For this year’s Scott Kelby WorldWide Photowalk I will be joining Mr. Joel Mataro’s lead featuring a spin around the metro via the controversial railway systems: the Yellow Line(LRT1) and the Blue Line(MRT). That’s if these light rails would still be functional by October 3. It is essential we train our lenses on the trains.

The photowalk will loop around the Pasay Rotonda → Cubao → Recto Stations and back, plus a walk around each brief stops for some snaps. Click here for full details.

Now here’s the challenge: these are no-photography facilities. Light Rail Authorities are not too crazy over photographers hanging around their setup. Anyway, you know what they say about “If you obey all the rules…”

Aaand now, here’s a snack before the meal:

MRT by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_021

MRT by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_022

MRT by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_023

MRT by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_025

MRT by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_024


In ’59, Vivian Maier walked Manila — regarded as Paris of the East once upon a time. The place was a lot nicer then: people don’t tinkle anywhere, and the streets don’t reek of humanure. If it’s street photography that brought her here, we have yet to lay eyes on her opuses. And we’re looking forward to it all — big-eyed. How was it from the lens of the enigmatic photographer..

For all we know, it’s awesome to have her roaming the place (like, of all the gin joints in the world she comes into mine). Although apparently, Manila has been an ideal place for urban photography even before your Lolo began courting your Lola. You don’t believe me.

Today, Manila has gone to the dogs. But still a classic hole for street photography nonetheless. You see, street togs are strange species. And if Vivian Maier were to walk Manila today, she would surely fall for any — if not all — of these popular, most frequented, photowalk-worn SP grounds:

5. Luneta & Intramuros
The Walled City is generally a peaceful place to walk your camera. Don’t mind the image below, it’s just an isolated case of a drinking spree gone sour. Rizal Park and Intramuros taken together is a tourist area and, as such, a photographer’s turf.  People roam with cameras hanging around their neck here if that would make you feel better about the place.

Arzobispo corner Anda Street, Intramuros. A drinking spree gone sour.

Arzobispo corner Anda Street, Intramuros. A drinking spree gone sour.

4. CCP Complex & Roxas Boulevard
The Cultural Center of the Philippines structure is a favorite among the graphic or impressionist types mainly because of its architectural patterns, shadows or textures. If there is one most street-photographed edifice in Manila, this could be it.

And the joy doesn’t stop there. There is a lot of visual experience around the complex and into the stretch of Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard. The promenade is perfect to train your eyes in picking subjects from a crowd. Go pick your jump-off point.

Crushed-seashell textured walls of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Crushed-seashell textured walls of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

3. Ermita & Malate
What used to be the red light district of Manila back in the days is holding on to its reputation. A when-life-is-making-you-lonely-you-can-always-go place. A bit treacherous area for the not so street-smart. Still, one of the choice street photography grounds in the city that, well, never sleeps.

Mabini Street, Malate. Caffeine deprivation

Mabini Street, Malate. Caffeine deprivation

2. Quiapo & Sta. Cruz
The most popular street photography ground in Manila. Feast your lenses in this area of organized chaos of trade, culture, religion, street foods, spiritualism and lawlessness. Although these places are — for the most part — safe for doing streets, never let your guards down, ever.

Soutbound, northbound Quezon Boulevard underpass Quiapo, Manila

Soutbound, northbound Quezon Boulevard underpass Quiapo, Manila

1. Binondo
Probably the best place to document the walks of life in Manila. Escolta to Chinatown to Divisoria. Manila’s most densely populated area where social order is a jumble; a convergence zone of commerce, underground economies, traffic, awesome food strips and — again — criminal elements. There’s a mother lode of stunning street photography in this district in store only for the inspired eye.

Ongpin Street, Binondo. Don't let the beauty pass you by.

Ongpin Street, Binondo. Don’t let the beauty pass you by.

Make no mistake, street photography in Manila is not limited only to these five venues in the same manner as Street Photography is not defined only to “streets.” It’s a big city and the wellspring for creativity is almost boundless.

When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes, anonymous said.

When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes, anonymous said.

What used to be a city so small people put it simply as the north side of the Pasig River and the south side of the Pasig River was also referred to as the Queen of the Pacific. So many reasons for Vivian Maier to shoot around. But that was way, way back the Rolleiflex era. When anyone can create postcard-worthy snapshots of the capital like nothing.

And then, Manila became a dump. Nothing is worth photographing anymore. Thanks to street photography, we were able to squeeze some art and fascination out of the mire this city has sunk into.


Iriga city is fairly an uncomplicated little town — you come in from one end and, before you know it, you’re already leaving on the other. Every destination is a walking distance; you get to chance upon the same faces anywhere you go. Most likely you’ll bump into the town mayor at 7-Eleven.

Fishball vendor rolling fast on Iriga-Baao Road, Iriga City.

The streets blare at daybreak and — in a short while — quiets back down when everyone’s gone about their businesses.

Rizal St., Iriga City

Pedicab umbrella turned upside down in San Francisco, Iriga City

Crammed tricycle in Iriga City

By businesses, I include those “chores” that keep the locals absorbed in their thoughts.

Chess match on the street, Iriga City

Landscape artist, Iriga City

I make it a point to bring the camera with me all the time — even when taking out the garbage. There is no telling what phenomenons await the streets of Iriga.

But when the habagat kept me in for nearly an entire week, I somehow managed to find some window of opportunity for Streets.

Iriga City Shopping Center

Or get butt-naked under the sun.

Lourdes Hospital, Iriga City

Each morning I take the Cereal Killer to the Lads and Lassies Learning Center; with the camera at the ready (as umbrella is to rain). You can’t let grade-school moments just pass you by.

Unfortunately, the little man hates getting his pictures taken! So I turn to some kids hanging around instead.

Lads and Lassies Learning Center, Iriga City

Lads and Lassies Learning Center, Iriga City

Suddenly it’s nightfall all over again. Time flies when you’re having fun with your cam — on and off the beaten track.

Railway tracks, Iriga City

Tinagba Park, Iriga City

Tinagba Park, Iriga City

Iriga City is home-away-from-second-home. What the future holds here, it’s going to be a shot in the dark.


I’ve just come from the land of siling labuyo. Where internet service is extremely poor and the weather was not so permitting for whoever walks with a camera. It’s good to be away from all the digitization for a while. At least I thought it would save me from this menacing “digital eye strain” sort. My eyes — of all the senses.

Alighting at Harrison Plaza, I tried a color test on this kaleidoscopic wall. I’m going back to the streets this long weekend. And, Taka Suzuki — if you’re getting this — message me, let’s go. Photowalk, anyone?



I traveled back to Pulilan a few Sundays ago in search for the piscator — the unwitting subject for my Rio de Quingua winning shot — and to surprise him with a tiny portion from my prize money. It’s called balato, in a classic Filipino sense.

He was asleep when I found him in their humble shack just underneath the bridge; so I introduced myself to the wife and kids instead and told them the whole story. She was so grateful when I handed her the small amount saying now we can buy rice!

But what really broke her down to tears was when she found out I have come a long way for this.