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

So where do I start? After my wifey's surprise Maldives treat and the Bangkok assignment in January, a few other things happened on the way to today:

There was the run to Phuket and Sukhothai where I covered King Ramkamhaeng's birthday, among other things:

Q1

Then it was off to Myanmar where I photographed Yangon and Inle:
Q2

Afterwards, I headed off with my PhotoTrekkers to Bhutan where we shot the Punakha Dromche:
Q3

Not bad for the first half of the year, I tell ya:
Q4

Then without further ado, I hied off to Kuala Lumpur to shoot Islamic architecture and hang with Hainanese old-timers:
Q5

A few weeks of rest followed, then I promptly boarded at plane to Hanoi, where I hopped aboard the night train to Sapa Valley:
Q6

... and then I found myself back in Myanmar - whopeee - for the year's second PhotoTrek!
Q7

Philippines next - this time to Coron and Calauit Island:
Q8

Which happened back-to-back with an excursion down south to meet the Manobo tribespeople of Butuan:
Q9

Afterwards I stayed home to spend the Singapore Jubilee weekend with my wife and daughter:
Q10

Needless to say I'm happy with how this year is going.
Q11
 

A little tired, but yes - very happy :)


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Managed to photograph a rare performance of Hainanese rod puppets, thanks to some friends at a Chinese marionette theatre enthusiast group. 

Pupps1

The performance was fascinating - and it was so different from the other traditional puppet shows that I've seen here in Singapore. The sight of the old folks scrambling for the coins was especially fun - until it dawned on me that theirs was maybe the last generation to have an emotional attachment to this show.

Pupps2

Being non-Hainanese, I am not sure if children take part in the coin toss. I imagine this must have been a blast for the kids of long ago. If so, these old-timers were probably the same boys and girls chasing after lucky coins, fifty years earlier when it was a much larger affair.

Pupps3

I think if we want performances like these to continue as living traditions, we need to bring the kids along. These days the Hainanese rod puppets are only performed once a year. However, if the children enjoy it they'll remember it - and hopefully they'll want to see it again and again as the years go by.

I'm hoping to catch this show again next year - and next time I'm bringing my daughter along :)


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

I'm not really used to having myself get splashed all over a newspaper front page, but it's nice to get the chance to tell some stories I've never told :

MBulletin
 

You can read the entire web version in the Manila Bulletin online :)


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

yangone
Glad to have finally brought our PhotoTrekkers to Yangon!

No other Southeast Asian city has that blend of innocence and grit, squalor and sheer beauty. Here, serendipity awaits at every corner, as do the deep, dark secrets of its longtime isolation. The more I discover about Yangon, the deeper I want to get into it. Heck, I can shoot this place over and over.

And I will - See you in November, old boy :)


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

8) What’s in Basilan?

January 22, 2013: “Is there someone waiting for you at the pier?” a smiling passenger asked. The question, however innocent, sounded strangely foreboding. We were on a ferry en route to Basilan –the fabled hometown of the terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf – where (the locals joked) an “extended holiday” could easily cost a million dollars. Thankfully our contact met us at the dock. With a hint of dread lingering in my mind, my companions and I set out to explore this notorious isle.

 

08

The capital, Isabela, felt just like any other Mindanao town. At the market, porters looked at my cameras with suspicion at first, but then later lined up to have their Facebook pics taken. A laughing burkha-clad lady served us coffee at a carinderia. Further inland (past the army checkpoints), we photographed local kids at a waterfall, and rubber harvesters on the job. My last taste of Basilan was at a pristine beach called Malamawi, where we kicked back on bamboo benches with a squad of Marines. No gunfire, no kidnappers – this was just a day well-spent.

 

7) Malacca at Dawn

May 18, 2013: The problem with the heritage city of Melaka was that it became too busy at times. Sure, it’s got those lovingly preserved buildings along its narrow walkways, but all too often the nostalgia was lost in the massive crush of weekend visitors. I had an idea though: go out early to shoot these streets, after the night markets have packed up and all those funny tourists have gone to bed.

07

 

The neighborhood was quiet at 4AM, with only haze keeping me company as I sauntered down the avenues. Jonker street was deserted, with nothing at all – neither cars nor people – on the pavement. The antique shophouses basked in the warm light of streetlamps. Chinese lanterns adorned their facades, the paper spheres adding hints of red to the timeless scene before me. An old man on a rusty bike pedaled by, and I was brought back in time. There it was; the Malacca of old, no longer obscured.

 Want to know more about Melaka? Check out my article, A Malacca Memoir


 


 
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