Photographing Manila as an expat

Took a stroll the other day with a fellow photography enthusiast and Novita through a part of Manila most expats would never dare explore. Between that area and the area we live in, “Fort Bonifacio”, there’s a massive, imposing wall reaching 5 meters in some places.

I wasn’t sure if it was keeping them out, or keeping us walled in.

The security guards near one entrance just smiled and said there’s no way we could enter. Of course that didn’t stop us – we found a small gate 300 meters down the road that led us into what can only be deemed the polar opposite of where we live.

IMG 3353 540x359 Photographing Manila as an expat

In Indonesia, I regularly went exploring on foot through less developed areas, landfills, and slums. The major difference was that I understood what those around me were saying. Yet after more than a year in Manila, I still can’t speak a lick of Tagalog – English is much more widespread. I’ll admit, it feels more vulnerable not knowing what the young guys are saying about Novita when they chuckle together. I try to smile and keep walking when I’m pretty sure they’re saying something¬†derogatory about her – continually reminding myself that¬†we’re the visitors wandering around their grounds by choice. It’s not always easy.

Luckily, most of those we met on the street were friendly and just wanted to practice their English. I managed to take a few interesting photos, but for the most part simply wanted to take in my surroundings and gauge everyone’s response to our cameras. I consider it groundwork for going out again.

IMG 3262 Photographing Manila as an expat

Unfortunately, the next day, my friend went out again on his own to take photos and was pick-pocketed. His phone was stolen right out of his bag as he was taking pics. He felt it, but by the time he realized it, the guy was on his way out of there. A few girls pointed the thief out and my friend managed to get his phone back. It is a reminder to not always assume the best in people I suppose, but it could have happened nearly anywhere. It’s not fair to label a country, its people, or their station in life – there are thieves in every country, culture, and level of society. It is what it is. Better to lose a cheap Nokia than a pension plan. It won’t deter him; he’ll be back out next weekend with his camera and a grin.

It’s taken me much longer to get out with my camera in Manila than it ever did in Jakarta. But I hope I can get to know the people beyond my expat bubble, to see the similarities and contrast amongst Indonesian and Filipino people, and learn to appreciate this amazing culture just as I did with my beloved Indonesia.

jeepney hdr Photographing Manila as an expat

jeepney hdr autobot 540x355 Photographing Manila as an expat

New galleries on SmugMug and I’ve reduced prices

I spent the weekend sorting 9TB of data, and sorting through photos. I figured it’s time to start uploading some of my work to SmugMug once again. I’ve been a member since 2005 but haven’t even come close to utilizing it properly.

One gallery that I’ve been exporting to contains images you may have seen: Aliwan Festival. I also decided to reduce my prices a fair amount in order to spur some additional sales of my works. My equipment costs far more than a non-professional should be spending, so any print that sells is appreciated. Not sure I want to resort to something like microstock selling for pennies on the image. icon sad New galleries on SmugMug and Ive reduced prices

Have a look:

Screen shot 2010 09 01 at 7.05.50 PM 540x250 New galleries on SmugMug and Ive reduced prices

If you’re keen to join SmugMug, here’s a code for $5 off a SmugMug account: JjSi7o2idSEnc or you can input my email address.

There’s definitely more to come – lots of photos that none of you have ever seen before.

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