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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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

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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?

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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.

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Beach is for beers, see.

PHOTO ESSAY:RIO DE QUINGUA

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

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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.

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I told him how unfortunate the waters have turned black.

No it’s red, he says.

Red, alright.

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

We are losing the river, he said.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Or when granny’s not looking.

Ain’t that a shame.

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