City Sunset on EDSA

Yup, it is really difficult or quite impossible to photograph a decent picture of sunsets if you’re living in the city like me.  The Philippine​ metropolis like Manila, Makati, Quezon City, and Caloocan, to name a few, are cities heavily saturated with high rise buildings, malls , hanging power lines and cables like spaghettis on your dinner plate, and of course, those large billboards and left-over campaign posters with faces of our politicians as if Filipinos don’t know them enough… most of these politicians have been in politics and in the government for the past couple of decades as far as I can remember.

The sunset in the photographs below can only be seen during summer months (April through July) with the setting sun almost right in the middle of EDSA (a circumferential highway passing through several cities in the heart of Metro Manila).

I took this picture along EDSA just between SM CyberMall and Munoz in Quezon City. During non-summer months, the setting sun is located somewhere right of EDSA where it is covered by the high-rise buildings on the right side of the road. Unless you’re on the higher floors of a building or on top of a parking building of a mall, it is really quite difficult or near to impossible to capture a decent image of the sun setting on the horizon in the Metro of Manila.

IMG_2060_ompong

Don’t Steal or Don’t Kill?

tencommandments

In the past years, a Catholic seminary located near EDSA, Guadalupe in the heart of Makati, Philippines had a poster saying “VII. Huwag kang magnakaw.” which refers to the seventh commandment in a tablet claimed by Moses to have been written by his god.  In English, it means “VII. Thou shalt not steal”.  We all know that the Philippines, being a 3rd world country, is among the world’s most corrupt country — Jan 2017: PH still among world’s most corrupt countries: Transparency International Index.  By having this poster seen by many, the Catholic leaders were hoping to make “corrupt politicians and government employees” alike to change their ways and be more prudent in doing government business.  In those years, the Filipinos were one with what the Catholic leaders was advocating.

This year, the same Catholic seminary had changed their poster which now says “V. Huwag kang papatay.” which means “V. Thou shalt not kill.” It is quite obvious why the seminary have this poster nowadays.  The Catholic leaders in the Philippines, namely the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has continuously criticized the Duterte administration over the apparent disregard of human rights because of the alleged extra-judicial killings (EJK) that had already resulted to about 8,000 deaths brought about by the war on drugs since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 – – CBCP: Pastoral Statement on the Extra-Judicial Killings.  The message is quite clear and of course, the Duterte administration lambasted the Catholic leaders. CBCP is now at the receiving end of social media bashes mostly by the avid supporters of the country’s populist leader.  This time, the Filipinos are completely divided about this “EJK/human rights concern”  on top of the worsening political polarization – – the avid supporters of Duterte crying for more bloodbath rationalizing the innocent deaths as just “collateral damage for the good of the many” while the anti-Duterte groups are rallying to protect the rights of every citizens in the country.

Photographer Hack… the Lenspen!

​If you are using a lenspen to clean your gear’s lenses, don’t throw it away after the carbon-tipped disc has been quite used up. It is still useful!
I use my old lenspen to clean my reading glasses, the screen of my mobile phone, and even my watch and other sort of things made of glass. It can easily wipe away grime and oily smudges. Of course, the brush itself is excellent at dusting off those tiny dirt stuck in your laptop’s keyboards! :):):)

Isaw-isaw (Grilled Chicken Intestines)

psx_20170106_212717_ompong.jpg

This popular street food in the Philippine is what we call the “Isaw-isaw” or plainly, a grilled chicken intestine for the un-oriented. You see, nothing is wasted in our country. We eat everything in a chicken… its head, its organs, its blood, and even its feet. And believe it or not, we call the chicken feet barbecue as “Adidas”.

But wait…!

Like the chicken, we also eat everything in a cow,  a goat, a carabao (water buffalo), and a pig. We eat their heads, their guts and organs, their blood, and also their feet. We even eat the bone marrows of cows and carabaos.

So if our country is one of those places to visit in your bucket list, don’t be surprised if you see some parts of a livestock which you don’t normally eat being sold on the streets and in our local restaurants. It’s just one of the food we eat and is part of our local cuisine!

Bon apetit!

Wag Matakot… (Don’t be afraid)

A masked vendor holding a newspaper with a headline “WAG MATAKOT”, which means “Don’t be afraid”!

I’ll let my fellow Filipinos translate what this phrase really mean in our country where scores of people are killed every day… 

Nuong bata pa ako…!

I sometimes miss these days…

… Nuong sumasabit ako sa dyip habang may sumisigaw ng “… Valiches, Novaliches”!

… Nuong umaangkas ako sa traysikel na kakalog-kalog dahil sa lubak na daan!

… Nuong sumusundot ako ng pisbol sa kalyeng mausok at maalikabok at isasawsaw sa sukang punong-puno ng naiwang pisbol na lumulutang pa!

… Nuong nagbabasketball sa kanto na ang pustahan ay isang litrong Coke at handang maki-ramble dahil lang sa isang litrong Coke!

… Nuong nakikipagsiksikan sa bus at pinagpapawisan ang kilikili sa init dahil walang aircon pa ang mga buses nuon!

… Nuong tumatakbo at naghahabol ng dyip sa may Blumentrit para makasakay!

… Nuong naglalakad sa gatuhod na baha sa may Dimasalang!

… At higit sa lahat, nuong nakikipag-inuman na isang baso lang ang gamit at sardinas na maanghang ang pulutan, solb na!

Yup, those were the days! Masaya at laging exciting ang araw! Gawin ko nga uli minsan yan to feel how exciting it was… :):):)

The Walking Grocery Store

​Believe it or not… This guy is practically a walking “sari-sari store” (… sort of a mini-grocery store on the go)! And he is doing the selling right along a major road artery in the Metro called EDSA!

No worries… with our traffic situation at about 5kph or less during rush hours, these ambulant vendors are “technically safe” while they sell their commodities in the six-lane EDSA.

Only in the Philippines!

The Back Button Focus

​We were travelling along SCTEX, one of the expressways in Luzon of the Philippines, at a speed of about a hundred kilometers per hour when I took this picture of a bird flying to the opposite direction. In capturing this photo, I had set my gear to use Back Button Focus and set the AF operation to AI Servo (or continuous focus).

What is Back Button Focus? In “normal mode”, DSLRs focus when you half-press the shutter and take the picture when you completely press the shutter. The problem with this mode is that it only works for still or stationary subjects. When the subject moves out of focus, there you go… You get a blur! Even with a high shutter speed, you may still get a blur if the subject moves out of the area where your gear had initially focused. And you may have to refocus and half-press the shutter again which by the time you’re able to do this, the subject has gone out of your sight.

This is where the BBF will come in handy, together with continuous focus (AI Servo in Canon). Depending on the brand and model of your gear, it may already have a dedicated BBF button or you can set a button, like the Exposure Lock, as the BBF.

The BBF, together with AI Servo, will allow you to keep the center of focus on a moving object without half-pressing the shutter. Technically, you have two buttons in play, the BBF (using your thumb) to focus and the shutter (using your index finger), to take pictures. What does that mean? You can press and hold the BBF to retain focus on a moving object and just press the shutter to take pictures anytime without the shutter doing a “focus and refocus”.

Just some fair warning, this technique takes some practice before you can reap the rewards…! 🙂