Baras

Magallanes Park, Makati.

When I was a kid, I loved playing the baras (bar in English ) in the park located around the corner from where I lived in Manila. Every afternoon, I attempted to climb it, carefully taking a step or two until I overcame my fear. I remember lingering on the fourth rail for a very long time. Crossing the next ones were overwhelming especially when I looked down at the steep drop ahead. Weeks passed and I haven't moved. One day, I finally found the courage to take the next steps. It was an exhilarating feeling to reach the top. I sat there, my legs dangling in the air, watching the other kids play down below.

Then I found another challenge.

I wanted to move from one bar to the other using my arms. That got me into trouble. When I exerted too much, I came down with a fever the following day. My mother then sent me to a manghihilot, a native healer that specializes in techniques and treatments for sprains and muskoskeltal conditions. He covered my skin with coconut oil, felt the sprained areas with his fingers and strategically cracked my limbs. Miraculously, my fever disappeared soon after the visit.

When I first saw this image on the contact sheet , I was unhappy with the color. The baras was painted red and yellow stripes which did not exude the feeling I wanted. I remembered it to be green. Disgusted, I threw it in a box under my desk. While searching for another picture a year or so later , I saw this again. With fresh eyes, I scanned the contact sheet and decided to convert the image from color to black and white. What a difference it made! Feelings of nostalgia rushed through me. The image now carried the emotions that was missing when I first viewed it.