Tuesday, 22 December 2009

December 2009

Pretty much sums up the contradictions of Christmas in The Philippines - the mixture of the tropical and the temperate. Some how the spruce Christmas trees & images of white winter feel completely out of place in the warm, sunny weather.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas preparations

Christmas is an important time in the Philippines. As a largely Catholic country, with a strong tradition of family ties, it is almost inevitable that this would be a big celebration. Apparently preparations started late this year - well into November - due to the aftermath of the typhoons that blew through here (plenty of evidence of that around).

Further to that, there is a strong trend to adopting American culture, especially the more consumerist and commercial: malls and fast food. Christmas music everywhere - "White Christmas", "Winter Wonderland", carols of the European tradition. Coupled with that, lights and decorations everywhere, and Christmas trees. Spruce is rather out of place among the palms. The whole thing is rather incongruous wrong time of year (far too early for me) and all the attributes of Christmas in Northern, wintry climes. Except this is the tropics, sun is out every day and the temperature is up in the 30s C. Snow and sleigh bells don't fit.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

November 2009

For each month I'll post my selection for the final project. The aim being the image that sums up my impressions from that month. Selections get their own post label, too.

In this instance I've chosen this one because it is the mix of the commercial and tropical that sums up my first impressions of my new home.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Living in a bubble

My first few weeks have been rather constrained. Early days at work, living in a hotel, no car and weather non-conducive to long walks. So I've tried to explore the small region as much as possible, taking some photos. My early environment is a largely commercial area, with affluent residential zones around, far from the "true" Philippines one sees on the news or in the papers. Will I be destined to spend my time here in comfortable isolation, living a life of relative privilege?

Time will come that I will be able to get out a travel around the country but for now it feels like I'm in a bubble.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

First impressions

An important part of this project is to gather my impressions from the very first. On first arriving in Manila, I was immediately drawn to thinking of comparisons with India and Mexico. The Philippines seem a whole lot less confusing on first impression, which may have been a reflection on arriving on a Sunday. Very little traffic, less people milling around the airport than I've seen at other major international airports. Everything seems clean and organised. It's hot, but a lot less humid than I was expecting, which makes the climate bearable.

No photographs at the airport - not something I've ever done. I get in and all I want to do is complete the journey and get to where I'm staying.

It also makes me realise how important time of day and jet lag can impact first impressions. I remember arriving in Mexico in the middle of the night after a long, long trip. Delhi was crazy hot and humid, busy, noisy, smelly. Manila was a pleasure by comparison.

Whisked along the main highway south to the commercial centre of Muntinlupa, to a nice hotel, gave me little time to see the real Manila.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

About this blog

Another new photography project for me but a specific, long term one with plenty of opportunity. I want to explore my relationship with the places around me, especially where I live, through photographs. This blog will be a collection of photographs I take over time together with my thoughts on what I see.

In time, I want to gather up one good photograph from each month over a period of years.

Moving recently proved to be an ideal opportunity to start this whole thing, new location and fresh views.

How does my relationship with a place change over time? How does that influence my photographs of that place? Do the photographs also influence my view of the place? I hope to explore these questions over time.