THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

Jamming with PNE and Kamikazee

Posted in Events, Photography by J.R. Bumanglag on September 10, 2009

I recently went to a concert along with my Kuya Boom, Ate, Ivy, Ate Charny and Kuya Omi last Saturday, September 5th. Entitled OutJam – A Rockin’ Affair, it was a concert helmed by Convergys at the Araneta Coloseum. I couldn’t remember the last concert that I went to so I decided not to miss this chance. Two of the most popular bands today performed that night – Kamikazee and Parokya ni Edgar.

OutJam - Parokya Ni Edgar

OutJam - Kamikazee

Shooting the event was no easy task. I was only armed with my 18-55mm kit lens which was not made for an action-packed concert. I had to boost the ISO to 800 and had a hard time finding the right settings. Furthermore, I didn’t have any ID to save me and my camera from security. Thank God Ate Charny knew the right people to talk to and I was lent an ID. Luck also struck me when Chito Miranda invited the audience to come closer to the stage. I took a hefty amount of photos but out of almost 500 shots, only 12 survived the cut. Next time, I’m going to be more mindful about my settings and my gear. I really learned a lot from this concert shoot and will never forget the experience. Enjoy!

OutJam - Parokya Ni Edgar

OutJam - Parokya Ni Edgar

Check out more photos here!

To Puerto Princesa and Back

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on August 26, 2009

Cover

The last time we had a trip beyond the Luzon area was when I was just but a wee ten year old running around in his short shorts. So when I found out that we were going to Palawan for the weekend, I just had to bend over. But knowing that I still had a lot of responsibilities to finish, second thoughts began to boil. Instead of missing out of the fun, I took my work with me so at least the guilt could melt on the way.

Day 1

The trip lasted for about an hour and we arrived in Puerto Princesa at about 4 in the afternoon. The weather there was warm, as the setting sun was burning brighter than red. Dad’s work acquaintances were already waiting to pick us up at the airport. We proceeded to the Palawan Village Hotel to settle down and get ready for the long weekend. While we were waiting for dinner, dad and his workmates were busily planning for the schedule of activities. I nestled myself in the room for awhile, watching cable TV and setting up my camera.

Day 1a

Dinner came and we were off to Kalui, a Filipino-themed restaurant in the city. The place reminded me of a bahay kubo, albeit better built and lavishly decorated. We had to leave our shoes and sandals by the door, quite the formality I long for in today’s Filipino homes. The ambiance was warm with varnished bamboo walls and wood floors. The decorations were undoubtedly beautiful, full of Filipiniana themes and images of the life in the farmlands.

Day 1b

Day 1c

Behind it all, the food was the highlight of the night. I’m a seafood lover –which is really weird because I grew up in sea-less Baguio – and have always longed for a taste of lobster. That night, I did devour this unique crustacean and was left satisfied. Compared to the usual crab, it was easier to pick off the white succulent meat. The vinegar was special as well, having a sensation of sweetness. I also enjoyed eating our national hero Lapu-Lapu along with shrimps.

Day 1d

After dinner, we went night-seeing at the city baywalk. We rode a tricycle with a less than practical design but way cooler than most of what I’ve seen in Luzon. The nightlife here was alive and kicking, all thanks to the numerous tourists who come here. Arriving at baywalk, the place immediately reminded me of MOA’s baywalk. Unfortunately, the place is still under construction. We learned that the place used be a squatter area but was eventually burnt down in order to give way to modernization. A lot of people were there from different walks of life. There were kids and adults who were making rounds with their rented bicycles and pedicabs. Some were relaxing in the company of friends and family. After we made a round for ourselves, we went back to the hotel and slept like kings and queens.

Day 2

The next day, we woke up as early as we could. After a quick breakfast, we went off to a two hour land trip to Sabang Beach at Barangay Cabayugan, Sitio Sabang. One of the best things about Palawan’s tourism is that it is well implemented and planned. Tour guides and tour transportation are bustling in and out of the city continually circling the visitors around the island. We had a very good tour guide who was full of information about Palawan. Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is the largest city in the Philippines in terms of total land area. The city has 31 urban and 31 rural barangays, a total of 66 barangays. Recently, Puerto Princesa was declared a highly-urbanized city.

Day 2a

The trip to Sabang Beach brought us into the thick forests and high mountains along a winding road. We would seldom pass by farmlands and rock formations. As we were nearing the beach, a beautiful resort stood over the distance. The place was packed with a lot of tourists like us. Good thing lunch was already served as we proceeded to the huts and ate to our hearts delight. After I ate my share, I toured myself to the beach and took photos and such. I enjoyed the serene seascape and mountain range, the quietness of the moment was more than welcome to a busy life.

Day 2b

Day 2c

Day 2d

After lunch, we went to the nearby port and road a banca. The trip to the underground river lasted about thirty minutes. The scenery reminded me of the movie King Kong, with all the rock formations, blue-green waters and unending jungles. I was trying to be very extra careful with my camera, covering it with my vest because the waters were not very friendly. We landed on another beach, the final step towards the heritage site. We could already smell the stench of the river as we were wearing our safety helmets and vests. One boat accommodated eight people with the front passenger in charge of the spot light. The entrance of the underground cave was already a sight to behold with natural rock formations greeting her visitors. Our tour guide estimated that the round trip into the 8.2 kilometer river would take 45 minutes. Nearing the belly of the beast, a lot of bats and other-worldly creatures were creeping around us. Stunning stalactite and stalagmite structures played images in our minds, creating a scatoma effect. They formed religious icons of Moses, Mother Mary, Jesus’ face and the three kings; animals such as snakes, horses, dogs and bird feet; vegetables such as pumpkins, eggplants, banana hearts and whatnot.

Day 2e

I realized how important nature really is to the human race. These natural wonders will not last forever, not unless we as stewards of this Earth will take care of them. So play your part. Vote the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Search for the New Seven Wonders of Nature at New7Wonders.com

Day 2f

Reaching the dead end of the cave, the boat turned around and we were headed for the exit. Approaching the light at the end of the journey, we cherished our final moments with the majestic. The experience was definitely unforgettable and probably once in a lifetime. Another photo session at the welcome sign and we were headed back to the city proper. At this point, I was already tired and slept all the way.

We arrived at the hotel at about 5 in the afternoon already. I was just in time to watch the DLSU-UP match and that just made my day. A little shower here and tidy there and dinner time came. We headed to another well known restaurant Kinabuchs. It was like Gerry’s Grill or Dencio’s. I enjoyed my favourite appetizer Kilaweng Tanigue and Baked Tahong (a variation of Baked Scallops). I avoided eating rice again to not quickly find myself full. We walked our bellies off at the baywalk again. Another day done, one more to go.

Day 3

Day 3a

In our last day, the family sans dad went to the middle of the sea and took a peek into the life in the coral reefs. We rode a banca at the port and were dropped off at a man-made kubo-island. I didn’t join with the activity because I just wanted to take photos. If only I had the proper gear for underwater photography, that would have been great. There were still a lot of tourists, with a moderate amount coming and going. With little equipment, you could already look into the underwater world. After this activity, we rode the banca again to our next destination.

Day 3b

Day 3c

We proceeded to another island where there was a clear beach waiting for us. Like any other beach, huts were lined up for tourists to enjoy. But one thing was special about this beach. This time, I joined another snorkelling activity and was stunned. Not far from the shore, there was already a coral reef and marine life was bustling. You wouldn’t really notice it at first, not until you take a look under you. There was a fleeting feeling of flight as I was trying to reach the bottomless abyss. This moment was very inspirational, a feeling of a meeting with God himself. I wish I could stay there forever. What an experience!

Day 3d

Day 3e

Day 3f

Day 3g

Day 3h

We didn’t have to change our clothes and made the wind dry ourselves. Not long after, we were back at the hotel. We took our last shower and readied our things for checkout. For lunch, we went to the Badjao Seafront Restaurant. As soon as we were walking through the bridge, I knew the place was great. Surrounding the restaurant was a gorgeous mangrove forest. The water was clear and tiny fishes were swimming about. The place was welcoming as the afternoon breeze greeted us inside. If I had a house of my own, I would base it on this – with less people and more room of course. The food was great – as I’ve always been saying so far. The view from the veranda was breath-taking.

Day 3i

j

We went to the Congressman’s house atop a hill over-looking the island. Then we headed to Baker’s Hill, a sort of bakery-theme park-zoo mix up. The houses there were top notch, homes of the kings. Statues of looney toons, animals and pirates inhabited the place. There were some real animals too like a cat-like owl. We bought pastries for pasalubong and snacks. I also bought pearl earings for Joy waiting for me in Manila. After Baker’s Hill, we passed by the Puerto Princesa City Hall and then headed to the local tiangge. And after a very long weekend, we all headed back home to our lives. Back to Manila. And back again.

***

Check out the photos below!

Puerto Princesa Food Trip

Puerto Princesa Part 1

Puerto Princesa Part 2

Visual Merchandising Arts

Posted in Advertising, My Art, Photography by J.R. Bumanglag on July 5, 2009

Speaking of Transformers and all the hype it has caused in cinemas, I remembered a particular piece I made a year ago for my visual merchandizing art class. It’s basically a gondola for the new Transformers toys. It is an output of my continuous desire to have a transformers toy after the movie hit theatres two year ago. Working with little pieces, I envisioned the toys coming to life inside the gondola for children to see. The diorama on top of the piece would give life to the toys, as if they just shot out of the movie. It took me at least a day to finish it and I had fun making it. Until now though, I still don’t have a transformers toy. Poor me.

VMA

The little pieces gave me hard time placing them altogether. I wasn’t working with tweezers and only my little fingers did the job.

VMA

was supposed to be a light behind all of the displayed toys in the diorama, giving it a more spectacular effect. But miniature light bulbs aren’t readily available and are very difficult to install.

VMA

VMA

Another piece I did was this Honey Stars gondola. It’s as simple as it goes.

VMA

VMA

And here’s another piece I did for The Spirit movie. It took me awhile to sculpt the red logo. But I enjoyed the whole design. The end result was an overall team effort with a classmate of mine, so big thanks to Kevin Perez.

VMA

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Seven

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 20, 2009

Casino Pauma

It’s finally come, my final week here in the US. Sunday, Tito Hip came over to the house and had a quick snack with us. Manang Jaz wanted to take me to the casino. Normally, you should be at least 21 years old to enter one. But, they took me to Casino Pauma where the age allowed was at least 18 years old. I’ve always wondered how it felt to be in a casino, after watching too much Ocean’s Eleven and 21. Disappointingly, I couldn’t bring my camera inside. The place was bustling with old people and slot machines, the sound of crackling coins all over. Every aisle and row had its own brand of slot machines. I was a little bit dazed because of the lights and sounds circling around me. It took some getting used to the idea of losing money to gain more money. Before I knew it, I was stuck to 1 cent slots for an hour or so.

Red Dragon

We went to a Japanese restaurant and ordered sushi to-go. I was craving for another round of sashimi and wasabi. At Tito Hip’s house, we feasted sushi along with homemade adobo. As usual, they were all speaking in Ilocano. I enjoyed the Red Dragon Sushi I ordered but found myself full in no time. We discussed whether to watch Wolverine or Star Trek. I was in favour of Star Trek, having no idea what to expect of the space adventure.

That night, we split into two groups. Tito Hip’s family was going to watch Wolverine while we were definitely going Trekkie. It was the day of the premiere so there were a lot of people lined up to see the movie. The clocked ticked away and pretty soon, we were entering the cinema. This time around, the theatre was packed and it was a good thing we found available seats. Lights dimmed. And the film began.

Star Trek

What can I say? The movie was kinetic and action-packed! Not one moment was wasted to ensure total involvement of the audience. For a casual movie-goer like me who has no idea of any Star Trek know-how, the film was in every way understandable and easy to swallow. The characters were lively and deserved every moment they had onscreen. On a particular note, some scenes depicting light flare effects reminded me of Michael Bay’s style of cinematography. The occasional humorous moments effectively balances the drama and struggle of the plot. Overall, this film deserves my praise and hopes for a sequel. May the movie live long and prosper.

Navy

One idea that made me excited was to wear the Navy uniforms my cousin had. One afternoon, Manung Totit ironed all his uniforms for me to wear. Although turning out to be too large for my size, it was fun having a feel to be part of the navy. I also wore his bike driving attire and rode his bike. Well, not to the point of driving it but that idea was very much open to me too.

Ouch!

Wednesday, Manung Totit invited some of his friends over for BBQ and beer. I was already imagining the juicy steaks at the table. At the garage, Tito Hip was busy tattooing his American friend. Just by looking at it, I knew it was very painful and agonizing. Maybe someday I’ll try tattooing as a hobby.

akira

As luck would have it, another day at the Book-Off churned out a great find. I was spending my time at the illustration section, making up my mind to what books to buy. Running out of options, I took the first volumes of Akira and Nausicaa The Valley of Wind. As soon as we were already leaving the store, I noticed that there was an English comic book section right near the entrance. Silly me! All this time, I was looking at the wrong places. It was there that I found volumes 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the Dark Horse release of Akira. Each of them only cost a buck each and I just had to buy them. It was a great find indeed.

Hooters

Hooters

Calamares

Texas BBQ Burger

I remember watching the movie Big Daddy starring Adam Sandler and wondering what it felt like to be in a Hooters Restaurant. Thursday, they took me to eat dinner at Hooters. Yes, I was very excited – no doubts there. The restaurant was very lively and the food was great. I had the Texas BBQ Burger and swirly fries. With all the sexual innuendos around me, nothing could really go wrong that day.

T-bone

And it came to pass, the day of my flight came and had to say goodbye. Friday, we left the house just around lunch time. We ate at Denny’s, a restaurant with breakfast as its specialty. I ordered the T-bone steak, medium well with a side order of onion rings and mashed potatoes. I was definitely stuffed and enjoyed every single bite.

Bikes!

Arriving at LA, we were very early so Manung Totit detoured over at Del Amo Motorsports. His love for bikes really showed when we were there. Time does fly when you’re having fun and a little while later, we were already at the airport. After a little snack at the lounge, gobbling sundaes and apple pies, I was ready to get into the plane. I said my farewells to my cousin and his family and to America. It was now time to come back to reality and face my priorities again.

What a trip it was to the land of the free.

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Five

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Sports, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 13, 2009

For the most part of week five, staying in the house and messing around with my laptop or TV was the usual call of the day. I don’t remember much of what happened, maybe because of the tequila or just plain memory loss. What I do remember though are little snippets of a movie, a bookstore, a camera accessory, a nail-biting basketball game and a Filipino icon.

Monsters vs. Aliens

I experienced my first 3D movie with the DreamWorks Animation feature film Monsters vs. Aliens. Manung Totit had gone off early from work one afternoon. He had wanted to take Joshua to watch the movie, knowing that he’ll like it very much. Manang Jaz didn’t want to come with us so you can say it’s a night for two and a half men.

Terminator Salvation

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

Star Trek

Land of the Lost

Xmen Origins Wolverine

Year One

The Krikorian theatre was fairly typical with only the catchy name setting it apart – it’s called the Krikorian theatre. We each got 3D glasses along with the tickets manung bought. The last time I saw 3D glasses was when I was a kid, and it was still red and blue. Some of the coming soon movies really caught my eye. On the top of my must-watch list are Terminator Salvation, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Wolverine Origins and Year One. For snacks, we had cheesy nachos, buttered popcorn and sodas. I was excited to devour the nachos although I was disappointed because there wasn’t any sour cream.

So we entered the theatre which was surprisingly still empty. Joshua was acting up again because he was frightened of the dark and the loud audio. Once we found some seats, we waited for the movie to begin. Unlike pre-entertainment from back home where music is played, this theatre plays movie trivia and a lot of ads. A little more waiting and the film finally started. The movie was above par with a strong and potential premise. Overall, I enjoyed it very much. But I still think Kung Fu Panda is better.

Shonen Jump

Manang Jaz was telling me about this bookstore where everything was almost a dollar each. I just had to go there to believe this. On the weekend, we went off to Book-Off, Japan’s largest chain of used bookstore. True enough, almost everything in the bookstore are cheap. He first thing that I saw upon entering was this shelf full of English translated manga. All around the store, there are lots of books from every topic you could probably think about – politics, science, computers, crafts, art, design and etc. But the aisle where I hanged out more than any other place was the anime and illustration aisle. There were a lot of artbooks, magazines and manga anthologies that were almost 90% off the original price. After a lot of browsing, I took 2009 issues 8-13 of Shonen Jump, just so I could know how it feels to read Jump first hand.

Camera Accessories

Next, we visited Ate Riza and her family, Manang Jaz’s best friend when she was in college. They live in a little pad in San Diego. Joshua had a chance to play with Ate Riza’s son Patrick. I was particularly excited because I was going to purchase a polarizing filter and remote trigger for my DLSR camera today. So while waiting for lunch, Manung Totit accompanied me to the Henry’s Camera, photography supplies shop nearby. The trip was relatively quick as we passed by what my manung describes as Ghetto land. A little later, I finally got what I wanted – a Promaster 6 ft. remote trigger , a Hoya 58mm Polarizing filter and Tamrac filter pocket.

Manny Pacquiao Ricky Hatton

After San Diego, we went to the baby shower of Manung Totit’s friend. They had a feast set in the living room with a variety of Filipino and American foods. I enjoyed the pork ribs, chomping every meat on the bone. Aside from that, they also had a little sushi tray which completed my meal. It wasn’t only the baby shower that was important that day. The long-awaited match between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton was about to start that very afternoon. Amazingly, it only lasted two rounds. All of us and probably all pinoys from around the world were celebrating.

Celtics vs Bulls

And a little earlier from the fight, the instant classic Celtics vs. Bulls 1st round playoffs was about to end. I was definitely happy that the Celtics won and are moving on to the next round.

One thing I missed this week was the Free Comic Book Day in Comic Odyssey Robinson’s Galleria. The last time I attended a FCBD was when Planet X was opening a branch in Glorietta.

You and Me

Posted in My Art, Photography by J.R. Bumanglag on May 9, 2009

Collage

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Four

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 6, 2009

San Diego

Week four’s Sunday was enormously fun because we went to the Naval Amphibious Base. It’s a naval installation located across the bay from San Diego, California. On the way, we crossed this long and winding road over the bay called the San Diego Bridge. First thing that came to mind when we entered the base – so quiet. Not a lot of people were there, an almost barren wasteland. Manung was supposed to take us to an aircraft carrier in the base. After a little going around, there wasn’t any. I guess it was deployed for service. So, drove nearer to the bay area to get a good look at the San Diego Bridge.

USS Midway

Just when I thought I couldn’t see an aircraft carrier anymore, the USS Midway Museum was already at the distance. The enormous ship will take anyone’s attention, even from afar. Surrounding the ship is the Broadway Pier – think Roxas Blvd. but with a carrier parked by its doorstep. There is also a special citation awarded by a certain Filipino named Sinforoso L. Duque, addressed to the Task Unit 77.4.3, for their heroism against the powerful units of the Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar, Philippines,  October 25, 1944. Talk about leaving a thank you letter on marble.

Love

Statues

Further away from the marble, there is a statue of sailor and his girlfriend kissing passionately – a very familiar scene in the life of a sailor. The statue is by no means just a statue. It stands about at least 60 feet high. It also seems to be the perfect shooting spot for newlyweds. Near the San Diego bay, there are also a group of statues, seemingly celebrating in silence.

Claustrophobia

We headed off to the ship and as we drew closer and closer, it got bigger and bigger. The gray metal is majestic on the outside, but the inside is a world on its own. The place can be turned into a venue for any kind of event because of how wide it is. There were folded planes, unarmed bombs and the air of war all over the place. Going down deeper into the ship can be like a maze. Little rooms act as dividers, slicing the slab of metal into organisable chunks. Take my word for it – you don’t want to wander around here and get lost. I could imagine the place as a nightmare for claustrophobic people. As we headed down to the brig and the engine room, we passed stairs going up and down, narrow doors and slim bunk beds. Getting around here isn’t that easy. Every room has at least a tidbit about the past, how the crew lived their lives through war.

Brig and Engine Room

The engine room was massive with a lot of giant pipes, confusing dials and a little bit of steam for authenticity. Back in the day, this must have been the hottest room in the ship. What I like about this museum is that it maxes out the visitor experience with optional self-guided audio tours that explain the history of the USS Midway and helpful staff that will answer any question you have about the ship.

Eject!

We then went back to the hangar to check out some planes. The hangar deck is used to stow aircraft when not in use. There are refuelling stations, plane cockpits, flight simulators and a gift shop for everyone’s entertainment.  We then headed up to the flight deck where a collection of decommissioned planes and helicopters were exhibited. Finally seeing these machines in-person gives me a great feeling of satisfaction. The flight deck is more than three times the length of a football field. From end to end, you could probably have enough of a cardiac workout.

The Island

Bye Mom!

The building on top of the flight deck, known as the island, is where officers can direct flight and ship operations. At the front of the ship, there’s a great view of the San Diego Bay. The long drop below can be nauseating, but I do wonder what it’ll be like falling from a height like this. The rest of the deck was just too much to swallow in one day. There are still so much I could learn about the place but time is the greatest enemy of all.

***

Nothing much happened the next Monday. We just bummed around the house again. Tuesday, we went to a restaurant called the Asian Seafood Buffet – my kind of place. I just stuffed myself with shrimps, crabs and sashimi. I have this affectionate relationship with seafood, which is very unusual considering that I grew up in the mountains. After dinner, we slept over at Tito Hip’s place. I never got to ride on his motorcycle though. I spent the whole night chatting with my girl instead.

***

Wednesday, we went to the outlet mall and window –shopped. Unfortunately, the heat was up and it was not nice. Unlike the humid air of Manila, the heat here is dry and stingy. A short time under the sun can become very uncomfortable. Good thing the place was mostly covered. So, Mom finally bought for herself new shoes and toiletries. I bought some lotions and lip balm for my girl. I couldn’t wait to go home because the heat was doing a bad one on me.

***

Thursday, we went to the bowling alley. It’s been a long time since I played bowling so my hands are a little rusty. Okay, so not a little. I sucked the whole game, but did make some strikes and spares. I forgot how fun this game was that I wanted to play more. Too bad we didn’t play long enough. Dinner was at In-and-Out. The last time we ate there, I had the animal style double-double, which I learned later on, packed almost more than 2000 calories. Ouch! So I just had a simple burger instead.

***

Bidding Farewells

Friday, Mom was uber busy packing all her things for her trip home. Mom was kind enough to extend my stay for three weeks more, and I’m happy for that. Later that afternoon, we left to bring mom to the airport. We had a late lunch at Burger King, where I ate a chicken burger. I try to keep in check what I ate these days, so as not to upset my health. The airport was busy as ever when we arrived at 6 pm in the afternoon. Mom didn’t have much to bring because most of the stuff we bought are to be shipped through a balikbayan box. When my mom was already checked in, we just hanged out at the coffee shops nearby. I was playing out mom again and acted as if I was never going to see her again. We then bade our goodbyes to my mom. She was thinking of coming back again next year.

***

Saturday, we went to Tito Hip’s place and had a get-together with their friends. They were cooking steaks and barbeques. I definitely enjoyed the steak and ribs because they were juicy and delicious. The kids were playing with the Wii, popping in Resident Evil. I still am very frightened to play that game. Later, we started drinking tequila and beer. The last time I drank tequila was when we had a house party at Paolo’s house.

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Three

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 6, 2009

And on the third week, we stayed more at home than outside. Sunday was an emotional day for my mom. I woke up a little too late than expected because I was up all night reading the manga Cased Closed (Detective Conan). It’s interesting to know that the Bayquen side of the family love reading books and Manung Ricky’s kids are no different. Len-Len borrows manga from the library and is already reading Ranma 1/2 and Cased Close. Brandon reads action-adventure books. I guess I’m a little more Bayquen on the inside and Bumanglag on the outside.

My cousins had planned to take us to the Fisherman’s Wharf while we were in San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf is a well-known tourist spot in San Francisco where Pier 39, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Cannery Shopping Center, Ghirardelli Square, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum to name a few are found. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go because time was against the tide. I’m going to miss the clam chowder Manang Jaz keeps telling me about and the cable cars I’ve always wanted to ride.

Ceres

Instead, we went off to Ceres, California where Lolo Vicente, my grandmother’s brother, was waiting for us. I slept almost half-way the 2 hour trip after devouring a chicken fillet burger from McDonalds. We arrived in a typical American neighbourhood. When we found grandpa’s house, it was a tad bigger than usual – almost like a mansion. The garage was open and messy and turned out that Lolo was in the process of moving into a smaller house right across the street. We were all eagerly waiting for him to answer the door. A few minutes later, Lolo arrived. For a 93 year-old man, he was still headstrong and able to drive a car. Mom introduced all of us and we all went inside the house.

ceres

After a long talk between family members, we all bade our goodbyes. Mom couldn’t help but cry because she missed her mom and the only living connection to her was Lolo Vicente. She asked for his blessings. We also said goodbye to our cousin Manung Ricky and his family. I wish I could spend more time with them to get to know them more. I do hope to meet them again someday.

Brothers

***

It’s Monday again and I am tired from the trip we had last night. Today I planned to finish Week Two of my Letters to Blumentritt, upload more photos and just hang out in the house all day. I shuffled my time uploading and writing everything I can. Good thing the house was wifi enabled. It made me work in my room while I watched TV.

Pala

That afternoon, our cousin took us to Pala Hotel for an overnight stay. I’m sure Manang Jaz was excited because she loved hitting the slots and testing her luck. We arrived just in time to meet with Tito Hip and his family who were staying at the hotel as well.

Mexican Resto

My mom and I stayed in a room with 2 queen size beds. The view from the window was incredible, over-viewing the hotel pool below. At dinner, they offered me to eat the authentic Mexican cuisine or plain old American hotdogs. Seriously, I was going for hotdogs because I already ate at Taco Bell. But they said it was going to be a different experience and advised me to try the authentic Mexican food. So I did. All us guys went over at a nearby Mexican restaurant to order some Super Nachos and Burritos. The setup of the resto reminded me of the carinderias back in the Philippines. The burritos were bigger and stuffier than Taco Bell. I could only eat half of it but it tasted great.

The rest of the night was a bore. I stayed with the kids as the grownups went to the casino. It wasn’t long until Mom came up and we retired into our beds.

***

The following five days, we just spent most of our time at home. Manung Totit was busy with his work and Manang Jaz was taking care of Joshua. I usually just watched a movie or a show on TV. I began reading the graphic novels I bought – Kingdom Come, Understanding Comics, Making Comics and Batman: The Killing Joke. Mom had already arranged for my extended stay, an extra three more weeks. I keep thinking about the art training and thesis I should be doing. The frustration is beginning to build up and just like my friend Isaiah used to say, “Nangangati na ang mga kamay ko.”

The dreams I’ve been having lately seems to touch subjects such as my high school friends, a sort-of class reunion and my hometown. In a way, I am subconsciously missing all of them. Thankfully, the internet exists in this time of age where the world is getting smaller and smaller. I sent a ping to some of my closest friends, wondering how they’ve been doing. It’s good to know that they still remember me and they miss me too. Sometimes the simplest things make you the happiest man in the world.

My Mom's Weekend Birthday

Posted in Family, Photography by J.R. Bumanglag on March 18, 2009

Mom and Dad

I’d like to greet my mom, Mrs. Maria Elena B. Bumanglag, a Happy 51st Birthday! I’m so glad to have her as a mother, one of the greatest inspirations in my life. It took us two days just to celebrate her birthday, (a tiresome but gut-satisfying feat) on the weekend of March 14-15.

The plan was to travel home to Baguio on a very early Saturday. I had just finished attending my classmates’ birthday party on Friday March 13th (which didn’t turn out to be an unlucky day). Little did I know, it was going to be a longer weekend than I thought. It was about 2am when my brother finally came to pick me up and we were off. I slept the whole trip and 6 hours later, my neck froze and it was the end of me. When we arrived, my mom was waiting by the door. I gave her a hug, knowing that the last time we saw each other was 2 weeks ago. After unpacking, I went straight to sleep again. I woke up at noon and had lunch with the family. I spent the afternoon net surfing and drawing practice.

Hamada Chef

That Saturday night, we had dinner at the Hamada Restaurant located inside the Baguio Country Club. It’s one of my family’s most favorable go-to-restos, aside from Gerry’s Grill and Mann Hann. The thing that sets this resto apart is the live performance of the chef cooking the meal in front of the customers. Definitely a winner on my list! It never ceases to amaze me how they do it. As always, the dinner was amazingly good. If you ever get the chance to eat there, I suggest the Yamamori. Go try it out yourself!

Yamamori

The next day, we had lunch at Camp John Hay Main Club. The weather was almost gloomy and the air was very cold. They were serving grilled cuisine which unfortunately, they ran out of. We ended ordering from the menu instead. My sister and I ordered Pork Spareribs (which later I would think was the best choice because I was stuffed!). My dad wasn’t able to eat with us, being a dedicated golfer that he was.

Everything Nice

The Sunday afternoon was left with us strolling at SM City Baguio. The first thing we did was buy pasalubongs for our relatives living in the US. Then, they bought me a new baggage for our trip to America as well as new clothes (I’m lacking a lot of gimik clothes). We had coffee and merienda at Everything Nice Cake Shop and Café. To my dismay, I later discovered that they had blue berry cheesecake, my favorite merienda. The cassava cake was good enough to satisfy my grumbling taste buds. After all the hustle and bustle, we finally had dinner at Mann Hann. I couldn’t enjoy the food as much as I wanted because we were all full by then.

Again, Happy Birthday Mom!

Art Talk with Alex Niño and Hans Bacher

Posted in Comics, History, Movies, Photography, Seminars by J.R. Bumanglag on February 19, 2009

Check out more photos here!

It was a once in a lifetime chance and I just couldn’t let this moment pass. It was yesterday morning, when after I had arrived home from jogging, that I saw the date and long pondered what special event was supposed to take place. And then it just crashed over my head. This was the day of the Art Talk by Alex Niño and Hans Bacher at the College of St. Benilde SDA campus. I had to decide whether to go or not. Surely enough, I decided to go, since I had nothing better to do (except drawing practice of course).

I have long admired Alex Niño’s work, ever since I first saw his illustrations in the Philippine Comics Museum years ago. There have been no other artist like him, no art style would compare to his kind of vision. His art style completely changed my outlook as an artist, deftly picking off the kind of the one-sightedness in art that I once had. The principle in which he viewed art as a continuous change, an evolving organism, challenged the then standard mainstays of Alcala and Redondo. This time, I was going to see the living legend myself.

I left the house at about 4 pm, since the talk was going to begin at 5 pm. Luckily for me, it was only a 30 minute LRT ride to Vito Cruz, so I had ample time to get there. I also jumped at the chance of finally checking out the College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts. It was sort of an opportunity to explore the high tech facilities they had for art students. So I arrived and was simply amused of the atmosphere in SDA. It was definitely a portal to another world, compared to Beato Angelico.

Alex and Hans

I entered the SDA Cinema and there he was, Alex Niño, seated beside Hans Bacher – who I had little knowledge about, but I would be interested later on. As I was waiting for the seminar to start, the hosts of the program invited the early birds to take autographs and sketches from the guests. Too bad for me though, I was too excited that I forgot to bring any pens or papers (which I really regret). Instead, I contented myself by observing how Alex drew. And he drew a lot of sketches, at least 10 before the talk began.

Alex Nino

The talk began as Alex and Hans introduced themselves. Hans Bacher is a production designer in the animation industry. He had met Alex in 1996, during the production of Mulan. Taking Alex in as a conceptual artist, along with another French artist (I think), this would culminate into collaboration for other various animation films. During this time, there was a presentation of conceptual artwork by Alex for Mulan in the background (of which I was definitely enjoying). You can check them out here and here (I wish I could post them here, but I can’t – copyright). Mang Alex also worked on Atlantis, Treasure Planet and The Emperor’s New Groove.

Sketch

Mang Alex, before he accepted the job at Disney, requested that he worked at 3am onwards. It was interesting and very relating actually, to know that he wanted to work alone, without distraction in the wee hours of the day. Hans would describe this as amazing because it only took him 9 hours to draw a conceptual board the size of about 2 x 3 feet. And that’s a feat! He would see Mang Alex start at the upper left corner of the board and arrive hours later, catch him finishing the piece at the bottom right corner.

Fans

Mang Alex also described his influences as an artist during the 60’s and 70’s. One of the most memorable moments he reminisced was him drawing on beach sand when he was 7 years old. He had grown up admiring Francisco Coching, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo. Wanting a piece of the action, he nurtured his art skills, dropping out of pre-med in FEU and pursuing a career in art. Accepting the fact that he couldn’t possibly reach the level of his influences, he created his own style, a whole new level.

Alex B/W

There was break, another sketch session and we moved on to the question and answer portion. I was jittery, trying to catch the write words. It was at this time that my heart beat rose significantly and I thought I was going to die. The first question I threw was about how Mang Alex dealt with rejection during his time showing his work to different editors. It was all about a challenge to him, a motivational factor which he used to drive him further as an artist. The second was about their artworks and projects, if we could see them somewhere online. Mang Alex had none, aside from some collections of his artwork by other artists. But he did give his email address. Thank you po!

It was at this time that the show was almost over. The last line of sketches was slowly cutting itself off. It was at this time that I noticed that Carlo Pagulayan was also there, along with his colleagues (of which would compose of the organizers of Komikon). I overheard some of them, talking about the Komikon, that it was to be held at SM Megamall. There were also urging Mang Alex to exhibit his works and have a grand reunion of his generation of Filipino artists. Mang Alex also brought samples of his artwork, a 14 page spread of his current project Dead Ahead. Yes, you didn’t read it wrong, FOURTEEN PAGE SPREAD! All of us were astounded to the level of composition and rendition that he gave to that work.

Alex and Carlo

Alex Nino and Carlo Pagulayan

All in all, it was a great experience having attended the seminar. I learned a lot of new things. I’m thankful that Liraya of CSB-SDA organized this event. I have no regrets now that I chose to go.

Check out more photos here!