Summer Madness 2014, Argao Cebu

Last May, I was invited to tag along as the official photographer of one of the DJs during the Summer Madness 2014, an electronic music festival held at the southern Cebu town of Argao. The aim of the festival is to promote the tourism industry of Argao, a town often overlooked by tourists who are mostly going to Oslob to swim with whale sharks.

Here are some of my photos of the event, as well as the morning after where we were treated to a feast of seafood as well as awesome landscapes in Argao. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Lakbayan: All the places in the Philippines that I’ve been to

Life will always be a mess. The goal is not to correct it but to organize that mess.

Ever since I decided to drop out of college my goal has always been to make my life an organized mess. On a certain level, I knew that my whimsical nature is the cause for my determined pursuit of it. But that did not stop me from doggedly pursuing it anyway.

Travelling became the main tool for me to put some semblance of organization into my life, and the group that I was in before not only made it easy but also necessary. Thus, at a relatively young age, I was able to roam more than 80% of the country, from the laid-back vistas of Mindanao in the south and the culture-rich cities of Luzon in the north.

Below is a map of all the places that I’ve been to in the Philippines. This was generated by an awesome app by Eugene Villar over at Codegraphic. The areas with a darker hue are the places where I stayed longest, while the lighter ones are those that I’ve either passed by or been to only once.

I have kept putting off my trip to Ilocos norte before (that’s the northernmost part of the country) due to this silly goal of mine to reserve it for when I’m finally ready to do my own version of a “walkabout”. For those who don’t know, the Ilocos region has plenty of folklore and mystery that would draw anyone in search of the mystical aspects of life. Soon, perhaps, when I can finally find the courage to live like a hermit.

Down south, the only places I haven’t been to are Basilan and Sulu. While I do have hopes of becoming a war photographer, I’m also not that suicidal, and in those areas poke your nose where you shouldn’t and you’ll most likely end up as fish food. Don’t get me wrong though, those areas are generally a good place to visit on a vacation. But for a photographer like me, the air of suspicion and paranoia there might get me into trouble.

Still, more than 80% of the country ain’t bad, and I still have many years left in me to complete it. Byahe na!

My Lakbayan grade is B!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Me and Pepsi Paloma

Recently, one of the leading newspapers in the Philippines published an article about an old rape case.

Though I wonder what the motivation is behind the resurfacing of this case, it also reminded me of the song Spolarium by the Eraserheads, its purported reference to the Pepsi Paloma rape case, and its subsequent whitewashing that ended in the alleged suicide of the young actress.

When I first heard the song I knew there was more to it as almost all songs in the Sticker Happy album had dark undertones of political and social issues (ever wondered why the album cover was a naked woman playing a piano in an open field? And yes, the song Andalusian Dog is a reference to the silent short film Un Chien Andalou. I’ll leave it up to you to read up on that, quite an interesting movie.)

Anyway, it wasn’t until years later in a tipsy discussion with a college professor that I was introduced to the song’s connection to the Paloma case. While there were stark similarities, especially the mention of Enteng and Joey, I never really believed it as, one, I was really tipsy, and two, there was no Google back then. 🙂

You might wonder why I took the time and had enough interest to post about this while keeping mostly silent about bigger issues like wars abroad and domestic corruption. Well, simply put, this happened in 1982, the year I was born.

I have often wondered what the early years were like after Martial Law was lifted in 1981. Ninoy was assassinated in 1983, Pepsi Paloma “killed” herself in 1985, and the snap elections happened in 1986. I was four years old then, the critical formative years where social events being discussed by adults will have a significant impact on a child’s impression of the world.

I have noticed that people my age are either blindly optimistic or hopelessly pessimistic. Very few are in between. Are we, early 80s babies, the way we are right now because of the seesawing events that happened in our early years?

Or is Monday just affecting my normally dormant existential angst?

Do poets dream?

do poets dream
an immortal’s dream?
when words flourish
tumbling beautifully;
when endless lines
betray confusion;
when doubts linger
in every penstroke;
do poets dream forever
amidst all these?

do poets weep
in blissful sorrow?
when the past leaps
unmercifully arrogant;
when the future beckons
in lasting temptations;
when the present mocks
a coward’s facade;
do poets weep eternal
in sad contemplation?

do poets laugh
a pauper’s laughter?
when kith and kin
mingle in desire;
when friends overwhelm
solitude’s call;
when love teases
shackled in lust;
do poets laugh anew
at these perfections?

do poets die
yielding to certainty?
when faith blinds
savage reasoning;
when beliefs commune
with stinging apathy;
when knowledge fails,
raving in duplicity;
do poets die screaming
when sanity flees?

Baguio City. March 12, 2006