Wandering 134

It was one of those times when I didn't bring my G11 and used T's camera instead. Couldn't resist taking these two images.

Outside St. Joseph's Church during the 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival. Las Pinas City, Manila/ ©Stella Kalaw

Outside St. Joseph's Church during the 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival. Las Pinas City, Manila/ ©Stella Kalaw

Red Shoes. St. Joseph's Church. Las Pinas City, Manila/ ©Stella Kalaw

Red Shoes. St. Joseph's Church. Las Pinas City, Manila/ ©Stella Kalaw

Morning Walk with Dad

My dad usually starts his morning exercise around 6:30 am. He used to walk 3 kilometers a day but since his back condition deteriorated this past year, he can only manage to finish half his regular route. At 78, he refuses to undergo surgery and opts for a combination of physical therapy and pain medication instead.

"Sana, may sampung taon pa ako, Anak." He remarked.  (I hope I can live ten more years, Child.)

He has not traveled overseas in years so my siblings and I take turns visiting Manila to spend time with him.

I brought a camera with me this particular day so I could remember his vigor.

Mang Mar

Mang Mar, 2008
©Stella Kalaw

Traffic was ever present in the city despite the complicated flyovers that were built to relieve congestion. Even with the MRT, the public rail system that ran from Pasay to SM North Edsa, did little to alleviate the situation. Buses still zigzagged in out of their lanes and the jeepneys roared loudly while smoke fumed from their exhausts.

To pass the time, I would encourage Mang Mar, my parents' driver, to share stories from the latest celebrity gossip to just about everything including the day to day life in Manila. One of the things he revealed was that he used to work for Radio Veritas for several years. The radio station was the communication lifeline during the 1986 People Power revolution. Millions of Filipinos tuned in to their broadcast to receive the latest news update from the opposition. The Marcos regime controlled the media so it was the only trusted source.

During the takeover of Channel 4, He was the driver that carried the crew from Radio Veritas to the TV station. I could tell the excitement in his voice as he recounted his experience. He sounded as if it recently happened.

"Pagdating namin doon, may mga namatay na. Nakita ko yung mga bangkay-- mga apat o lima yata yung binaril nila!"

(When we arrived, they were people that were killed. I saw the dead bodies- 4 of 5 of them were shot dead!)

Earlier that day, his boss told him he could go home to his family but he felt compelled to stay.

"Lahat kami natatakot pero bahala na!"

We were all scared but it was up to fate if anything happened to us!)

I really enjoyed listening to his personal story. It is probably an irrelevant detail to the bigger picture of the revolution but it revealed something about his character. Despite all his faults, it is heartening for me to know that my parents are in good hands.


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.