This online shoebox contains random pictures, notes, whatever. I've been a professional writer-photographer for so many years now. It's a damn good excuse to carry a camera around.

Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Came to last weekend's Zoukout a little bit late...

Zoukout
 

That's about fifteen years late!

If I went here during my mid-twenties, this would have been the night out with all those pretty young things running around. Last Friday I was getting bored at around the 1PM mark. And I hardly knew what the DJ's were playing... signs of maturity, I guess - HAHAHAHA!!! :D


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Had a very interesting last week. Spent most of it in the mountains shooting Philippine Kakao:

Kaokakao
 

The day after that, I found myself in Chinatown shooting Philippine Kaoka :)

 


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

4) The Heartbeat of Iloilo

January 27, 2013: Fourteen years after I last covered the Dinagyang Festival, I got the chance to see it one more time. Taken from my article on Smile Magazine:

 “The warriors groove in unison to the mighty drumbeats. They shake and they bake - one step to the left, one step to the right, they raise their shields and brandish their spears. But all this is just a warm-up, for as the tom-toms pound out a more frenzied rhythm the atis stretch their hands outward to do their own version of.... bump n’ grind! The crowd roars out its approval. I howl out mine. “
 

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“Thirteen tribes later my ears are numb from all the merry mayhem that had just occurred. As I think about this weekend I realize that Dinagyang is more than just a display of mindless revelry. To me it now represents the unique character of the Ilonggo people - artistic, fun loving, deeply religious and sometimes crazy. This was really a weekend to remember. When next year comes, you’ll see me back in Iloilo. “

“No, I won’t be watching the revelers. I’ll be one of them!”

 Read the rest of this story here.


3)The River Wild

August 5, 2013: On assignment for Smile Magazine:

“You've saved the best for your last day in Cagayan de Oro. Rise and shine early and get ready for an action-packed morning. You are again heading to the boonies to try out this region's signature attraction – white water rafting. “

 

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“The course takes you through a 12-kilometer stretch dotted with over a dozen class II and III rapids (class I is easy, class 6 is suicidal). Each gurgling, foaming obstacle has its own challenges; Makabundol Rapids has a rock wall on one side that needs to be paddled against, while The Rodeo is so chaotic you'll have to hold on to stay aboard. And don't even think about chatting up your guide when you tackle the “I'm Busy” Rapids. There's also The Twister, so named because you all have to paddle through it standing up – making everyone look like dancers on a boat!”

“By the end of it all (that's a good 4 hours later), you'll be tired and wet – and yes, once again exhilarated by this adrenaline-pumping excursion. Not many weekends can compare to the one you just had. A weekend in Cagayan de Oro, you realize, is never enough.”

To find out what else a weekend in Cagayan de Oro can bring, take a look at my article on the CDO Gold Rush.


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

2) Back to Burma

 August 8, 2013: This land burned itself into my memory five years ago, when I first came here as a media guest. Myanmar was a heady blend of culture and beauty, the likes of which I had never seen. It was exotic and isolated, and in many ways untainted. Quite simply, I fell in love with this place.

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It took me some time, but I finally made it back. With my pregnant wife in tow, I eagerly got reacquainted with “The Golden Land”.  Myanmar was just as I remembered it – hot and dusty, and brimming with character. At the capital Yangon, we explored the same gilded temples, bustling streets and crumbling colonial buildings I had photographed before. We fed pigeons for good karma at Sule Paya, and greeted sundown at the Shwedagon Pagoda. A few days later in nearby Bago, we shot long lines of Buddhist monks and visited more temples. And we feasted on mohinga, khao hswe and laphet htoke.

 While admittedly we couldn’t go too far and wide (the old-school infrastructure wasn’t the best for babymooning), this whiff of supremely picturesque Burma was intoxicating enough for me. This was but a fleeting trip compared to my epic journey in ’08.

 But dammit I missed this place - and I was just happy (so very happy) to be back :)

And I will be back again – oh, yes I will be – when my PhotoTreks photography tour goes to Myanmar this September. Visit the PhotoTreks website for more details!




1) Why I Became A Photographer



June 17, 2013: Nimalung, Central Bhutan. The colors bewildered. The sights overwhelmed. Not in a long while have I been this fired up about taking pictures. The balconies were packed with people. Monks in their scarlet robes mingled with country folks clad in native attire. Policemen in ceremonial dress watched by the sidelines. All eyes were on the courtyard below, where masked dancers were commemorating the annual tsechu, a four-day festival held in honor of the Buddhist saint, Padmasambhava.


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My senses felt overloaded. There were simply too many things to cover. Panic threatened to set in. Amidst the humming dung chen horns, the spinning prayer wheels, the swirling dancers and the singing women, I struggled to keep my composure. “Remember your training. Think objectively. Shoot for a story”, I reminded myself. Eventually I found my rhythm and things fell into place. The story unfolded. Backstage and onstage, in the stands and at the village outside, my cameras documented this amazing display of Bhutanese culture.

Rarely do they come together, but on this day they were all here. The exotic, the picturesque, and the mind-blowing. The joy of discovery. To capture these all – that is why I became a photographer.

 


... and that is why I still am :) Can't wait to see what happens this year!


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

A novice monk and two performers stop for a quick portrait, backstage during the Nimalung Tsechu in Bumthang, Bhutan:

 

Nimportrait

 

This event is quite simply the most exotic festival I have shot. Ever.


 


 
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