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Love Will Conquer All April 7, 2008

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, maniniyot, Seriously now….

Despite the looming food shortage and political crisis of our turbulent country, I still have faith that we Filipinos will prevail.

Let our loving and compassionate nature seek to help one another in these times of hardship, and together, we can surmount these tough times.


Walking on Water March 9, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, I, Lawyer, maniniyot, Seriously now….

In one of my previous picture posts, I talked about the symbolic significance of water in my life and how during times that I am stressed, troubled or in despair, I dream of being near bodies of water.

I am going through one of those times now.  A lot of times I think about how much simpler life was when I wasn’t an adult, where I didn’t have to deal with choices, responsibilities, relationships, or be worried about the state of the nation and the rising costs of basic commodities and goods.

Sometimes I find myself wanting a quiet and uncomplicated life, much like the subject of this series of pictures lead, the Badjao children.

How much simpler it is to be Badjao.  A lot of people look down on the Badjao, because it seems that they live a life spent begging.  It didn’t used to be like this.  My bestfriend Danny C. told me that the Badjao are really a peaceful tribe of indigenous people from the Southern parts of Mindanao who had spent a simple life of subsistence fishing.  They are a peaceful tribe, unused to conflict and warfare, getting along well with each other and always smiling.

It’s a pity that these Badjao have been displaced back in the 1970’s during the time of the political upheaval in Muslim Mindanao.  These poor non-violent people were forced out from their ancestral homelands by their more warlike neighbors, and in order to escape the massacres of that era, the Badjao were made to flee to various parts of the Philippines.

Unused to a life of toil and hardwork, it is now common for us to see the Badjao here in Cebu, in Cagayan de Oro, in Davao, and yes, even in the wharves of Tagbilaran, Bohol, where I took these shots.

Growing up in a family where I was raised to value the dignity of work, I had come to look down on the Badjao.  All you ever see them doing is beg, beg, beg.  They’re dirty, unmannered, and rude.  However, after I heard the story from Danny, I grew to see the Badjao in a different light.  These people have never known better because all their life, they had always known simplicity and living off the sea.  To force them to adapt to the complicated rules and values of the big city is asking too much of these simple people, who now adapt to it the best way they know how… through begging.

I am older now.  I have adapted to the city.  I have work that keeps me facing my laptop the whole day long.  My life has definitely become complicated, and sometimes, it is too complicated.  I’m always exposed to pressure and expectations and a lot of times, it takes everything I have in me just to keep up with my job.  Unused to running, I trip on my feet and land hard on my face.  To quote a toy figure that my other bestfriend Johndi gave me back in high school, “Getting older sucks.

And now, these times, I envy these Badjao children.  Instead of looking down on them, I envy their simple uncomplicated lives.  I envy their freedom, their ability to laugh at their hardships, the close bond that they have with the sea and with each other.  Yes, their lives are tough and it borders on day-to-day survival.  But then again, can we really say our lives are much better?  True, we have more resources and wealth than these little beggars, but in exchange for these, we are saddled with burdens such as taxes, responsibilities, and for us lawyers, an exacting code of professional ethics.

Tell me now, are our lives really any better than theirs?

We are still beggars, living off grace and looking to God to provide us with our daily bread, regardless of whether we are Badjao children, Philippine presidents, or struggling CPA-lawyer-photographers.  Each of our lives are hard on one way or the other, frought with hardships, sacrifice and tears.  As that song by REM goes, “Everybody hurts.

It is times like these that the Badjao children remind me that each and everytime a question of love, faith and hope arises with Jesus, it somehow always involved the water.

We see it when the apostles were trapped out at sea during the height of a mighty storm, and Peter called out to a soundly sleeping Jesus to save them.  “Oh ye of little faith,” Jesus said, as he brought the squall to subside and the boat back to safety.

We see it again when the apostles were out at sea and encountered Jesus walking on water.  Calling out to him, Peter got out and started walking on the waves towards Jesus.  But he looked at the tides, got scared and started to sink to the depths.  Again, calling out to Jesus, he came by and saved him.

Finally, I’m reminded of the time after the resurrection that Jesus told the apostles to cast their nets to the other side of the boat, and came back with a catch of fish overflowing to the brim.

We all experience the storms.  We all have questions of faith, and look within only to find ourselves sorely lacking.  And we cry out calling to the Lord for succour and He tells us, “Oh ye of little faith.”

Like the Badjao, we need to believe that despite all our troubles, tomorrow will be another day.  The sun will be shining and the tides will subside.  Like them, we are all beggars of faith, wholly dependent on our Father to get us through another long night.  And with this trust in Him, we lean back and smile.

The storms will not last forever.

It takes one step then another, holding Jesus’ hand, for us to find out to our disbelief, that yes, through the certainty of faith, we CAN walk on water.

Ako si Mr. Kodaker December 19, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, maniniyot.

This is an ongoing series delving into a new-found interest in photography. The author is a novice photographer who bought his first digital SLR camera on September of 2007. Prior to that, he was a long time campus journalist who occasionally dabbled in photojournalism using a point-and-pray, eerrrr, an analog P350 point-and-click film camera. To pay for his new-found expensive hobby, the author took a day job that involves suing people, kissing ass, and drinking copious amounts of cheap instant coffee. Someday, the author will find it: the rainbow connection… the lovers, the dreamers and me.


To be honest, I’ve never planned to get into photography.

My best friend Johndi has been persuading me since our elementary years to take up the hobby together with him, and although I listened intently when he explained the whole deal to me, I’ve always declined the offer to join him in photography. Unlike Johndi, I didn’t have a father that collected SLR cameras and lenses (a Leica, a Nikon, a Canon, and some obscure Russian brand, to cite some items in his collection), and unlike Johndi, I didn’t have an allowance that could afford to buy rolls and rolls of film for taking pictures of fish, ducks, and ugly dogs. In fact, prior to my SLR, I’ve only owned two other cameras in my life, both of them the cheap kind powered by ordinary AA batteries. Hence, his offer was met with a meandering half-grin that meant I’d rather spend my meager allowance on comic books, video games and women who will just end up dumping me for being such a fugly geek.

A decade after Johndi’s repeated and rebuffed offers of entering into the nifty world of photography, my sister bought herself an almost-SLR camera and toted it around with her when she came home to Cebu for a visit. Again, she offered to let me try out her gear, but again, I wasn’t interested. In fact, I was amused when she ended up taking pictures of almost anything and everything that she could find. Food, street merchandise, funny-looking people… you name it, she probably has a picture of it locked up somewhere in her hard drive.

My reasons for NOT going into photography were numerous: it is an expensive hobby; cameras are delicate equipment; the whole process looks boring; photographers are geeks yadda yadda yadda. I just didn’t find photography worth my time and money.

And yet, for some bizarre reason, I made a split-second decision on September of this year to take up photography. It all started when my friend Danny was telling me that he wanted to buy his own SLR camera and take pictures of Batanes. Coincidentally, I happened to have a cousin who was also named Danny who had previously won a photo contest, so I volunteered to learn more about photography from my cousin and share the information with my friend. So when the opportunity arose to talk to my cousin (which was unfortunately during the wake of our aunt), I tried to glean as much as I could about the subject from the learned and experienced.

Up to now, I still don’t know why I decided to take up photography after finding out more about it from my photographer cousins.

Maybe it was from the realization that photography looked like fun. When my cousins Danny, chito, and Terry started talking about glory days of running around the streets of Cebu for the Sinulog photography contest, I started getting the sense of the adventure behind the hobby. When they discussed gears and lenses, the geek in me was challenged by the promise of science and obscure gadgets. But I think it was when they mentioned taking pictures of scantily-clad women in a relative’s beach resort in Bantayan Island, I was swayed by the promise of my own private pornographic collection taken by my very own camera.

I think THAT was the tipping point for me. Photography. Pornography. DING! A light bulb lit up in my head. Hey! The words rhyme!

Two weeks after, I started hauling a Nikon D40 all around Cebu, taking pictures of anything and everything. Doors, my neighbors, stones, flowers, trees, and animals. You name it, I have an overexposed and blurry picture of it lying somewhere in my hard-drive, right beside my precious Barely Legal collection Volumes 1 to 192. Homaygas! Mothers lock your daughters! Janjan Perez is now wielding a 6-megapixel digital camera and has a DSL connection in his house!

My life has then changed in major ways.

Not all the changes have been good, however. So far, I have summoned all the willpower I had in my system to resist the photographer’s conceit…. I have successfully avoided placing a headshot of myself looking through the viewfinder of a camera in my Multiply, Friendster, Orkut, Myspace and Facebook profiles. However, the urge to look oh so sophisticated in all my photographerish glory is growing stronger and stronger everyday. I am holding out until I can get a lens hood for my 18-55mm Nikkor… maybe it can disguise the fact that I only own the basic set.

I have also developed the photographer’s version of penis envy…. I feel inadequate holding my rinky-dinky Nikon D40 with its oh so cute kit lens right beside someone carrying a Canon Mark II with a white L-series ultraelectromagnetic super zoom lens of DOOM! To compensate, I bought myself a sturdy and long black monopod. If ever the envy is too strong to hold, I can always hit that Canonian at the back of his expensive head with the monopod and run away laughing with my practiced evil genius cackle. MOOOHOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (with matching lightning and thunder booming in the background)

And gear lust. Let us not even get into gear lust. It is taking everything in my soul to hold myself back from splurging on an 18-200mm Nikkor VR lens.

But I guess the good things outweigh the bad. All things considered, life has been a lot more interesting when seen through the viewfinder of my Nikon D40.

I’ve discovered that I enjoy capturing special moments with my DSLR. I’ve taken pictures of a child’s first birthday, capturing the pride and joy in his parents’ faces, and the mirth and excitement of children crowding around a clown handing special prizes. I covered the baptism of my best friend’s daughter, and preserved for posterity the joy glowing from the grandparents of the beautiful new Christian. I’ve captured the golden sunset upon the tide and dark sands of Dipolog’s Boulevard, the whir of mechanical gears from a cigarette factory in Pasig City, the concern and worry of the faces of police officers from ground zero of the Glorietta 2 blast site, the love permeating between a young couple watching their reflection on the man-made lake in D’ Family Park of Cebu.

And now my blog entries in Multiply, WordPress and Friendster can be peppered with my very own thousand-words-in-one-image, lending veracity and color to the written story.

But I guess the best thing for me about taking up photography is that there is now a common link binding me to certain friends and relatives, photography enthusiasts, and picture onlookers. I can enjoy discussing the merits of spot metering vs. matrix metering with Johndi, who is ecstatic that I’ve finally taken up his long-time hobby. I can look forward to a Sinulog running alongside my Ybanez cousins taking shots for the contest in Cebu. I can share my sister’s excitement in saving up to buy a Canon 5D. I can deliberate with Danny (the friend, not the cousin) on which layering technique would work best for a certain image.

The best adventures are those that are unexpected, and that has been what photography has been for me. Yes, it is an expensive hobby, but the instant gratification I feel when I capture the perfect shot is something that money cannot buy. Priceless.

For everything else, there’s Mastercard.