PHOTOWALK — AND GETTING LOST — IN LUCBAN

I lost my way out of Lucban after the Pahiyas walk. One wrong turn led to a stretch of mistaken path. Off-track. Astray. All despite the non-complex setup of this humble little town.

I lost my cool as well. Nobody seemed to be able to give me a clearer direction. I lost my cool realizing I’m running out of phone loads, battery, and daylight. I lost my cool knowing friends are waiting for me somewhere and — without a doubt — are losing theirs too.

You know what they say about how a man’s character is defined by how he behaves when he doesn’t know what to do? Mine wasn’t so bad at all — mine was terrible! I felt agitated. I was dead-tired. I cursed and swore and walked around like a headless chicken. Did I fell under someone else’s spell or was I in the middle of that time of day when people think and act strangely.

Whatever happened to my audacious youth and all the wisdom of getting lost and taking risk. My diploma for adventurism must have fallen off the wall right this very moment.

And then, this elderly tricycle driver came along and — sensing my disorientation (and expletives) — quieted me down with just about the wisest words I ever needed to hear: Ang nangyayari sa ‘yo ay ikaw ay naririndi. Kailangan mong kumalma. (What is happening is you are falling to pieces. You really should keep it cool.)

The old man set me up to rendezvous with my buddies at the Kamay Ni Hesus or The Hand of Jesus where my distraught mind wouldn’t have thought of at all. (When in despair, it really pays to put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.)

And then he went off leaving me calm as a clam shell. I do believe in angels you know.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000016

Earlier on, I was having a ball with the Lucbanians on the not-so-complex streets of this small Quezon town.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000007

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000008

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000011

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000012

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000013

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000014

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000015

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000019

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000038

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000040

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000043

The old tricycle driver and my baffled mind. LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000039

IT WAS PAHIYASINATION I KNOW

PAHIYAS is a woman’s charm — there is more far beneath than what is captured by the lens.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000041

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000004

Pahiyas is a celebration. In honor of farmers’ patron saint San Isidro de Labradore. An acknowledgement of a season’s good harvest.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000024

Pahiyas is a party! People trooped to this small Lucban town, far flung and middle-of-nowhere any which way you take.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000005

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000006

Pahiyas is an expression. All the trimmings are statements of Lucbanians’ creative skill and imagination.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000030

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000035

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000036

Pahiyas is gastronomy. You should eat ’til you’re sleepy here. And sleep ’til you’re hungry.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000017

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000032

Pahiyas is twenty-four-carat Pinoy hospitality. I’ve stopped by each castle along the way and made myself feel at home.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000033

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000002

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000009

Pahiyas is labor of love. “We have taken great pains for this and are happy for it” — a local declares while emptying a glass of lambanog.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000037

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000023

No question Pahiyas is lambanog. Locally made. Up to ninety-percent proof!

IMG_1774

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000020

Pahiyas is life. Unbelievable.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000021

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000022

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000026

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000027

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000028

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000029

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000025

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000031

Most of all, Pahiyas is experience. Don’t just take photos, live the moment.

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000034

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_000003

LOST IN LUCBAN by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_0000042

And most, most of all, Pahiyas was fascination I know.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS

We have waited all five years for the Fight of the Century to unfold. And when the big day came, I was busy walking around the streets of Lobo, in Batangas.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2011

I have decided to skip the Pacman-Mayweather bout in exchange for a photowalk around this modest little town — and I think I’ve made the right move. ‘Cause as it turned out, it’s more fun having an eyeful of Lobo than waste time on the pay-per-snooze match. There’s more engaging sights I can find here than the number of times both fighters engaged themselves.

For instance the old houses; the animated Batangueños; a guitar — not the musical instrument; the pebbled beaches; and a hut in the middle of the street. No I don’t even need to mention the beaches here.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_201

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_202

Lobo is the down under borough of Batangas. Sandwiched by the mountains, and confined by the Tayabas bay in the south. We made it to the Poblacion from Batangas City via 1-hour trip on a screamin’ jeepney through the twists and turns of Taysan-Lobo Road.

Crazy zigzag ride.

I got off to a festive sway of banderitas hovering above me. “It’s the feast of St. Michael Archangel. May 8, Friday. We’ll have fluvial procession..” An old lady’s welcome remarks. Did I beat Google Streetview here.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_203

Lobo — being a quintessential Filipino town — is perfect for street photography: the public market is where the town plaza is, where the municipio is, where the town cathedral is and so on. All its hustle and bustles are gathered together in one belt so you can switch from one scenery to another, in just a single bounce.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_204

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_205

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_206

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_207

Eyes glued on the tube. The Pacman era brought back the communal live-TV viewing. Here in Lobo Public Gym, I stumbled upon this ‘calm before the storm.’

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_208

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_209

“Gitara” — a wooden bar which serves as an added seat for an overloaded jeepney.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2010

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2012

It seems the more I look around, the more attention I draw. The more unsettled I become. But that’s just all there is to be anxious about. People can gaze at what you do all day long but — do they really mind?

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2014

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2015

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2016

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2013

Street photography is not a whole new ballgame for the Batangueño I am sure. It’s just that for a coastal town like Lobo, they take it visitors will shoot on the beach, and not on the streets.

PHOTOWALK LOBO, BATANGAS_2017

Beach is for beers, see.

PHOTO ESSAY:RIO DE QUINGUA

There ought to be a river ride in one’s lifetime.

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_01

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_02

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_04

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_03

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_05B

My boatman, Edgar, is boss here today. He says I should have come a little earlier to witness how the sunrise turns everything to yellow.

You mean gold, I said.

Yellow, he presses.

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_05C

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_06

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_066

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_06a

I told him how unfortunate the waters have turned black.

No it’s red, he says.

Red, alright.

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_07

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_08

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_08b

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_09

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_010

He spoke about how their catch have dwindled down in years. Squatter shanties and janitor fish.

We are losing the river, he said.

ANGAT RIVER by Elmer Nev Valenzuela_011

He’s never wrong.

SAGRADA VALLEY

I don’t remember getting forgetful.

A small band of Lenten penitents appeared on the road as I sped along the foothills of Mount Asog. The file was led by a “Christ” bearing a bamboo cross — very atypical from the standard Pinoy Holy Week fashion — followed by a horde of equally strange looking disciples. I was about to pull over and capture the unusual spectacle when I realized I didn’t have the camera with me.

How could I be so remiss of something I always keep with me almost like an OCD.

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00022

I owe it to the flagellants for calling my attention. Sagrada is more or less a 45-minute ride from Iriga town proper. Good thing I was barely into ten minutes of driving and can still afford to make a turn around for the camera sitting on a shelf. Otherwise, I’d be deep on the other side of the mountain kicking myself over over snapshots I would’ve missed.

Like, for instance, a close-up of enticing cookings we don’t always come across in mega Manila. The picadillos below are being prepared for the troop of able-bodied men who are to parade the Birhen Maria for the evening’s Santo Entierro procession. They do it for faith and they do it for free.

But they would need the energy coming only from the best Bicolano recipe which — as always — is washed down with a bottle of Ginebra San Miguel.

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0001

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0004

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_000003

I would’ve missed some images of Good Friday scenes. Sagrada is a humble village. Although most of the folks here don’t lived close to each other, they are in one way or another descended from some common clan. They are either toiling the grounds here for a living or finding work some place else.

Today is a pause from all their grinds.

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0005

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_000007

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00000114

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00012

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0006

I would have no shots from the “tuntonan” tower.

Also a belfry, the tower is used during Patuntons — the occasion when the Risen Christ meets up with the Virgin Mary — where “angels,” suspended by a cable, are lowered through the tower’s octagonal gaps. A joyous atmosphere celebrated at dawn of Easter Sunday.

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00010

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00016

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00015

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00013

Finally, I would’ve missed the final scintillating hours of the day not a lot of people adore: how the setting sun paints everything around.

Simply magical it blows my mind.

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0000014

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00000124

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00009

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0008

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00017

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00021

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00019

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00020

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_00018

SAGRADA by elmer nev valenzuela_0000033

FACEPALM SUNDAY

My original plan was a photowalk around this small town of Tanza. But when I hit the place, I end up trapped in a sea of palm and olive branches. The wind was blowing cold and the after-dawn sun was simply brilliant I couldn’t just let the festivity go by.

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_10

Then it occurred to me, I have been taking too many hip shots lately.

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_2

And that the only time I have the courage to really point the camera is when taking landscapes.

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_11

Or when granny’s not looking.

Ain’t that a shame.

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_3

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_9

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_8

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_6

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_5

PHOTOWALK TANZA by elmer nev valenzuela_4