Kwento

Graffiti Sesh: Learning How To Write

GS Gis

I’ve been wanting to learn the art of spray painting.  My interest in it was continually amplified throughout 2014 after being exposed to the graffiti cultures of Tokyo, London, Paris, and California.  Especially upon seeing the walls on the railroad heading to Paris absolutely covered in French graffiti.  This caught me by surprise because I never associated France with that particular brand of street art -even if it is the home of Blek le Rat, father of stencil graffiti.

Drawings I found online by Blek le Rat:
blek le rat Blek le Rat 2

After buying a book called “Global Street Art” in California late last December, I decided that as soon as I got back to Manila I would be a writer too.

What it means to write: In Global Street Art, “graffiti refers to ‘writing’ -a youth subculture that had its origins in mid-1960s Philadelphia and grew explosively after reaching New York in the late 1960s […] There was no expectation of any economic reward by writing; writers were simply looking for a form of recognition.  Graffiti provided a way of finding an identity among peers.  Fame was (and still is) the ultimate achievement in writing”.

I don’t have a deep or subversive reason for why I want to become part of this subculture of writers.  I just find it interesting.  And that spark of interest is all I need to get me going.  My friend Harry felt the same way.  One fast “We’re so cool and random!” chat later, he and I were at Home Depot stocking up on supplies.  That was Day 1 of our graffiti sesh.  Day 2 was our actual painting day.

GS Harry's Car

Breakdown of costs
Php 700 x 2 pieces of plywood (Php 350 each)*
Php 1200 x 8 cans of spray paint (roughly Php 150 each)*
Php 350 x masks (comes in a set of 3)
Total cost: Php 2250

This figure isn’t exact.  It varies based on the plywood’s dimensions, the brand of spray paint, and the place you’re buying from.  We tried hitting up True Value first.  They didn’t have wood or masks and their spray paint was 2x the price.  A southerner’s best bet is to go straight to Home Depot (we didn’t canvas Wilcon so I can’t say if prices are better there). People up north (or wherever you can find an Ace Hardware) will find better masks (ours were the flimsy disposable kind).  People who can access Divisoria will find even cheaper spray paint (Php 80 average).  Not sure where to find cheaper ‘canvases’ though.  I plan on hitting up a construction site one of these days to see if they can spare me some scrap metal.

GS 4GS Gis 3GS Gis 4GS Gis 2GS Harry 2GS HarryIt’s important to wear a mask.  The fumes get toxic faster than you know.  Also, paint gets everywhere just as quick.  Which is why I brought a long piece of cloth and newspaper to cover our workspace and plastic gloves and an apron to cover myself.

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Harry set up our makeshift studio in his garage.  He brought out his laptops for video editing and beer to aid his creative process.
I brought my GoPro Hero 4 Silver for documentation, the water speakers Giann bought me for xmas because they’re dope and because I wanted to blast trap, and points of reference (Global Street Art book, drawing I made years prior of my friend Nicole in her astronaut helmet).

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GS 3

Harry and I gave ourselves graffiti names for when we collab: #Hash and #Tag.  We’ll think of less conspicuous, more personal tagging names when we do this for real.

Last thing:
for the past few months, people have been telling me they’re worried I’m getting too thin, but I never really noticed how much weight I lost until I saw my graffiti sesh photos. No need to worry friends, it’s not intentional.  I just lose weight when I travel and I was all over the place last year.  I’ll gain the weight back as life normalizes, but for now I’m going to love the hell out of my sexy abs.

Peace out,
#Hash

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London, England – Streets and Monuments

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions

I like traveling.  I like the way it makes me feel like myself, but more and somehow better.
The alien milieu of a strange new land displaces me and forces me to enlarge my sense of things.  However, to be displaced in an environment whose context is so different from my own would be disorienting if there was no sameness to anchor me.  I need that anchor to help me understand stimuli I might otherwise find incomprehensible.  The effect of such a combination makes the ordinary beautiful again because situating what is ordinary outside the boundaries of what is familiar causes an expansion.  This expansion adds to my perception of what is ordinary and reveals it to be extraordinary after all.

Notes and Impressions

I suppose I’m not saying anything new.  These are observations that have been shared so often they’ve become cliche.  Just like the same touristy photos people always take.  It seems so lame and unremarkable then to share these because so many others have been there, done that.  But when you’re the person doing the showing off, it’s awesome and special because it’s yours -the photograph, the moment, the new perspective.

Here’s my perspective on London’s Hop on Hop off Bus Tour told in hasty tourist snapshots.  I also did some moleskin drawings to compensate for my lack of photography skills.  In an ideal world, I would have made a bajillion more drawings.  But since my ideal world is still shaping itself, I only had the energy to sketch out St. Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben/The Elizabeth Tower.

Moleskin Sketches 1

The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

Waiting for the right double decker bus.

London Bus StopIMG_3759IMG_5543The first stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Near the cathedral is a French Bakery and Patisserie franchise called Paul (I appreciate the thought they put into their location choice).

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Moleskin Sketches - St. Paul'sIMG_5511IMG_5518I like double decker buses.  They’re a great way to see the city.  Not ideal for picture taking though because the bus is constantly moving but what can you do?
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IMG_5668IMG_5544Stopping by Buckingham Palace.
Fun Fact:
◊ If the Queen is in, the Royal Standard flies.  If she’s out, they bring out the Union Jack.  This tradition started after the death of Princess Diana.
Royal Standard

IMG_5726IMG_5720Going over and under the London Bridge.

IMG_5584IMG_5591IMG_5640Spending time at Parliament Square; where you can find the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Big Ben/The Elizabeth Tower, Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, etc.
Fun Facts:
◊ It’s illegal to die in the houses of Parliament because people who die there are entitled to a state funeral -which would burden British tax payers.  If you look sickly, you’ll be escorted out of the premises posthaste!
◊ It’s not uncommon to find demonstrators rallying in Parliament Square.

IMG_5689 IMG_5678IMG_5661Moleskin Drawings Big BenIMG_5687Westminster Abbey was one of my favorite landmarks.  It’s popularly known as the place where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married and where important British peeps are buried, commemorated, and/or crowned.  No picture taking allowed though, which is a bummer because it’s ballin’ in there -with all those tombs and whatnot.
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I found the following images online. They’re of inside the abbey:

Abbey inside Alexander Creswell - Westminster Abbey
Next entry:  A more personal narrative of my experience in London.

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Minato, Tokyo

Alleyways

Minato was the first to greet us.  And the last to say goodbye.  He offered us lodging at The Grand Prince Hotel -which was built on a garden that formerly belonged to Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda (The “Sports Prince”).

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The street heading up to our hotel was lined with cherry blossom trees and greenery.  There was also a taxi stand where girls in top hats assisted commuters into taxis driven by suited up men (every taxi driver we saw in Japan wore a suit).  I didn’t get a photo of that specific area, but I did manage to get a shot of this off duty taxi man. Doesn’t he look swanky?

Taxi man

Over our stay, we got to know three different sides of Minato: Takanawa, Shiba, and (a little bit) of Shiodome.

Takanawa was the side of Minato that felt like home.  The part of him that made us breakfast every morning and tucked us in every night.  Who fed us the warmest and most interesting meals of the day.  Who always walked us to the train station and always welcomed us home with open arms.

_MG_4592the most amazing broth ever Tracy's Chicken Avocado sandwichchicken avocado sandwichSashimi!!!at the restaurantsignsBuying ticketsscreens
Train

But it was his Shiba-koen side that intrigued me the most. It was the part of him that was inspirationally proud of his past but also contagiously excited about his future.  His stories were present in every street and every alleyway -similar to how his siblings’ stories bloomed out from their skin, but somehow entirely different.  In my eyes, Minato’s narrative was more traditional and more structured.  I liked that about him.  He was old fashioned, yet he still managed to embrace modernity and innovation in a way that made him intensely charming -almost dangerously so.

RoadsRoad SignsPhoto boothHunting for fudsShiodome

This charming man took us past the Sangedatsu Gate (The Gate of Three Liberations) to free us from Ton (Greed), Shin (Hatred), and Chi (Foolishness).  And let us marvel at the Zōjō-ji Temple before leading us off to one of his more recent masterpieces (1958 is recent in the life of a city): The Tokyo Tower.

Sagedatsu Gate Sangedatsu Gate Sangedatsu Gate (1605)Bodhistava Shangedatsu Gate ShrineZojo ji Temple againZojo ji Temple and the Tokyo Tower Festive peeps Zojo-ji Temple

On the way to the Tower, I saw these curious little statues and later found out they were of Jizō -the guardian of unborn children.  I think the tradition of honoring their memories in this way is beautiful.  Minato was silent as we passed.

Tracy with the Jizōanother row of Jizō

Jizō Jizō from behind

At Tokyo Tower there’s an observatory deck where you can see the cityscape. The architects also put glass sheets on the floor so Tower goers can look down and really feel how far off the ground they’ve come.  We went there in the morning but I suggest going when the sun is about to set.

View of Tokyo Tower Toyko Tower Tokyo Tower FishResting Look down Looking down The View The View 2 Walls of history Scale models The display of old school Japan

And, lastly, there was Shiodome.  The side I found quirky if only because I found a super cute fireman grate there.  It’s also where Minato keeps his Pokemon collection.  One of them at least, I imagine there are a bunch of Pokemon Centers in Tokyo.  I also imagine that Raven will regard it as his happy place when he’s older. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so much.

Sio-siteFiremenThe Sio-Dome Pokemon Store CharizardBlastoise Plush Toys Regrouping

We left Minato and the rest of his family on a Monday morning.  It was hard to say goodbye but I know we’ll be back again soon.  Hopefully this August!

Genki de ne (Be well), Minato-senpai!
Arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you), Japan!

Dewa, mata chikai uchini (See you again)

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Chiyoda, Tokyo

I didn’t a chance to get to know Chiyoda as well as I wanted to, but I hear she’s majestic.  She’s the “field of a thousand generations”, home to the Imperial Palace, Yasukuni Shrine, Hibiya park, and rich Japanese peeps.

The little time I had with her was spent underground, in the Tokyo Station.

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She took us to a ramen restaurant with a vending machine order taker and old Japanese cooks.

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And then she took us shopping at H&M (because H&M hasn’t opened in the Philippines yet and Tracy needed work clothes).

More importantly, she lead us to a store that sold 10++ varieties of KitKat and all sorts of Japanese shenanigans in snack form.

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And then more shopping at random shops inspired by pop culture anime.

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My siblings went broke on all the Ghibli merch Donguri Garden sold.  I found some movie posters online and put them under the Ghibli characters I took photos of so you can get in on the references.  I have no idea who the drunk looking dog is though.  Raven just wanted me to take a photo of it because he thought it looked funny.

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What I like about Japan is how beautifully past culture and pop culture merge together.  Shinjuku, Shibuya, Minato, Chiyoda -all the sibling citywards that I hung out with- possessed this trait.  But somehow it struck me as more beautiful in Chiyoda.  Because as Imperial as she is, she can still get down with Dragon Ball, Hello Kitty and Tamagotchi.

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Blast from the past alert!  Freaking Tamagotchis!!!  I wanted to buy the actual old school electronic device but I couldn’t find any in the shop -except for the ones on what looks like an “Evolution of Tamagotchi” display.  And I didn’t know how to ask the sales person either because I can’t speak Japanese.  Chiyoda and I suffered the same language barrier but she consoled me anyway with vibrant displays of our shared interests -which made me feel like I was still part of her bright and colorful world, even if I didn’t fully understand it.

Chiyoda is endlessly cool like that.  And just when you think she couldn’t get any cooler, you find her stash of Gundam and Ultraman memorabilia.

Web_MG_4998 copy_MG_5002 copy_MG_5005_MG_5006 copygundam store copygundam

Ultraman_MG_5037 copyspace Another thing I really like about Chiyoda is her insane sense of humor!  It’s pretty damn wonderful and I love it!
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Sayonara Chiyoda!

NEXT ENTRY: Minato, Tokyo

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Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Shibuya is a rockstar titty deep in cool.

It’s impossible not to be insanely popular when you happen to be one of Tokyo’s fashion authorities and a world renowned nightlife extraordinaire.  Anybody who’s anybody wants to hang with Shibuya -who we got to meet after having lunch with Shinjuku.

Shibuya struck me as androgynous.  Someone too modern and too hip to be defined by conventions as limiting as gender.  Someone who exists without needing to be defined, setting an example on how to just be by disregarding antiquated preconceived notions of how we’re supposed to be.

That’s how we spent the day with Shibuya -with no clear itinerary except to amplify the experience by completely surrendering to it.

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Shibuya took us shopping at Department 109 (which Tracy and I really ought to have taken pictures of) and later introduced us to aspiring rockstars who decided to set up a spontaneous show on the streets.  They called themselves “The Throttle” and they sang retro songs in English.  Authorities later shut down their production because they didn’t have permits, but that just made it easier for us to talk to them.

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As a result of a loudness in presence and personality, Shibuya developed a spectacular tendency to disorient.  It was hard to keep track of where we were going and why we were going there because we were being led towards so many different places and so many different happenings all at once.


_MG_4774 under armour _MG_4822Wicked Japan_MG_4772_MG_4804tribute to Hachikō_MG_4770hooters

Shibuya was bright neon and busy and had the same soft spot for graffiti tattoos as Shinjuku.  Except Shinjuku didn’t have an extravagance of character as extreme as her older sibling.

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This overwhelming ostentation even inspired animals to exaggerate their features with kawaii markings.

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In search of tita Cris’ specifically requested pasalubong (must try!), Tracy and I found ourselves in Shibuya’s kitchen -formally titled Tokyu Food Show.
Shibuya’s kitchen is an underground department store food court that covers the area of two city blocks.  They sell everything from fancy looking bento boxes to simple charcoal grilled sweet potatoes, warm soul soothing ramen to cold fresh sushi, strictly traditional Japanese dishes to wild fusion cuisine to straight up foreign fuds.

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I guess the eclectic nature of this selection mirrors the eclectic nature of Shibuya’s personality -which has so freaking much to offer that it’s hard to keep track of everything without developing ADHD.  Fortunately, someone else made a list of 50 things you can do with Shibuya.  Check it out!

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Matane Shibuya!  Kanpie!

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Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

I spent the Holy Week weekend in Japan with my dad, brothers and sister.

According to Wikipedia (the most trustworthy internet resource on earth), there are 23 special city wards that make up the core of Tokyo.  We visited Minato (where our hotel was), Shinjuku, Shibuya and Chiyoda.

I saw the city wards as siblings.   Each had its own distinct personality, but all shared an equally distinctive commonality of features that made it easy to distinguish them as part of the same large family.

The first one I met was Minato, then Shinjuku, then Shibuya and finally Chiyoda.  But since Minato was the last one I said goodbye to, I’ll tell you about him last.  Instead, I’ll start with Shinjuku -who greeted us with a WAM BAM SHAMBAM! of color.

WAMBAMSHAMBAM

I’ll always remember Shinjuku for how organic the art in her felt.  She was famous for her Imperial Garden but, while leading us there, she couldn’t help but show off the graffiti tattoos she had on the immaculate alleyways of her skin.

_MG_4657_MG_4663_MG_4659_MG_4766emo graffiti

It took us a few minutes to walk to her Gyoen -whose 58.3 hectares held Japanese Traditional, French Formal, and English Landscape style sections. We each gave Shinjuku ¥200 so she could finance the maintenance of her beautiful garden.

She could barely contain her excitement as we passed through the gates and into her masterpiece.  She wanted to show off her cherry blossom trees.  The satisfaction she felt for her ownership of them was so immense, the weight of which was heavier than any imagination could carry and would therefore always leave behind a deep and lasting impression that was impossible to convey.

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In her Gyoen, she introduced us to an old couple who sold bento boxes for  ¥500 & ¥850 at the tea house situated near a redonkulously soft and well manicured grassy expanse.  The couple also sold hot black tea, cold green tea, pancakes and other snacks.  Shinjuku urged us to buy some so that we could picnic under a tree she picked.

She wanted us to feel at peace, because that’s how she felt when she was in her garden.

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Springtime is when the cherry blossom trees are in their most festive mood.  All over Japan, they celebrate Spring’s arrival with a shower of flower confetti -excited for the new beginnings spring brings.  Shinjuku also wanted to share the festivity this inspired in her.  And once again, she succeeded.

The ability to share her good mood is one of her extraordinary qualities.  Another is the incredible freshness of the air surrounding her.  Never, in all the world, have I breathed in such purity.

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What I’ve shared with you focuses mainly on Shinjuku’s garden.  But she’s much more than that.  It was the side of her we most explored, but she also gave us glimpses of her complex nature.  Shinjuku is known as the center of Tokyo.  She is the meeting place of artists (Golden Gai) and foreign cultures (Ōkubo and Kagurazaka).  Just as she is part Imperial Garden (Shinjuku Gyoen), she is also part red light district (Kabukichō), gay district (Shinjuku Ni-chōme) and so much more.

She’s also the place where I bought my first hentai comic…which I got as a souvenir…purely for novelty reasons…really!
Not to say that Shinjuku is a place that specializes in smut production.  Hentai was openly sold in every convenience store we went to, including 711 and Familymart (which both have free wifi by the way).  When I purchased it I was filled with shame and apprehension.  But the lady at the counter -who looked about my age- didn’t even care.  Not one single bit.  It even seemed as though she found my display of impudent bravery boring.

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And hey! Bonus picture.  This poster was chilling on the side of a slot machine establishment.  It’s one of the anime shows Giann is crazy about.

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Sabishiku naru yo, Shibuya-chan.  

NEXT ENTRY: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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Beach Break – Stories

Beach Break | February 22nd | Day 3
Surfing finals, frisbee tournament, volleyball exhibition match, beach party

me and jessa girl

Might as well just blurt this out: I was crazy popular during Beach Break.
It was weird.  It was beautiful.  It was something I didn’t quite know how to acknowledge -mostly because I didn’t (and still don’t) necessarily feel deserving of all the attention I got.  But I do see the humor in it, and how can I not share such a funny (and flattering) experience?

One funny thing was how people kept asking to have their picture taken with me.  The locals were very chill about it but the frisbees players took things to the next level!  You can tell they were doing it in the spirit of gago good vibes and I like that about them.  They are definitely people who know how to have a good time.

At one part of the evening, people kept leading me off to their friends.  I wish I had a GoPro because I’m finding it impossible to capture the moment and its awesomeness in words.  Imagine all this happening in Quentin Tarantino style transition and fly high good vibes:  It started while I was talking to David and Carlos.  A girl comes up to me and insists I follow her.  She takes me by the hand and brings me to her friends.  As soon as introductions were made, someone else would come up and lead me off somewhere else.  This kept happening until I hit the mosh pit.

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I will forever suck because I didn’t get my twerk on, but the frisbee people around me were super game for whatever (I wish I could be cool like them).  Chat saved me from my own lameness and we end up chilling with her friends before I had to go give out beer.  I really really like her friends.  Especially this one guy with super long hair who was probably a wise Apache Indian sage-chief in his past life.   Oh and Bulaw of course!  Who’ll forever by my Urbiztondo guardian angel.

I did encounter quite a few people who didn’t know the meaning of personal space.  But Rino and Boss VR had my back.  They bailed me out from these incredibly makulit guys by asking me to help get tents.   Which I suppose was funny because I was in a long, backless beach dress and wedges.

Lolz. Good times.

SET UP

erection of the stage (photo by Jep)stage

SURFING FINALS
We moved the surf spot in front of Little Surf Maid because the logistics were too complicated at the other beach.  I got there before the competition started and had breakfast while the surfers stretched it out.  The food at Little Surf Maid is a little more expensive than what we had in Kahuna, but it’s SO much better.  I got the Australian breakfast platter which came with the most delicious bacon I’ve ever had in my life.  Along with hash browns, grilled tomato, a ginormous sausage, scrambled eggs and tea.  I would legit go back to La Union just for that breakfast platter.

I also bought a hammock for Php530!  Which I lost that same day…but at least I got to chill in it while watching the surfing competition.  Bulaw helped me set it up in one of the tents.

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AFTERNOON SOCIAL SCENE

Some photos I shot of people while I was delivering a script to the event host.  You meet so many people during these kinds of things.

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FLOW ARTIST SESSION
I had a break in-between lunch and dinner so I hung out with the flow artists and tried to learn how to flow.

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VOLLEYBALL EXHIBITION MATCH
This is the one event I didn’t get to watch or be part of.  But I heard the girls were good.  And they’re so damn fit!  They inspire me to workout harder and more consistently.

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FRISBEE TOURNAMENT
Since I wasn’t doing much in the surf zone, I was assigned to help give out food to the players participating in the frisbee tournament -which is how I got to spend time with these awesome, awesome people.   If the surfers make you feel like family, the frisbee players make you feel like a superstar!  I hate that I wasn’t able to get as many photos of the frisbee peeps because they were all so cool.

They were so wonderful that I decided to take up Ultimate Frisbee again…or at the very least try it out one more time.  Adi tells me they have beginners’ night at Meralco.  It’s near my office, so might as well right?

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*Most of the photos taken by Jep V.

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Beach Break – Single & Unattached

Beach Break | February 21st | Day 2
First leg of surfing competition – Photos taken by  Jep V. and me

Single & Unattached is a surfing competition where single fin longboard surfers compete with their leash unattached.  For this part of Beach Break, VSM partnered with Coast Thru Life, and flew in surfers from Bali and Australia to be judges and contestants.

With the surfer girls Looking the wrong way Yay!
There were also international surfers who came on their own. And a lot of locals with just as much mastery over the sea.

All these people are favorites of the sun.  Their hair is bleached gold and their skin is perfectly baked.  Among these sun people is my friend Chat, who came to support the event.  Chat is a Manila local and a sun child.   I found her sitting with her friends and lover in a make shift tent.  Together, her and her gang spend their days (at the very least their weekends) living the life most people sit and daydream about.  They surf till sawa and take beautiful captures of their adventures.  Chat also introduces me to my favorite person: Rayson!  His parents, Belinda and Adam, are part of the community of people living the dream by traveling the world one beachfront or nature trail at a time.

Hey Chat!With sina Chat

kissy fishy face

He tells me to do a fishy face and then steals a kiss. I can tell this kid will be a heartbreaker when he grows up.

Rayver and Chat

Rayver!

Flying

Father-son bonding

The rest of my team was in the main beachfront getting everything set for Saturday -the day the frisbee players and volleyball girls were expected to arrive.  So I was tasked to watch over the competition and came to spend most of my day at the surf spot.

Chillest job on the planet!  It was a beautiful scene too.  Prime waves and weather, which everyone agreed was perfect for surfing (Georgia, Australian longboard champ, even said the waves that day were among the best she’s ever ridden).  And the ambience was on point!  Buji blasted old school sounds on the speakers while Manang grilled Tender Juicy somewhere nearby.  The vibe was retro surf stereotype made magical with local color.

Georgia and IraBoardsHey Buji!Nikki, Buji and sponsors - Jep V.Peace - Jep V.Ice cream mannew friends :D new friendsRayver and Belinda - Jep V.Selfie! - Jep V.MTV peepsSurf super star - Jep V.

When the competition was over, some of the guys and I started messing around with Jep’s camera.  I think we ended up with some pretty cute shots!   Jep definitely has mad skillz.  I used a lot of his captures here (to discern between ours all you have to do is keep in mind that his are the nicer ones!)

Greetings - Jep V.Judge tableBeach Fit - Jep V. 3Beach Fit - Jep V. 2Beach fit - Jep V.Emerson, Jep and KikoFlag Jep V. 3beach bbqbeach bbq smoke

Had to sneak in a shot of the BBQ cooking.  Had to.  I forgot to bring snacks and, as chill as the event was, I still did a lot of walking.  So Manang’s little grill station was a huge lifesaver.  Only Php 20 a stick baby!

The older ones from our team arrived just as the surfing competition ended.  I rode back to Kahuna with them.  At Kahuna, we spent the rest of our time trying to figure out all the who’s, where’s, what’s, when’s and how’s.  Like who was sleeping where and what was happening when. And how the hell was I going to be able to call Giann in the middle of all the chaos???

It was all very hectic -at least during the latter part of the day.  But that’s the events loife, son!  Definitely demanding.  But definitely worth it.

Next entry: “Beach Break – title undecided”.

Locals - Jep V.

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Beach Break – Before the Booze

Beach Break | February 20-23 | Day One
Arrival & Prep

Everything is more susceptible to sweet talk at nighttime, including the road.  Which is why we left for Urbiztondo before the sun even thought of rising.  We wanted to take advantage of darkness and its ability to make the road so much more open to all our hopeful advances.  So under the twilight sky, we coaxed it to let us go all the way (quickly and with little resistance) to La Union -where we launched Beach Break.

Beach Break was a two-day long beach party with a surfing competition, frisbee tournament and volleyball exhibition match.  Putting it together involved a lot of stress.  But that’s expected when events is your business.  It’s stressful, exhausting and all sorts of uncomfortable.  It’s also fun.  10,000 leagues of fun.

Especially when you’re a team of young guns housed in a beautiful villa by the sea.

young guns Me, Rinsky and Jessa Girlbed

We set up headquarters at Kahuna.  Our first meeting was held in their cafe, where we sought out Php250 Filipino breakfasts to help us recover from our eight hour love affair with the road.

But the living room at the villa became our base of operations for the remainder of the trip.  It was spacious and clean.  And it gave everyone access to the outdoor lounge overlooking the event space.  In that living room we printed scripts, IDs, and beer signs.  We also packed t-shirts, formulated program flows, and munched on Tostitos with cream cheese.

the first meetingpoolbeach break the team

the beach scene

The first day was cucumber mint ice water -chill and fresh.  The newness of the experience coupled with the sunset slowdown (when honey light soaks its sweet sedative into the bones of the world) made it an exciting time to feed Wonderland (my demon camera).
That afternoon he and I captured soul images of new friends, the sunset and surfboards.

surfing lessons herelook out station

jumpingcotton candy boardsnew friends_MG_3683_MG_3673over here!boards and boy breathingBonus shot: Stuffed squid.

stuffed squid

The evening was spent in near-suspended motion.  We wanted to save our energy for the actual event days, but many of us were made jittery by long to do lists.  Whereas I felt nervous because mine seemed too short.  It’s never good to do nothing.  And the best way to stay busy is by talking to people.  Which is so easy in a place full of happy-go-lucky surfers.

Events can be a tough business, but it’s tougher not to love it.

Next entry: “Beach Break – Single and Unattached”.

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Boracay Business Trip

I went to Boracay when February was middle aged.  I went for a middle aged reason; a business trip.

Wait, no.  I’ve got it all wrong.  Business trips are more for the young than the old.  They’re for the kids who, only now, are realizing that they’re not kids anymore.  For the kids who are all grown up and are tripping out on how surreal it is to be grown up.  For the kids -the upstarts- still full of wanderlust and nervous energy, taking their first pensive steps into a new age (group).

And I’m one of them.  And this is my first business trip.  And I need to document this.

Just like how I absolutely needed to document myself on this boat:

On a boat

And in this hotel room:

The obligatory room selfie

What I can’t include in my documentation is the reason for my being in Boracay.  Company policy dictates that I’m not allowed to disclose which client we’re working for or what project we’re doing for them.

Solution: I just won’t expound (too much) on the snapshots I put up.  Not that I ever intended to anyway.  Lack of necessity makes super detailed play-by-plays lame.

Not So Detailed
Boracay Business Trip
Play by Play

First meeting of the day!  I swear I was paying attention:

The meeting The paying attention at the meeting

Happiness is being able to eat stuffed squid by the beach.  This one was served with coconut sauce.  I splooshed.

The obligatory stuffed squid by the beach mealThe umbrellas

Another business engagement.  Ms. Joy and I had banana fritters with coconut ice cream while waiting for it to start.  It wasn’t very good, but check out my super awesome photo of it!  Followed by photos of our mojito powered meeting.

The disco ball and coconut treesThe banana fritters by the beach

The free in-meeting mojitosnotesThe beachside meetingthe walkers

Sneaking in some shots of the beach action in-between more appointments.
The beach
The beach again

I paid the henna man a visit after all our business affairs were sorted.  Henna man started his work at 10pm, finishing it off half an hour later.  And I was really happy about my new body art…until I remembered henna needed to dry out for the design to stick.  I spent the next hour and a half at the hotel room blowdrying my arm like a loser.  Isn’t it pretty though?

The henna tattoo

I woke up early the next morning to take photos of Boracay before dawn.  Both the activity and the setting were as zen as zen can be.  I vibered Giann while taking my shots because that was the only time I had to be alone with him.  My job is hectic.  But hey!  How can I not love it?

The I'll wait for youThe boat The yellow lineThe red curveThe I'll meet you there the boracay sand sculptureThe crown of flowers

 Then it was breakfast buffet time with Ms. Joy at the Astoria dining quarters (which I don’t have any photos of).  Their hot chocolate is coco nuts!  I imagine that drink was the drink Jose Rizal had in mind when he proposed the notion of “chocolate, eh” in Noli Me Tangre.

And all too soon it was time to go home.

The voyage home the boat is here The boat is waiting The princess has arrived_MG_3416

Oh hey look! My first bathroom selfie of my first colored henna on my first business trip.

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So long Boracay!  Till we meet again.

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Keeping It Real, Quezon

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We left for Real when the New Year was only 10 days and 20 hours old.

We arrived at 4:17, Saturday morning -would’ve probably gotten there sooner if Waze didn’t keep lying to us (Sterero siya!)   Next time we’ll print out a map.

The cottage owners were still asleep (rental opens at 6am and closes at 10pm), so we found shelter in the form of a coconut hut while waiting for them and the sun to rise. Jim, Harry and Bea did the smart thing and took power naps. But Tommy and I were more interested in capturing images of the sky getting dressed. The boats watched with us.

Tommy and the Sea Good morning Boat!
We were only interested in seeing which colors the sky would choose to wear that day.  But the local sky guardians mistook our intentions as perverse and went to investigate our actions. They came in the form of dogs, which made me panic. So Tommy had to come to my rescue and distract them with sticks.

After appeasing the guardians we bumped into some of Harry’s friends -who came to Real after an inuman down South.  We woke the others and followed our new comrades to a yellow house by the sea.

Erick, Lailani, Miguel and Jed

_MG_2863_MG_2865Jed and TommyThe gangHarry still an espasol Cooler than cool Fun with beer hats_MG_2916

We didn’t bring any food with us.  Only alcohol for my friends and a bottle of water for me.  But there was a palengke full of freshly caught sea creatures nearby, as well as a local woman who happened to have pro-ihaw skillz.

Tanigue Shrimp!yum

And just two tumblings away from our cottage was a treehouse tindahan with snacks and Cola.

We had no worries.

Bea and catBea and Tommy Treehouse Tommy and I

…Except when we were making our way to Mt. Balagbag (where the waterfalls hide).  Harry drove his City across the countryside -which was under construction.   But even in its unraveled state, the countryside was so terrific the City couldn’t help but quiver.  It trembled and shook so much we were afraid it wouldn’t be able to keep itself together.  But the City survived and we made it to the falls.  We even found the most hipster rock place ever along the way.

There was so much beauty there.  So much life in the endless ocean crashing up against great black rocks.  I bet those boulders were sleeping giants in disguise.

Harry of the Sea Bea by the Sea Tommy on the RocksHipster rock place

Wonderland (my camera) was pooped by the time we got to Balagbag.  And so were we.  Still, we paid the Php 20 entrance fee and trekked on.  So worth it.  Wonderland managed to stay awake until after we got a few shots of the falls, but fell asleep shortly after.  A few shots were all we needed anyway.

Finding the waterfallsBy the waterfalls Deciding what to do nextWhere to look?

We left Quezon a few hours later -making our way back to Muntinlupa after charging our phones and bodies with naps and electrical sockets.  We were lost for most of the way going home, but following Jollibee signs helped us get back to civilization.

Whattatrip!

{Breakdown of Expenses}

There were five of us, and we each had to pitch in:
Php 500  Gas
Php 300  Palengke money
Php 400  Place to stay

What else I spent on: Php 350 for food and water.  The rest spent a lot more because they bought alak.

Expect to spend about Php 1550 each for the trip if you’re in a group of five.  Php 2000 if you drink or if you want to go surfing/skim boarding (board rentals are Php 200).  And Php 2500 if you want to eat somewhere fancy after..

The End.

Stranded

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My Fashion Week Experience

with the Buensalido Girls
My friend Trish works for Buensalido Public Relations (which handled media coverage for Fashion Week), so she was able to hook me up with an internship.  Thanks again Trish!
Trish and I (cropped)

First Day: Forgot my memory card.  Covered the Freego show -turns out this guy I dated was one of the models for the show (I thought that was funny).  Bumped into Mulawin (who once sold me 26 lipsticks and 8 eye pencils in one go) and Kris (a friend from fashion school).

photo photo (1)
Second Day: Started to feel useful…until I told the owner of the show to get off his own runway (Patti kept telling me it was okay, but I’ll never get over it)  On the plus side, I got to sit in the front row -a moment I found more thrilling than I care to admit.

It begins

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Third Day:  In the morning I had a job interview for a part-time position as an events coordinator.  It doesn’t pay much, but hey! I got the job.  Had to rush straight to SMX for my internship.  I missed the first show, but I was able to make it in time for Penshoppe (one of Buensalido’s main accounts).  I was surprised by how good the collection was.  Oh…and, it’s really not a big deal or anything (really) but I was scouted by someone from ABS-CBN.  He asked me to send him my portfolio if I wanted to get into showbiz.  I still haven’t decided whether or not to do it.  Maybe if I were more photogenic.

Penneshoppe IMG_2124 IMG_2137 IMG_2154 IMG_2162

Bumped into Yssa (a fellow DJ from Green Giant FM) and Sheradine (an old dragon boat teammate) .

IMG_2112 IMG_2166

The last show we covered that day:

IMG_2174 IMG_2176

I wanted to stay, but Trish and I also wanted to make it to Ina’s party.  We decided to bounce after getting the media peeps sorted.

Fourth Day:  The most tiring day of the week!  Saturday wore me out.  I wanted to ditch Sunday, but the Buensalido girls are all so awesome and I didn’t want to let them down.  Bumped into Monica (a ex-lit major turned model).  She’s famous now, but she’s still so nice!

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Cess and I stepped out a little after bumping into Monica and, coincidentally, bump into her favorite model.  He was also pretty nice.  

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I want to keep this photo dump extravaganza bearable, so more to come in the next blog entry.
Peace out and thanks for stopping by!

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