jaywalking a photowalk

Jaywalking is the act of crossing the street illegally or recklessly disregarding the traffic rules and regulations. It may lead to accidents ranging from minor traffic concerns or to serious vehicle accidents that eventually leads to loss of property, limb or life. And so, Anti-jaywalking law was passed by the authorities to protect the pedestrians. Never in my life had I cross the deadly streets of Manila just for the sake of getting into one place to another. We often use the foot bridge or the underpass whenever my mom and I decide to commute to Manila.

However, there is one ‘jaywalking’ that I really loved; a jaywalking with its new meaning– Jaywalking: A photo walk. Last November 05, 2011, I attended a photo walk entitled “Jaywalking: A Photo walk” organized by Mr. Alexis Lim who owns the blog litratonijuan (dot) tumblr (dot) com. I was exuberant when my mom allowed me to join the event. I was hesitant at first because I do not know anyone from the people who will come on the said activity. But courage overwhelms my whole being as I tell myself it will be okay.

I told my mom the places we will encounter starting from the meeting place, Plaza Miranda in Quiapo up to our last destination which is Intramuros. Before we left the house, I turned on my laptop and final checked the name of the meeting place. I manage to remember the name that caught my eye before I closed the browser: Plaza Miranda, Quiapo. We left the house at 8:30AM, a little too late for the 10:00AM meeting time. My mom asked me for the last time where the meeting place was. And Plaza Miranda was the only thing I can remember. I told her Plaza Miranda, Binondo. What in the world am I thinking?

Am I too old to forget such things? When we finally arrived at Lawton, my mom and I took a Jeepney ride to Binondo. And I was not quite sure about the place so I just let my mom took me to a place unfamiliar to my eyes. When we arrived at Binondo, I was already searching for teenagers with cameras hung on their necks or their eyes focused on the viewfinder. Sad to say my search was a failure. My mom was nagging about where our meeting place really is. I told her all I can remember was Plaza Miranda. I was losing hope because I thought my companions already left the place and started walking and taking photos.

So she asked a woman dressed in an MMDA uniform or something like a baranggay official about the photo walk. I was humiliated because the woman has no idea about the event. So we asked for Plaza Miranda instead and to my surprise, it really is on Quiapo. We went to the wrong place! I was humiliated at myself. My mom was yelling at me and all I can say was “I forgot” and “Enough about the yelling and stuffs”. I knew it was my fault that we went to the wrong venue. My mom was still blurting curses when we took another jeepney ride back to Lawton. I feel mad about myself because we wasted time, effort and money.

The event was so close to my hand and it slipped away in a blink of an eye. I was looking on the ground while walking. Trying to make a distance between me and my mom. I held back my tears in fear of crying out loud in public. When we got back at Lawton, we took another Jeepney ride. I thought we were going to Quezon City but instead, my mom gave me another chance. And this time, I was so sure about the place. Plaza Miranda in Quiapo. We took the underpass leading to the Plaza and to my surprise, a man in a white shirt with a familiar face taking a photo of a girl selling bubbles came into view.

I was relieved. God gave me another chance being a part of this event. I immediately confronted the man and asked him if this was the photo walk. He happily said yes. I was starstruck-ed when he smiled at me. It was my second time meeting him. I first saw him in an event somewhere in Quezon city when I joined this group named Helios International. My mom talked to him telling about my first time in Quiapo with a bunch of teenagers whom I do not know. She even asked if he can accompany me in the jeepney station when going home. I almost blurt out “Mom, I am sixteen and I can handle myself properly”.

But before she allowed me to join the group, she let me eat breakfast first. After eating a healthy breakfast, I joined the group and was given a name tag with my Tublr URL in it which I imposed on the bottom left of my shirt. I was uncertain about letting my camera exposed to public places with lots of people because it might get snatched. As I look to the other people with DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Relfex) and P&S (Point & Shoot) taking photos of the scene around us, feeling so confident, I started to feel certain and reminded myself that if I didn’t take out my camera, this photo walk is useless.

But the uneasiness will always be beside me as long as I am exposing my camera to the public. I make myself to be approachable as possible because I wanted to meet new friends before this event ends. The first person to approach me was Ate Grace (supercheerio. tumblr. com). She was the one who gave the name tag. All I can say is that she’s really friendly and approachable. I think she’s fun to be with. She was with Vin (Vinquilop. tumblr. com) a very handsome lad. He is famous with his digital artworks and paintings.

As we wander the streets of Quiapo, there was this man giving us lectures about the history of places we walk through. He is Niki (urbanhistorian. tumblr. com) of University of the Philippines. He will act as our tour guide through the rest of the walk giving us facts about the historical landmark we pass by. It was actually challenging to take photos while the walk is going on. I didn’t took too much photos while walking. Only when something caught my eye. That’s the time when I hurled my viewfinder to my eye and click the shutter button.

We entered China Town at last and to be honest, it’s my first time to enter such a place with lots of jewelry shops almost all around the place. And there came into view, the wrong place which we had went earlier before, the Plaza Ruiz in Binondo. We went inside the San Lorenzo Ruiz Church and took photos of it. Since it’s mid noon when we finished taking photos inside the church, Alexis decided to take a break and have a lunch at McDonald’s near the church. We huddled into a room which most of us occupied the seats and started to take our orders. We set up the tables and chairs on a long line.

The scene on the room looked like a fiesta on a hot day. It took us waiting an hour before the food arrives. While waiting for the food, Alexis call the shot on for a little get to know each other portion. To my surprise, all the participants are already colleges. I was the only one not to mention the youngest on my high school year. They are also surprised that I get to join a photo walk at this kind of age. As we ate in silence, the rain started to pour down. We were all wishing for a good weather. As we wait for the rain to stop, I eased myself to the people around me.

I was able to make some small conversation to Ate Lai and Kuya Rodley (rodleycarza. tumblr. com) both from Far Eastern University taking up BS Nursing. Kuya Rodley even forgot my name and called me by Joana. But that’s okay though. I also get to share some smiles and laughter to three girls from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. They are down to earth persons. You can easily get attached to their weird laughs. As the wait goes on, there was this kind of explosion coming from the wires of the electricity. It was in front of where we were eating and supposed to be where our next walk will be.

It came out that it was a live wire. Since it was dangerous for us to go through the live wire, we took a different route instead. It was drizzling and it was hard for me to take a photo because my lens is getting drops of rain. At last, we came upon Jones Bridge. Under the bridge was already flooded and there were kids bathing in the dirty water. As we approached them, three girls who were swimming in the flood suddenly come close to us striking daring poses as we took photos of them. They are not the camera shy type who runs away when we take out our cameras. Our last stop will be Intramuros.

We crossed the bridge and attacked the almost flooded road to Intramuros. My shoes are wet and I start to feel water inside. I was worried I might not use it again anymore. I picked the wrong shoes for occasion. I should have worn a sneaker. Anyway, we passed through the old building of University of Sto. Thomas, Colegio De Sta. Rosa, an empty lot with its walls filled with graffiti, and the old Ateneo De Manila School. I love the part where we stop by the empty lot filled with colorful graffiti. We also passed by Manila Cathedral Church and San Agustin Church.

Too bad we were not able to go inside because there was a wedding ceremony happening inside. It was still early so Alexis decided to extend our photo walk. He asked if we can make the Rizal Park as our last destination. We happily said yes because most of us don’t want to go home and say good bye to each other yet. Even though we’re tired, we still manage to get our feet on good condition just to stop by at Rizal Park. It was my third time to go at the historical landmark. We even witnessed the guards do their rituals when their duty is already finished.

We had our last group shot took by Dhel and finally bid good byes to each other. I was accompanied by a pretty lady named Mio, a fresh graduate from University of Sto. Thomas who took up pharmacy. She helped me how to get to United Doctors Medical Center. I said my thanks and good byes to her as I left the bus. I was teary eyed as I left my heart in the streets of Manila. Manila is not only rich in history but also rich in beautiful landmarks. If only people will wander through the streets of Manila and see its timeless beauty, they will soon forget the pile of garbage and the pollution surrounding the city.

It was definitely a great experience for me. This photo walk was the first photo walk slash meet-up I have attended. It was fun to meet people whom I share with the same interests and passion. People who will not blurt out things like “Pati ba naman yan kinukuhanan mo? ” or “Weh, feeling photographer”. People who love to take photos and look up to it as an art. Photography for me is a different kind of art. It taught me how to see a photo in a different kind of perspective. It is not only merely a photo but it tells a story behind it.

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