VSCO-NEX Set 04. Our Baler Paradise. 

I’ve returned from the Philippines two weeks ago. I haven’t gotten any photo opportunities like that since.

2014 Arrival

It’s been about five days since I’ve landed in the Philippine Islands. You guys know that I come back here every year.

The funny thing about me, whenever I return here, is that I half-become a different person. I wake up at 7 in the morning, and fry bacon to have with my fresh pan de sal from the neighborhood bakery. Pet the dog in the backyard while enjoying the morning sun, while reading the news. Go for a walk around with the camera, all before ever turning on the computer. Lunchtime usually happens at a fast food joint on the way to another adventure. I lose track of my phone, having rarely used it (at least in comparison to my use when at home). Night falls and I’m in bed long before midnight.

All that, compared to what? Waking up close to noon and eating cereal; sitting in front of the computer for a couple hours, only getting takeout just to return home with it, and having my phone on me constantly. What’s to stop me from doing all these things that I do in the Philippines at home as well? A friend asked me about that, and after thinking about it for the past five days, I’m still not sure.

Maybe it’s because when I come here, I feel more connected to my culture. Everyone here moves like I move, and the pace of life facilitates my more healthy body clock. A cousin of mine holds a theory that gravity is stronger here in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas. It makes people and time move slower. Condensate sweats down the glass. The dog lies quietly. Maybe that theory is true.

Or, maybe it’s because a dramatic change in circumstances is required to break oneself out of the mold. This town runs on pan, Pesos, chinelas, and old manners. Old women, sitting out in their thatched barangays, drinking local cocoa and listening to the radio - or, at least, what they can make out of it over the distant drone of karaoke. Old men, whom will recognize me and talk about my long past grandfather, who practically half-built this town. Maybe the blood is just different here.

Or maybe the trucks and trikes are just too god**** loud in the morning.