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

It's been a very interesting week. Started it on Sunday trading water bombs with Burmese folks celebrating Thingyan at a local Singapore temple:

 

Thingyan1


Thingyan2

... and while they were basking in the spirit of their water festival, Filipinos a world away marked the start of Holy Week 2014.

 

The climax of this occasion was, of course, today. This morning I photographed penitents in Manila:

 

Hweek1

Then later this afternoon I covered one of the many Via Crucis processions throughout the city:

Hweek2

But of course, it's only Friday. There are still two more days to go in this wet, hot, holy week :)

 


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

On Monday last week, I saw folks pierce their skin with metal rods in honor of Lord Subramaniam:

 

Panguni Uthiram

Then on Friday, I watched people whip themselves bloody in honor of Lord Jesus Christ:

 

GoodFriday


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma
Decided to skip flying home to the Philippines to cover this year's Holy Week celebrations. Hey, even photographers have to rest....

Crucis

But boy did I miss the buzz of activity - the sweat, the pain, the murmur of prayers, the blood splatters, the carrozas, the via crucis, the senakulo, the pagpapako. Not often do you get to experience that deeply religious vibe hanging so thickly in the air.

Like Waisak day in Thailand, or Ramadan in Indonesia, or Thaipusam in Malaysia, the semana santa in the Philippines is one of Southeast Asia's most intense religious occasions.


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma
#6) THE OLD DOGS OF BALER

I can't believe I did this for work - get drunk on untold shots of Ginebra while interviewing these guys. They're the surfing legends of Baler - possibly the country's first local surfers. On assignment for Smile Magazine, I met up with them to hear their stories on how surfing got started in this town. They told me all about it, of course, with equal parts exaggeration and swagger.

06

More importantly, they confirmed that long-standing rumor about Baler's first surfboard: yes, it was that single-finned longboard left behind by film crew of that classic war movie, Apocalypse Now.


#5) HANGING WITH JC

I always try to be back in the Philippines every Holy Week - it's an immensely interesting time when age-old traditions rule. In 2010, I covered the Makati Senakulo for the second straight year. This was the biblical story of salvation, presented onstage in all its folksy glory. That week, from 9PM till midnight, the back-alleys of Evangelista came alive with the sounds of the tagulaylay and the ablada - lines spoken in very old Tagalog. Backstage was a community event, with visitors arriving to offer food and greetings to the actors. Despite the curtain calls, no character was too busy to stop for a quick chit-chat and photo-op with a guest.

05

And yeah, I got to share a cigarette with the main man himself :)


#4) NIGHT OF THE OGOH OGOH

I was in Java, not Bali, yet on this eve of Nyepi the sights, the sounds and smells around me were distinctly Balinese. This was the night before the HIndu new year, a time to erase all past misdeeds and renew oneself for the coming year. The locals did this with the help of the ogoh ogoh - a monstrous effigy that symbolized all the evil deeds done in the past year.

04

At sundown the ritual began. Guided by fire breathers and shrieking villagers, the ogoh ogoh was paraded around the streets. At every crossing it was wildly spun around in an effort to confuse it and keep it from coming back. Somewhere in front, a gamelan troupe furiously played its brass percussions. At the back, the village women sang hymns in Balinese.

The night ended with the ogoh ogoh in flames. All evil deeds were erased. For these villagers, the new year started with a clean slate.


 

 

 
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