My maternal grandmother died three weeks ago.  She was 86.

It started out  with a simple infection.  Her symptoms were fever, elevated WBC and typical bacterial infection presentations.  The doctors concluded it was an ordinary infection, prescribed antibiotics and went their merry way.  At 12AM, May 11, she was rushed to the hospital. Delusional, weak, incoherent. At 3PM that same day, she went into multi-organ failure, starting with her kidneys.  At 4:26pm she flatlined, and was declared dead.

I felt sad for her going that way. She had 7 kids. When it was time for her to go, she only had one of her sons there. I was supposed to be there earlier, but I didn’t make it in time.  When I saw her, the nurses were removing the medical instruments from her. I was there when  they were dressing her up. I was there when they were wrapping her in that sanitary wrapping plastic that was required.  I couldn’t take it. But I couldn’t cry. No, somebody had to be strong.  It  was just me, an aunt, and an uncle there.

The following hours were like a whirlwind.  She was taken to the funeral parlor. My aunt and uncle had to go home.  I followed her to the funeral parlor.  That’s when relatives came pouring in. With them, the questions came.  What happened? what did the doctors say? all those question.  I couldn’t answer them. nor did I want to. They were supposed to be the ones with the information.  She was their mother.  Where were they when this was all happening.   I wanted to remind them that they were not there.

I had to check on her.  The embalming was done.  Somebody had to check that her make-up’s right. Her hair done the way she would’ve wanted, thing like that.  Somebody had to do it.  My aunts wouldn’t. My uncles’ excuse was they didn’t know shit about make-up.  Well, somebody had to do it.  That’s where I broke down. Seeing her there,  seeing her lifeless, serene face, realizing that she’s gone.  I cried.  God, did I cry.

I can’t really say that I’m close to her.  We’ve always had a communication gap between us. Her not understanding filipino all that well, and me with the chinese speaking ability of an 8 year old. What I have with her is countless hours of silence alone in the car.  I drive her around manila on the weekends.  Seems that I’m the only grandkid that actually does so. But I’d like to believe that we’ve formed a bond.

The next week was hectic, with relatives coming over from abroad.  My mom and sisters still stuck on a cruise. It took my mind off of the loss.  There was just too much to be done.

The most jarring thing I witnessed was when my mom arrived.  It was surreal.  I’ve never seen her cry like that. To break down like that. My younger sister said that she saw her like that once, when my brother left.  But that was quickly replaced with anger.  This time, there was no anger. All I saw, all I felt from her was pain.

The whole experience was an eye-opener for me.  I learned of a lot of things that was kept hidden from us.  That were brushed under a carpet.  Basically, you can take my family’s story, and make it the plot for Mano Po XX.

It was surreal. The realizations that came.  The changes that’s happening. It took my grandmother’s death for things to change.

Creepy story:

My grandfather died 15 years ago.  10 years ago, my grandmother was asked by a friend to visit one of those spirit channel people.  My grandmother wasn’t all that interested, but being the lakwatsera she was, she decided to go.  During the session, the spirit guide/channeler turned to my grandmother and said “(insert grandfather’s name here), said that it’s not time for you yet, but he’ll pick you up when you’re 90. It’ll be quick”.  At the start of this post, I mentioned that she was 86.  We recomputed, according to the chinese calendar (which we use to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday) she was 90 when she died.  My grandfather’s 15th death anniversary was 2 weeks after she died.


Day Four: Stella Redux

(Check out the shot onblack)

ok, since Hunny says that day 3 lacks details.  I’m redoing the shot for her(Oh yes, I try to please my audience*winkwinknudgenudge*).  I wasn’t planning on marking it as Day Four. But since they involve different techniques,with the previous one involving some very intense flashlight-fu(copyright pending) and a lot of aperture tweaking. I might as well mark this as Day Four.

I was planning on doing a shot where the outline of the bottle is highlighted with a rim light, black seamless background, and a light shining through the bottle.  Alas, I have only one speedlight, no umbrella or anything, just a stofen to diffuse my 580exII. But hey, overall I think it works ok.

Equipment used:

  • Canon 50D  with 24-70mm F/2.8 mounted
  • Canon 580exII Speedlight
  • Black cartolina as background
  • Lenovo Thinkpad as my lightstand
  • A bottle of Stella Artois as subject

P.S. I would also like to thank yesterday’s bottle for acting as stand-in for today’s bottle while I was doing some light tests.  Without you, I wouldn’t be able to get that frosty look.

P.P.S.  In case you’re curious what my “studio” looks like.  Here it is!

My Pathetic Studio

My Pathetic Studio

Day Three: Cheers Over a Cold One

Day Three: Cheers Over a Cold One

(Check out the shot oblack)

Going for a minimalist look here. Hope it works.


(Couldn’t think of an apt title)

My mind races, my body aches.  I find it mildly funny and ironic that my happy place right now is the gym. I get lost with my thoughts there. A place where you tend to be around people, but alone at the same time. A place to think, or a place where you don’t need to think. A place where you can just slap on your earphones and think. Or if your mood suits it, just concentrate on getting that last rep in.

I’m in my usual bout of something.  I can’t think of the proper thing to call it.  Depression? Self-loathing? Quarter-life crisis?  I don’t really know.  I think I’m just tired. Yeah, it’s that usual line again.  Tired of having to show that everything’s ok, that I’m happy, that my life is going where I want it.

For once, I wish I could be as selfish, that I can just stop trying to please everyone.  To just stop thinking about what others might think.

Day Two: And They Were All Yellow

Day Two: And They Were All Yellow

(Check out the shot onblack)

Net connection’s out at home.  I’m at Momo’s to post this, so here’s a quick one before I head off for the gym.

Decided on a color theme today and guess what color it is!  Actually went through a lot of different theme ideas, from interior design shots, to self-portrait. But couldn’t come up with anything interesting.  Hope you guys like this.

P.S. You can see in the shot where Pipboy jumped from.

Day 1: Pipboy

Day 1: Pipboy

(Check out the shot onblack)

Since my Model/Sexy Assistant/Tripod(more like a Bipod) is in the US, Pipboy gladly volunteered for today’s shoot.  I asked Pipboy to stand on the ledge and strike me his best smile.  At first the plan was to get the Hyatt Hotel lights for interesting bokeh, unfortunately the whole positioning for it was mind boggling( would’ve been easier if I could fly) and so I decided to use the street lamps for background instead.

Lighting was done with a 580exII off-camera, bounced on the wall and triggered by a Cactus V2(I don’t have money for pocket wizards).  It was a cheap-assed attempt at being a strobist since the location was really small, and I didn’t have any other equipment(would’ve loved a softbox here to soften up the light). A lightstand would’ve been ideal, but I don’t have one either. What I did was point the flash using my left hand, and tried to balance my camera with my right(you should’ve seen me, it was funny).

Sigh…. I had big hopes for my little Pipboy.  I was planning on asking him to model for me across different locations.  I was going to shoot him at Eastwood, maybe infront of Manor before he goes to a party.  We were going to travel around the world!! But I guess the fame and fortune tied to it was enough to send him over the edge, literally.  After about 5 shots of me asking him to move around, he got tired of it all, he couldn’t handle the pressure. So I now say bye bye to you Pipboy, it was good while it lasted.

RIP Pipboy

RIP Pipboy

Or I might’ve accidentally pushed him off the ledge…

Even at death he can still smile.  I will miss you Pipboy

I’m a big fan of Dustin Diaz‘s flickr photostream. On his blog, he has a project called Project 365.  His aim is to post a picture every day for a year. And he is currently at day 113.

Inspired by the photographs he takes, I’ve decided to do the same thing.  I know I’m not at his same skill level, but this would help me improve my style, and at the same time get the best out of my SLR.