Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 BTS Live Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa On Stage Epilogue In Manila

Or: The night I finally got to attend a Bangtan Sonyeondan concert.

A little over two weeks ago Some months ago (this was drafted about two weeks after the concert) was BTS in Manila. I've been able to sort my feelings a little more since then (though admittedly, I'm totally REKT now thanks to Agust D's release yesterday BANGTAN'S RELEASE OF THEIR NEW ALBUM WINGS TODAY R.I.P ME), but I still thought I ought to record this, if only just to look back on the memory with fondness (and tears). I didn't get to blog about EXO'luXion in Manila from January that I got to attend with friends, and I want to be able to preserve some of these particular memories on some kind of outlet.

In any case, I very nearly wasn't able to get tickets to BTS in Manila. On the day ticket sales went live, the SM Tickets website kept crashing, to the point where the site pretty much became inaccessible. By then, tickets had already sold out.

You can just imagine how upset I was, considering I had finally come to the conclusion -- after three years in K-pop -- that Bangtan is my bias group. There were a lot of tears. Lots and lots.

Fast forward to a few weeks before the concert, I find out my niece was going to watch, though I had already (bitterly) warned her that tickets were already sold out. To my surprise, she managed to get tickets, and so she advised me to just check the website one more time. Lo and behold, I find a new section had opened (some standing area that wasn't available upon initial ticket purchasing, so I assumed they had created the new section to accommodate more people) -- that, and one seat available in the section I had originally intended to buy from.

I didn't click and buy right away, for some reason. I think the scorn from being unable to buy the first time around had emotionally scarred me somewhat, so the prospect of going to the concert had lost some of its initial appeal. After a chat with Jam and some egging on from my mom, I bit the bullet, and all of a sudden, all the excitement came rushing back.

Come concert day, I was totally ready to lose my voice (and money... and panties). I didn't have anyone to go with as none of my friends were much fans of Bangtan, and seeing as they're my bias group, I went all out with tickets since I didn't have to conform to anyone else's budget. (Read: bye money.)

I ended up getting in line a little too early for my liking (compared to EXO'luXion, where there were hardly any lines because we went in a few minutes before the concert was to start), so being by my lonesome self was just a teeny bit awkward since almost everyone else in line were with friends -- or parents, for the younger ones.

Compared to the other concerts I had attended alone (Stars and B.A.P in 2013), I'd say being in line for this one might have been a little higher on the awkward scale, probably because I had more time to myself whilst everyone else was in the company of friends. But anyway, I ended up making some small talk with this group of friends who were in front of me (and later ended up behind me because we were all confused with lining up), which was pleasant, because it's always nice finding people who share the same interests as you who share the same caliber of love for said interests.

Going in early had its perks though, as I was able to get an official light stick --  a.k.a. the one piece of official merchandise I really wanted. (The next day, I later regretted not getting the tote bag that was there, but it was just so expensive.) Once I finally got inside the actual concert arena, I was blown away by how CLOSE I was to the stage. My only other concert at this place was the EXO one in January, and I was rather far away from the stage, so you can just imagine how excited I was upon reaching my seat this time around.

Even simply waiting for the concert to begin was fun. They showed random BTS music videos, and as early as then the crowd was already singing along and cheering. The boys later brought this up later on and mentioned how excitable we were, which only prompted more screams from us lol.

Very early on in the concert was already the beginning of the feels (read: crying), because the boys performed some of my highly anticipated tracks, like Butterfly and Love Is Not Over (Full Ver.) and Dead Leaves. In fact, much of the concert consisted of a lot of the songs I was hoping for them to perform, which only cemented the repeated reassurances I told myself regarding not being able to attend (or even be aware of, for that matter) their first concert here back in 2014. At least this time around left for higher chances of BTS performing more songs that I really wanted to see live.

Getting to attend this concert by myself was really no big deal. It was SO much fun with SO many feels. Dope live was such a party, getting to see Tomorrow's choreography up close was amazing, I got to hear Jungkook say "I'm a whale" in real life, and I was ultimately blessed by seeing Jimin's abs in the flesh. And let's not forget BTS Cypher 3, which was SUCH. AN. E X P E R I E N C E. I never knew what life and death was until BTS Cypher 3 live.

And -- of course I'm going to mention this -- everyone was so attractive so up close. It was so surreal getting to see them in the flesh and just simply experiencing these songs with the boys and my fellow ARMYs. It was amazing, and made all that money spent on one ticket worth it HAHAHA GOODBYE MONEY I-----

In other news, Bangtan's latest album, Wings, just dropped today, as I mentioned earlier. Kindly play the entire album at my funeral, I'm dead already, y'all are invited, see y'all in hell.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Beneath the Sheets

Alternatively known as: Project Bedsheets. Or: Tintin and the Sampayans.

All jokes aside, I do believe this marks my first time actually photographing Tintin for a shoot. We had already collaborated previously, but this was the first time in which she was the one in front of my camera lens. Originally, I was going to photograph her for May, but I had to postpone to make way for other plans. (Photos from my actual shoot in May to be posted... someday.) This was a relatively simple shoot, with it being just the two of us. (Then again most of my shoots are just me and my subject anyway.) Tin supplied me with outfits to choose from (and also supplied most of our backdrops), and we shot at her place, because it was adequate and convenient.

I feel like my friendship with Tintin has come a long way, somehow. Sure, we've been in the same group of friends for over ten years now, but being in such a large group, the degree of closeness you share can differ from person to person. I'll admit to that. But I feel like, despite being incredibly intimidated by Tintin the first time I ever got to talk to her on Yahoo Messenger (this is another story for another lifetime, but in any case, PETITION TO BRING BACK YM PLS???), I've become much more comfortable around her over the years.

A healthy dosage of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XII (holla at the OG Balthier), and Batman trash in between definitely helped establish our friendship, but I digress.

It's so easy to be misunderstood, and I feel like Tin is one of the people who understands this so well. So much can be lost in translation -- despite speaking the same language, even -- and while Tin and I may not see eye-to-eye (read: she's hella cultured while I'm a rotting hobo) all the time, I think it's good to have differing opinions sometimes. Seeing things from a different perspective can be incredibly eye-opening.

Thank you Tintin for being so game to shoot and for a pleasant morning spent together! You will always be the Fran to my Balthier, even if I only ever got as far as the Rogue Tomato mission in Final Fantasy XII.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

24: The World Is Quiet Here

I turned 24 years old yesterday, and it felt like any other day of the week. (It didn't help that my birthday fell on a Monday.) Maybe because I had already celebrated my birthday in advance, so when the actual day came, it felt like just another ordinary day. I spent my last few hours of being a 23-year-old by reading Solanin by Inio Asano -- something I've been meaning to do ever since I went to the Manga Realities exhibit at Ayala Museum several years ago.

I even had a drink to further spur on my feelings (spoiler alert: Tanduay Rum Cola tastes like soy sauce), but more than that, I made it a point to read Solanin before I turned another year older because I knew it would resonate with me -- much more now, at this point in my life, than when I first encountered it as a college student who still had some light in her eyes.

I feel like most of that light has died out by now.

It was inevitable that my reading session would end in tears, though I was taken off guard by how I was destroyed by a particular event in the story. I thought I would be ultimately be taken apart by how relatable Solanin was, and while it spoke to me with how much I saw myself in its pages, the turning point in the story -- brought on by a certain character -- was what left me sobbing in my room whilst the clock slowly neared midnight.

This was the last picture I took of myself before I turned 24. I wanted to remember that moment in time; swollen eyes brought on by crying and staying up late that night, my hair being all over the place, that random water pitcher just waiting for me on my desk.

The next day -- my actual birthday -- I spent some of my afternoon in solitude, basking in the anonymity of being just another regular citizen of the world. There's a curious sense of silence that can be found in solitude; sure, it can get lonely at times, but the past few years made me realize how much I enjoy that little nugget of quiet peace that comes from being by yourself.

My birthdays have always been something I look forward to, and that hasn't changed until now. It might not have felt like anything special, but I'd like to think it was substantially better this time around, especially since I did so much crying around my birthday last year. I had considered it to be my worst birthday thus far -- and I still do -- so it was a relief to find myself in a better place as compared to last year. Though, in the broad spectrum of things, I'm nowhere near where I want to be at this point in my life.

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday with my parents. We had a quaint little dinner (Japanese, noms), before retiring for the night. It was a normal day; nothing extraordinary, nothing considerably noteworthy, but it was -- for the most part -- pleasant.

I'm only disappointed that I didn't get to watch Captain America: Civil War for the third time because the cinemas were no longer showing it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wonderwood Vol. II

Late post because I've been busy with life! Wonderwood Vol. II (Vol. I here) was shot in April, but I've only just gotten to the photos now due to ~*~traveling~*~ and other things. Janelle and I drove around particular subdivisions to get these shots, and it was a fun experience, considering some shots were attained a little guerilla. Despite the heat and the wait-let's-hide-in-the-car moments, the shots turned out really great, I'd like to think. Thanks again shy girl Janelle!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Very recently, I found out that a place dear to both my heart and Ana's will soon be unavailable to us -- a.k.a. Anette's old house.

To honor the memory of the location (Ana grew up there, after all, and I've had shoots there on three other occasions), we decided to have one last shoot there. A few days before we were set to shoot, Ana pitched the idea of making 'twins' in the photographs; chalk it up to her obsession with twins, go figure. I was totally open to the idea though, so I left the twins post-processing to Ana (plus, she totally wanted to do it anyway).

Ultimately, the whole twins idea became the general direction of the entire shoot. I actually pitched a similar idea -- especially the styling -- for a shoot with a pair of actual twins before, but it got scrapped, so this was the perfect opportunity to take a few elements from that original idea and bring them to life once and for all.

Admittedly, the theme was a little stressful. As I was treating each set as if I were shooting two people, I had to come up two separate outfits per set. Granted, coming up with outfits coming from Ana's closet is always fun, but by the time we were halfway done with shooting, I was totally getting worn down.

Mostly because it was so. Hot.

I started getting a little nervous by the third set, because the sun was slowly setting and I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't be able make it all the way to the final set.

But, by the magic of Anina, we managed to pull it all off somehow.

It's been a while since I last shot several sets on-location and outdoors using natural lighting. I absolutely missed shooting in such circumstances, seeing as I've been practicing with artificial lights in the past year or so, but I totally forgot how tiring it can be to shoot outdoors. Especially now that summer is creeping in!

Nevertheless, the shoot wouldn't have been remotely as fun (and funny) if it weren't for Ana, so thank you very much, Anette! Time spent with you is always magical and incredibly nostalgic. Luvu longtime.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Zero Degrees

Oftentimes, my shoots with Alex never really go exactly as planned, and this time was no exception. 

Alex had just come from a long week of work, and when she finally got to my place to shoot, one of my lights started acting up. It was an unexpected incident that forced me to compromise my set up, thus ultimately changing the overall look and feel I was initially going for.

Oftentimes, my shoots with Alex never really go exactly as planned -- but for the most part, the final results tend to be worth it in end.

It's an everyday struggle, trying to wrap my head around the notion that some things are not my fault -- at least not entirely, I guess? -- and that there are some things that are just out of my control.

Things don't always go according to plan -- trust me, I know that better than anyone -- but it's shoots like the ones I have with Alex that make me see the silver lining in the unexpected.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A man ate a seagull and then he died.

Gasp, an outfit post? Really? TRULY, IT IS 2016.

I wore this last Sunday when it was unnaturally chilly for Manila standards (hence the coat). While I wasn't planning on photographing this properly -- let alone blog about it, even -- I liked what I wore, but missed the chance to take a snapshot via mobile phone when the sun was still out. So, in a way, you could say I was almost 'forced' to document this outfit. Almost.

I don't remember what brand this shirt is from ('cause I totes suck at this blogging thing), but I know I got it from Hong Kong on sale some time ago. I like how it basically tells people to eff off, but the background print is still pretty hippy and fun and-

-2016 and I still suck at talking about my outfits. Seriously, while photographing this, I thought back on the time when I was HELLA dedicated to documenting my outfits and making blog posts on them. I honestly don't know how I managed to become so devoted, putting so much effort to photograph myself and what I wore for the day. On one hand, I want to get back to doing such, but on the other hand... meh.

And then, less than an hour after I had documented this outfit, I received a call from Terry telling me I was coming with her to visit some friends of hers. I suppose they're also friends of mine (??? to an extent, at most), but I had only hung out with half of them maybe one other time -- or perhaps two times before -- and y'all know how I've always felt about calling people my friends. Most times I refrain from using the label until I'm sure a certain degree of closeness has already been established, only because I don't want to seem like I'm overstepping boundaries a.k.a. feeling close.

It was already 4 AM when I got back to the house, the knowledge that I still had work in about two hours time slowly creeping its way into the back of my head. By the time I got to my room, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was exhausted -- mostly from all the laughter induced by the company I was with. The night was unexpectedly lively -- much more enjoyable than I had anticipated, to be honest -- and I think that made the lack of sleep all the more worth it.

Sometimes these spontaneous moments turn out to become very meaningful memories, and these days, having such happy feelings stirred within me -- while lovely -- have become rather fleeting in their existence. For my own sake, I need to come across them more often.

Friday, January 15, 2016


First shoot of the year featuring Emman! Ever since I met Emman in 2013, I've been wanting to photograph her, but as per usual it took me forever to schedule something. We finally managed to pull something off last week, with the two of us doing the styling and Emman doing her makeup and her brother Marc (whom I adore!!!) doing the... moral support.

The shoot was a brief one -- I'd say we wrapped up in an hour or so -- and the rest of the afternoon was spent just swapping stories about family life, schooling life, and non-existent love lives. I've always loved Emman because she's such a sweetheart, and while this was only our second time hanging out, I can tell she's definitely a keeper.

(And I mean, we always freak out on Twitter anyway, and what better way to bring people together than with their feelings?)

The shoot was just some simple portraiture to get the ball rolling for the year. Whereas 2015 was the year I experimented a lot with my photography (and with a lot of fake flowers, hence 2015 being the Year of the Plantation), 2016 will be... I guess honing my 'skills'? I still want to experiment even more, as there's just so much room to improve and explore, but this time I'll be pacing myself. I'm still aiming for monthly shoots, but I want to be less rushed and more prepared this time around.

By the way, I made an Instagram account solely for my photography, and I plan on using the '#theinaesthetic' hashtag for... ~*~branding~*~ purposes. (Trust me, I feel gross about it.) "The Inaesthetic" because Ina + aesthetic = my aesthetic, but also refers to 'inaesthetic' as in violating aesthetic standards. Quite contradictory, but I like it. Nevertheless, I think this was a good start to the year in terms of my photography.

Thanks again Emman and Marc for a wonderful afternoon! I'm really looking forward to working together again.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Photography 2015

2015 might have been my most challenging year yet, but I'm glad I at least managed to follow through with my personal goal of shooting at least once a month. What I am more proud of is the fact that I not only shot in quantity, but in quality as well. I'd like to think I've grown and somewhat improved as an artist, and I hope this translated in the photographs I produced in the past year.

I'm going to try and continue this one-shoot-a-month thing, especially since two of my 2015 shoots were only conducted due to other reasons, like work (July shoot with, which I never really blogged about for some reason) or blog duties (i.e. September shoot, which was more like sneaking in a photo within a shoot trying to emulate another concept, and thus does not feel like it was entirely my own shoot... if that makes sense).

Thank you to everyone who was a part of my 2015, be it personally, professionally, creatively, or what have you. I hope we get to work again this 2016, and I most definitely hope I get to work with new people in the year ahead!

I'll leave y'all with links to the respective shoots from 2015, in case you'd like to see more: