FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Leica Store in Gion

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Leica Store in Gion

I started taking pictures with a chunky Kodak digital camera I borrowed from my auntie on a trip to Anilao. That’s how I sort of fell into photography. When I got my own money, I started buying gear to my heart’s desire. For a certain time, I was a Nikon girl. I started with a d40, and forayed a bit into wedding photography with a d90. While travelling, I realized that the gear — body, lights and lenses — weighed me down, so I switched to Fuji when they got their digital shit together. I bought the then top of the line Fuji x100 and it brought me and those I took pictures of, great joy. That thing served me well for 4 years until the power button overshoot its lock last year and fixing it would cost just about the same as getting a new camera.

That’s how things seems to work, or unwork these days. It’s better to buy something new than repair old, outdated things. Everything is disposable.

As with all pricey posessions, I made sure I do my research before I buy anything. I’ll keep in mind what I’ll use it for, and make sure my new purchase will serve me well. When my 100x gave up on me, I knew my next purchase will still be a Fujifilm, just because Canon shoot too cold for me while Nikon was notoriously too warm. Like Goldilock’s taste for porrraidge, Fuji shoots just right, in fact, amazing straight off the cam. I also wanted it to be light and travel friendly. And because I knew I wanted to get into vlogging, it will help if it had a flip out screen. When I saw that Fuji came out with an x70, it was a match made in heaven. I was in love.

While I am extremely happy and contented with my latest purchase, for everyone who ever held a camera, there’s always that lingering thought of owning the edgiest shiniest thing. I never upgraded when the newest model come. With all the times I bought a new camera, I never upgraded just for the sake of upgrading. A new model will always come. I always upgraded based on necessity. My fuji x70 fits my current bill perfectly and I’m not looking to buy soon. Not in the near future. But I can always look.

Of course, as the say, the best camera is the one you have. Also, it’s the indian, not the arrow, but it never hurts if the arrow is a Leica.

And while I am not buying a Leica soon, or ever, I thought that while in Japan, for anyone who dabbled in photography, a visit to Leica’s flagship store in Gion is a must. Tucked in the midst of Kyoto’s untouched neighborhood, a district known for entertainment and most notably, geishas, the Leica store in Gion is a ode to one of photography most iconic brands. This museum blends and almost disappears into the old district. It’s easy to miss, if not for the red dot on the fabric door Leica is famously known for. If you’re in Kyoto, and if you’re into photography, you must go here. One must “Magbigay pugay“, so to speak. And though your heart wants but your pockets can’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t look, or touch.

Leica 016
Leica 001
Leica 013
Leica 008
Leica 009

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Leica Store Gion
Japan, 〒605-0074 Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto, 東山区祇園町南側570-120

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LIFE LATELY | I’m Published in New York!

LIFE LATELY | I’m Published in New York!

I take a lot of pictures. When traveling, when eating out, in life’s little moments. Like a lot of photos. Most of them are in a 1 TB external harddrive, never to see the light of day. Some do make it on Instagram or facebook. Some here in the blog.

And it’s not like this blog gets a shitload of hits. I don’t necessarily write for an audience. Most of the time, there is no audience. I’d like to think I am the audience. And that’s enough for me. I am the nastiest, most critical audience, so believe me, I am enough.

I do get several drifters here and there. They come from google searches or that rare spike I get when a restaurant owner chance upon something I wrote about them and shared them in facebook. Sometimes, people leave comments. Sometimes, they email. Recently, I opened an interesting one from the inbox.

It’s from a photo editor of magazine. They were asking for a picture from the Lunch Lady blogpost I wrote a couple of years back. This is nothing new. I get requests like this all the time. They’d like to borrow a picture for printing and a few months later, I receive a copy of a book in the mail with my photo on it. When asked nicely, I oblige most of the time.

The email said they’d like to run the photo in their publication. I would retain full rights of course, and I would be compensated. I said sure, sent a hi-resolution file (yes, I keep them in Hi-res) and they send a couple of pdf files I can fill up for payment. They were generous about it.

I forgot about it, until I remember about the email and decided to search for it online. I found it, and there attached to an article with my personal patron saint, St. Anthony Bourdain, is my photo with a byline. It’s on the September 19, 2016 issue of the New York Magazine! On print!

I can legitimately say I am published in New York!

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Senor Pollo | What’s good in QC?

Senor Pollo | What’s good in QC?

 

Everytime I am asked where’s a good place to eat at in Quezon City, Scout Area to be exact, I am stumped. And everytime that question is raised, I realize I don’t eat a lot out in my ‘hood. I just go to the same familiar places all the time. It’s not like nothing is new nor exciting — something new opens up every other week and we are spoilt for choice here. I just don’t feel the immediate need to scratch every must visit restaurant here in our area precisely because it’s. just. here.

Also, parking in Morato-Timog is a pain. It’s free, but it’s basically non-existent. The time we spend looking for parking during prime time dinner crowd might as well be spent with me cooking at home. Anyways, if parking frustrations arise, we can always go back to the restaurant. Bacause, it’s. just. there.

On our first meal out for 2015, we decided it was time to visit one of the restaurants we wanted to try out ever since it opened, except that parking kept on foiling us. F7 in Scout Rallos is a building with several crowd-drawing restaurants — Kanin Club, Uncle Moe’s, Purple Oven, Seafood Shack —- with no parking space to support it. The building also houses Senor Pollo, and we thought maybe if we visited at a lazy Saturday at the tailend of a very long vacation at 2 pm, we might just get a parking slot and a table. Baka lang.

There was parking space alright. But we still had to wait for a table. At an odd, off peak hour, this was the crowd at their tiny 2nd floor dining space (every restaurant at F7 Rallos is uhm, cute).

Respectable. And quite loud (I’ve been developing the hearing — and decibel sensitivities — of an old person lately). Friends on the last rounds of holiday reunions and families on late lunches all enjoying this hole in a wall, relaxed atmosphere. The walls does not absorb any sound at all and I could hear the next table over’s conversations so well I could actually offer my two cents worth.  And I would later understand the sizeable crowd (and tolerate the expected boisterous noise at our next visit) at the end of the meal.

My quarter roasted chicken is juicy and tasty, with the chimichurri actually offering flavor and not just a kick. Of course, I had to bathe it with the garlic and hot sauce that was supposed to be reserved for the street tacos. Not because it needed it, but because the sauces were on the table and I am adventurous like that. The street tacos were good too, but those of El Chupacabra (same owners, by the way) are better. My chicken came with 2 sides; I got the white rice, because I’m Filipino and I can’t anything without rice, and the mac and cheese, which I swear is all kinds of sin in one bite. The staff’s recommendation of the Jalapeno and Cheese quesadilla looks boring on the plate but it is on point. Even the Southern iced tea is a pleasant surprise — not overpoweringly sweet and most notably (a pet peeve), not Lipton-y. It’s a good meal if ever you’re in QC.

Yeah, I know, parking. But you’ve been warned. You’re welcome.

 

 


Senor Pollo
F7 Building, Scout Rallos Street,
Quezon City, Philippines

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Sinchon Graffiti Tunnel | If these walls…

So what do I like to do when I have a free day in Seoul?
Stare at walls.

In the middle of a week of day-long tours, I found myself a free day. The kids are on a guided tour to see DMZ and after sending them off, I mapped my route to Hongdae. I’ve been to Seoul twice but never had the time nor the interest to visit this youthful, artsy section of the city. We stay at Hyehwa, which pretty much has a similar collegiate vibe — young and pretty much artsy in its own charming way. The sidestreets of Hyehwa-dong is home to many small theatres and if only I understood Korean, watching a show or two — a night! — wouldn’t be such a bad idea. But with my daily morning walks in what I call “my neighborhood” everytime I visit Seoul, and practically knowing it now like the back of my hand, I felt it’s time to explore other dongs.

So why Hongdae?
Because one, Hello Kitty Cafe. And two, vandalism.

One stop short of Hongik Station on the inner circle line is Sinchon station, still very much in the middle of Seoul’s Student District. The indie, free spirit vibe is alive and tolerated, if not encouraged, in the area. And you know why I know that? Because I actually came here for a vandalism-covered tunnel.

There’s no shame in telling you I circled entire blocks and actually thought about giving up the hunt for the Sinchon underground tunnel. (And because we luuurrve cliches, there’s the fun in adventures, right? Getting lost? Riiiighhht.) Being a university area, there were a lot of English-speaking locals here but they were a little bit puzzled and confused why I was looking for a “tunnel”. Also, the lone website I found on it had the direst of directions which make no sense unless you suddenly, finally stumble upon the tunnel and the directions were correct all along.

“Look for the Megabox beside Sinchon terminal (dark blue line). The tunnel is just beside it.”

Sinchon terminal on the Seoul Subway System is on the green, inner circle line. Sinchon terminal on the KTX railroad system is on the dark blue line. The Megabox is a department store, a mall in a shape of a, uhm, megabox and right beside it, under its shadow, is a fenced up, weed-filled parcel of land where the tunnel lies.

It’s elusive until it’s there. And then, it’s just there, with one or two people passing by every 10 or so minutes. It’s well lighted, the graffiti looks fresh and vibrant and just waiting for an instant profile pic shoot.

I like graffiti. It’s independent and current. And unlike the kind we see here in Manila, these ones in Sinchon are art pieces — well-curated, as if you can’t vandalize here until you deem yourself worthy of real estate at the tunnel wall. Most of the murals are subversive, subtly expressing dissent to the signs of the times without going anarchist or annoying. I, particularly, love it because it’s temporary. The ones I saw on the website no longer exist and these ones probably won’t too in a week, month, year’s time. It’s free, in every sense of the word.

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Life, lately.

 

…uhm, hello. *taps internet mic* Is this working?

Compared to other years, 2013 is pretty much a very quiet one for me. I found myself occupied with a routine, something I haven’t had in years. I earn my keep early in the morning, go home midday and do some house work. The internet keeps me from getting bored the rest of the day and the anti-social butterfly that I am, I am content inside the house — the world just a few keyboard clicks away. There were times when I feel the year is going by too slow; when it felt like nothing is happening. Not that I was waiting for something to happen. I was fine with the uneventfulness of it all. It was different.

There wasn’t much of a craving to move. Except for some work related travels, for the better part of 2013, I am home. And I love it. I may have woken up a day or two and felt like I NEEDED to ride a plane, with no particular place in mind. I don’t even feel the longing to set my foot to a destination. One plane ride and back to scratch an itch. Those things, I guess you don’t shake off just like that. But for the most part, I may have traveled myself out in 2012.  Last year, I moved, pre-conditioning my mind upon easing into a new chapter in my life in the onset of 2013. Leave it to me to take the words “settling down” quite literally.

Oh yeah, I got married January this year. I still catch myself amused with that fact every so often. The easing in part, obviously, is still underway. Maybe, I am not big on changes. I don’t celebrate it as much as I should. I wore a pretty white dress for a day and committed the rest of my life to my best friend. It was one of the happiest days of my life. The next day, we went to the store to buy groceries. That right there about sums up life lately. You think nothing’s happening and you look back and everything has changed.

That’s quite an amusing fact too.

The year has been quiet and certainly, different. And different is good. In the difference is where you find the value. You strip yourself of the hustle, the trimmings and the unnecessary and you find what you hold true. “Uneventful” 2013 downtime made me recognize what’s important to me. Laughter is important. The family you have and the family you choose, of course. Inspiration — that ones you get and the ones you pass along. And something, a thing or two, you feel so strongly about, you literally can’t breathe when you think about it. You NEED something that scares you. These will eventually be the things you try to hold on to when the hustle takes over once again. And when it inevitably does, let it — life happens — but try your darnest not to let go.

 

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