controlled).” – Rappler.com

Piercing Stare (Philippine Eagle Center, Davao)

#philippines #Davao #pec #philippineeagle #philippineeaglecenter #pithecophagajefferyi #fighter #the_ph #visitph #visitph2015 #nationalbird #endangeredspecies #eagle #phil_spots #nationaltreasure #wwf #wildlife #biodiversity #nature #instanature #pecc #philippineeagleconservationcenter (at Philippine Eagle Conservation Center, Davao)