Thursday, February 2, 2012

Me and my Nikon

I have always been a photography enthusiast. Since I was in high school, I really want to take pictures of people, places and events around our place. Since I grew in a lower middle class family, luxuries like having a camera is very limited. If I remember it correctly I was using a white Vivitar; manually operated and rewinded, and is using the commonly used Agfa or Kodak films. I dunno where that camera came from but it was with us for as long as I can remember.
Come college. I do not have my own camera when I started college. Way back in UP where I stayed in Miagao for my college education, the campus boasts of the biggest land area in all of Asia (if I am not mistaken) and has a lot of very good sites for photography. However, during that time, films are very expensive and the developing/processing of the pix are way too costly for my Bracket 1 STFAP scholarship to support.
When I tranfered in University of Iloilo, I was tasked to take pictures for the ROTC training. I became the official photographer (and writer) of the batch and I enjoyed the perks of not marching under the sun and reporting directly to the Corp Commander. I also used the camera they lend me during the events to enhance my skills. I do not have any training in basic photography and I did some trial and error just to learn.
I was then accepted in the University paper when I was in second year and I was exposed to the proper way of taking pictures. I was really interested with doing Photojournalism and since I move around places I took pictures and wrote articles and stories about them. I had some other training for Photojourn under Leo Solinap and was there when the Campus Press Photographers of the Philippines was conceptualized and formed. We were trained how to take pictures; not with exposures and shutter speeds, but with what should be inside the frame. the rule of thirds and the story behind the subject. The knowledge about apperture and the technicalities of the camera came after almost 7years.
I joined seminars on Photojournalism with only a point and shoot film camera. While other participants of the seminar weilded SLRs, I was manually rewinding a film for developing. This happened all through out my stint in the school paper where I ended up Associate Editor (in 3rd year) and finally an Editor-in-Chief during my senior year. I was really happy when I got my award from Department of Tourism for being an Editor and Chief and a Photojournalist while using my old Vivitar.
In 2009 when I started working in Sutherland, I was really determined to buy a DSLR. I started checking on the prices and I got frustrated to see that it costs thousands to buy a DSLR; and more than double to buy lenses. With all the money I have during that time (including a loan from SSS), it was still not enough to buy a DSLR. I settled with a GE Digicam- 14MP, with 5x Zoom and a Panoramic Shot, too bad it runs on AA batteries which always die out prematurely all the time. it didn't hinder me to capture good pictures though.
After 2 years of waiting, I finally got my DSLR (December 9, 2011). I choose between Nikon and Canon and was checking websites about them. After I compared the specks of the cameras I decided to get Nikon 3100. Not a highend camera but sufficient enough to give me what I need. Being human though requires us to want more, so I am saving for my camera addons.
Nikon 3100- 14 mp, with HD Video and came with an 18-55mm Nikkor Kit Lens. It's red and thanks to a fellow Nikonite Pia, I learned how to mix shutter speed and apperture manually, after all these years. I am now taking pictures of people (most of the time), things (more often) and events. I also received some tips from my officemate CJ, who's also into photography (unfortunately, she's a Canonite). My photographer/videographer friend Babak Niaraki gave me tips and asked me what "Path" do I want to proceed. Since lenses would differ depending on what you want to do. I am into Cosplay photography so I informed him that I am into Portraitures and People pix. I got a pretty hefty advice from him.
I really love photography and I am now saving to buy these things:
1. A 50-mm/ 1.8, camera lens. PHP6,000
2 Extra Battery-Since a battery Grip is too heavy and unimportant (for now)- PHP3500+
3. An extra 16GB or 8GB SD Card- PHP500-1200
4. A generic Flash (Babak said that it's better to utilize the ambient light and to take pix "flashless") PHP3000+
4. 55-200/300mm lens for taking pictures of people on the street- PHP11,000
6. Raynox DCR 250 Macro Clip Lens- PHP 5000
I hope I could accomplish buying this within 2 years. =)
Captured Moments stay forever. Captured faces are frozen in time.

Celebrate the Sacred Flame- Lighting the Torch of Hekate

I was having second thoughts to celebrate Imbolc this Saturday night or on the actual day itself, February 2. Imbolc for most Pagans is the celebration of the stirring of life itself inside the bowels of the Earth Mother. This celebration is also mostly associated with the Feast of Briga, the Celtic Goddess of the flame. Bonfires are being lit on this night and the flicker of the flames can be seen across the countryside.

For a Pagan living in the Philippines, the celebration of the return of life from the cold winter is not really very evident. Since the flora in the country do not really "hibernate" to begin with. We still honor the power of the flame though and in my hometown, Iloilo City, it is very evident with the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Candles- Nuestra Se�ora de la Candelaria. Devotees of this image of Mary flock the Jaro Cathedral to purchase the "Perdon", a blessed candle used when you pray for your intentions.

As a Pagano honoring the Goddess Hekate, I still celebrated the Sabbat by honoring the Goddess in her epitaph Hekate Phosporus - the Torch Bearer and Hekate Lucifera, the Light Bringer. Since this is a feast to honor the flame, I covered my altar with red cloth and lit my lamp. I bought red roses, and used a pink candle (I ran out of big red candles) sprinkled with cinnamon, a Fire herb. Present on my altar are "binangkal" a deep fried bread covered with sesame seeds, bay leaves, an apple cut, to show the pentagram in its middle, a pinch cinnamon, a bulb of garlic (another fire herb). I also lit some incenses. I also indulged on a cup of hot herbal tea and left a goblet full for my offering.

I started the ritual with a salutation to Hekate to use her keys to open the door to the realm of the Divine. I also asked Ianus, my patron Lord to allow the doors to opened since He is the guardian of the gates. I dedicated the rite to the celebration of the Flame, it's power, it's majesty and it's importance. I also cleansed myself and my room by visualizing the Goddess' flame cleaning and purifying my sacred space, my body and spirit. By the way, I do not really invoked the other elements because first, it is a celebration honoring fire and second, I believe that my room is already a sanctum and is ever ready to be converted to a sacred space.

Lastly, I asked the Goddess and the God for protection and good health. I asked them to strengthen my spiritual fire so I would be sustained. I also replenish the wards and seals put inside my room for protection. I ended the celebration by thanking the Deities and letting the altar candle burn out.

Ave Hekate Phosporus, Hekate Lucifera! Salve Hekate Pandeina!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Iloilo ang Banwa ko!

Iloilo ang banwa ko guinahingadlan
matam-is nga pulong ang amon guinmat-an
indi ko ikaw bulagan
banwa kong nahamut-an
ikaw ang guintunaan sang kalipayan

Ilonggo ako nga tunay
nga nagapuyo sa higad sang baybay
manami magkiay-kiay
sa tagipusuon
bug-os ang kalipay

This is one of the songs I grew up with. It's written about the beautiful city of Iloilo and how sweet sounding Hiligaynon is, the dialect we grew up with. Iloilo is one of the prime cities in the heart of the country. With its facilities and growing infrastructure, it is indeed one of the "mauswag" or prosperous cities in the country.

I get to visit my hometown a couple of weeks ago. Even though I could say that everything is the same (I am living in Davao for more than 2 years now), there are a lot of beautiful buildings and high end business sprouting all over the city. The business industry and the city's tourism was really booming especially it was Dinagyang season.

Dinagyang is the BEST festival in the country. It was celebrated on the 4th week of January to honor the child Jesus, though I think of it as a Pagan festival honoring the harvest and the coming of spring. I had a wonderful time roaming the streets of the city with food stalls, vendors, concerts, and the traditional "Sadsad" on every street corner. I made "tambay" with my friends in a restaurant owned by another friend's family. Kayang-Kayang is our tambayan way back in college. It boasts of stir fried seafoods, yummy kilawin and the ever famous Talaba.

Another place worth mentioning is La Teraza, located in front of SM City Delgado. Not that it is the best coffee shoppe in the city since there is Starbucks and the other high end coffee shops around, it is a very memorable place for me because I usually meet friends there way back in college. Try their Rose Shake for 45 pesos and you'll really smell and taste the roses. not to mention your breath will smell like the flower too.

One should never leave Iloilo City without eating Batchoy. It's a thick noodle soup with pork (beef?) gizzards, liver, chicharon. I bought a bowl from the batchoy shop near our house and even though it's not as "Gourmet" as what they're selling in Teds Old Timer or Deco's, I really enjoyed the "lutong bahay" feel of the food.

Did I already mention the Queen Siopao of Robertos? Robertos is a restaurant open for as long as I can remember. We used to spend our Sundays here, eating their famous Bijon guisado, Pancit Lomi and their very delicious Fried Rice and Fried Chicken. The best of their food though is her Excellency, the Queen Siopao. It's siopao with chicken and pork adobo, a whole egg and bacon. It's a 65 peso complete meal. Too bad my best friend Tetet was too late to buy this for me. It's only for sale twice a month and it's sold like hotcakes.

I went to Brews, the coffeeshop of a friend, Babak Niaraki located in front of The Atrium in General Luna St. where I made tambay with my "iloy" Marcel Milliam. It's a cozy cafe which also serves as the gathering place of art enthusiasts, photographers, fellow film makers, Cosplayers, writers and lovers of the arts. They sell coffee (brewed) for 35 pesos and butterscotch (another Ilonggo delicacy) and some value meals to soothe your tummy.

I also travelled around the city to take pictures of out old churches and houses. Iloilo City is one of the oldest cities in the country and we took pride in having the best food too. Next time you plan to visit, try the sights, the sounds (Smallville Complex anyone?), and the gastronomical experience that is Iloilo.

Check out my Iloilo City and Festival pix on my Page: Like me on Facebook.

Ilonggo ako nga tunay, nga nagapuyo sa higad sang baybay.

-photos from the internet-