more on motorcycle diaries

pictures of a picturesque journey

more images from my trip through mindanao last year between september to november. during that time i was able to visit san francisco, agusan del sur; surigao and siargao island, butuan city, davao city, general santos, marbel and surallah in south cotabato; lake sebu, south cotabato; zamboanga city and of course my home base cagayan de oro city.

fiesta girl
high school girl in full costume, street dance competition, zamboanga city.

yet again i was lucky to have been in zamboanga during their city fiesta (more popularly called fiesta pilar). that day i gemini and i met up with viejay, who brought with her an old friend, who is a photojournalist from the philippine star. he was cool about me tagging along while he takes pictures during the festivities. so come celebration, i was on the road too, snapping away and recording the street dance competition on video. had a blast, ive never gotten that close to taking photographs of strangers. quite an experience. the music from the drum and bugle corps still ring in my chest cavity ūüôā

police barricade during the parade
police barricade during the parade, zamboanga city

everybody that day were in high spirits and the crowd were clamoring for pictures as well. here’s one unguarded moment from the men on guard hehehe

wakan weaver
yakan weaver, yakan village, zamboanga city

on my last day in zamboanga, the boat i was to take to general santos was delayed for hours (apparently somebody fell overboard in mid-sea, exciting, no?). so girlie saavedra and roland, my companion in the bookid, toured me around the city (on a tricycle–a three-wheeled motorcycle) for the last time. one of our stops was in the yakan village. i was able to buy a few souvenirs, including a bag whose weaver i met that day. this old lady was his grandmother i believe.

ancestral domain
marker of the ancestral domain in lake sebu

this you pass by when you go up the lake sebu. it marks the beginning of the area that is comprised of the CADC 003 and CADC 004, which were awarded to the t’boli and ubo tribes. despite the recognition, tenurial security remains a dream as issues and old skeletons continue to haunt these people. some of the their lands were forcibly taken from them. since the tribes people have no concept of securing land titles and canned goods, they have been deceived of friendship in exchange of land areas. migrants have populated most of the areas near the lake and the tribes people have evidently been pushed up the mountain. environmental concerns include the progressive encroachment into the watershed areas. moreover, concerns of the tribes not only include education on modern methods in land management but might need an overhaul of cultural traits and customs as well. if they lose that, then they wouldnt be so different from ourselves.

tilapia galore
grilled tilapia from the waters of lake sebu

during the fiesta in lake sebu, the city government organized a tilapia eat-all-you-can festival. tickets were sold at p100 and mygas, the tilapia! grilled, fried, boiled, stewed, drowned, you name it! it was the first time they did that and it’s something to look forward to every year.

gemini in siargao
gemini fernandez in cloud nine, siargao island.

to get around siargao, one still has to rent out a habal-habal (motorcycle). either that or you go around swimming. cloud nine is where you would find the biggest waves for surfing. and since we didnt know how to, we ended up just looking and taking pictures. siargao is a wonderful place, luv it!

siargao bridge
general luna, siargao island, surigao

gemini and i decided to take a short sidetrip to surigao from agusan en route to cagayan. it was an impromptu decision really. we arrived in surigao late in the evening and had to check in a lodging house prior to taking the first boat out to siargao the next day. we were also supposed to have stayed half a day only but the place was so inviting it was a shame to have traveled so many miles and not enjoy it. so we ended up renting a cottage and taking a few motorcycle trips around the place, swim in the blue waters and be in wonderful company and beer in the evening. and yes, they have internet on the island hehehe

musings, travel

cruising down the freeway in the hot hot sun

a journey through latin america on a bike

watching walter salles’ the motorcycle diaries, i couldnt help but be reminded of my travels through mindanao between september to november of last year. and although my two-month something trip pales in comparison to che gueverra’s 8-month eye-opening medical mission, i also had my fair share of eccentric characters, majestic landscapes, life-changing moments and dusty roads on habal-habal.

yes, my very own motorcycle diaries. read all about it.

the cinematography of salles’ film is great, the film explores beautiful stretches of latin land, picturesque views of the countryside and a grim but real image of poverty, suffering, hope and yearning for a better world and a better life. the music is underscored beautifully. gael works wonders with his performance. one would think he was too handsome for his own good, but gael knows how to handle that and it never becomes a hindrance. i would love to see this film again, reminisce of my own past journeys, and dream of more travel through this country. a tourist in your own country i may no longer be.


my motorcycle diaries

i was inspired by the film to share a few more pictures of my trip down south. i would definitely recommend going around the country. you will realize there is indeed so much beauty here than you could possibly imagine, and so much love and spirit among its inhabitants.

mang bering
manong bering at his house on km14 la paz zamboanga

mang bering has lived on the la paz mountain all his life. he boasts he knows every inch of the mountain and can even trek through it at night without a torchlight. whenever he’d take us out through the woods he’d normally make it difficult for us by not using the footpaths. luckily my companion roland and i were up to it. in the evenings we’d huddle near the hearth in the kitchen and tell tall tales of giant beasts and kapres who protect mang bering and his family while swigging straight tanduay. he’d laugh his heart out and talk to me in a mix of chavacano and ilonggo, and id confirm his statements with bisaya.

the trip up to la paz would take an hour and a half on habal-habal (a motorcycle) from the foot of the mountain all the way up 14 kilometers (hence the name of the station kilometer 14 hehehe how convenient, eh?) the road of course starts off cemented until you pass the 3rd kilometer then all hell breaks loose. to get to the watershed border of the la paz (this area is a buffer zone to the watershed) you have to continue up km26 still on habal-habal. the day we went up were escorted with armed men on convoy. i thought that was rather cool. didnt get a picture though, but i got it all on video.

lake sebu
lake sebu, late afternoon

lake sebu is a municipality in south cotabato, featuring three natural, freshwater (of course) mountain lakes, the biggest being lake sebu. to get to the center of the town we had to travel on motorcycle (habal-habal, the faster alternative to jeepneys) for about an hour from surallah (three hours ata from general santos). most people in this area go around in motorcycles, same as with la paz in zamboanga. it’s the most convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation. deadma, your lamborghini cant do shit on the mountain pare.

this shot was taken from the resort where i stayed for two weeks (on and off). the lake is majestic but the people who live in this ancestral domain is more worthy of attention. their plight to security and livelihood may be paralleled to many like them all over the country but nevertheless as important. talking to a lot of their leaders has opened my eyes to injustices in the world over.

fall-side lunch
robert, nelson and a kid guide

watershed falls at lake sebu south cotabato to get to this waterfalls at the tip of the lake sebu mountain in south cotabato, we had to walk through the rainforest. it took roughly around an hour to two hours depending on how fast you can crawl through mud and rock, under canopies of giant ferns and shrubs. if you were lucky enough you would avoid picking up leeches and other bloodsuckers.

the scene in this place is breathtaking, and yes, i almost died here. i slid down the rocky wall that i climbed up on (in my underwear, yeah we took a bath). it was only more than a meter but the experience was something else, my life indeed flashed before my eyes! what stopped me from going all the way down the length of the mountain was my (thankfully) rather long chin.

my companions on motorcycle through the rainforests and ricefields in lake sebu were robert and nelson. nelson is from agusan and is a forestry graduate. robert is from the area and is half-muslim, half-t’boli. despite his mixed heritage, i often told him he’d be the future of his people, having been enlightened by every thing good and bad about their culture. i hope he’ll indeed take his place in the world.

breastfeeding mother
mother from the ubo tribe nursing her child

we visited the house of an ubo datu and almost never came out alive! we were asked to wait near the house and because my friend didnt stop me from my actions, i went ahead taking pictures of the house and the residents. we were able to talk to the lady of the house and one of her daughters. suddenly this rag near me (suspended from the ceiling) started to shake. then water began streaming out from under the rag. what i originally thought was a bag of clothes turned out to be a baby cradle! the mother was amused that i was caught unaware. later she began nursing him and i silently took a picture before turning my attention to the grandmother who began chewing betel nuts.

perya scene
perya at the poblacion during the week-long fiesta in lake sebu

i was lucky to have visited lake sebu during the height of its municipal festival. in the evenings the poblacion (sentro) was in full swing with kiddie rides, videoke booths, and gambling tables. we’d normally take a stroll, eat at the carinderia that serves a healthy serving of grilled chicken and swap stories of personal histories, philosophies and theories on life and development of the native race over red horse. will the drinking never end? ūüôā

y’egas, extraordinary t’boli artist

had a grand time listening to y’egas sing! the t’bolis normally tell tales and histories through song and i had the opportunity to hear y’egas recount the death of their datu chieftain, speak of the beauty of lake sebu, and detail a local epic by singing. and yes, she sang in her native tongue so i didnt understand a thing. but man, her eyes, they will render you helpless and mesmerized. she has cast her spell on you and you cant resist but do her every bidding.

y’egas and her family
y’egas (& the t’boli tribe) amused at seeing herself on video

here is an interesting scene of the tribes people up close with technology. although they are not ignorant to the sight of tourists with their cameras, it’s a different experience altogether when they get to hold it and see themselves on the camera. and here, y’egas was watching and listening to herself. everybody were highly amused.

ben in the mountains mode
picture taken during one of those foggy mornings in la paz zamboanga. me with my walking stick, my videocam, and a raincoat ready for a drizzle or a trip through the rainforest.


here are pics i took of myself using a holga 120, a gift from cuzin tootsie. im still on experimenting the medium format camera, and so far ive used only 35mm daylight film. my self portrait. a lot of people told me i look like my brother-in-law in the last pic, others asked when this was taken (last december) because i looked fat daw, and most ran away screaming (scary daw hehehe). still some liked the bulletin board background of my sister (with the justice league stuff) more than my bald head. sabi nga ni ricky davao sa “bayaning third world,” kanya-kanyang rizal.



“what the…?”

this isnt the first time it happened. one incident i was riding a taxi from katips to mandaluyong. the young taxi driver then began to strike up a conversation. apparently he was learned and well-read (if you consider “the da vinci code” as serious reading). ewan, tamad mag-aral, he said he could have been one of the office people. now he just drives office people to their office.

then he asks me stuff about drawing. he assumes i was an artist designer, he goes on asking me about the stuff i do. i ask him, na-oobvious bang “artist” ako? he said, yes (as clear as day). although i laughed off his assumption (considering it’s true) i wasnt all too jolly about the stereotype.

recently one of the prod staffs at a shoot we did during the weekend asks me if i were “indeed” from the up fine arts (“taga up fine arts ka, diba?”). i said yes. he tells me he knew a lot of people there. later i ask him how’d he know i was from up, being curious as to who perhaps could be a mutual friend or if we’ve met before in the campus. he then tells me i look like somebody from there.

ano ba?!

ive nothing against goatees (esp unruly ones). nothing against my bald head (ive been shaving off my hair since the summer of 1993, a few months earlier before richard gomez came out and sported the same style– and then everybody went skinhead). nothing against weird clothing, silver rings, bracelets or black tshirts. but come on, ive fallen into a type.

despite my appearance, i could also be a musician, or one of those bohemian junkee types. but ive gotten myself into a visual trap. i dont really mean to look like some artiste, it’s comes with the environment and the background (and maybe even the vibes we emit, or the color of our auras). i feel like some pathetic wannabe, desperate for confirmation and attention. im no f*****’ mascot!

maybe i should grow some hair and wear a coat and tie. or not.

now i know how jollibee feels. without effort, everybody knows he’s the jolly bug because of that cool, orange blazer he wears.


the aviator

the aviator: flying friendlier skies
the wave of the future

watched aviator last monday when my boss dante and i found ourselves with time to waste in between meetings in makati. i was surprised by the film because i didnt really think id like it, but i did. leonardo’s performance was really good here, i never really liked him and although people have lauded his talent since he was a kid, i never was bowled over. in the aviator i felt he just upped himself and entered jack nicholson’s level of intensity. you cant get away with the boyish body that he possesses but his performance was engaging. at one point i even saw him get into tom cruise territory (tom in born on the fourth of july) –although i also dont really like tom cruise. actually he’s better than tom probably hehehe the only time i liked tom cruise were in born on the fourth of july and last samurai. ok you can add top gun to the list (we grew up watching that flick).

titanic was alright, though it was more kate winslet’s film (who, btw, didnt win for eternal sunshine, which is a bummer, my bet was on her on account that it was my favorite film). i liked leo better in baz lhurmann’s romeo and juliet, mainly because he was more fitting as the other half of two young star-crossed lovers there. but in aviator he surprisingly fitted howard hughes’ bearded look and age.

cate blanchett was a real thrill in the film. she was wonderful as katherine hepburn, her characer had the tendency to just be a copy of somebody famous except that cate filled her up with this feeling, breathing character who loved hughes despite everything else. i loved that scene at the door when hughes tells her he cant come out because he havent shaved. she retorts, “so have i.” and all throughout the scene we see all this history and pain and graciousness between these two ex-lovers. asteg talaga the film (spoken like a true cono hehehe).

scorsese could have won oscar for this film but maybe he’ll only get a lifetime achievement award (hopefully not posthumously). anyhu, there are still ray and constantine that i have to watch before they find themselves out of the theater. if i had the resources i could have just watched them on pirated dvds but my player’s conked out. that leaves me no choice but to dish out for greenbelt glorietta and galleria.


googling with glee

“have you ever googled yourself?”

last sunday we quasi-celebrated jeh’s birthday dinner at congo grill. she was born on a leap year and thus doesnt have a real birthday every four years. it is a running joke on those born like her as to when theyd celebrate their birthdays every year.

company found lorybeth astarte jeh her friend francine (did i get that right?) ronnie and atty lyman manzano (the last name, for purposes of googling). we arrived late at timog and i missed most of the sinigang (paubos na when we got there) and im a sucker for sinigang.

after dinner we killed time at seattle’s best because it had wifi. thus the googling ang giggling. really, have you ever googled yourself? masturbation at its best, or worse depends on the outcum. you should try it, you might enjoy yourself ūüėČ