I loved the photo because it has one of my favourite London building icons, the Elizabeth Tower, aka Big Ben (which actually is the name of the bell that’s inside the tower). I was quite pleased that the photo came out pretty well. It probably didn’t have as many likes on Instagram as I would have wanted, but in the end, it’s not necessarily about the likes. I was really proud of the photo. It showed textbook depth of field and I was really pleased with how it turned out. It was a perfect representation of how pretty springtime sunshine in London can be. The Marketing girls of the firm I worked for loved it so much too that they used it on the firm’s website for springtime themed posts.
And two years later, my lovely little photograph of the Queen Elizabeth Tower and the daffodils in the gardens at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital has been featured in the Essex Chronicle business supplement in a two-page spread in the that my firm contributes to. I am grateful to the Marketing department at my firm because they want to support and promote home-grown talent, as it were.
What’s even better is that I get credited for the photo!
I, of course, did what any self-respecting, modest person would do – I posted stories on Instagram about my photo in the paper and added the same videos on Facebook. I’ve bought a couple of copies of the paper to send to my mum and sister in Manila, too! Oh, and if you’re in Essex, it’s in this week’s print edition of the Essex Chronicle! Of course, I would also recommend you reading the brilliant business articles that my colleagues at Rickard Luckin have written as they provide really good business insights! I’ve tried to play it really calm, cool and collected but of course in true giddy-giggly Bridget Jones-esque fashion, I failed miserably. I was far too pleased with myself! It was quite the event in my life!
“Time was a funny and fickle thing. Sometimes there was never enough of it, and other times it stretched out endlessly.” ~ J. Lynn, Be with Me
It’s part of that list – the list of the iconic London structures that every tourist will want to see. The Elizabeth Tower, the structure that houses Big Ben, the great bell that has marked the passing of each hour for 157 years, since it began service in 1859. The Big Ben was silenced in August of this year for necessary restoration work that is meant to take about 4 years to repair the cracks and the Elizabeth Tower was slowly covered up with scaffolding to also undergo restoration work, along with other areas of Westminster Palace. Although Ben was meant to be silent for 4 years, it did chime during Remembrance Sunday and Christmas Day. It is also meant to chime in the New Year.
While I have always said that since I moved to the UK, time has rushed past me, waiting for Ben and his “braces” to be removed seems to be quite a long wait. Sometimes waiting for Ben to be unbraced is unbearable. I keep telling myself it’s for the best, because Ben will come back, stronger and restored. So wait we must. Patience is a virtue. But oh my goodness! 1146 days (give or take a few days, as I can’t be completely accurate) is a lot of days!
“Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there’s something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can’t help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It’s an inspiring time of the year.” — Marlo Thomas
As the debris of Christmas eve, Christmas Day and all the lovely Christmas meals are cleared away, I turn to thoughts of Christmas as one often does during these times. Christmas is truly a great uniter…as the real reason for the season truly brings us together. God’s love truly unites us and binds us together, and it is fitting that the season that celebrates the embodiment of God’s love, His Son coming down to live amongst us, unites the world in a celebration of love, joy, peace and selflessness – because Christmas brings about a reason for us to think of others first instead of ourselves, of giving, instead of receiving, of forgiving and letting go.
My heart goes out to all those who have suffered a loss this Christmas. I can only pray that you feel God’s loving arms enfold you in the warmest and most comforting of embraces.
I hope all your Christmases were wonderfully blessed. I hope that all your Christmas wishes came true.
Allow me to say, that despite the sadness that some people may be going through, God will carry you through these difficult times, and I would still bravely greet everyone a very Merry Christmas!
I’ve never been a spectator…not really. I’ve always had an opinion and more often than not, I opened my mouth to express it and I have, on occasion inserted my foot in my mouth. It hasn’t stopped me from expressing my opinion though.
In the process, I’ve hurt feelings and lost friendships that I valued. I thought I’d learn from the mistakes and keep my opinions to myself, let other people say what I wanted to say. It was only recently that I’ve allowed myself to step back, or hold my tongue and keep schtumm. But last night, I couldn’t keep quiet.
One of my pet peeves is people taking credit for something that they didn’t do. I’ve always tried to credit people when they’ve done something clever or if they’ve helped me do something clever. I’ve always tried to say thank you.
Last night, Alan’s photo was grabbed by someone, posted on their Instagram feed without acknowledging that it was Alan’s photo. I posted a couple of stories to protest the injustice. Once that was done, and we saw that the “borrowed” photos started disappearing from the account’s feed.
I woke up to find the comments section of the photo I posted before 8:30 last night turned into a chatroom for Instagram bot accounts. I would laugh if it wasn’t frustrating. To top it all off, a few people who follow me on Instagram were messaging that the account that grabbed Alan’s photo was claiming that they took the original photo of the look-down view of the rollercoaster in Winter Wonderland that I posted.
I took to Instagram stories again to just get things off my chest. I told my story, and shared my thoughts.
It is certainly a sad commentary on our times when people think it’s acceptable to take other people’s work and pass it off as their own to gain followers and popularity on social media.
I know that I took the photo they’re claiming is theirs. I have the original. I posted it hours before they did and putting a banner of their instagram name across the photo doesn’t prove ownership.
Taken during my first attempt to do an all-nighter photog session. Needless to say I didn’t last the entire night! But the company was amazing, inspiring and aspirational. The people we were with were so very talented…and so very down-to-earth!
“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
This photo was taken on Saturday. I still can’t get over how beautiful the sunset was!
In early 2000, I went to VideoCity (a now non-existent [I think!] video rental business in the Philippines not unlike Blockbuster video) and rented out the the only Gwyneth Paltrow movie in the store that I hadn’t watched yet. I didn’t know what the movie was about…just that it had Gwyneth Paltrow in it and the sleeve was yellow (Yellow was a favourite colour at the time).
And so began my (and my sister’s) love affair with the movie Sliding Doors. We were obsessed. We watched it all the time. We had it on in the background whilst doing chores (even whilst vacuuming and washing the dishes – yes in a whole other room of the house!). It came to a point where we would say the lines of the movie and collapse in giggles for no apparent reason. I think we drove our brother crazy because we’d have the soundtrack on constant repeat.
I don’t think it helped our anglophilia, if anything, it made it worse!
And this is a major reason why I wanted to see the Albert Bridge…for the longest time! I wanted to see if the bridge was as beautiful as it looked in the movie. It wasn’t just for me. It was for my Duckie too. I was going to take a picture to send back.
Now I have. And boy, did that bridge look phenomenal!
I’ve always thought I was an extrovert. I always thought I was very social. But these days, I am finding that I like my own company (even with Alan constantly around, I do find that I cherish the moments when I am alone with just me, myself and I). I always say to people that I am a chatterbox (I always say that I know that Alan and I are so well-suited because he doesn’t talk as much and I pretty much talk enough for the both of us) and I find that I do like to have the occasional natter. I can be loud but I find that I can’t be loud for very long. I think Alan has rubbed off on me a lot. I find that I appreciate quiet as well. Companionable silence is also a good thing (and Alan and I have that a lot, which in itself is a comfort – I’ve read in an article that couples who appreciate their companionable silences and understand the wisdom of it are stronger…but that’s another blog entry probably).
Almost a month ago now, I went on my second Instagram meet with Alan. It was for the London Disclosure hub (@londondisclosure) and there was a walk around London photo spots planned. I was terribly excited about the meet because, as I wrote in my last blog entry I had arranged to meet the Filipinos that I followed on Instagram.
I was quite subdued when I wrote about our mini meet up. But it was quite momentous for me. I was slightly fangirling because I thought these people were very talented and I loved the photos they posted on Instagram. They all have considerably large followings on Instagram and I was just starting out on my photography journey. I was worried that reality wouldn’t be quite as nice as the online interaction. I kept telling myself to not build it up in my head and to try not to expect too much. The online world can be very different from real life interaction. I was also worried that Alan would feel very left out as he usually does when I meet with my family because the language of discussion is always mostly Filipino and he feels like the odd one out(which is probably why he doesn’t look forward to going out with my cousins – because everyone slips into Filipino).
With trepidation (and a heck of a lot of nervousness on my part) we walked into Somerset House so that we could meet the Filipinos before the actual meet up started. We’d all seen each other’s profile photos on Instagram so I felt that I would recognise them when they walked in. They also said they’d all be in black (I didn’t follow the uniform – but I did have a black cross-body bag and black sneakers!).
I saw them before they saw me (at least I think so), so I whispered to Alan that I’d seen them. Cheryl (who goes by the Instagram handle @chic.wanders.in), I think spotted me first because I saw her smile and wave. I waved back excitedly and then in a few minutes, we were inundated with a friendly wave of Filipino smiles. There was a flurry of introductions and they surprised me with a loot bag filled with Filipino sweets and snacks (it had Chocnut, a peanut-chocolate sweet, Yan-Yan, pretzel sticks that you dip in the accompanying chocolate spread, tamarind candy and Kopik0, which is a coffee flavoured candy) and a lovely Jose Rizal bust-shaped tag that Ellapot (my nickname for @barefootnomad who is a little firecracker of a creative person) made especially to mark the first ever Instagram meet for what would be what we all now call the #pinoylondongrammers group.
I had my mind blown about how small the world was when Jools (@jetaime.07) and I started talking about what our lives and jobs were in the Philippines. She worked with one of my friends from PSALM and before they worked together in a energy-related firm, we discovered that we had something in common because we both worked in the Philippine power sector. So I had my little six-degrees-of-separation moment, and it always makes me smile when I think that we weren’t actually separated by 6 degrees!
I hadn’t met Karla (@clickers.click) and Hazel (@hazel.parreno) before (and to be fair, I wasn’t following them on Instagram before we met) but it was really good to meet other Filipinos who shared my keen interest in photography. I had a cheeky look at Instagram after the meet and made sure I followed them (especially Karla because I think we all agreed to get her to a 100 followers and that if she did reach that number, she’d treat us all to a lechon – a whole roasted suckling pig! Yum!) immediately! I also missed meeting Vanessa (@lil_kim426) because she couldn’t stay for the LD meet but met the rest of the group at the lunch (we have yet to meet!).
I was quite starstruck when I met Teddy (who goes by @mutyyyaaa on Instagram and who I call Teddymeister) because I did love his photos on Instagram and he already had quite the following on Instagram already. I would always see his photos on the top lists of the London hubs that I followed.
It was a great meet up. Because everyone was as lovely as they seemed to be on Instagram. What I appreciated the most was that they tried to speak in English so that Alan would be included (they did say he was now an honorary Filipino). Of course we’d lapse into Filipino (hey, it’s instinctive!) but we’d all try to go back to English or I’d remember to translate so that Alan would understand what was going on. I am also glad that Alan liked them enough to verbalise that he thought they were a nice bunch of people. I put a lot of stock in Alan’s opinion because his opinion of the people I hang out with matters a lot.
My WhatsApp has never been more active and I’ve never had so many laugh out loud moments whilst reading my WhatsApp messages or my Instagram comments and chats. I actually feel like I’ve made friends. Friends who share my passion for photography and my love of London. Friends who I’d like to keep in touch with – not just acquaintances. It’s nice to know Filipinos who love being Filipino and are proud to be Filipino. I am so happy I’ve met a group of people who do not ascribe to the typical Filipino crab mentality that you see in a lot of groups of Filipinos who live overseas. I’m so happy that I’ve met a group of individuals who actually support each other and lift each other up. For the first time, in a very long time, I’ve actually met a group of people who I think I’d be willing to move for because I’d love to live closer to them so we can hang out properly. It doesn’t hurt that Alan enjoys my stories and takes interest in what we talk about in our WhatsApp group. He has now taken to asking me “what’s happening now?” He doesn’t ask me because he’s irritated about the amount of time I spend chatting to this lovely little group, he’s asking because (I think and hope!) that he is genuinely interested in what we’re all talking about.
I’m really happy we went on that London Disclosure meet. I know we would have probably met eventually. But that meet allowed me to meet kindred souls sooner rather than later. And because of that, I feel blessed.