March 2010

It ended with us in interrogation.  Apparently they didn’t much appreciate outsiders seeing (let alone shooting photos and vids of) the random bits of human remains just lying about.   (more…)

Last weekend Vince and I joined Salinlahi (a child’s rights advocacy org) in providing a photo workshop to out of school youth from 12 to 17 years old in a fishing community in Bacoor (just outside Manila).

This is part of the photography program Salinlahi is bringing to different impoverished communities in the Philippines to explore the serious and common situation of child labourers. The chronic and worsening hardship in the country (not to mention the shrinking budget for education) leads to more and more youth dropping out of school in order to help make ends meet for their family.  (more…)

by alex

They called us “indios” back then.  They considered us savages.  But what were we?

Vince and I, with new friends from Manila [*thanks for the introduction Anjo!], went to the Ayala Museum to see the display of pre-hispanic indigenous gold.

You see, before the Spanish we were a people with a rapidly developing culture.  We were not only bahag (loincloth) wearing, hunter-gatherers.  We were also a group of stratified societies with it’s own textile, gold, steel-making, cannon-using industries.  We traded with several neighbouring empires among them the Malay Sri Vijaya, Javanese Majapahit, Brunei, Melaka empires.  Our peoples traded with Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Java, China, India, Arabia, and Japan.

When the Spanish arrived they would have met well dressed, gold clad, warriors and noblemen.  This gold drew in the Spanish coloniser, and even to this day remains a major draw for the current world powers that be.  Read up on the Boxer Codex for more info.


Outside there are mangos growing in the trees.  A beggar walks by with a child in tow.  They look hungry. The mangos grow covered in urban dust.

It’s early, but it’s getting hot already, corrugated iron reflects heat in every direction.  I’m on the fourth floor of Vince’s family home.  I scan this entire scene from the balcony of our private room separated from their home by a sheltered open-air courtyard.   (more…)

by alex

Today (8 March) was International Women’s Day.  I attended the rally in Manila and made my first attempt at editing a short video seen below.

I believe that it is important for us Filipino-Canadian youth to connect to the struggles in our homeland.  A very important part of that movement is the women’s sector. (more…)

San Augustine Church in Intramuros Manila is a heavy, heavy place for me.  My heart is heavy every time I’m there.  I feel the weight of its history.  I feel a great sense of loss.   (more…)

by alex

One of the great things about coming home to the Philippines is being with family.  It’s a joy to have that connection with another part of yourself when you meet others of your blood, those who never migrated.

One question I hope to explore in this project is “what if?”  What if my family had not moved to Canada?  What if I had grown up in Manila?

What would my life be like here?

Family provides me that mirror.  And on some levels it leaves me awash in different emotions.

You can see here in these photos images from where some members of my family live.  Clearly, my life would be much different had we stayed. (more…)