Monday, January 26, 2009


I can’t resist reminiscing that week in Washington DC 5 months ago as I watched the continuing saga of the world’s most popular citizen unfold on CNN. The landmarks were poignantly familiar. The Man just narrowly clinched his party’s nomination when I went stateside for the IVLP program on Environment and Sustainable Development…


January 18, 2009: The inaugural festivities officially kicked off with a speech from The Man and a concert. I missed the speech but caught the last song from Beyonce. It was when I realized that I just turned 39. Earlier in the same place 163 days ago, I shoot my photos after a long walk from Arlington across the Potomac where I lost myself among the maze of tombs and headstones searching for Joe Louis and Audie Murphy’s grave after a series of heady sessions at the EPA, the USDA, and the US TR’s office.


January 20, 2009: The Man took his oath in the steps of the Capitol and had lunch with the congressmen and senators. Ted Kennedy fell ill. Then the delayed inaugural parade to the White House via Pennsylvania Avenue. The Man and his wife went out the limo and walked twice. I had to pee so I missed the first one. Earlier in the same places 163 days ago, I can only gaze at the White House from a distance beyond the great iron fence after a long train ride from the Basilica in the city suburbs and nearly getting lost in the maze of colored subway lines in Chinatown. The lunch at the Capitol cafeteria was great and it was fun riding the underground train to the House of Representatives’ side of the building. Our ELOs quickly jumped to the other side when told that they were sitting on the Republican side of the session hall.


January 21, 2009: The Man and his family attended a national prayer service. I have to go work so I did not watch CNN. Earlier 165 days ago, I paid $15 for the taxi fare (plus tip) to the Cathedral. I was early, it was still closed so I walked around shooting before joining a group of tourists where I peeled away later because the tour guide was talking too much and I was running out of time. I walked the way back via Georgetown University where a cute college girl approached and gave me directions. I might have been looking so lost. Then a boat ride in the Anacostia and a bonding moment with the children of a violent neighborhood.

It was The Man from there though I was not able to go to his campaign center in Des Moines. I bought 2 of his campaign shirts while waiting for a plane ride in Denver that was bursting with merchandise for the Democratic National Convention. Then Hillary, Joe Bidden, and finally The Man speaking on TV during football game dinners in a cozy hotel room in wet Portland

Sunday, January 18, 2009


January 18 in 1970 was a Sunday.

Sporadic student-led demonstrations were building up into a national cauldron of simmering resentment against The Establishment. Eight days later on a Monday of the 26th, the colors of dissent came together before finally exploding into a common rage against the dying of the light on a Friday of the 30th. The First Quarter Storm has begun.

Meanwhile 7,307 miles away in The Coliseum at Los Angeles, the National Football League’s East and West teams played for the last time for the 1970 Pro Bowl before merging with the American Football League. The West won 16-13.

January 18 in 2009 is a Sunday.

It is the 3rd Sunday of the month when boys and girls just out of infancy are paraded in ornate floats of deep red in commemoration of that day in 1521 when Rajah Humabon became a Catholic and his wife gifted with an image of the Sto. Nino by their Ninong Ferdinand Magellan.

Some 44 years later, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came back and found the same Sto. Nino in the ashes of a subdued village and built a church on the site. The Anito’s Sinulog has become the ritual of the Nino.

I turned 39 today and being the Nino’s feast day, may I just go back to that age when birthday wishes come true…

But then again, a renewal of my flickr pro account might be just fine. :-D

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The email came like a jolt. I have been awarded a fellowship to attend a 3-month course in the Maastricht School of Management. I was to leave on January 16. But there are other things to do and I won’t be seeing the windmills of The Netherlands. I emailed my regrets while Alison Moyet crooned the ballad of tortured emotions as the windmills on my mind spiraled in a circle down an endless tunnel of jangling disappointment…

Round, like a circle in a spiral,
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning,
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

Keys that jingle in your pocket,
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?
Lovers walk along the shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half-remembered names and faces,
But to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over,
You were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair

A circle in a spiral,
A wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind,
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
--- WINDMILLS ON YOUR MIND by Noel Harrison

Profile: The Church of Mabini, Pangasinan

The Augustinan Recollects established the ecclessiastical mission of Balincaguin at around 1610. However, there are currently no accounts about its parochial buildings until 1858 when Fr. Mariano Torrente started repairing an extant church. More repair work was done in 1893 by Fr. Epifanio Vergara. Balincaguin was renamed Mabini after the "Sublime Paralytic" after the Philippines declared independence from Spain in 1898. The church suffered damages during an earthquake in 1999 and has since been repaired.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Butching felt the slimy murk gently swallow the front of his shirt and pants as he lay face down in Uncle Tangad’s duck pen. He dared not twitch, blending his feverish breath and the muffled echoes of his throbbing heart in the orgy of dancing shadows.

The light in the bangsal went on. Butching tensed. That would be the older woman. The light went out and, after what seemed an eternity for him, went on again to usher a silhouette with a long hair that shyly curls at the full breasts where a pair of nipples proudly protrude through a loose and flimsy cotton shirt.

The silhouette reached from under her knee-length skirt and pulled down a pink panty sprinkled with dots of red blossoms which she draped like a panuelo on her shoulders. Butching’s heart raced in anticipation, then leapt madly as the silhouette scooped a tabo of water from a burnay and squatted in front of him. The sound of splashing water was music to his ears. Bits of it caressed his face, anointing his burning soul as he tried to peel the darkness and see what is there, his nose struggling to reach beyond the muskiness of the damp earth to catch even a whiff of that treasured patch so temptingly hidden by the shadow cast by the wane bangsal light. It was his ecstasy.

Suddenly, lights pierced the blanket of blackness. There were voices. The silhouette hurriedly got up, balled her panty, placed it in her skirt’s pocket, and went out to find what the commotion is.


The next day, Butching confessed to Kapitan Puyot that he indeed was caught stealing Uncle Tangad’s ducks.

Profile: The Church of Binangonan, Rizal

The ecclessiastical mission of Binangonan was established by the Franciscans in 1621. It was administered by the Jesuits in 1679, by the Augustinians in 1697, and back to the Franciscans in 1737. The parochial buildings were built between 1792 and 1800, and has been renovated several times since then.