Monday, November 30, 2009

About a Photograph

This is supposedly a picture of me, together with my parents and two of my cousins on a beach, circa 1972. I've already forgotten how long I kept this photo with me. Ever since, my parents told me that I was the baby in this photograph, it seemed like we're inseparable; I always kept it in a photo album, then placed it together with my other photos in a shoe box after our home got flooded in 2006 in Cavite, and then I took it with me when I came back from vacation last May 2009.

Aside from this photograph, the earliest photograph of myself that I have was when I'm in my kindergarten, at St. Joseph College in Cavite City; and I find it weird. Most mothers usually have photos of their newborn babies, or even photos of themselves when they were pregnant; my mother didn't have any, except for this one. Strange?

I was told that the photograph was taken on a beach, behind a cemetery near the home of my Aunt Estelita Reyes and Uncle Montano Reyes in Boulevard Cresini, Cavite City, (the other Chabacano city of the Philippines), during the early 70's. The place was far more cleaner then, compared to now, but when I was growing up in the 80's, I remember the place was already filthy because of the mountains of garbage thrown there by the city government. My cousins and I, used to call the beach behind the cemetery as, "Tae Beach" or literally, "Shit Beach" in English. I also remember playing amongst the tombs in the cemetery near the beach with my cousins as children. If you were following the CNN Hero 2009, Efren Peñaflorida on television, well, this is the exact place where he and his team often teach with their now famous 'Kariton Classroom'.

In the photograph, you will see my father, Felipe Cabrera, and my mother, Florinia Cabrera holding me. My two cousins, (the younger one), Manuel, he is in Scotland right now with his wife and children, and (the older one), Manolito, he's now somewhere in Canada with his wife and kids, they are brothers, the sons of my Aunt Estelita or should I say my "Nanay Tita", She still have five other children, most of them are living in the Philippines. They are my immediate relatives closest to us.

Around the time when the photo was taken, I was told that my parents did not have their own house yet, and were living with my Aunt's old house in Cavite City. The house was a typical middle class 70's style house, it's not big, yet not small, just right for their family. At a very young age, I have memories of that old house in front of the cemetery along Boulevard Cresini; I remember someone, perhaps a maid or a lavandera, doing the laundry outside the house, can't quite remember her face though, I think I was too busy playing with an old, broken, turquoise-colored toaster that my cousin gave me. But as far as my memory of that house is concerned, I guess that's just about it.

I used to have a baby sitter when I was a baby, her Name is Conchita Poliquit, or Conching to us. She's from Leyte in the Visayas, she's very loyal to my Aunt and her family, she was already with my Aunt when she was 14 years old, but when my Uncle died, the source of their family income died as well. My Aunt can no longer pay her services, yet she still remained to work with my Aunt even without salary, but she eventually left them to start her own life with Kuya Rolly, the guy she married. She's now a grandmother from her two sons and happily living in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite. We still communicate with each other every now and then. Some of the information about this photo is from her.

Regarding my parents, I don't know much about their history and how they met, we didn't talk a lot, I mean, we are not that close, all I know is that my mother was a teacher, and my father only finished highschool, and never stepped onto college, I don't even know if he ever had a job, all I know is that he drives my mother wherever she goes. They were living with my Aunt in Cavite City when they were just starting with their lives, but eventually were able to find an apartment in Noveleta. They are now into Barber shop bussiness. They've been living in their own house in Noveleta now, the very place where I grew up.

As for me, I never had siblings, I grew up basically alone while my mother and father were busy with their works. My Aunt (Nanay Tita) became my mother and her children became my siblings. Even though we lived in Noveleta, I often visited them in Cavite City. It's much easier for my parents to work if I was with my Aunt. I have a lot of happy days with her in Cavite City, it saddened me when she passed away early in 2009 in San Diego, (her husband died in the early 80's, I was very young then).

Looking at that photograph makes me sad sometimes. I can't believe how time flies. Here I am growing older, while some are dying, and others are just learning their first step. I guess that's life. Pardon me if you don't get the point of what I was writing, I'm neither a writer nor amazingly fluent in English. I just want to share a little piece of my life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maguindanao Massacre: Who Takes The Responsibility?

The gruesome massacre in Maguindanao of 57 people, which includes 24 journalists is so appalling. The incriminating evidences point to the Ampatuans, a powerful political clan in Maguindanao which is said to have a strong connection with Malacañang, hence, the soft treatment and slow action of the government to resolve this case. The other day President Gloria Arroyo prayed for peace to reign in Mindanao in a breakfast forum in Malacañan Palace. Yes, prayers are good, but you need fast action for things to get done.

The Ampatuans, the alleged perpetrators, should have gone to Mecca for Hajj, and exercise one of the most important pillars of their religion (which is Islam), instead they planned and masterminded the massacre of innocent people in Maguindanao. Now, there are also strong evidences showing that the military has a role in this massacre. A new witness said that the CVO of the Ampatuans get their guns and ammunition from the government itself, and the guns that were seized from the CVO were not the one used in the killings.

The rise of the Ampatuan clan started during the administration of Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo. Her government has been feeding and pampering this clan in exchange for favors. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her senatorial candidates won the last election in this part of the country by a landslide. It's clear that this administration has created a Frankenstein monster in the form of the Ampatuans.

Let's just all hope that something happens with this case, and give justice to the victims of this horrible, politically motivated massacre. God save the Philippines!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Earth Hour: VOTE EARTH - Copenhagen 2009!

From the 7th to 18th of December 2009, world leaders will discuss new ways to deal with climate change at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen. This deal will replace the Kyoto Protocol and set a new standard for reducing harmful emissions and global warming.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to point our planet in a new direction. The more votes for earth, the stronger the mandate will be to influence a 'Breakthrough' result. Now's the time to give world leaders the mandate they need to make the right climate deal. It's time to Vote Earth!

Learn About Climate Change. The video is narrated by Al Gore.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Earth Hour.Org

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

I've got a lot of memories of Sesame Street. As an only child growing up in the 70's and 80's, I could honestly say that Sesame Street had been a part of my childhood life, I didn't just learn from it, I also enjoyed watching it (even if I'm watching it alone!). The show helped me with my English, and my numbers, and not to mention my social skills.

Who could ever forget Bob, singing, 'The People In Your Neighborhood', or Mr. Hooper and his store, (can't forget him!), or Big Bird and Mr. Snuffaluffagus and how they first met on a Monday, or was it a Tuesday?, I love it every time Maria do Charlie, and how about Bert, Ernie and his Rubber Duckie, Kermit the frog and Cookie Monster, The Count, Oscar the Grouch and I love Grover as a waiter.
Watching them on You Tube brings back a lot of memories. I can't believe that Sesame Street is already 40 years old, oh boy! I'm getting old. Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

We Are Not Terrorists, We Are Photographers!

Last Saturday, the 7th of November, was one of my most dreaded days of my entire life, and one of the most humiliating, I might add. Me and my colleague were apprehended near my apartment by the local police here in Jeddah, just for taking a couple of pictures, including the picture you see below. If you look a little bit closer to the extreme right of the picture, you can even see the police car there. We were driving around the vicinity where I live, and taking photos on every potential subjects I see on the street to post in my photoblog, 'Camera Ni Cabrera'. I've been living in Saudi Arabia for almost 10 years now, so more or less, I know the do's and don'ts here, but sometimes things get a little bit out of hand,  especially with the police. Ridiculous!

Anyway, the police did not immediately arrest us, but unbeknownst to us they followed a few meters from where I took the photos and then tried to stop us when we were about to turn to a corner, I was asked to give them my Iqama, (an ID or small booklet given only to foreign workers to prove their legality), and my camera. While looking what was inside my camera, they were asking why I'm taking photos and what is it for, I told them that, it is a passion of mine to take photos of beautiful things, but it was to no avail, they don't speak nor understand English and my Arabic is so limited. My friend speaks fairly good Arabic, but even him could not get through them, they were just not listening to us. To make it short, they took everything, even our cellphones (so we can't call our boss to let them know about the predicament we're in), took the key of my car, handcuffed us together and throw us to the back of the police car. I was so scared almost to the point that I almost cried because of the fear that they might hurt us, deport us, or who knows what they are capable of doing, I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia in general don't actually have a good standing with the international communities when it comes to human rights issues.

When we arrived at the police station, they took off our handcuffs and put us inside the detention cell, where we saw some of the detainees who were already there, most of them were expatriates from south Asia. While inside, I felt a little uneasy and a little claustrophobic because of the size and the ventilation of the cell. After a few minutes, we were able to talk to one of the detainees there who happened to have a cellphone, so my friend asked him if he could kindly borrow the phone so that we could call someone from our office. After calling the office, the only thing for us to do was to wait for them to redeem us.

After 3 hours, we heard from the door saying "Filipini!" (the police was calling us), when we approached the door, the police outside gave us all our things except for the car key. That was the time I decided to take some pictures inside the cell.

After an hour and a half more, they let us out of the detention cell and gave me back my car key. And that was the time our HR told us that the police apprehended us because we were taking photos of the residential compound, (that was the wall where the bicycle is). Whatever the reason was, they shouldn't have confiscated our things and handcuffed us. It was so traumatic. We are not terrorists, we are photographers (kuno) .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vote For The 50 Great Voices (In The World)!

National Public Radio (NPR) starting in January 2010, will launch a year-long exploration of the 50 great voices in recorded history. Some of the nominated are already listed. NPR and a panel of experts are now in the process of slimming them down to 100 singers. The Singers came from different genres and from different countries around the world.

Last September 17, 2009, I posted on this blog 'My Top 10 Most Beautiful Female Voices Of All Time' which Ms. Whitney Houston topped the list, 5 female singers on that list is nominated for the NPR's 50 Great Voices, they are Whitney Houston, Martha Wash, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Lauryn Hill.

Explore some of the nominated voices on the NPR list and choose 5 of your favorites who you think should be in the final 50 and write your reason why you chose each singers. VOTE NOW!

"Taking Away Your Space" by Martha Wash

"Casta Diva" by Montserat Caballe

"A Song For You" by Whitney Houston

"Inta Omri' by Uum Kulthoum

NPR [National Public Radio]

Thanks to Mr. N J!

I just met 'briefly' for the first time my blog buddy here in Jeddah just a couple of hours ago in front of McDonald's, where else?, he is Mr. Nereus Jethro Abad, a Filipino expatriate just like myself, he is working with the National Prawn Company, (it's one of the world's biggest fully integrated aquaculture project, and the world's biggest and premier desert aquaculture venture, as it says there in his profile). Mr. Nereus Jethro Abad's blog is called Desert Aquaforce.

To Mr. Abad, "If ever you are reading this, in behalf of my friend, I would just like to say that it's a pleasure meeting you, I know we didn't have enough time for a thorough conversation but I know there's still next time. Thank you very much for your time and ohh, those prawns are HUGE...!, can't wait to taste them. Thanks!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thumbs Up: Gunther Diechmann's Photography

Gunther Diechmann has an impressive collection of photography around the world. I first knew about him and his work while watching television, on TFC (The Filipino Channel). He says there that he is an "Australian but with a Filipino heart" (This is a brief series about foreigners living and loving the Philippines). He is also an underwater photographer, he has a book called "Journey Through Color And Time" which was published in 2006. He is married to a Filipina. Here are some of his photography.

THE CLASSICS special collection from Europe, SE Asia Tibet and Australia - Images by Gunther Deichmann