Why spring cleaning is important

On lenses and books–finding time during the sembreak to organize the things I love doing the most.

A couple of days ago, I promised myself to finish sorting out the mess that is my room so that my curtains could finally get installed (no photo of my current room, but yes, I did have them successfully up by late of last week). I do my ‘spring cleaning’ thrice a year, one during the summer, one during sembreak and one at the end of the year. This clean-up batch, however, is the most productive (and extensive!) in my opinion, because I’ve found some important things that I didn’t know / forgot existed.

My most jaw-dropping, yes it was that intense, find was this wide-angle converter for my 50mm lens. Since I’ve wanted to focus on my photography more in these coming months, I’m sure that this will come in pretty handy soon enough.

Found this baby under a pile of old jeans. This must’ve come from my tita’s stash of old photography equipment. I can’t wait to shoot with this!

Because of this find, I was determined to fix part of my closet and devote it to my “Things I Love Doing” compartment. I cleared up space for my equipment and I hope this helps inspire me to continue shooting to learn more about the craft.

It’s not much, but putting them all in one space excites me to continue to sharpen my knowledge. That metallic pink camera bag is an added incentive, of course.

Every time school starts, I usually get distracted by academics and tend to go on a photography hiatus. However, as it has proven to leave me with nothing but a rusty skill set and zero pictures to work with, I’ve decided that it’s going to be different this semester. Fingers crossed that I hold up to that resolution.

I also made space for my growing collection of books. Ever since I got back from San Francisco, the number of books I have on hand doubled instantly. With the cheap prices and book fairs held almost every month, I couldn’t help but hoard a lot for the trip back home. Unfortunately, I don’t own a bookshelf so I had to make do with stacking them on top of each other and having two layers (front and back) per compartment.

I can’t wait to finish reading everything here! I still have a lot of pending titles to finish.

Nonetheless, I’m happy with how this arrangement turned out because I get to put the titles I want to read first in front–creating a special space for my “to read-s.”

Pictured here are the titles I want to read next. Currently reading: One Day.

I’m glad that I was able to fix these areas to organize my photography and reading materials. Now, it would be easier for me to keep track of both things without getting too lazy or uninspired to shoot or read because I couldn’t find what I need.

Here’s to going back to living the “insect life,” that is, being a shutterbug and bookworm again come the second semester. I’m really excited for the adventures in store!

National Museum

Better than going to the movies or spending time in malls around the city, this adventure was truly a breath of fresh air for me. Since we’re on sembreak and have time to kill, my friends and I decided to take advantage of National Museum’s free admission month. My friend, Mawi, also had to shoot photos for this article on Katipunan Magazine, so the visit was well worth the trip.

There’s nothing like revisiting my country’s heritage with a few close friends and my trusty camera–I’d definitely want to do this again soon! All photos taken by Kara Santiago; October 30, 2012 (Manila, Philippines)


I’m glad that I was able to shoot during our trip to the museum. Since my PCP plans have failed (the workshop’s apparently going to clash with three school days), I better brush up on photography by practicing as often as I can. Since I still don’t have the means to go on another wave of formal training, I will just have to make do with online tutorials and photo walks in my free time. Since the last official class I took was over a year ago with Sir Jimmy Domingo, I hope I find another workshop / class that will fit my schedule soon. I really, really, really need to work on my skills because I want to x-out ‘frustrated’ from ‘frustrated photographer’ very soon–or at least before this year ends.

Let’s go to the beach-each, let’s go get away

Last week, The GUIDON spent two days in Batangas for some R&R before the second semester starts. As I sit in front of my laptop and struggle to finish closing our October issue, I look back at that relaxing weekend and am reminded of why I do the work I do in the first place.

Great people who share the same passion–this is what keeps me going. The photos below were taken by Apa A, Ryan R, and Mawi D; Batangas 2012.

Thesis (almost) it

Thesis defense is in two days and I can’t believe that in a short span of time, I would have already completed the last requirement needed for the completion of my AB Communication degree. Since our research was about the representation of religion in Philippine indigenous ethnic groups, it required going on-site in a chosen community to apply the dynamics of photography and visual representation.

Drawing inspiration from ethnographic studies, we spent two days and a night with an Aeta tribe in Capas, Tarlac. The experience was truly life-changing and I promised myself that I would be back for my Nanay Josephine and Tatay Jesse in the near future.

The following photos are outtakes from the immersion / data-gathering visit Miles and I made last September 8-9, 2012 in Sitio Alunan, Brgy. Sta. Juliana. 

The 4×4 jeep that took us to the foot of the mountain and the carabao that carried our stuff along for us during the hike.
The girl in the middle is Anny, Miles and I’s foster sister during our stay.
The kids of Sitio Alunan who made the stay extra memorable.
Dreadlocks out of soft stems!
With the “Alicia Keys” of Alunan and Olivia, both of whom initiated and helped create the dreadlocks I had on that day. Don’t you just love their beautiful tresses?
The Manalo Family. We’ll be back, Tatay Jesse and Nanay Josephine! Maraming salamat po sa pag kupkop niyo sa amin.


Sitio Alunan is a small village atop the mountains of Tarlac and Zambales. Situated near the perimeter of Mt. Pinatubo, it takes roughly 1-2 hours to get through the lahar-stricken terrain via a 4×4 jeep ride plus another 45-90 minute hike to the village itself.

All photos from Miles Atadero.

Thursday truths

Philosophy this semester hasn’t really moved me this much until today. While discussing Murdoch’s The Bell, I was faced with something I’ve tried to articulate these past few months.

“To know clearly what you surrender, what you gain, and to have no regrets; to revisit without envy the scenes of a surrendered joy, and to taste it ephemerally once more, with a delight undimmed by the knowledge that it is momentary, that is happiness, that surely is freedom.”

This is where I am at the moment. Constantly searching for the missing piece that will finally shut these feelings out for good. I just want to be able to start thinking clearly again, without any worry or regret. I want a clean slate and I’m more than willing to do whatever it takes.

I’ve crossed out factors one by one. I begun with freeing myself from unspoken words. I was honest; and like what Murdoch mentioned, I had no regrets. I knew that it lasted for as long as we were there and accepted the fact that after that, it would all disappear. It was fleeting but nonetheless worth every inch of courage I consumed. True enough, I felt the freedom that came with being brave–and, with step one, I’m slowly gaining back the feeling of liberty I once lost.

For two weeks now, I’ve started another phase in my life that I hope will lead me closer to my goal. Since I cannot control the things that happen around me–academics, org work, stress, personal problems, relationships (or the lack, thereof), etc.–I’ve decided that there was still one thing I could dictate: the physical. Having no grasp as to where I’m taken mentally or emotionally, sticking to a strict diet and engaging myself in training is the only thing I feel I can get a hold of.

I’m doing this to gain back the confidence I lost last year. As pathetic as this may sound, the consequences of a bad relationship can still be felt even after over a year. With what I’m doing now, I believe that I can prove to myself that I do have the willpower to accomplish everything I set my mind into doing, as long as I do not lose my focus. This switch to a healthy lifestyle will (I hope) redirect me to getting myself back on track in all things. The discipline I will gain and the confidence that will come with this venture is something I’m looking forward to attain. I’m generally okay and happy, yes. But I want more.

I want to become a better person–a more complete one at that–and taste the sweet victory of facing one’s fears.

No more running away this time. It’s time I faced reality.