All posts by Ayan Villafuerte

figuring out life since 1984.

2.016

img_0474

This is late for a year end post. But, what the heck. I am always late here.

It was the year i live the dream, my dream. well, i don’t have the grandest dreams.

this year, i lived in my small bubble. shyed away from any negativities. no drama. i did work hard. and, damn it, did play real hard.

i shot more than 100 jobs in asia, europe and south america. yes, i do keep a job.

i accomplished my dream adventures. i took that Trans Siberian Rail. Mountain biked my way down that 40 mile Bolivia’s Death Road( El Camino de la Muerte). Revisited India. And, Patagonia! Ooooh Patagonia!

and all those adventures in between which are equally awesome- hiked rainbow mountain, great wall( jiankou), paraglided in medellin, got my proper scare in rio, and loads more. i have a crappy memory.

and to all the people i met from work and on the road, grateful, they made the year even more awesome.

life was euphoric in 2016.

everything that will happen from here on out, will be a bonus. =)

Advertisements

Varanasi

lock

From the windows of the Amritsar Express train, I had my first glimpse of Varanasi. It was a cold February morning- tail end of winter. It appealed cold and distant. I intended to stay for 3 days.

The city is utterly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet. From the narrow maze-like alleys dotted with cows, garbage and motorcycles to the enigmatic holy river of Ganges- where pilgrims pray and bathe, and dead people get burned to ashes- all at the same time. Varanasi is a shock to the senses. But, the type that is, at times, can be peculiarly calm.

Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world. Mark Twain said it is older than History. It is known for religion, silk, a playground for artists- musicians, painters and a refuge for bohemian travelers.

I cannot pinpoint what particular thing about Varanasi that charmed me. It could be those glorious sunrises by the river over chai with friends. Or those boat trips where our friend Tai would play his violin like the wind. After my 15th sunset, I bade goodbye to the city with a heavy heart but with a promise to return sooner than later.

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

******
This is how my photography career started.

extra.push

extra.push

it was a long day assisting Josia in these depressed areas, but i am sure my feat will not even come close to what these kids do. i am sure it’s a long tiring day for them too. collecting scrap woods to burn to make charcoal which they sell for a low price. this is how they make both ends meet. extra push.

this was 6 months ago.

today, i will present- this photo included- to a panel looking for a photographer for a coffee table book. it’s a long shot. but, i’m taking it. it’s my first time to show off my works.
hoping for the best.

Ayan

Kalinga: Running to Home

sun was out. scorching. its rays were piercing.
1
on top of the jeepney, our only aid in surviving the sweltering heat was a bottle of emperador. fight fire with fire. we tanked up on alcohol with hopes that it will be enough to numb our senses from the punishing sun. somehow it did to a certain extent.

our jeepney hit the road around 8am. after 30 minutes, we started the ascent. the plains on the background drifted and gave way to hills and mountains. the ascend was gradual and so was the width of the road. from 2 lanes to, barely, 1. and, its up there in the mountains.
IMG_1490-3
definitely, its not a cruise for the faint of heart. the dizzying heights can surely send chills. it is after all literally and figuratively a highway.

of course, the journey was not all that bad. though the sun and road conditions were not our side, the splendour of nature was.

it was ranges of mountains in all four horizons. the silhouettes of tree-cladded mountains, in all shades of green, was sheer sexy.

it was a 12-hour ride from Manila to Tabuk; roughly a 3-hour ride from Tabuk to Buscalan. the home of the Last Mambabatok and the place where our group TREK( TRails to Empower Kids) was set to give aid and smiles. barangay Buscalan/Loccong was the destination.

***
TREK is a non-profit organization, established by a group of mountaineering friends, that aims to give support to far-flung communities.
***
this is my feeble and long-overdue attempt as a Kalinga to learn more about Kalinga. i was born and raised in Tabuk which is the capital of the province but i failed to explore further than the capital’s borders. as a child who grew up around tribal wars and conflicts, it was unconsciously instilled in me about the vulnerability of the place.

the truth is traveling around my hometown had always been at the back of my head. but, somehow, something would always come and messed things up.
***
it was mid afternoon when we reached the end of the road for our truck. we started the 1-hour trek. the trail was fairly easy. some parts were almost too shallow even for one person passing. one side you hug the mountain; other side a ravine. and the awesome scenery was a dangerous distraction.

we stopped by Buscalan. distributed supplies. peeked at the legendary Whang-Od working and got scheduled.

we continued our hike to Loccong. it started to drizzle. it was an assault ascend to the top. we treaded through terraces which were then sleepery. the drizzle turned to a full-on rain.
1
with soak wet clothes, we crawled the final stretch- and so did darkness. it was nightfall when we arrived at the elementary school, our home for the night.

the temperature dropped. it was lightly cold. the water though was freezing. the supposedly relaxing shower turned to what felt like an ALS ice bucket challenge. the first pour of water almost sent me running out butt naked.

the night was spent on classic-Kalinga pinikpikan, warm beer and tribal dancing. the night was dark, sans electricity.

***
IMG_1738
morning broke and the sleepy village came alive. the sky was lovely with orange streaks piercing through the clouds. the morning sun casted rays to golden rice terraces and the endless verdant greens. the air was chilly and fresh. it was a glorious august morning. Loccong is sweetly tucked in the middle of virgin cordilleran mountains.

the day went on with TREK activites and the tattoo session with Whang-od.
***
blood on my lower left tattoo-beaten arm gushed as the rain poured.

it was late afternoon when we bade goodbye to Buscalan. rain continued to rush, and so did we. i wore cotton shirt and running shoes, both then were soaked. it was a stupid idea really. sneakers almost whacked out. apparently i need to get new shoes at Zalora once i get home.

***
the alcohol did numb my senses when we toploaded our way to Buscalan that morning. to a certain extent. a few days after the trip, now in Manila, my skin was still sore. two weeks after and it was still peeling.

my first attempt in seeing more of Kalinga left me 5 shades darker, sense of heritage 5 degrees richer. it was a good trip. long overdue but great, nonetheless.

cultural.pains

pain

 

Whang-Od is dubbed as the Last Mambabatok. Hand Tap tattoo artist.  She uses soot as ink and citrus thorn as needle. This practice has been done since the olden times. It was a scared tradition save for their tribal heroes. A mark for bravery.
This is one of the photos i took while waiting in line to be inked by the legendary Whang-Od.

Yes. It is painful. =)
*Aug 2014, Tinglayan, Kalinga