Showing posts with label cebu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cebu. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2015

Filipino Vendors: Filling the Gap

In a country plagued by ironies -- multi-colored, hardworking, talented, yet long-suffering -- Filipinos sustain themselves by becoming self-styled innovators, in the real sense of the word. In a battlefield where necessity reigns as the mother of invention, they are quick to pick the smithereens up, build their own shelter out of which with a twist, reap some progress through difficult times, and eventually succeed. They are madiskarte (proactive) in their lives, as they can fit in every possible hole, get out of a maze in one piece, just amazingly resilient in the face of adversity.

As innovators, Filipinos have a peculiar means to survive. They invented the jeepney to make up for the shortage or absence of buses, or to provide for a faster yet cheaper fare going to and fro their work, pimping World War II American jeeps; they invented festivals to mirror Filipinos’ bright and light-hearted disposition despite all the odds, negativities, and yearly calamities, to afford a smile once and for all; and most importantly, they invented jobs non-existent in the West, to cling to dear life and to fill the gaps of convenience the society so needs.

Here the focus is on the Filipino who takes his job to the street or wet market. The Filipino is a vendor, a tradesman -- a modern hero in a society that is accustomed to life is hard as a biting reality. Inconvenience is a nightmare ignored by the government, and the Filipino vendor rises to the challenge. The Filipino vendor sees the opportunity and seizes it.

Whenever you need something to eat one hungry afternoon, the Filipino peddling some peanuts, tempura, fish balls, or siomai (pork dumpling) with puso (hanging rice) is just across the street to help fill your gut; or some balut (duck embryo) whenever a nightly appetite gravely tickles your bones. Whenever you can’t afford a well-designed tattoo for on your deltoid, the Filipino sells his dirt cheap, yet top caliber, service along the street. Whenever you need to go to your friend’s home situated far from the highway, the Filipino can take you on a tricycle ride safely to your destination. Whenever branded clothes are too expensive for you, the Filipino at ukay-ukay (thrift shop) is the known connoisseur and provider.

The Filipino vendor knows how to sell his goods and services for him to survive, and to be a convenience to the society.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lost Children and Their Refuge

They are random strangers plying the streets of (some) highly urbanized Filipino cities. No, they aren’t the archetypal daily commuters. They are young, out-of-school, thick with grime, thin as whisper, starving, sickly-looking, often sporting plus-sized hand-me-down shirts, and sometimes wide-eyed. They work, play, and live in bustling public spaces.

They survive at the mercy of others, begging for money at busy crossroads, scavenging for crumbs or leftovers thrown in a restaurant basket of trash -- or survive at the expense of others, pickpocketing the hapless, unknowing victim inside a jeepney. They choose to forget their gut is empty, lifted by a hallucinatory fantasy after sniffing desperately late afternoon a tad of rugby (contact cement) inside a plastic bag. For the vigilant, it is hard to trust a presumed member of a menacing gang proliferating in the streets.

If they had miraculously eaten, they would play around where iron bars were available, the railings, or with treasured broken toys, even if it meant a faint, blurry, and lost childhood to many seeing them.

While some of these children would just suddenly show up in front of your camera, wanting for a shot, most of them would shun the camera. They are scared of it. A picture of them would mean identification by the police. ‘Don’t! Stop it! Don’t report me to the police,’ pleaded one covering his face with his upturned shirt.

Their rest seems like a farce to those who have their comfortable, private shelters. These children sleep where pedestrians walk by, and where the noise of honking and speeding cars is loudest. Any place -- cold or stiflingly hot, quiet or blaring -- is called their humble abode.

They are the street children spilling out into the main thoroughfares and the nooks and crannies of messy cities. Ironically, they tag along deemed progress, resurfacing anytime. Which is to say developments do not always breed any good. They also show the dark side of it -- massive poverty, ignorance to basic needs, poor services, corruption, and short-sighted urban planning, if there is.

Images: Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dancing to the Beat: Sinulog Festival 2015

Navigating the colossal revelry springing into its own beat on the banderitas-smothered streets, I could invariably love everything about it without any complaint. Despite the threatening overcast sky that haphazardly soon dropped buckets of rain, the difficulty of getting the best vantage point for somebody who wanted to be so-called photographer and thus sucked, the impossible thick human walls you couldn't penetrate and pass through, leaving you sort of impatiently stuck and nearly irate, the five-hour-long SRO, the growing heaps of rubbish everywhere and every minute, and the steaming air that unwittingly raised both eyebrows and cooked our balls, I had seriously nothing but a feeling of accomplishment and gratitude for being a part, yet again, of Sinulog.

I mean, there were some inconveniences. It was chaotic, of course, as it has always been. But when colors fly like a water wheel or a zoetrope, when the music starts its familiar insatiable rhythm, and when the singsong 'Pit Senor' drowns the crowd, all the world's inanities, caprices, and fatigues shelve themselves to shame. The simplest, yet most meaningful, word there is, is joy.

Sinulog is one of those few reminders for me to come to terms with my worsening faith and have it renewed. Thank you, Señor Santo Niño.