Thursday, September 21, 2017

Photos & Article by Jun Reynales

September 21, 2017, Manila City, Philippines – after years of neglect and moral decadence, yes Manila is Dead. It is but aptly that today, as we remember the victims and loss of those who suffered under that old Republic Act 1081 under the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, we as Filipinos have to admit that our beautiful and once taunted “The Pearl of the Orient” have passed away already.

What happened to us? We blame the government for their callousness and ineptitude – for not taking care of every Filipino – from not providing viable social welfare programs, from giving proper education programs, competitive mass housing and education, failing in mass transportation and road infrastructure, and simply too selfishly too polarised and politicized. We blame each and every Juan de la Cruz in becoming too selfish and greedy. That each Filipino threw away moral values and social responsibilities over stature in society, over more money in the bank, over more personal and selfish gains and interests. Gone were the well-loved virtues of Integrity, Honestly, Social Responsibility and what is now prevalent these days are Anarchy, Deceit, “What’s Mine Is Mine, What’s Yours Is Mine” and “The Devil I Care” attitude pervades. All these happened a few decades already under our skin that it is so overwhelming that we grew indignant about it already.
Several generations since the 70s have wasted their chance in making our once beautiful country alive and bright. Our once fabled Manila Sunset by the Bay is now our giant pigsty and septic refuse that no one dares to even sit down and admire the place. Our mass transport system – from the MRT, LRT, PNR, PUVs is so horrible and sordid that we accept it now as our normal way of life; that an average time traversing EDSA and other main thoroughfares now is at a dismal 3-4 hours compare to the supposed 30-45 minutes. And that’s on a good day. We simply kill ourselves when we commute – either by our own private cars or public commuting daily, likened to the deadly heart attacked. And we’re the cholesterol who killed our city and our seas.

Our Eulogy. We remember our good times when we can travel EDSA from Makati to Ortigas Avenue in just 30-45 minutes, on a heavy rush hour on a weekday then. When watching a good and comfortable movie would cost you 20 pesos. We remember when we spend an average PUV fare of around 1-5 pesos for some few kilometre distances to our destination. We remember when we had a good conversation with friends face-to-face, sans those gadgets doing social media and not ignoring those besides us. We remember our weekend shopping cart filled up from some exclusive and upscale department store would just average to 1,000 pesos. Like that old famous song, we just need to have three 25 centavos to make a three minute phone call and be mindful of those cuing to use the phone behind our back, as how we were conscious of our etiquette and manners. We remember when we watch our television on primetime we see good news and beautiful things, we learn good stories and learn cultures. We remember that as each day breaks you can greet a warm-hearted “Good Morning” to a total stranger and wished the person sincerely well that day. We remember how our life in the city was as bright and warm as the sun during our summer days, when the air was without obnoxious and deadly polluted.

Our Prayer. May the next and future generations of Filipinos become more selfless and more socially-responsible, and may the future government gives more for taking care of the people than just be them-selves. We prayer that they inculcate again the value of Integrity, Honesty, “Palabra de Honor”, “Love of the Country”, and adhere moral values to heal and make the nation whole again. May we have more real heroes than just celluloid kind and done by media and PR strategists.  And may the future generations of Filipinos may undo what the past and these present has sadly have destroyed and corroded.

In memoriam to the once called The Pearl Of The Orient, September 21, 2017, here in Manila and its cities, the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

That iconic print by Eduardo Masferre.

Masferré: Soul of Sagada
Written and Photographed by JUN REYNALES.

Sagada, Mountain Province, November 4, 2013This was a different journey for me. Not the usual “travel and tell” adventure like what I’ve previously gone through and enjoyed. From the start, I’ve already set my objective why I wanted to go to Sagada, Mountain Province. It was all about wanting to see and learn about the country’s foremost pioneer and master in Philippine Photography – and his name is Eduardo Masferré.

            In a hindsight, Eduardo Masferré was born in 1909 in Sagada, Mountain Province (died June 24, 1995), of Catalonia (Spain) descent from a spaniard soldier and Nena Ogues (local lass from Sagada) in the late twentieth century, was also a self-taught photographer. This self-taught photographer focused taking photographs of the Igorots – their characters and lifestyles – and was estimated to have at least seven million photographs that he took. From the different faces of these wonderful indigenuous people of the Cordilleras  to their celebrations, rituals, and the normal everyday life.  
E.Masferre's print.

            In the late 1980s, there were few times the public was able to view his photographs through the different exhibitions:  in Manila (1982, 1983), in Copenhagen (1984), and in Tokyo (1986). The year after, the Smithsonian Institution bought 120 prints of his works for National Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Yale University made some interests of his works.

            Likened to the prominent names to some of the photography masters of the early 19th and 20th centuries namely Manuel Alvarez Bravo (cultural and surreal images from Mexico), Eugene Atget (documentary photos of Paris), E.J. Bellocq (prostitute portraits in New Orleans in 1912), Margaret Bourke-White (photojournalist of Nazi concentration camps), Bill Brandt (surrealist and working class in Britian 1930s), Julia Margaret Cameron (Victorian and soft portraits), Roy DeCarava (African-American experiences), Jacques-Herni Lartigue (child photographer in France before World War I), Ansel Adams (American landscape photographer), and so on and forth.

            Going back, arriving in Sagada, after a few hours of rest from the gruelling travel on the road, I wasted no time to visit the place of the master – Masferré Country Inn and Restaurant – operated and managed by the children of Eduardo Masferré, I was fortunate to have met and talked with Monette Masferré.  Monette told me about her father-in-law’s affection to the culture and traditional activities of the Cordillera people, and how he, being the first photographer to be able to document such wealth of these wonderful and colorful people. She told stories of the different photographic equipments of her late father-in-law that are still kept in pristine condition from the cameras, tripods, dark room equipments, and others.
E.Masferre's print.
            Monette Masferré gave me some upcoming good news and plans of the family: to have another coffeetable book launch and will be focusing on their father-in-law’s life as a photographer, his private equipments and collections, and private photographs this time to be part of that collection (remember that his father-in-law has more than seven million prints that are not yet seen by the public). Another family’s plan would also be the renovation of the current Masferré Country Inn and Restaurant into a more intimate one and adding a museum to showcase never-before-seen photography equipments. All these plans are heading up for public appreciation this coming 2014!
            Trivial stories about the daily chores of the children of the master was shared also by Monette, like the new business of pasteurizing goat’s milk and labeling them under Masferré Cheese (or milk) that’s keeping them busy, aside from the exciting chores operating their inn. I told Monette that I can’t wait to see their plan materialize next year, and would love to be of an assistance – being a photographer myself – in the creation of their upcoming coffeetable book and their plans for the photography museum.

Getting an inspiration from the master’s life and stories, my perspective in capturing photographs gave me affirmation, that capturing the people and their culture in their moment in time, that in some decades from now when everyone in this generation became dusts and earth, only through my captured photographs one can surmise how life was lived and how we lived with our soul... once in our generation.

            Thank you, through the invitation of Jb Quemado and Vincent Ray Hallig of Travel Mode Philippines, that this worthwhile adventure came about. It was a fun trip with such a wonderful team, all logistics were taken cared for, and albeit the long drive it was an enjoyable trip none the less. Life is Good!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vox Populi: When Filipino People
Re-awakens to a United Fervor.
Photographed and Written by JUN REYNALES.

Million People March Against Pork Barrel Funds, Quirino Grandstand Luneta Park, Manila City, August 26, 2013 .

Filipinos are known to have opinions and conflicting ideas – as many as the islands of the country in fact – as far as political issues are concerned. But on a few occasions, they joined forces and aired one cohesive voice. It happened first during the 1986 EDSA People Power and it happened again. One cohesive and strong sentiments of people that are strangers to each other but walked hand-in-hand to show their disgusts against the ills of today’s government.

It was last August 26, 2013, incidentally the country’s National Heroes Day celebration, every modern-day ordinary Filipinos, likened to the ordinary forefathers who decided to stand against the cruelty of the agressions of Spain and America who joined the ranks of Katipunan, all trooped in white towards Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park for the Million People’s March to demand for the stop of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) – or profanely called Pork Barrel Funds – to once and for all punish and jail all those responsible and participated to this horrible malfeasance of irregular and irresponsible use of every Filipinos hard-earned taxes entrusted to the government.

Despite the gloomy and threatening strong rains that day, all the concerned Filipinos brought their families, friends, even young children in strollers being pushed by their parents, professionals, ordinary employees, students, senior citizens and PWDs went hand-in-hand towards the grandstand. Some wearing white shirts with different printed slogans showing statements against pork barrel misuse and jail the culprits, others brought huge Philippines flags, most have seas of umbrellas, raincoats, plastic mats to sit on the muddied grass of the venue.

Some prominent personalities and celebrities were there too, floods of media personalities covering the events, huge volume of photographers wanting to capture the day’s event from their respective vantage points. All these people united as one nation to seek reform and want transparency on how the government spends their hard-earned tax money, and also demands to finally pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill and be enforced to law.

Quite noticeable was to non-existence of the usual organized hoard of participants (so-called “hakot”) that is ever-present in most political rallies. You don’t see those pre-packed lunches on cue to feed their organized minions. You also don’t see fleets of passenger jeeps and buses to ferry these organized mob. End result – having a spontaneous disciplined rally of true sense of disgusted people and wanted real change... but without the tons of garbage left behind. This time... it’s clean.

Crowds came walking as far as CCP in Vito Cruz Streets (some beyond that), and walked in droves. Others even came with bicycles, with one group who left at 2am in Nasugbu Batangas, and pedaled to the venue to be able to catch up for the 9am assembly time. One awesome feat!

All these collaboration started thru the wonders of social media and Facebook (one good way of using best the site) and gained momentum for that event.

An awesome sight to see when people – no matter what social status and profession they came from – all came united as one. The few times you see such united people converge and stand to seek reform by themselves when they cannot see any actions done by their government.

Reminds me when our forefathers in those byegone yesteryears in the Katipunan – our National Heroes – stand united to stop oppression. And today, these ordinary Filipinos came dress in white started again standing united to stop the ills of today’s government, and voiced their sentiments that this government make straight their acts straight and clean.

Vox Populi... again united. Vox Populi stands aptly as our modern-day heroes.

Indeed... Life is Good!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fukuoka is Ramen.
Photographed and Written by JUN REYNALES.

IKKORYU FUKUOKA RAMEN, SM Aura BGC Taguig City, July 22, 2013 – When Fukuoka means Ramen.

In a chanced invitation in that overcast day of July, I was invited to partake and try some delicious japanese ramen noodles in their newly-opened branch in that controversial SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. 

No amount of controversy stopped me from venturing to a food tasting invitation before so I said a big YES. Hehe. So after a few minutes of searching in that mall, I found the Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen restaurant, and was received by the charming marketing assistant Riza Meriado. She eventually introduced me to the men behind the restaurant’s success – Kenji Komus (PRO, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen) and Masanori Ogata (CEO, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen) – which operates not only their ramen house in Japan and the Philippines, but in the countries of Taiwan,Thailand and China as well.

Through the stories and experiences of Masanori Ogata, told us that japanese culture is so much engraved in their dishes. Fukuoka, being situated inland in Japan, their ramen noodles have more meats like pork, beef, and chicken that adds up to the flavours. Ogata added that his great grandparents handed down to him the ingredients and the right formula and mixture befitting their ancestry thus making it one of the best, if not the best, ramen noodle restaurant. His word of “Me de tai” meaning “happy fish” means that they only use the best ingredients, and if he is not satisfied as a ramen noodle regular, he will not share it and sell it. That’s one sincere guarantee of a good satisfying food experience: guaranteed by the company’s CEO.


Now comes the Tonkotsu treats!  First I get to enjoy and try their Ajitama Tonkotsu. It’s the restaurant’s best seller. Pork slices with specially marinated soup with hard-boiled eggs and served in a good portion of bowl.  Next was their Black Garlic Tonkotsu. A delicious soup with good ramen noodles with their special roast garlic oil. And the third ramen noodles tried was Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu, nice ramen noodle soup with that spicy Tobanjan paste that added character to it. Not so spicy, the way I preferred it anyhow. Added treat was their version of dumplings called Gyoza – a good treat.

The restaurant also excudes the beauty of a typical ramen noodle house in Fukuoka region in Japan. With special kanji writings by one of japanese renowned calligrapher Sensyu Yasuko, a brilliant skilled lady in the ancient and majestic art of Japanese Calligraphy.

Through her simple works that is strewn around the areas of the Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen restaurant, you would not only savor and taste the delicious flavours the wonderful noodles but also feel the culture that is synonymous to its heritage.

Indeed... Life is Good!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Zambales Sojourn: Once. Last Summer.
Photographed and Written by JUN REYNALES.

IBA, Zambales, March 19-21, 2013 -- Nothing beats the warmth smiles and beautiful faces of the wonderful people of Zambales Province.

It also gives the exciting activities for their annual Zambales Province’s Mango Festival which was held in the center of the rustic town of Iba, Zambales this month of March. With hoards of exciting participants from the different towns around the province, all came with such vibrant dominating colour of yellow – showing the brightness of summer and the sweetness of their most delicious produce... Zambales Mangoes.

Lovely beauty titlists like Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, and Janine Tugonon, added the grace of the pageantry and parade as they spearheaded and ushered the different floatillas of the different towns with their respective beauty titlests hoping to bag the year’s beauty queen to represent the province.

The whole street parade festooned with wonderful colorful costumes gamely danced all over the plaza of Iba, you also get to experience the energetic crowd as they cheered and danced along with each street dancers that passed them by. No amount of summer heat deterred the crowd to stop, albeit through the different small stalls and vendors sold some cool refreshments and foods,  as all enjoyed the beat of the upbeat music of the parade.

This sojourn also gave me the chance to discover new and exciting places that the province offers.

Places like San Salvador Island for one. A remote marine sanctuary island, yet undeveloped, is one best example for some of the more intrepid and outdoor-type of adventurer would love to stay. With just a few minutes small boat ride, this island is best for those who would wish to sleep beachside with tents and go camping. Gaze with the stars, watch a bright full moon as it shares it brilliance when it reflects its mooncast over the calm ocean... well, simply amazing. Top that with good friends, eat good food and drink cold drinks, share laughs and stories, it indeed becomes a good place where friendship and memories begins and lasts.

Another such wonderful discover would be Potipot Island. Perhaps one of the province’s most recognized and loved beach area, it boast almost its pristine beautiful clear waters that enthralls all those who would take a dip in its waters. Local small huts can be rented out, or best, to bring your own tent and camping equipments to enjoy your stay there. While heading out for Potipot Island, I was fortunate also to be introduced to the region’s most cleanest lake – the Uacon Lake – with its gentle waters that eventually meets the open seas, it is best for those who would want to kayak around and discover some of its mangrove forest alongside the lake.

The chanced visit to these wonderful beaches and lake of the province gives us cityfolks appreciate more what the wonderful province enjoyed – and us to experience --  during such wonderful travel adventure.

Topside travel also brought me to go inside the famous Casa San Miguel in another rustic town of San Antonio. Spearheaded by no less than the equally-famous violinist Coke Bolipata, converted their ancestral house to an exhibit/perfomance hall, a museum, an al-fresco cafe, as the housed young and talented scholars from the province all eagerly to leartn and master the craft of playing the violin. Every now and then they have such angelic performances and invited not only some high-class delegates and dignitaries from Manila and other countries, but also from their own provincemates, as all eagerly to listen to all the fine jewels of young talented violinists all in the huge expance of the property.

In such simple rustic town, beautiful and angelic music are made and upcoming talented virtuosos are crafted to play such marvelous pieces perhaps to that of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and other gods of immaculate music genres.

And capping my Zambales sojourn was visits to some of the country’s oldests and most reverend churches situated in the different towns around the province. Different styles of architectures as each location creates a different styles in its architecture and traditions. Marvelous yet humble churches showed how these were encrusted to the provinces faith to their people, to their visitors, and to all those willing to share their history – capturing through their camera lenses, writing in their journals. Weary souls or not, visit to such wonderful structures gives one a sense of history.

I have always loved and visited Zambales province every now and then. But this journey gave me more realization as what the province really offer: that through its history and culture, the beautiful smile and warm welcome of its people, the sweet and delicious mangoes, are all what makes it sweet.

And its sweetness beyond summer can and will always be there for Zambales. It all happened last summer... once.

Life is Good!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Agri-Men: Cultivating the Future of the Philippines’ Agriculture.
Photographed and Written by JUN REYNALES.

Echague, Isabela Province, June 12, 2013 – When men, technology and the desire to improve the agricultural productivity means “Freedom!”

It is but befitting that the agricultural event to demostrate new ways and  technology of commercial and industrial farming was led by three gallant men:  Joseph Calata – one of today’s illustrious and youngest billionaire of the country, and commands the new breed of agricultural distribution business named Calata Corporation;  Ricardo Villacrusis – an agressive and intuitive agriculturist who’s creedo and advocacy is to improve the productivity of the current performance and output of our agricultural products to help improved the lifestyles of our farming communities around the country. A savvy person with vast experiences in the agricultural sector and industry; and lastly, the enigmatic Argentinian -- Nico Bolzico, who heads the LM10 Agricultural Corporation that helps and assists the transfer of resources, technology and ideas in aiming to increase and modify performance output of our country’s crops. 

These three persons formed the triumvirate in this event to showcase and share to the townsfolks and farming community of Echague, Isabela Province some new techniques, machineries, and designs to increase produce yield designed specifically for the rough terrains of the province. As noted during their research earlier (they’ve been able to study and analyze the soil composition details and crop terrains), they suggested some better and advance farming techniques best suited to the land.
With the technology showcase from the Argentinian company called Siembra Directa Corporation, they were able to show during the event the use of new heavy equipments like trackors with attached modified soil tillers and planters, and those with fertilizer-spraying arms, and how best to use these equipments. 

All eager local farmers, farmers’ cooperatives, local agricultural managers, and even agricultural majors students from Cagayan State University – all intently listen and observe the demostration, lectures, and video presentation done.

Joseph Calata shared to the media persons who trooped to see the event told them that, “through the increased efficiency and performance of our country’s agricultural sector specifically our local famers needed the boosts and its about time they get assistance from companies like Calata Corporation”. He added that, “it is befitting that this day being our country’s celebration of 115th Philippines Independence Day, we share the responsibility of having to alleviate the burden of low and often unsupported brothers in the agricultural industry by arming them new technology and ways to far exceed current output they do. We can all do it.”

Meanwhile, Nico Bolzico and the other Argentinian agri-technologists shared to the guests and  the crowd the different machineries, and how they are used on the field. Showcasing the tractors -- runnng back and forth -- around the huge demonstration farm field, all keen eyes watched around them. Personally, I find it funny, and thinks that it is like us (as kids) with new toys moving in front of us. Hehe. Nice toys indeed.

The best sight was when Nico Bolzico was approached by the eager students from Cagayan State University to ask more detailed information – a good exchanges of ideas amongst them too. As Nico added, “these are the next generation of business partners of LM10 Agricultural Corporation and future agri-technologists!”  Yes, they sure looked that way indeed.

In half the day, the event finished and everybody was all hot from the humid farm field – thank God it didn’t rain though as it could’ve turned out to be so muddy and slippery. Not a good sight of people down in the mud. Hehe. Anyway, a good lunch treat of some grilled salmon cuts, salad, barbeques, rice, and some iced tea and sodas.

First time I’ve experienced celebrating the country’s independence day celebration in a different perspective. And all I can say is... Burp!

Not only for the food and the drinks... but for the whole learning experience.

Indeed... Life is Good!