Friday, April 20, 2012

Cool photographs from Cebu City, Philippines - the perspective of an 8-year old photographer

During our last trip to the Philippines in July and August 2011, my wife and daughter and I stayed for a large part of the time at my wife's parents' place in a subdivision in Cebu.  While staying at her Lolo and Lola's house, our daughter (almost 8 years old at the time) developed a real bond with her Lolo and Lola's helper.  We had been to the Philippines in 2008 when our daughter was almost 5 and she also had the opportunity to meet this young lady back then, but I doubt her memories from that trip are so distinct and lasting.  This time, she became a true buddy with her Lolo and Lola's helper, and referred to her as "Ate" (pronounced "Ah-teh"), which is the Filipino word for older sister. 

Our daughter and her Ate had a mid-morning ritual of walking a few blocks together down to a sari-sari to get a little treat.  A sari sari is a small shop selling various foods and convenience items that in most cases is usually open-air and quite accessible from the street or sidewalk.  Sari-saris can be found anywhere in the Philippines,  from rural to urban to suburban settings, and are found in residential areas just as frequently (or perhaps even more often) as in commercial settings.   During these walks, her Ate would bring along an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun, and the two of them would have great fun walking together and smiling and giggling,  stopping sometimes to meet and talk to friends of her Ate (who were usually other helpers).  They truly had fun together.  These were unique experiences for our daughter, because in the States we don't have sari-sari stores (we have some similar but not exactly like this), we don't typically use an umbrella unless it rains, we don't have helpers, and the architecture of houses and the plants/trees are quite different from back home.  And then there is the much different selection of treats and goodies available at a Philippine sari-sari!  Our daughter tried a variety of Magnolia ice cream drumsticks, some Mentos different than the ones we have in the U.S., etc.

One one or maybe more occasions, our daughter brought her camera along on these walks, and took some really interesting photos from the perspective of an almost 8-year-old Filipina-American who was developing an appreciation of both the fascinating differences and similarities between her own familiar world back in the states and those within this little microcosm of a small subdivision of Cebu.   Armed with a camera and a smile, and free from her parents for a short while with the gracious help and interpretation of the Visayan language of her Ate, she had some experiences that  truly made an impression on her and for which she'll have lasting memories.  The photographs speak volumes about the pure wonder and innocence of a child, her physical height above sidewalk/street level, her interests and things that she deemed important or fantastic or notable.   And the photographs show the love and kindness of her Ate who, although not a blood relative, took care of her just like a little sister, both of them communicating and enjoying each other's company despite   more than a few barriers and challenges in the dialogue between English and Visayan

Here are some samples of the (many) photos our daughter took from their walks together; only one was not taken by our daughter:

One of Ate's friends in Cebu City

"Ate" in her Joe Cool Snoopy shirt

"Ate" upholding the shade

"Ate" with some of her friends in Cebu

In the sari-sari (the only picture not taken by our daughter, but by her "Ate")

Garbage dumping fine:  500 pesos

Philippine papayas

Fridges inside the sari-sari (I'll take the one on the left, please)
Lonely trike (Cebu City)

A mama (or maybe a helper) shielding the baby with an umbrella (Cebu City)

Bananas hangin' high

Sweet wrought iron gate design pattern (note the bubbles)! (Cebu City)

The infamous "business end" of a dog (Cebu City)

Another interesting gate design (Cebu City)

House and truck - cool roofing tiles! (Cebu City)

Fat-bottomed tree (Cebu City)

Multicab pickup truck (Cebu City)

Pedicab driver with gloves and biking sleeves (Cebu City)

Pedicab driver picking up passengers (Cebu City)

Taxi cab driver hangin' out (Cebu City)

Trike trekkers carrying a load (Cebu City)

Camansi fruits on tree in Cebu

Gate and wall around a house (Cebu City)- hey, isn't that those trike guys down the street?

Water storage tower in Cebu


  1. That was fascinating, some where really candid pictures.. and you have added a little humor by adding titles on each..I never stopped laughing
    especially on the tricycle driver... :D

    1. Hi there cLai!

      Thanks for coming back again, and thanks also for your nice comments! My wife and I were pretty amused and, like you, fascinated by these photos, too. It's really interesting to see what is noteworthy to a little child, from their own eye-level.

      I'm glad you got a good laugh out of these photos! I tried to make it a little funny, of course with all due respect to the random people captured in our daughter's photos. There are so many things about the Philippines that I find fascinating (for instance, just last night my wife and I were talking about the decorative iron work on the gates of houses there).

      I really enjoy people watching wherever I go, and I think that in the Philippines it is much more interesting than here in the States, because here there is generally a lot less pedestrian and bike traffic on the streets, and we don't have pedicabs. It is really nice to be able to go out and walk around in the Philippines and see lots of people and interactions, busy sari-saris and markets, etc. We really miss being there.

    2. Filipinos are creative..I there's interesting somewhere around. I think your daughter was amused with the things she sees, because as you said its different there in States.

      The tricycle driver was a good sport to give a smile. well I would love to take a pose too..especially by your beautiful daughter..she's really pretty

    3. Hi cLai,

      Filipinos are definitely creative, and I think that many of the things most Filipinos take for granted as commonplace and every-day (just a few examples: jeepneys, a lot of the decorative little stones inlaid in concrete in peoples' yards, the iron work in people's gates to their houses, a lot of the architectural concrete work) are actually really works of art done with a high level of craftsmanship. I really appreciate these things when I go to the Philippines, and I have brought back to the U.S. some nice bolos, a sangot, a sundang, etc., which I actually use in my lawn and gardening here. Yes, our daughter was amused at all the very interesting things to see and do that are different than here in States.

      The tricycle driver must have been a good sport, looks like a kind and friendly fellow like most Filipinos. Thanks for your kind compliments, I am sure our daughter would love to take a picture with you too!

  2. Your daughter has a good eye! There were several photos that had lovely Shadow Shots. Also her shots of inanimate things were quite interesting. Very artistic! You should enter some for Shadow Shot Sunday.

    I too am appreciative of the fancy iron work and inlaid mosaics. I think here in the Southwest we have more of that than other parts of the USA, due to the Mexican/Spanish influence. There is something so cheerful about it.

    1. Thanks so much, Cassie, and thank you for stopping by and checking out the blog. I will definitely drop by and enter one of her photos for Shadow Shot Sunday sometime.

      It's pretty amazing how many cultural and artistic/architectural parallels, influences, and "identicals" can be seen between Mexico, the Southwest U.S., and the Philippines. The Spanish influence is indeed strong in all of the above. From what I understand, Mexico City was the central "hub" for the Spanish galleon trade back & forth from Manila from the mid-1500's onward, so there was much cultural, technological, business etc. interchange going on along these trade routes. In the Philippines to this day, one can still find old silver coins dated in the 1700's from Mexico and all the former Spanish colonies in Central and South America (and I am sure there are still some floating around or buried in the ground in the Southwest USA as well). I think some of the sweet potato root crops in the Philippines (such as camote) might also have originated from Central America, but I am not sure about that.

  3. Hi Buzz,
    Your daughter is like a real pro in taking those photos. She got keen eyes on good photo subjects. Been reading most of your posts about your vacations here in the Philippines and I am very happy for your wife for having an American husband who is appreciative of the Philippines despite being a Third World. Not many American husbands of Pinay wives I know are like you who want their Fil-Am kids learn about their Filipino heritage. I hope more American husbands of Pinay wives out there will follow your footsteps! Hats off to you!

    Regards to your wife, my Breast friend! (sweet smile)

    1. Hi there Beng Gee,

      Thanks so much for your comment and your kind compliments! I was surprised too how well the photos came out, and I find her choices of human, animal, plant, and inanimate subjects so interesting.

      You are right, Beng Gee, I truly am appreciative of the Philippines and its people. I think it is an awesome place with wonderful and kind people, and I truly feel at home there, even though I still have much to learn about the languages and some of the inner workings of Filipino culture. Additionally, there is so much to see and do in the Philippines - unfortunately more than can be accomplished in a lifetime. I really miss being there in the Philippines, and wish we could visit more often. You are correct that it is important to me and to my wife to have our daughter learn about her Filipino heritage and history, just the same as we encourage her to learn about her heritage and the history here in the U.S. too. Thanks for your kind words!

      I will definitely send your best regards to my wife; keep up the great work in getting out the word regarding breast cancer awareness and early detection. Best regards to you and your family!

  4. Hello Buzz! Such wonderful candid shots by your lovely daughter. She has an eye for beautiful things! Keep on motivating her to capture more awesome photos! ヅ

    By the way, please visit us again. ت
    After his recent blog-hibernation, Robby has just posted about the Motorcycle Endurance and Economy Run he joined in last March.
    Here's the link for you to check out:

    Also, please click on the REWARDS button on the left side of our blog for you to earn points and avail the gift certificates from the merchant of your choice.

    Thanks! ヅ

    - Wrey

    1. Hi Wrey,

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind compliments! Will definitely keep motivating our daughter to keep on shooting photos!

      I will definitely stop by your blog soon and check out Robby's new post on the Endurance and Economy Run - sounds really interesting!

      Best regards!

  5. Hi there! Just stopping by and looking around. Missed being here!

    Btw, I hope you don't mind, but that photo about a fruit bearing mango tree isn't a mango tree. We call it Camansi. Not sure though if it has the same name in other regions of the country.

    Have a great day!

    1. Hi there, Beng Gee! Thanks for coming back; I am looking forward to going back to your site as well (have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to post anything new)!

      You are absolutely right, and thanks for catching my mistake - that was a good catch! And I don't mind at all... glad that you caught my error, and I will correct that. I looked up camansi online (Artocarpus camansi is its Latin name)and sure enough, the leaves on their references match the leaves and fruit tree in our daughter's photo exactly.

      I've eaten most all of the Philippine fruits and foods, but I have not tried camansi. I read something about people frying camansi, seeds and all, when the fruit is young. Is that popular throughout the Philippines, or maybe more regional? I'd like to give that a try sometime.

      Have a great day too!

  6. This is nice and sweet to read. And the shots are good considering she's 8 years old.

    I wasn't surprised when you found out we use umbrella under the heat of the sun. We don't want to burn, that is. :D

    Glad to know you enjoyed your stay here in the Philippines. I have a friend from Massachusetts whose girlfriend is from Aparri. He also comes here once a year for his vacation.

    1. Hi Joan! Kumusta? Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and for your nice comment!

      The umbrella is definitely a great idea, especially when in the tropical Philippines where the sun is much more intense than here in the States. All three of us also lather up with some sunscreen too.

      We truly enjoyed our stay in the Philippines, as always. I just wish we could visit Philippines more often. Ultimately we'd like to live there. Aparri sounds like a neat place, I have never been any farther north in the Philippines than the Baguio area, and I would like to visit the north coast, Ilocos del Sur, etc.

  7. Reading this post and seeing your daughter's pics reminds me so much of my Fil-Am niece, she was so interested in the Philippines too and she always have her mini camera/videocam and take random shots of anything that appeals to her when they were vacationing here. Godbless these kids for appreciating both worlds!

    Hope you guys can come back again and again in the country too.

    On the pics, I love the picture of the dog! She has an eye for good composition!

    Cille =)

  8. ;-) those are beautiful candid moments. did your daughter learn some dialects in Cebu City? im from Dumaguete City, and it's a nearby island. im grateful that your daughter enjoys her stay in the philippines.

    and im amazed with how you described Philippines, especially the sarisari store, the use of umbrella, the tricycle driver with the biking sleeves. it's giving me an honest description of our culture ;-)

    1. Hi there Phioxee,

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments; I will pass that along to my daughter! She told me that next time she's in Philippines, she is REALLY looking forward to walking down to the sari-sari store(s) again and getting some little treats, and she also told me "I will take more pictures for your blog!" She has learned some Bisaya. Do you also speak Visayan/Cebuano on Negros in Dumaguete? I assume that you do, but maybe I'm wrong. I really want to go to Negros sometime.

      I'm glad you enjoyed my descriptions of the Philippines. I truly love to go there and have great respect, admiration, and fondness for the people and the culture. I hope to post more photos and stories the next time we go to Philippines... can't wait until that time!

      Thanks so much once again for stopping by; looking forward to reading more of your blog! Take care!


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