Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Banner 2012

My web developer Cherie Del Rio taught me the magic of photo enhancing.

Like a butterfly, spring descended upon us gingerly this year. It hovered over us teasingly through the last breaths of winter. Every day I watch as it unfolds its colorful wings before me through my office window – the grass is getting greener and thicker like carpet, the crepe myrtle trees that we thought wouldn’t make it through the summer drought and the harsh winter are blooming timidly with bright little leaves, and the Valentine flowers from my husband last year has resurrected in bright purples and yellows. He had wanted to throw them out, thinking they were dead. I thought we should give them a chance and asked him to plant the withered potted bouquet in our backyard where it now blooms like  the delicate winged creatures. 

    The one that didn't make it to the final cut.

So of course, I have to have a butterfly on my desk. They after all come out in the early parts of spring. Butterflies also have a special meaning to me, but I will reveal more on that later on. The butterfly notebook is my journal for 2012. I have kept a daily journal since 1987. So yes, I can tell you what I did and with whom and probably how I felt exactly 20 years ago from today. 

The first flowers of spring that bloomed in our backyard...
One of the books featured on the desk is Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt. What does it have to do with travel? It took me to Ireland, a different kind of Ireland that I’ve known – the land of rolling lush hills and lilting accents, and of course, the home of the greatest rock and roll band in the world, one of my favorite constants in my life: U2.

was from last year's Valentine's bouquet from my boys.

The Ireland that McCourt showed me was not quite as romantic. It was wet and dreary. I’ve known poverty most of my life, living in the Philippines. I’ve seen it up close, touched it, smelled it, and heard it. But Angela’s Ashes showed me a different face of dearth where children go to school in the dead of winter with no shoes on. Many children in the Philippines have to contend with hunger but I cannot imagine how it must be like to be hungry AND freezing.  And now that I have a little one of my own,  the impact on me is even more powerful.

  They bloomed even brighter this year, although the bugs got to them first.
Another thing about the book that made a great impression on me is the author’s voice. He wrote it using the voice of a 10-year-old. I could hardly remember much of my childhood, at least not with the kind of vividness that he expressed it with. How he managed to retell his days of youth with much clarity, honesty, and authority and still bring out the innocence and humor only a young mind could muster is a brilliant feat.

The flowers on the banner are from this year's Valentine's bouquet.

And yes, Ireland is in our future Itinerary. A few years back, my husband had planned a trip to Ireland but a twist of fate led him to the farthest eastern part of Europe.  While my husband wants to trace his roots, being part Irish, I’d like to look for The Kitchen in Dublin and hopefully find Paul Hewson and hear his thoughts about the apartheid in South Africa with Guinness as our company. Incidentally, while I’m writing this, my in-laws are in Ireland, roaming the damp streets. I heard it’s the rainy season there right now. I trust that the rain will wash away the country’s sad history, and that they will find beauty in the water’s sheen.

The Valentine that Finn and I made for his daddy that traces my son's footprints.

And how can you miss the book on Nicaragua? The tickets have been bought  and reservations have been made. We will be having our summer adventure in spring. It would be so darn nice to feel the sun on my bare shoulders again after walking around in several layers for months.

The little boy from which I stole the toy jeepney from is no longer a little one.

Then there’s the little orange jeepney, a quintessential Manila icon. I stole the toy from my younger brother Perry. Of course he’s not so young anymore, so I doubt if he even noticed that it’s gone. My son pushes it around on our hard wood floors now. I like how something is passed down from one generation to the other. Maybe he’ll hand it down to his son someday.   Assuming of course that he won’t chew the tires off first.

Anyway, another reason why I included this toy in my banner is because I’ve recently joined another publication represented by the jeepney. Thanks to the referral of my web master, Cherie Del Rio. I’m now one of the contributors for Planet Philippines, a global publication that is seeing circulationin London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Melbourne Toronto, Edmonton. Yes, Ana Viajera is going global! Aptly, my first article is titled Romancing Manila (from A to Zzzz).

Meet my newest travel companion.

And finally, the newest addition to my travel tools: the Canon DSLR. I’ve always loved taking pictures as far as I can remember. Somebody once said that my life is so well documented in pictures and in words (the journals, remember?).  For many years as a travel writer, I have explored in the company of professional photographers. Now that I’ve relocated, I have to rely on my own pictures. The newest addition in my life, my son, has also encouraged me to taking photographs more seriously, because I would like to capture  every smile and every quirk that brings so much joy to our life.

I hope to capture his every quirk with my new camera.

But let me make this clear- especially to the photographers who scoff at those who think they’re photographers just because they have a DSLR and lenses that are inversely proportional to the length of their …well…you can fill in the blank here – I have no illusions about being a photographer. I know little about the poetry of light, shape, shadow, color,  and texture. I merely  love to take pictures and hope to tell my story better not in words alone but as Cherie would put it , through “poetry in four edges”. I’ve never been any good in poetry anyway, at least not the kind that is measured in quatrains and such. You won’t find me prattling about f/stops and shutter speeds here. No, there won’t be numbers here or technical jargon. I promise. Only my attempts of showing my footprints in more dimensions.

            I never travel without my sunglasses. The pair featured on the desk is my favorite Steve Maddens.
Photo by Cherie Del Rio.


Why the disclaimer? In my line of work, I have had the privilege of collaborating with numerous professional photographers. When I say professional, I mean those who are actually published by reputable publications, get paid for their pictures, get assigned to go somewhere, or even conduct classes. And I understand how they regard the wannabes who so highly think of themselves just because they have a 70-200mm f/2.8L telephoto zoom lens  and friends who don’t know any better but are generous with their praises.   I do however have great respect for the humble hobbyists who love to take pictures and come out with moving and inspiring images and don’t make a lot of noise claiming themselves to be  a “photographer” and neither do they go on with technical jargon and instead allow their photographs to speak for themselves.

I guess you can say I had good times with the Canon in Guam.

I also want to thank my husband, who got me the camera as one of his Christmas presents,  for choosing well, I think. About 75% of the photographers  I’ve worked with prefer the Canon and the rest, Nikon, over the other brands. My point-and-shoot is also a Canon (before that I had a long history with the Pentax). So yes, I am partial to Canon.   Years back, a friend of mine, also a brilliant shutterbug, bought a Sony, and I jokingly told him, “why Sony? Pang TV lang sila?” Weeks later, he returned his unit saying that “it sucks!”

More good times with the Canon in Hanoi.

But then again my eldest brother and Cherie (who had also recently shifted to a Canon) had taken arresting pictures with their Sony, so I guess it really is the photographer and not the equipment. I remember being invited to a press junket in Batanes, mainly for photographers. With Batanes being a great setting for stunning pictures, Epson sponsored a photo contest. A girl won second place, beating photographers with lenses so long that it’s impossible to be around them without being poked. Her humble equipment didn’t even have a wide angle lens. She used a point-and-shoot –proof once again that it’s not the camera but the eyes behind it.  

Rod Lim took this panoramic shot of me at the San Agustin Church with a low MP Sony Ericsson phone. Sheer talent.

 And so here begins another adventure for Ana Viajera, venturing through the avenues of shapes and shadows, attempting to record stories through light, and hoping to be at the right place when according to Ansel Adams “God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.” 

Let the flowers bloom in our head.


As the seasons change, so will my desktop banner. I will be adding little touches to it, moving the items around, and customizing it for the season. I will archive its transformation on My Desk. 

Read more about how I put the banner together and how my real writer's desk looks like at My Desk. And tell me how your desk looks like, and I will tell you who you are.


Super like the self-photo with the Canon! You take beautiful pictures, you should watermark them and then start your own photoblog. =P This is the first time I've seen those pretty flowers. You take waaaay better flora photos! =))))))))) Of course, I'm going to agree with you that it's the photographer (and the subject), not the camera. Hahaha. =P

Cool new look! And a great read too! The seasonal banner is such a great idea!

Nice visuals, cands, so warm. Gives me that hallmark feeling :) what's the standard banner size, I just guesstimate mine and it's not working :(

Wow thanks, JR! I always go by 998x427 or just play around those numbers. Let me know if you need more help.

I feel like I have so much to learn before I do that. I don't think anyone would bother to grab my pictures...yet :P As always, thank you for your support. This wouldn't have been possible without you!

And yes, I forgot about the subject, didnt I? haha

I like to call it my visual blog :P blog on a desk...

Canon-user ka man gale. hehehe! Love the banners... and fact that they keep changing with the season and the holidays.

Of course I'm a Canon user..the only problem is that I dont know how to use it hahahhahah

Thanks gid for dropping by...and inspiring me with your photos!!!!

Post a Comment