Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The bug bit again as I was checking out eBay Philippines and found up for bids a Minox EC point-and-shoot camera for a ridiculously low price. Nope, film for it is no longer available here, and good luck to me finding a lab that would process 8mm x 11mm film, but I just had to have it. Finding a battery for it is not as difficult as finding film. It uses a P27-something, for which I can readily substitute a stack of four SR44's. I would have to split film for it myself using 35mm film and load it in the film cassette which fortunately the seller included. And unless I can find a lab, I might have to develop the film myself. That's possible nowadays without a darkroom. All you need is a dark bag, a developing tank, chemicals, and youre all set. I can have the negatives scanned at a photo lab. Right. All I need now is time. And that, I suppose, is its appeal for me. The waiting, the anticipation, and the big payoff when all youve toiled for comes to fruition. Sure most of the time, youll end up with a dud, and in those cases it's frustrating, but still. That time in between is great and is an end in itself. Film cameras havent lost their appeal for me despite the digital revolution in photography precisely because of the slowness. Ive blogged about it before.

Other forays into Luddism this past year were my refusal to have cable TV reinstalled when we moved to a new place. I realized the absolute uselessness of cable TV when one weekend at my mother's house, I couldnt find anything on cable TV worth watching. Sure it couldve been the anhedonia, but I realized much later that TV is crap, except for a couple of shows. So nope. No cable TV. The immediate effect is the increased reading time for my kids. Theyre actually asking me to go to National Bookstore or Powerbooks now when we go out. We almost always end up at Booksale, but I do splurge from time to time and get them books from Powerbooks. I also havent bought a new refrigerator when the old one gave up the ghost. That was four months ago. I used to think a refrigerator was an absolute necessity, but it really isnt. All I had to do is instead of getting groceries once a week, I get them every other day, or everyday even. This drastically cut down on our electricity bills such that I would forget to pay them for a couple of months and not hear a peep from Meralco.

A lot of things we deem necessary living here in the city really arent. During my days working with an NGO or when I worked in construction, I got sent to communities where they didnt have electricity or indoor plumbing. To poop, or take a bath, I sometimes had to go to get water from a well. I remember one house I stayed in had the toilet outdoors and it's "walls" made from sako were only so high such that when you sit on the toilet everyone can see your head from the street. Some people even say hi. At night, the entertainment was kwentuhan, usually with tuba or Tanduay or warm beer. Cold beer was a luxury when they had ice delivered. Coastal towns usually had ice delivered in trucks for the fish they caught. A familiar joke around one of those barangays, roughly translated, went something like:
"Inuman tayo."
"Ano inumin natin?"
"Ano ako, bubuyog?"
"Ano ako, lasenggo?"
But despite the lack of creature comforts, places like that still had an abundance of social capital. Strangers are welcomed into homes and doors are kept unlocked. Conversation, singing, and jokes form lasting bonds, usually lubricated with libation. Life is slow and leisurely. One could say life is lived to the rhythm of the earth's cycles. The coconut farmers are the most leisurely of all. To us, they seem lazy, just waiting around for copra season, but really, is there any reason for them to hurry when theyre perfectly happy with the pace of their lives? I suppose it annoys city folk to see them live like that, without a care in the world, but I think we're just being asses because we depend on them for food and produce while they dont need us at all and could survive without us. If civilization broke down tomorrow, we in the city, spoiled brats that we are, won't survive. Not without them. It's just because of some twisted sense of values that we city folk are looked up to by the barrio folk. We like to keep it a secret from them how utterly helpless and dependent we are. And no one dares give that secret away.

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