Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some Observations

I have been very busy these past few days. I've taken an interest in photography again after the longest time, so I enrolled myself at a basic photography class. Although I have to say, it was a bit difficult, because I am a masochist, and stuck to using my old, very old, nigh ancient, Canon EOS 500-- in film, of course. I was a bit disappointed because the pictures, when they were finally developed, seemed to be hazy, not so much as a result of poor skills but because there seems to be a leak in the camera that let light in. Very disappointing. Luckily, a place nearby is selling the new Canon 450D DSLR at a mere Php 42,950, complete with a basic wide-to-normal lens (18 to 55mm). That's less than a thousand US dollars, good enough, I guess.

I've also taken two of my old lenses to the cleaners. One is a Tamron 35mm to 105mm, the other is a Sigma, 28mm to 200mm. The latter is lacking a lenscap so I can only imagine how much that is going to freak out the shop's proprietors.

Also, I find it strange that I seem to be asked all the time whether I had a permit to take photographs in public. Yesterday morning, I was shooting at the uberchic Greenbelt Mall (and I use that term loosely, as it is really more a lifestyle center) when I was approached at least three times by two different guards if I had permission to take photos of the mall's public space. The same thing happened when I went to Manila Bay that afternoon. I wasn't aware the city officials owned the sunset. What's really irritating about the Greenbelt incident is that the patriarch of the family that owns it, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, is himself a photographer! The Zobel de Ayalas are quite possibly the wealthiest family in the Philippines; the immediate branch, based in Manila, is worth at least $2.6 billion; the Spanish based part of the clan (who own Sotogrande, the most exclusive, most expensive address in Spain), at least $1.7 billion. Another branch also based in Manila is worth almost $700 million (I think the Zobel side).

Slight Edit: I just came back from said mall after picking up something for my sister. I had to pass through it to get to the train, so I thought I might as well enjoy the experience... There was a Bang and Olufsen store there, which REALLY excited me, as I have admired their products for a long time-- but the prices are murder. I was looking at a pair of headphones which cost something like Php20,000 (around $400++). Wow, that is expensive. There were cheaper products to be sure, but the prices remain relatively high. If I only had the money... :(

Finally, after six long years of agonizing waiting, Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is open. The new airport is one of the more infamous white elephants of the Philippine government; its opening is good news, especially now that tourism here is booming (again). Although the 3 to 4 million visitors we have every year hardly compares to the tens of millions that visit Thailand and Malaysia. Ay, politicians can be so stressful. Would that they were buried in the Film Center instead of all those workers.

On a Starbucks, at 10:04 pm: Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah' starts to play. A man in his thirties cups his face in a corner; an elderly American couple sweet talk each other; a housewife, with a worried look on her face calls her son, only to be screamed at; a newly graduated employee, clad in an ill-fitting shirt, romances his girlfriend; a man sits alone in the far corner, his drink before him, untouched. He is carrying the weight of the world.


Rita said...

Something sinister is going on! It is called the "privatisation of public space". We are only meant to enter-buy-consume-leave. Interacting with our environment will soon simply be about how good our credit score is. Take a photo, chat, sit on a bench, watch the world go these and find yourself arrested for vagrancy. It is starting to happen in the UK, I'm sure it is happening elsewhere.

Andrew might not agree, but the dumbest new airport is the one in KL, I avoid it like the plague, I think it was designed by a 5 year old with too many toys. Your new terminal can't be that bad, can it?

Archistrategos said...

I guess it has something to do with the fact that SE Asians adore malls with a vengeance. The Greenbelt Mall I was talking about is museum, cinema, cultural showcase, outdoor garden, and dining destination all in one, and since there have been many incidents that have happened in malls before, I'm not too surprised that the guards will be wary. But outside? LOL.

As for the new terminal, hmm, I've yet to travel using it, but I heard it's quite nice. Not exactly Suvarnabruhmi or Changi, but it's serviceable, and definitely ten times better than Terminal 1, which is legendary for making Japanese tourists lose their composure LOL :p