This trip to Manila has been nothing short of amazing. It was a necessary journey for me, both for work and personal reasons. It was nice to have a change of environment for a while, to be in a place that while oceans away, still holds a great familiarity for me. I was able to become re-inspired; visually bombarded with new sights and faces, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I allowed myself to get lost for a while, only to end up finding myself. While i do look forward to returning home to LA, I will greatly miss the people here who have forever touched my life.
As I await my departing flight, I can’t help but recall everything I’ve experienced over the past 2 1/2 months. I did lose some things along the way; the show I was looking forward to being a part of was put on hold. I lost my iPhone, my most treasured device next to my camera. Finally, I lost my sunglasses, which of course came to no surprise. And while I was upset and saddened by losing these things, (like anyone would be I’m sure), losing them also served a very important purpose during my trip.
Even though we weren’t able to do the show this time around, I still ended up on TV doing two segments on the popular show, ETC HQ. It gave me some wonderful exposure and recognition in the Philippine market, resulting in a lot of doors opening for me. There will be some great possibilities for me in the near future.
My iPhone was my life. You know how it is these days. It wasn’t only my way to connect to people and conduct business, it was also entertainment at times, and it served as my primary travel camera. I lost it in a club during one of the many amazing nights of partying. I was always on my phone, and losing it actually forced me to be more interactive with people. I made stronger connections, became more conversational, and was just more engaged. I would curse the day I lost it whenever I wanted to take a photo of the environment around me, but then I was able to just simply appreciate looking around without having to shoot, edit and apply a filter, and post it on the web.
Losing my sunglasses in a way, helped me shed my natural shyness. With no phone and no dark glasses to hide behind, I was able to really see the world and the people around me unhindered. It did suck, however, walking out of a club at 7:30 in the morning and having to face the sun unhindered.
I gained so much from this trip, and none of it had to do with material or monetary possessions. I was unofficially adopted by undoubtedly the most amazing family I have ever come across in my life. I’ve made so many wonderful friends not just here in Manila, but from all around the world, hailing from places like Japan, Brazil, Australia, and even from my native Canada. I also gained a new perspective on life and even my work; I think this trip has left me more confident and more positive about everything in general. I’ve learned that nothing is ever as bad as it may seem, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We may not be able to control the things that happen in life, but we are always in control of our attitude, behavior, and reactions.
There were a lot of memorable moments and experiences throughout this trip, and there are several that immediately come to mind that were quite meaningful to me. I was able to not only witness firsthand what true love looks like between two people embarking on a new chapter in their lives, but I also documented it with my camera. To see the unfolding of a marriage proposal through photographs is quite remarkable; you see the distinct changes in emotion from surprise to confusion to teary-eyed happiness and finally, relief. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment myself and be reminded of a love I recently lost. I got to watch one of my favorite DJ’s, Kaskade, spin at Republiq. I met two of my skate heroes, Willy Santos and Eddie Reategui. I met Apl De Ap from the Black Eyed Peas who will be a judge on The Voice Philippines. I even met Nina Garcia, creative director of Elle Magazine and judge on Project Runway, during Philippine Fashion Week, where I was able to sit front row for all the shows. Towards the end of this trip, I worked with this dainty and seemingly demure girl with the face of Audrey Hepburn. Turns out she was not only an accomplished artist, but a tattooer and lead singer of an industrial goth band and really one of the most amazing people I met during this trip. She gave me quite the sendoff with a sick chest piece and a rock show all in one night. All in all, I photographed celebrities and musicians and just some of the most beautiful people I have had the pleasure of working with, some of which will remain lifelong friends.
So while some things didn’t quite pan out as planned, this was a very successful trip for me, and one of the best times I’ve ever had. I’m going to miss you Manila, and I will be back soon.
If you want to see some photos from my trip, just search for the hashtag #manilaseananigans on Instagram!