Her Name Is Chiqui

This project has been on idle for quite some time. It took me months to gather up enough courage and have these photos developed. They’re all of my grandmother, Chiqui, or to me known as Tata. She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (man, does it sting to say that) a couple of years ago. Doctors’ best bet was that it derived from the depression she went through caused by my grandfather’s death in 2011. Regardless of its origin, the disease is here.. its eaten her up.. not completely but the change has been, well, drastic.

Everyone who knows Chiqui, knows that she adores her grandchildren. Adore is an understatement actually. She’s everyone’s number one fan. I cannot begin to describe to you how much we love her – how much I love her. Plus, she cooks hella good! Don’t get me started on her Mechado!

Yet no matter how much I love her, it pains me to talk about her as I see her deteriorating. One time, she almost didn’t recognize me. It happened a couple of weeks ago, I think. She had to take a second look at me before she greeted me good morning. It felt like a Samurai shoved his Katana through my chest and dragged it towards my stomach. My heart dropped at the sight of her blank gaze and empty stare. I froze as an uneasy numbness spread throughout my body. “How? Why me?” was all I could ask myself.

I love photographing her. Before I hold my camera up to take the shot, she always says, “Isabel! Stop it! I don’t have eyebrows on!” yet would proceed to pose, smile at the camera, then laugh at what just happened. One day I decided I wanted to document her, capture more portraits of her. Real ones with the idea to ask her this question after each and every portrait session, “Tata, is this the first time I took a photo of you?”. The answers have been inconsistent as expected. I’ve shot photos of her before especially when I just began film photography and so there would be times when she would remember those days or she just wouldn’t. “We did this before na, diba?”, “No, just today.” “You never had a photo shoot with me before!! Stop saying you did!”. Those were some of many answers.  And yes, Alzheimer’s comes with a whirlwind of emotions – Tata being angry is one of them because she never really was the type to act out of rage.

I miss how she used to be but I seem to love her more now. She continues to attain wholeness even with the loss of her memory. This is all part of her journey. All part of her life.

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Chiqui has been collecting crosses ever since I could remember. She now has a whole wall dedicated to it.
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This was her cat Rusty. She’s had pets all her life. She’s had rabbits, cats, dogs, goats, a pig, a turkey, a chicken…. did I miss anything?

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One of Chiqui’s I-don’t-want-to-pose-for-you-but-let-me-smile-for-you moments.

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Here, Chiqui sits on the couch in her late husband’s den. She has her breakfast here at 8AM everyday while watching the news and Kris Aquino’s morning show before heading out to have a short walk around the block.

I can’t lie, it’s been killing me seeing what the disease is doing to her. But what can you do except be there for her right? I wonder if she even remembers she has it. I doubt it.

Mamiya 645 | Neopan 100 + Protra 400 (turned BW)

 

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I AM EMOTIONAL IN THE END.

After working for 10 days straight with very minimal rest, I am finally home. As I sit here and share with you all the storm I had gone through last week, I realize how grateful I am of it all. Exhausted, nevertheless, grateful for all the effort and passion I poured into work for those 10 days.

In celebration of the fiery passion that’s still burning in me, I’d like to share a portrait session I curated a couple years ago. I used my younger sister as my subject. I just thought I’d share it as these were the times when my passion for photography was at its peak! Crazy how some things turn out to change so drastically in time.

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An Honest Post About How I Really Feel

I’ve been jumping from one draft to another finding the perfect photos to accompany the perfect words, and I guess you can say that I still messed up on this one. I haven’t been able to write anything “good” for months and I just realized why it has been that way – I am completely and utterly consumed. I’m distracted, overwhelmed, and outright exhausted. I’m consumed with life and work. I’m distracted by jumbled thoughts and unbaked plans that are constantly being made up, one after the other. I am overwhelmed with feeling of fear, worry, and excitement. To feel all these emotions all at once baffles me. It’s a strange sensation.

My photography started off as my own little hobby I was obsessed with. It didn’t have to be perfect, it didn’t have to follow rules, it didn’t have to be anything else other than what I wanted it to be. It just had to be mine and knowing it was mine was what I loved.

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I try my best to approach each post I publish with structure, direction and a hint of emotion because, well, it’s me. 2017 has been a whirlwind and it seems that there are no signs of slowing down. I’m thankful for it, don’t get me wrong! But it feels like I’ve just started, and already, things are… like this.

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All I hope for is that things start looking up from here. Rather, my spirit and energy gets a positive punch into them.

 

Photos by Gio Lo

Purpose: Today’s Life Changing Plans for the Future

Well hello again, dear reader! my, has it been months since I last voiced out opinions. It’s been a whirlwind of events and emotions have been spiraling out of hand. To sum it up, things have been crazy. Life has been throwing tomatoes at me left and right, and here I am dodging my way past each one. I’m thankful though, to be given numerous opportunities in work, in my career, and just life in general.

Now for the good part! I’ve decided to share with you all new decisions and changes that are currently being made in my life as of the moment. I woke up on the morning of my birthday a few days ago realizing how awful Mother Earth has been treated and how fast she is dying – she is nearing her end and it’s crazy scary! Studies have shown that approximately by 2050 there will not be any more ocean left to swim in due to the vast amount of plastic we humans have thrown in it! And it’s all because of our irresponsibility. Just.. crazy. I decided that morning that I am going to make a change, one that’ll influence those around me to help out and save this planet from humans.

Get rid of plastic! Nowadays, almost everything is made with, made in, or made of plastic. Not enough consumers are aware of the drastic implications plastic has on nature. The smallest steps lead to great changes, believe me! You can start by bringing around a water tumbler instead of constantly buying new water bottles that you’ll end up throwing in the garbage anyway. Klean Kanteen and Keep Cup have some good choices! Another way to keep from plastic is to bring along with you metal straws as well as metal or wooden utensils. Numerous local online shops have been selling these items together organic and reusable casings. Go Zero, Sip PH, and Island Happy have some good choices.

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Think twice before you purchase. With the immediate satisfaction this generation craves leaves our world in such a tragic place. Like the fast pace of trends in fashion and retail or the impatience for deliverables of things that are convenient to us but harmful to the environment. Do you really need a new shirt? Maybe try recycling your old ones. Have them altered. Maybe try rummaging through your mom’s closet or better yet, shop in a thrift store. If you can’t handle the second hand stuff, do your research for the brands you’d like to order from. Know their workflow process – where do they get their materials? Is it organic? Is it fair-waged. Aim on finding local and sustainable brands!

Be mindful. The choices you make today can completely alter tomorrow’s outcome. A person makes and average of 14 lbs. of trash a day! Imagine the accumulated weight of trash you make in 5 years and multiply that by billions! The plastic and trash free choice you start and/or continue to make will have an incredible positive effect in the future. It’ll influence those close to you too!

I myself continue to make the choice of zero waste as much as I can. I bring water tumblers with me as much as I can as well as metal utensils so I don’t need to use plastic ones. I’ve also decided to give up film photography (or put it on pause for now at least). The chemicals that go into processing the film and simply the creation of the film is pretty toxic already! This deserves a separate blog post completely – although unnecessary – but that’s pretty much the gist of it all. It’s quite a big sacrifice that I’m making, to the point where it feels like a part of me has died. I guess we’ll just talk more about this soon.

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“Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”

As someone who is slowly making the change, I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’ve been doing perfectly at it, ’cause I’m not. It’s been really difficult for me but I’m really pushing for a trash-free lifestyle. In spite of it all, I know things will be amazing in the end.

Are you going zero waste too? How are you doing it? Share with me your stories!

 

Photos by Gio Lo

Appreciate

A lot of times, we forget to notice the little things that take part in our day to day life. Have you ever realized how we take breathing for granted? It has become so involuntary that we forget it’s importance – life. I read this quote earlier this year and have sworn to live by it for the rest of my life:

Little is needed to live a happy life.

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My inborn affinity for nature has never faded and I doubt that it ever will. Being around it brings so much life into mine and I can never thank Mother Nature enough for it. I mean, just look at those colors the sky has to offer!

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This post is here to remind you to never stop appreciating the little things in life because they matter the most. Be humble. Be kind. Be reminded what brought you to where you are today.

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Photos taken with a Nikon D300 during 4:45PM – 5:00PM sunset.

For You.

A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t help but wonder what brought me to where I am today. How did I get into photography? What started it all? Why am I still going at it? So much more questions circle my thoughts, leaving me in a half clueless half know-it-all state (I’m not complaining).I go through them again and again. Another question adding into the already filled question cup. These are then metaphorically stirred into answers and suddenly things make sense. I’m am where I am simply because I want to be where I am. It may not be all ironed out at the moment, nevertheless, I am content and I appreciate the state I am in.

In line with this, I figure I should provide my readers with more than just art and words. I shall provide you with lessons as well. Beginning today, I’ll be leaving tips and info write-ups on how my photos were taken, how was the set up, or why I chose to use a certain film. I want to provide you with something more than just a vague understanding of film photography. I feel as if this world continues to provide new information everyday but never in purpose of someone else, only of our own. Let’s change that.

There may be so many aspiring photographers out there. Some better than the best and we just don’t know it! I want to share my thoughts, my experience, and my technique with you all in hopes that we create a photography community that isn’t afraid of giving and sharing and being kind.

In hopes of your engagement in this new addition to be included in future posts, I wish you an amazing week ahead and ask you this: are you happy where you are now?