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April 6, 2008. It’s another beautiful Sunday. I went to the Antipolo Cathedral again for Sunday Mass. I also went to look for the lay minister who was in my winning Palm Sunday photo entry to give him a copy of the photo.

Brother Jim is an amiable guy. He smiles easily and to say that he is accommodating is an understatement. The elderly gentleman is pleasantly warm like morning sunshine. Too bad–no camera equals no souvenir photo. I would have loved capturing his happy face underneath the ever-present sombrero. I handed him a copy of the photo. He said in jest that I won the contest because he had his back turned when I took the picture. He seemed extremely happy as he brought out a pen, asking me to write down full details including my contact number. He wanted to show the photo to Monsy (the Monsignor). I thanked him, but before I left, I asked if he would still be around the vicinity in 5 to 10 minutes’ time. “Yes,” he said.

I went back to the photo developer across the church plaza to pick up the rest of the photos–my own copy of the winning entry and a copy of another photo which I opted not to use as contest entry. I thought the photo looked quite nice, and a nice man like Brother Jim might appreciate another nice Palm Sunday photo. I went back to the church’s office, brought the photo out of its envelope and handed it to Brother Jim. I told him that it was the photo that I personally liked, but I didn’t use it as a contest piece. “Lupa,” he said.

Hosanna!

Puzzled, I asked what he meant. He said as he pointed to the upper midportion of the photo, “Eto o, may salitang LUPA sa larawan na ito (See here–there’s the word LUPA on this photo”. I stared at the photo for a few seconds. Indeed, the tips of the palm fronds on motion blur seemed to have formed the letters L-U-P-A. Lupa is the Filipino (Tagalog) word for earth or soil.

Brother Jim further explained the significance of the word LUPA in my photo. Lupa symbolizes dust. He said, “Dust we are, and to dust we shall return”.

He added, “Sa susunod na Ash Wednesday, magiging abo ang mga palaspas na ito. Ito ang mensahe ng salitang ‘lupa’. (Come Ash Wednesday, these palm fronds shall turn to dust. That is the significance of the word Lupa”. On Ash Wednesday which is the first day of the Lenten Season, dried palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned to produce ashes to be used to mark crosses on the Catholic believers’ foreheads, symbolizing repentance before God.

Brother Jim thought that this photo would have made a good contest entry, too, because of the message contained therein.

It is truly amazing how God sends us messages even through simple photos. This is one photo that I definitely will remember for a very long time. I feel blest many times over to have captured this photo and the message it contained. I feel the love of God. :)

Related Blogs:
http://angelsgarden.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/clicking-on-palm-sunday/
http://angelsgarden.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/photo-contest-won-by-the-grace-of-god/

On March 16, Easter Sunday, I went on a solo photoshoot at the Antipolo Cathedral. I wrote in my Easter Sunday photoblog, “This is my first set of photos for the year 2008. Finally! The very first “click” coming from my Nikon in three months is pure, unadulterated bliss! The fact that I found time on Palm Sunday, no less, to bring my camera out for some action is truly a blessing. I can feel that this marks the beginning of better things to come as I continue on my photo journey. “

Well, I was right!

I posted some of my photos in my Flickr. Shortly thereafter, I received an invitation to post two of my shots in the photo pool of Semana Santa Filipinas (SSF), which I did. The following day, I received an email from a group administrator inviting me to join the SSF Klik and Kuaresma contest. There were several categories, and there was one specifically for Palm Sunday. Voting lasted for three days, and today the results were posted–my entry won the Best Palm Sunday Category!

This is the winning photo:

Blessing of the Palms

It was a closely fought contest. In fact, someone already commented that another entry was leading as of last night. I was therefore totally surprised that I my photo came out the winner.

Initially, I thought of using this photo: Hosanna!
but I changed my mind. I wonder if the outcome would have been the same had I used this second photo instead.

The Prizes:

1. Actually, I joined the contest because the coffee table books were hard to resist. The winner gets to choose either a copy of The Art of the Cross published by the Ayala Museum or Simbahan authored by Regalado Trota Jose. I picked “Simbahan: Church Art in Colonnial Philippines 1565-1898″.

2. Am supposed to receive a much-coveted ribbon from one of the group administrators–or at least I think he is an administrator. I failed to ask if this is a real ribbon or a virtual one with all those HTML codes.

3. Am qualified for the Grand Prix and I have a chance to win One Year Flickr Pro account.

Well, I don’t expect to win the Grand Prix anymore. Semana Santa Filipinas is a group that caters to Philippine Ecclesiastical Arts and Traditions with main focus on Semana Santa (the Lenten Season). A good number of members have religious images that one normally sees during a saint’s feast day or Lenten procession. I have observed that much weight is given to photos of Catholic religious icons. I expect the photo showing imagen with correct iconography according to Catholic tradition to come out as a winner. Believe me, the images I saw in the other categories are beautiful! At any rate, I am ecstatic to have made it this far.

I am humbled by this experience. I truly believe that divine intervention made me win. I feel that there now is a greater purpose to my photography. It’s more than just a hobby to kill time, more than just capturing cute images and doing trick shots. I trust that this photo journey of mine will continue to be guided by the Creator of this universe. Where it may lead me, i do not know. I only hope that I can get internet access wherever that may be, to document the whole trip for the love of Multiply (and WordPress, of course). :)

To God be the Glory!!!
Related Blog:
http://angelsgarden.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/clicking-on-palm-sunday/

By the way, SSF’s photo pool and discussions may be viewed by members only. I can say that I have learned many things about Catholic traditions as practiced here in the Philippines. SSF’s sister group, Santos: Images of Faith or SIF is equally interesting. Should you wish to join these groups, please click the icons below.


March 16, 2008. Antipolo, Province of Rizal, Philippines. –
The photographs shown here are from my first set of photos for the year 2008. Finally! The very first “click” coming from my Nikon in three months is pure, unadulterated bliss!

Happy Palm Frond Vendors

Warm Smile

Please buy.

The fact that I found time on Palm Sunday, no less, to bring my camera out for some action is truly a blessing. I can feel that this marks the beginning of better things to come as I continue on my photo journey.

Blessing of the Palms

There are actually three churches that are closer to home, but since it is Palm Sunday, I wanted to spend the mornng at the Antipolo Cathedral (The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). The cathedral feels like home to me, and I call it my personal storm shelter. This is the first place that I would run to in times of crisis, and also when I am exceptionally happy and thankful for anything good that comes my way.

This morning, the cathedral took on a festive mood as vendors filled the sidewalks with palms of all sorts, mostly woven into fancy shapes. The business of making and selling woven palm fronds is an annual family affair for most of the vendors that I spoke to. Said Jay, an FX (public transport) dispatcher, “Wala naman akong duty ngayon kaya tinulungan ko na rin si misis sa pagbebenta ng palaspas.” (I am off duty anyway, so I am helping my wife sell these palms). The kids did their share, too. The young ones made surprisingly good hawkers and ambulant vendors.

The cathedral was filled to the rafters. Those who could not get inside found shelter under the shades of the trees at the plaza. As for me, I was oblivious to the heat. After hearing Mass, I walked around with my camera, hoping to capture all the sights and colors that would mark this as Palaspas, Antipolo style. I saw the usual Sunday bikers. There were the vendors that will hound you no end unless they’re camera shy and get shooed away at the sight of lenses. Oh, and there was Sarge Sagat, my fave policeman. A pleasant surprise running into him today, woven palm in hand, making his way to the elevated platform where elders blessed the palms with holy water.
Hosanna!

My Nikon caught a drop of holy water, so I guess you could say that I have a blessed camera. :)

My Photo Journey 2007

My Photo Journey began on May 29, 2007.

Sharing the images that I captured from May to December 2007.

Cheers!
The Shutterblogger

The Shutterbug’s Bite

I was bitten by the shutterbug five moons ago.

I procured a DSLR camera and started clicking away like there is no tomorrow. I’m not a particularly skilled photographer, but I can claim to be very resourceful and passionate when it comes to my photographic works.

My baby is a Nikon D40X, probably the best camera one can get at its price. It is nbt top of the line, but it most certainly is a workhorse. Nothing beats Nikon and Nikkor when it comes to quality images. Tack sharp!

My Nikon D40X comes with an 18-55 mm kit lens. It’s a fine lens for starters. However, I have found that the more I fall into photography’s clutches, the more I feel the limitations of a kit lens. Somehow, the range at a lot of times seem not far enough, or the F-stop does not go low enough, or similar issues. Nonetheless, I should not be complaining as I have yet to explore the camera kit’s full potential. Getting the whole range of lenses that I want seem as impractical as asking a toddler to walk steadily in her Mom’s high-heeled shoes.

So, there…I hope that after a few more months, I will have a few shots that I can (dare to) post proudly on my site.

It has been a while since I posted anything here. The first reason (alibi?) was that I was bitten by the photography bug and i was preoccupied with taking snapshots/photos of ANYTHING. I actually created a separate Multiply site for it, http://shutterblog.multiply.com/.

A second, more important reason was that I suddenly found myself in the midst of funeral preparations for a dear neighbor who died of a massive heart attack at the age of 52. His widow had no one else to turn to at the onset, and I had to be there for her as a friend of the family. They have a four-year-old son. I thought that my involvement would end after the funeral arrangements, but then I found myself getting involved anew in sorting out all those paperworks that come after the interment services. Thankfully, we are almost done with that.

I have come to realize that in the Philippines, the cost of dying far outweighs the cost of living. Funeral arrangements can cost an arm and a leg if one wishes to have a decent send off. For my friend, his final transport fare to the next life was at around P170,000 (about US$3,700)–that is about twice the annual income of the minimum wage earner. Her widow was taken aback by the costs, but what to do? Everything was at AT-NEED price, and one only has seven days max to put everything together. And it was just a simple send-off. Nothing fancy. As I was quite visible around the neighborhood as the one in charge of the funeral arrangement, someone jokingly said that henceforth I will be known as Sally, the funeral coordinator. Geez! Can’t I just be a wedding coordinator instead? The assignment was NOT fun at all. However, I must admit that I learned much from it.

There really is much wisdom in preparing for one’s grand exit from this earth. Morbid as it may seem, I have been looking into proposals for memorial and interment plans. Hey, I’m not that young anymore. I think that it is the most practical thing to do these days. I do not wish to burden my children (spoiled as they are by their titos and titas) with all those funeral thingies when my time comes. After all that, perhaps I can brush off all those thoughts of departing this earth and enjoy the rest of my life while I can still breathe. ;))

My Broken Wing II: Rehab

I hate going to the doctors. They seldom bring me good news because I am not the type who sees a doctor for regular checkups. Therefore, a doctor visit for me often indicates that something must be wrong with me already.

Four plus months after the onset of my shoulder trouble, I finally dragged myself to see an ortho doctor and actually returned for a follow-up visit a week later for my shoulder pain (main complaint in my previous blog entry). I came close to boxing the good doctor for doing some really painful tests for my rotator cuff. Now I know that these are called supraspinatus test, Neer’s test, and drop arm test among others. Actually going through those tests gave more meaning to those medical terms that I have been hearing in the doctors’ dictations.

My second visit was more unpleasant than the first one. I was on an NSAID pill and an antiinflammatory cream for a week and the meds have barely kicked in. On my return visit, I was referred by Dr. #1 to Dr. #2 who did the same set of tests all over again. Dang! He fell a few seconds short of my kick response. I thought that the worst was over, but then I found myself dazedly saying “Yes” to physical therapy referral on the same day. It didn’t sound bad, really–ultrasound, electrical stimulation, hot packs and then some exercises. Boy, was I wrong!

I tolerated ultrasound, the TENS unit, and the hot pack quite well. And then the manipulation and the forced exercises happened. I was forced to move my arm in all directions, just 10 counts each. But it was like a trip to hell! I never thought that 10 counts of raising the arm overhead could make me want to scream, scratch and kick the hapless PT who was assigned to me. The bad news is that I also have to do those exercises at home. Of course, I can’t scream at, scratch and kick myself, so I just gritted my teeth and carried on with the home program. No pain, no gain. The thought of possibly needing steroid injections straight into the tendons or shoulder surgery this early is enough to send me into a compliant mode.

Thus far, I have survived session 1 of PT and two days of home program. I am supposed to have at about 6-8 sessions of PT and then further PT programs depending on my progress. I am not too happy, but I guess I don’t have much choice.

Wish me luck!

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