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.

 

Small willow grove

Sausalito, CA (February 2012)

sauzalito (Spanish) – meaning: small willow grove

One of my favorite photo sets was taken during my trip to Sausalito, California. Sausalito is a small town off the San Francisco Bay in Marin County which overlooks the city. It’s an 8-mile bike ride from Fisherman’s Wharf and we had to cross the Golden Gate to get there. This trip has been one of the most adventurous I’ve taken since I braved getting on a bicycle after almost four years of not being on one. It took a lot of courage (and convincing from Gracie: “It’s a reflex, Kara. You’ll never lose it.”) but I’m glad I came through because the experience was well worth the trouble.

I hope I’m able to come back to Sausalito in the near future. Though until that time comes, here are some of my favorite shots from that memorable Saturday. Enjoy!

Lavender fields are abundant in Golden Gate Park.
A spectacular view of the city before crossing the bridge.
Bucketlist: to cross the Golden Gate either by bike / by foot — Check!

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Pier Market

I’ve been looking through my JTA photos and I realized that I haven’t posted my Pier Market set. It’s one of the best lunches I’ve had in the Bay Area and I can’t wait ’til I get back again. I dined with my brother, Franco and my dad’s best friend, Tito Bernard. I wasn’t able to take note of everything we ate, but that Seafood Jambalaya was probably the best I’ve had!

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Touchdown

Took this photo just before our final descent. May 21, 2012

Leaving San Francisco wasn’t an easy thing to do. Spending almost half a year in a place where I’ve finally found myself and put the pieces back together, I was hoping it would never end. My trepidation perhaps came from my fear of not being able to love Manila as much as I thought I did and my anxieties over the start of senior year. Was I ready? That I did not know.

However, once I landed, everything fell into place and I can say now that there really is no place like home. No matter how great those six months have been to me, nothing beats the familiar feeling of home, family, friends, and yes–the scorching Manila heat. I’ll be back someday, I will leave this place and explore the world, but until that day comes, it’s definitely great to be back.