PILAR NEREIDA

the everyday exploits and bursts of ideas from a twenty-something beatnik

Life with Indica, Karma & Orka.. .

It was late 2006 when I found out about Lomography through the people I met in my random trips everywhere, and what drew me to it was the diverse range of cameras it offered – from the Supersampler, Fisheye, LC-A, Holga, Diana, Action Sampler etc. The different outcome of it’s photos was just so interesting and fun that it only took a millisecond for me to decide to get one. At first I really wanted to get an Action Sampler or a Frogeye only because I felt that it suited my ‘active’ lifestyle back then, with the occasional trips to the mountains, beaches and all. But it was only in 2008 that I got to buy my first lomo camera, a Holga 120CFN which I named Indica II (after Indica I, my now defunct Canon EOS 350D back in college), what I liked about the Holga was that it had a lot of options, from multiple exposures to the splash of colors you want in every picture – it was such a f***ing experiment! The only problem I had with my Holga was that it uses a 120mm film which was not available everywhere and was quite more expensive than the usual films in camera shops, so you either had to know a local ‘film pusher’ or order it online. But the complication doesn’t stop there because camera shops within my city didn’t process such film format, so you had to ship it to Manila and wait for it to be delivered into your home (and you could just imagine my excitement while waiting for my first batch of films to be delivered!).

self-portrait (first attempt with Holga 120CFN)

self-portrait (first attempt with Holga 120CFN)

Einstein, Kidlat's pit bull (Holga 120CFN)

Einstein, Kidlat’s pit bull (Holga 120CFN)

the now defunct Junkshop Collective Store (Fisheye1)

art at the Junkshop Collective (Fisheye1)

Intramuros, Manila (Fisheye1)

Intramuros, Manila (Fisheye1)

graffiti at Intramuros (Fisheye1)

graffiti at Intramuros (Fisheye1)

MIng Tombs, China (Fisheye1)

Ming Tombs, China (Fisheye1)

mi bellas (Holga 120CFN)

mi bellas Bohol trip (Holga 120CFN)

But my love for lomography didn’t stop with the Holga 120CFN, fastforward a few years later in 2011 my partner-in-crime Kidlat surprised me with a Diana F+ and a Fisheye2. Finally, I had my own Fisheye and didn’t have to borrow my friend Le’s Fisheye1, which I took with me to several trips. And then there was the Diana F+ which also offered a lot of options for shooting, and these new babies I named Karma (Diana F+) and Orka (Fisheye2). Aside from the sporadic shoots here and there, it was also great meeting new people who share the same interest in Lomography when my friend Kate asked me to join Analog Cebu (a group of Lomo enthusiasts in the city who are a lot more dedicated and 100x more talented than yourstruly). Although I am not very much active in the group, I still learn a lot from them and get inspired to shoot more everytime I see their posts and pictures. With the many lomo cameras still available out there, I don’t think that I’d stop at 3 cameras though – still thinking hard and saving up for the next lomo purchase. I’m definitely not a pro at taking pictures with these babies and don’t plan to take it to such a serious level, I just merely want to have fun with it – like how it’s designed to be.

airplane ride (Fisheye2)

airplane ride (Fisheye2)

Digos, Davao (Fisheye2)

Digos, Davao (Fisheye2)

farmland carabao x megasketcher (Diana F+)

farmland carabao x megasketcher (Diana F+)

falling city (Diana F+)

falling city (Diana F+)

Pasir Ris, Singapore (Diana F+)

Pasir Ris, Singapore (Holga 120CFN)

x27x

old Singapore skate park (Holga120CFN)

my babies - Karma, Orka & Indica

my babies – Karma, Orka & Indica II

Analog Cebu in our lomowall at the old Outpost

Analog Cebu in our lomowall at the old Outpost (forgot who took the picture)

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

***click Lomography for more info and photos, also check out my lomo page – http://www.lomography.com/homes/pilarnereida  

what would Jeff Buckley do

I am bound to infinitely stare at this blank note given by a former lover who refused to tell me the meaning of such clean and crisp white paper crumpled by my frustration to interpret its ghostly writing. Maybe Jeff Buckley will sing me the answer, but then again I can’t rely too much on a dead guy.. . The message just like Mr. Buckley passed away even before I’ve come to know of its existence. ‘Oh, and the sting shall cease’, i can hear thy lover say.. .

PiLar Nereida (01/08/2009)

***photo by Marie Chiong (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California)

the evisceration of you

Writer’s bLock. Shit. I was supposed to write something about you today but thy words have betrayed me and have gone AWOL (hah!). Maybe there’s nothing to write about you anymore, I have grown out my interest in you. Sooo, goodbye horses.. . I’m fLying over you.. .

-PiLar Nereida (05/20/2009)

***photo by Stefanie Lipardo (New York City, USA)

Expeditions with Tao Philippines (Part Una)

I had the much-needed time to organize my thoughts for this blog on my one and a half month with Tao Philippines which consisted of 7 expeditions, and I’ve decided to dissect it in two parts (the El Nido section of the trip and the Coron part) since I wouldn’t want to drag you in a very long blog which you have to understand will consist a lot of photos so.. .

Let’s start off with bits of facts about the company, so Tao Philippines explores the remote islands between El Nido and Coron in Northern Palawan and it offers an ‘off the beaten path’ kind of adventure and we always tell the guests that ‘this is not a tour, it’s an expedition’ so don’t expect a 5-star accommodation on a remote island, it’s as rough as it gets. But anyway you’ll find a better description and all that about the company here, so let’s move on to  how I got involved with Tao Philippines – the main man responsible for taking me on a trip of a lifetime is my longtime friend Johann, we have known each other since college and I’ve always referred to him as my best and worst friend only because we’ve always tolerated each other’s bad habits (but let’s not get into that huh?) which always result in a ‘friendly’ banter. So one fine day Johann texted me (he was already with Tao since October 2011) and asked me if I wanted to join and work with him in the expeditions, I was free, had nothing to do and nowhere to go last summer so why the hell not???

Johann – Tao Buhay’s Expedition Leader with me as his ‘wingwoman’ on board

I arrived in El Nido on April 3rd and had to wait the day after to join Johann’s group who were already on their 3rd day of the 7-day expedition. I won’t write about each trip I had but will just write about it as a whole for practical reasons noh? So where were we? Yes, the El Nido part of the expedition.. .

the town between the limestones and the sea, El Nido

Tao office – everyone’s all ready to go!

On the first day of the trip we’re usually still on the tourist zone so we go to these beautiful but at most times crowded spots in the area like the Small Lagoon which is, like all the other places (and I’ll probably say this a lot) a very surreal place  because before entering the lagoon you have to pass this small opening and then let the sight inside take your breath away after. The rock formations, trees, and even the tiny cave that you can swim in are just picturesque, but too bad I wasn’t able to take photos inside though.

on the way to the small lagoon.. .

the small opening that you have to pass to get inside the lagoon

And at night we stay at our base camps, these are the places where only Tao is allowed and it’s either that Tao’s owner Eddie bought some part of the land or he knows the owner of the place (it should be noted by the way that Eddie along with Jack are the people behind Tao and both guys run the company). On our first night we usually stay in the Tao Village in Cadlao Island where Jack has a house with his tiny pet monkey. Plus if you’re really lucky then you might be able to see the very shy manatees who they say are present in Cadlao! And if we don’t get to stay in Cadlao, we take shelter in a place we fondly called ‘the Farm’ (and in a few months, true to its name it will become a real farm with all the organic stuff the guys at Tao have planted and will plant and raise there). The Farm is the biggest camp we have so far and it has one of the most beautiful sunsets ever and couples always do photo ops furing sunset.

Tao Village in Cadlao Island

fisherman’s wife whom Tao trained to be a masseuse for extra income

long stretch of white sand beach in Cadlao

the Farm in Pangaraykayan, El Nido

a luxury suite consists of a mattress, blanket and mosquito net.. .

picture perfect sunset in the Farm

coconut juice and meat in the morning with Redjie masterfully breaking it in half, yikes!!!

But it’s not always swimming, snorkeling and lazing under the sun everyday because for those who’d like an adrenaline rush even for a very brief moment then there’s always cliff jumping (I know it’s nothing like skydiving or base jumping but the rush still gets you, I promise). We have spots like Pinagbuyutan Island where you have to climb past a bird’s nest guard’s house which look like it’s made of sticks and ready to collapse anytime you put much weight on it and having passed that you’re now in a deciding moment of whether to jump 12 meters down in the water (which may not seem much but trust me, when you’re there at the edge it’s a pretty scary height) and which you wouldn’t have a choice of course because you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of climbing down those rocks rather than a 3-5 second jump huh? And if you want an 8-10 meter jump then there’s always Brother Island which has a view deck that you can hike from shore and get to jump on the rocks below the view deck. It’s where I had my unfortunate accident, all for the love of cliff jumping (and again that’s another story to tell.. .).

Pinagbuyutan cliff jumping, notice the house of sticks on the left?

Ryan, one of the craziest guest we had wanted to do a back flip but it was too dangerous with all the rocks below, so he settled for this jump instead.

Aside from chatting with guests or clowning around the boat, a really fun part about the trip (and this happens a lot) is when the crew starts to show off their singing when there’s nothing left to do on the boat or while it’s cruising to the next destination. Hand them a guitar and they’re good to go, plus some of them can really carry a tune like Mak whom we tease as a ‘ladyboy’ because he’ so good at acting as one!

Redjie, Wasuy, Mak and Chance

An international doll collection they say with two Filipino hunks – Den2x and Captain Bogart plus a Filipina beauty of course, ahem! ;-)

I have too many favorite spots in the El Nido area of the expedition including our Tapiotan camp which I failed to take a photo from the inside because it’s like enclosed (almost) by these rock formations and only small boats can get inside but are not allowed because it’s our private camp (it was bought by Eddie a year ago or two). There’s also Daracuton where Tao built a school as one of their social welfare projects, it’s also a great snorkeling spot especially the wreck from the 2nd World War which is not far from shore.. .

photo from the inside of Tapiotan camp

climbing up and down the rocks in Daracuton – destination nowhere!

Diapila is also one of my early favorites, it’s a small town which consists mainly of families from Bantayan, Cebu  and imagine my delight when I got to speak my local dialect again (Cebuano/Bisaya) when we get to roam around the town  and interact with the locals. The beach there is like Boracay, white sand stretches far enough beneath the very clear waters but without the flocking tourists of course.

the beautiful seaside town of Diapila

I know that El Nido has flocks and flocks of tourist who come and go, let’s just all hope that it won’t be turned into a circus soon and that they’ll still be able to keep that small town charm. And with that I’ll probably end part one of the trip here, will be writing the Coron adventure real soon!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

the sea nymph is baaack!

So I’ve been back since last week from my stint with Tao Philippines for the summer and I’ve been having a hard time writing a blog about it since there are too many stories to tell and a lot of gorgeous gorgeous photos to show during my month and a half stay with them. I need not reiterate what Tao Philippines is all about since you can just easily click on the link and check it out (plus the site will ‘wow’ you for sure!). Much to your dismay, this is not the blog about my whole experience there, let’s just say that it’s a ‘teaser’ and that a more in-depth blog on it shall be posted soon because I have to gather my thoughts first since countless beautiful and crazy memories are all over my head and much time is needed to put everything in order. And I leave you now with a collage of some of the places that we went to on our 5-7 days expeditions on Northern Palawan. Just keep posted for the coming blog!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

Off to see the wizard.. .

I’ll be leaving Cebu today to work in another island paradise, it wasn’t an easy decision but with my numerous dreams – well, I had follow one of ’em. It will be hard leaving my comfort zone where there’s always an easy access to my family and friends but being away to an unfamiliar place just rouses my sense of adventure even more. I’m excited and all ready to face this new chapter in my life and hey it’s still comforting to know that I’m just a plane ride away anyway. And although I may be very busy nowadays, I will try my best to give updates and find time to write, so just keep posted. Cheers!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

KALAYO – uniquely Filipino World Music

Kalayo is a new ‘old’ band who has been in the Filipino music industry for as long as I can remember, they were formerly PINIKPIKAN, one of the best bands and probably the first to introduce world music to the country. And now known as Kalayo, they are still the same group of talented people who just won’t stop giving us great music, the band is Sammy Asuncion, Louie Talan, Boy Garrovillo, Budeths Casinto, DJ Rodriguez and Reli de Vera. Of all the band members, I’m only familiar with Sammy Asuncion since he’s practically an old soldier in the music industry and many great musicians have been under his apprenticeship, and of course there’s Louie Talan whose music I really got to follow being with Razorback, Kapatid and even his other projects like Loquy, Malaya and a lot more (he seems to be very in demand no?). So I got to see Kalayo play at the Outpost last 29th of March and it was well worth the wait since my friends and I arrived around 8:30pm and they only got to play after 12 or so but hey admission was free so no complaints here. Although we didn’t get to finish the show and left shortly after their first set nevertheless, we still got to listen to really good music.

chatting up with brother Louie, Louie,Louie.. .

Sammy and I

For more information about Kalayo like gigs or to just listen to their music, checkout their website here or like their page on Facebook. Also, watch the video of their first single ‘Lumaban Ka’ in their album Kalayo Malaya on Youtube. Enjoy! ;-)

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

***photos by El Torrefranca

old friend, new black & white photos

Almost 2 months after our Paper Flight exhibit and I just had to share with you my friend Mykee’s photo contributions, these are black and white photos that she took around different spots in Los Angeles, California (with the paper plane of course). Mykee is one of the closest if not the closest friend that I have in our group and even if she left after 6th grade to migrate to the US, we’ve always kept in touch all these years. We’ve always gotten along and agreed on most things if not all, and we’ve been happily swimming against the flow ever since – from one crazy head to another huh! Thank God for her almost yearly visits since 2005? When she comes to visit I’m almost assured that we’ll have more crazy misadventures and I only regret that we didn’t get to spend much time together when she came this year because I’ve been busy with this ‘higher education’ that I’m currently taking but the exhibit itself was already a really great time spent together. So back to the photos, I’m really proud of these shots that she took because first, I love black and white photos and second, she used a Holga 35BC camera and god knows how fond I am of Lomography (which I will dedicate a separate blog soon for that little hobby of mine since I myself is a proud owner of a Holga 120CFN, Diana F+ and Fisheye 2) and shooting with film is much more challenging for obvious reasons. I am no photography expert or critic but the raw look of the photos is just so appealing – you couldn’t get more unedited than that!

airplane x paperplane

Chinese dragon lion x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

LA river x paperplane

random chair x paperplane

Chinatown x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

city buildings x paperplane

my fave - random couch in street x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

city streets x paperplane

stencil in sidewalk x paperplane

multiple exposures x paperplane

girls flying paperplane

my other fave - LA ducks x paperplane

It’s raddd to have a life partner-in-crime like Mykee, it’s true that only crazy people truly understand each other and I’m not afraid to go crazy especially with her! Cheers to more years together dearieee, can’t wait for your next visit.

Mykee & Pilar - coz we're cleva! ;-)

Peace, Love & RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

finally added a Flag Counter!

I was never a computer techie and all that technical stuff just baffles me, it took me a while to get acquainted even with WordPress. So when I decided to put a Flag Counter on my site last night I thought that I’d be able to do it without any online help but as you may have guessed, I wasn’t able to. So I decided to seek online help today and viola! there it is at my sidebar! It may sound silly to some but it’s such an accomplishment for a semi-illiterate on computers like me. So I feel like I owe it to those who are not that talented with website stuff like me to be able to help with at least just putting a Flag Counter, it’s actually very easy and here are the steps:
1. visit FlagCounter http://flagcounter.com/ and go to section “Customize Your New Flag Counter” as per your wordpress theme/looks
2. click the button “GET YOUR FLAG COUNTER”
3. it will generate 2 codes, take the one with  “Code for websites” and copy it.
4. go to your wordpress dashboard then to appearance
5. choose widget – text, paste it on text and save.
6. check WordPress site if it worked and if it did then cheers!

Peace, Love & RakenRoll,
Pilar Nereida

In the Land of Mao

I have always been very vocal in my dismay of the Chinese government in relation to conflicts in Tibet and other humanitarian matters, China no matter how powerful a nation it has become has always set aside issues on human rights. But even if how hostile my views on China may be, I can’t deny the fact that I have always been amazed with the country’s history on civilization along with it’s magnificent ancient structures plus the inventions of gunpowder and fireworks, paper making, the compass and to everyone’s surprise – the pasta (since pasta has always been synonymous with Italy or so we thought). And as good fortune may have it, I had the chance to visit Beijing, China for a few days last March 2011 with my Maaa and her friends and dealing with the cold (since it was still winter, although it didn’t snow that year) was mostly what we had to battle with the whole time we were there because coming from a tropical country like the Philippines where it was so sunny before we left, an almost 0°C temperature slapped us in the face the moment we got out from the airport at 1am in the morning. And to think I was just wearing a grey tank top over my coat while the cold still managed to sneak in my feet even with my thick socks and Chuck Taylor’s. So we managed to stay at this very affordable family-owned one-storey hostel within the city, it was a very old place reminiscent of those houses in old Chinese movies where they fight kung fu and break all sorts of things, the place was really neat and they even have a cafe in the middle which the guests who were mostly young backpackers from Europe hung out to check their email and other businesses (oh yeah, Facebook is banned in China by the way, much to my companions’ dismay). I definitely preferred staying there than some other swanky hotel which would have never fit in our budget anyway, and did I mention that the cafe had this really cool roof deck which I only got to know of the morning after, I bet it would have been a great hangout place during the summer. The only problem I had during my trip there was that Indica 1, my ancient Canon350D refused to function but good thing I brought with me a Lomo Fisheye and a roll of film, thus I had very few pictures to document my trip to Beijing (thank God for my companions’ functional cameras and their camera phones!).

it's a blurrr but you could tell how our hostel looked like

the roof deck I was raving about but it was too cold to hangout in

So we went to see a lot of the tourist attractions that there was to see but I’ll just mainly focus on the ones that are of top interest to me plus the lack of photographs was very disheartening while making this, I could have showed more photos of the different but equally beautiful places there. So first up would be the very famous and definitely one of the ancient wonders of the world, the 2,000 year old Great Wall of China! I just had to tell that the moment that I saw it I had goosebumps all over and it wasn’t because of the cold, it was just so surreal setting foot in one of the places that has awed me since I was young and being a history buff, it was impossible to wipe off the smile in my face.

Well you probably have your facts already about this great structure but let me just pass on to you some few quick facts – 1.) It is true despite all the arguments and controversies, the Great Wall is visible in space but not at all times to the naked eye (think telescopes), 2.) It took more than 20 dynasties to built it (that’s an awful long time!) and 3.) It is the longest fortification ever built, the structure over 6,000km long.

According to BBC News, the Great Wall receives about 10 million visitors per year

The Ming Tombs was very grand considering that it houses the mausoleums of the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. It was such a huge and very peaceful place and I had to refrain myself from running around like a kid who had just discovered a new playground but it was very tempting. Although it was very far from being a playground and only 2 tombs are open to the public (with one of it 27 meters under the earth), but it never had the feel of a mausoleum when we entered. I won’t get much into details of the Ming Tombs and the other structures since the internet can well provide you with more accurate and fascinating facts but what I can say is that the entire construction was just splendid!

the walk back to the main gate - and that structure right there isn't the main gate yet!

Another site that we visited was the Temple of Heaven and we only got to stroll around the vicinity outside the temple because there was an additional entrance fee to go to the temple itself although it can be seen from the outside, my companions just weren’t keen on paying another fee. But I can tell that it was very beautiful from afar and how much more if we got to go inside.. .

Belle and what seems to be a part of the temple in the background

Since I didn’t arrange this in the order of how we visited the places, we actually went to the Summer Palace before going to the Temple of Heaven and describing the place as beautiful would be an understatement. The Palace was so perfectly gorgeous and grandiose that if it were not for the cold, I never would have wanted to leave the place. They say that the Kunming Lake which overlooked the palace was usually frozen during the winter but that year it didn’t (sign of the changing times huh?), I also had the chance to climb a Cherry Blossom tree to everyone’s amusement, I just had the urge to climb it and I didn’t care much what the Chinese people thought or said to each other when they saw me, I didn’t understand a word that they were saying anyway.

Pilar and Maaa, smiling but cold!

The last and probably the most jaw-droppingly massive and tiring of all the places that we went to was the Forbidden City, I have to say that these ancient Chinese structures wouldn’t have been as amazing if it weren’t for the megalomaniac emperors that they had. Everything had to made in such huge and colossal manner, anything less than that I don’t think they would’ve approved. You’ve noticed that for sure. One of the symbols of Beijing and perhaps China, the Forbidden City was an imperial palace and located exactly in the middle of Beijing, more quick facts – 1.) It consists of 980 buildings and covers 720,000 m2, 2.) It houses the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world as listed by UNESCO, and 3.) It was the home of emperors and their households for 500 years. I still can’t believe I walked the whole 961 meters from north to south of the entire place!

you'll have to go through Chairman Mao before you can enter the city.. . love him or hate him, I feel both.

Well, it was one hell of a historical but rather very fun trip for me, I would’ve never appreciated those places as much if I never had a liking to history and an interest in Mao Tse Tung. I promised myself that I would without doubt go back in a few years or so, I trust China when it comes to preserving their ancient structures (and I wish that the Philippines could do the same too – but whatever is left of our ancient structures?). Me and my boys will climb the Great Wall and ‘stroll around’ the Forbidden City while I lecture them on it’s history for sure.. .

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

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