Monday, April 21, 2014

Snippets: Hong Kong Pedestrian

Taken in Hong Kong almost four years ago, this is one of my favorite photos captured during my trip there. Riding on top of a double-decker bus, I saw this old man stopping in the middle of the street as the light flickered red. I took out my camera and got the shot while the bus was also at a halt.

There's a postcard-like quality to it with the old balding man riding his bicycle, a basket fastened at the back, and his white socks showing as he paddled on. The combinations of subtle neutral colors of grays and blacks, plus some lines of washed-out yellows streaking at the back, it actually made the basket pop up as the only shade of green in the frame. 

I edited the photo a bit to reduce contrast and saturation, but keeping the vibrance on meduim-high to retain that bright feeling of daylight as it was high noon when I took the shot as seen in the shadows being cast on the concrete.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday at Valladolid

My earliest memories of Holy Week had always been one associated with dread. Belonging to a family of devout Catholics, I grew up with the obligation of fulfilling my Christian duties during this time of year. As long as I could remember, it was a time of sacrifices and solemn nights. Owning a number of icons, including a century-old Santo Entierro, the family has a responsibility of keeping up the tradition of dressing up the carroza and guarding the icon throughout the night of the du-aw, a tradition wherein devotees flock the church with lines extending as long as the MRT queues during rush hour to kiss the feet of the dead Christ. The oldies would take their children and grandchildren to pass down the ritual of paying respect to the dead.

There was a time in my life when I did the Via Crucis for eight consecutive years, waking up at 3:30am to prepare for the 4am march. The part that made it difficult was staying up until midnight of Maundy Thursday because we also had to prepare the Altar of the Repose in the church, and a three-hour sleep before a three-hour walk is something I will never get used to. The via crucis would start out in the church with the priest saying a prayer then would progress around the city where we would stop and say gospel readings at all fourteen stations of the cross. The beauty of the experience is walking amongst few strangers at dusk and come sunrise, you look back and see a sea of people following through by the hundreds. Some people wait at stations and join the group the moment we reach them. The via crucis usually takes three hours to complete with a perimeter of about 6-8kms of walk. The feeling begins as a burden of having to wake up so early, but in the end it’s a feeling of fulfilment as you see the break of day greeting you at the entrance of the church. The only thing I worry every year back then was the possibility of stepping on dog poop.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palaui Escape 2014

The existence of Palaui came into view after Survivor Palaui aired internationally this year, but even then the boom of tourism in the island is contained by limiting the number of available cottages being built. Speaking to the caretaker, he said at least forty people can be accommodated at one time, but they adjust accordingly for certain occasions. 

Located on the tip of the Cagayan region, getting there will take many hours and so far the quickest would be to charter a jet that will take you at a close enough proximity to Sta. Ana port where you will take the pump boat to the island. Another option would be to take the 1-hour plane ride to Tuguegarao and ride the 3-hour shuttle to Sta. Ana. But the much cheaper and longer way would be by bus in Cubao, but that will take you at least 12hrs to Tuguegarao? 

The thing that made me love the journey were the friendliness and hospitality of the people in Cagayan that it was pretty easy to get around with their willingness to help us throughout the trip. For four days and three nights, I spent about 4-5k? Mostly because we didn't skimp our budget on food that I think we spent more on food than our accommodation. The sort-of lucky thing about our trip was that the day before it was a 37ยบ heat, but when we got there it was cloudy with scattered rain that my sunburn is not as bad as it could have been had the rain clouds not appear. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Todd English Food Hall at SM Aura

The Classic Todd's Signature Flatbread Pizza (Php380.00)

The Todd English Food Hall opened not so long ago, and supposedly being the first celebrity chef owned restaurant in the country, it got the top spot on my list of must-try-asap places. Being an ignoramus, I never heard of the name Todd English until blogs went abuzz over the opening of his restaurant in Aura. I went to research his name a bit before posting this and this is what I found out: 1. He's American who is an author, chef, television personality, and owns lots of restaurants, 2. He worked under Jean-Jacques Rachou, a name well recognized in the culinary world that I even heard his name being mentioned by other chefs a couple of times, and 3. He's cool for opening a restaurant here in the Philippines because that makes me less jealous of Singapore now.

Being new, well-anticipated and promoted, the place is packed! Queues pile up during meal times that we ended up sitting at the salad bar where we ironically chose not to order any salads. The seats were full, but the service was not bad despite having to wait a while before being fed. Actually, our orders didn't take that long that we even managed to see the trailers of Captain America at 2pm. So pardon the photos, I was shaking in hunger.