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A Graduating Elementary Student in Patikul, Sulu

There’s something about soft, plush toys that speaks to every child. They’re cuddly, they’re cute and they make even the most hardened kid flash a smile. It gives them comfort, it gives them a sense of being of who they are, even after tragedies and life’s hardships altered them in ways that we adults can only begin to understand. A simple toy can bring them back to being ordinary children; without worries, without fear.

Students from Danag Elementary School Greeting Our Group

It was our last day in Sulu. We woke early in the morning, had our usual longsilog breakfast at camp. We packed our bags and together with a massive convoy of marines from MBLT-6, drove to a graduation ceremony being held at the 26th Marine Corp camp in Barangay Danag in Patikul.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, November 21, 2014

Red Baron Ribs and Steaks

The mighty sound of revving engines can be heard rumbling outside. We were at the Red Baron, but those sounds were not coming from the Jagdgeschwader 1, the squadron where Germany’s famous Red Baron flew, they were coming from vehicles driving into the carwash area where the ribs and steakhouse is located.

Red Baron Ribs and Steaks

It was almost Halloween when we visited and the place was decked with all sorts of ghoulish stuff that would make Ray Bradbury proud; spider webs, pumpkin heads, chopped hands. Being located inside a carwash, which is the way they really wanted it to be, Red Baron’s floor space is quite small. It nevertheless can seat a total of twenty-two individuals quite comfortably.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines Winner

Photography can sometimes be a waiting game; you spot an almost perfect scene only to find that a key ingredient is missing. The subject might be there, but the background may not. Or the background might be present, but the subject is nowhere to be found.

Such was my dilemma when I took the winning photo for the compact division of the 2014 Canon Photomarathon Philippines National Leg. I knew I have the requisite background, but somehow, my subject, a construction worker tying up reinforcement bars for a column, wasn’t acting out the image I had in mind.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCThis was the third time I joined Canon’s Photomarathon, an annual on-the-spot photography contest sponsored by one of the biggest camera brand in the Philippines. The rules are simple, they give out three randomly picked keywords and they let the contestants roam wherever they want. One has to be sure though that he’d be back at the downloading station before the two and a half hour deadline goes up.

Unlike the previous Photomarathons I’ve joined, the organizer forewent with the cryptic poem-like clues and went for a much simpler way of giving out the themes to shoot.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 PhilippinesThe first one went like this; circular, peaceful and fashion.

This year’s Canon Photomarathon was held at the BGC’s Bonifacio High Street. While it would probably be easy to spot a pedestrian sporting an interesting wardrobe along the Serendra area, you can bet that the thousands that joined have already photographed that.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCTogether with my shooting buddy, we skipped that area and went scouring the side streets of the Bonifacio Global City for something to fit the theme. We initially planned on going to the American War Memorial but they weren’t allowing photographers to enter the premises.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCNevertheless, we saw circles, peaceful scenes and fashion. The only problem was, those three won’t seem to align on one spot for us to frame them in a single shot.

Two hours went by, and still, nothing. With mediocre images, we went back to the downloading station and uploaded our not-so-promising shots; promising ourselves to do better for the next theme.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCIt was past lunchtime when the second set of keywords was announced; cross, exciting and cityscape. Much easier than the first.

My feet already aching, we again roamed the streets of BGC. The thing that caught my eye were the numerous construction works going around the district. Crosses can easily be found among the busy frameworks and scaffoldings, the workers perched several meters from the ground looked exciting, and yes, they’re all part of the cityscape.

So we walked, our necks strained ever upwards, looking for the perfect scene.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCAnd finally, I found one that spoke to me.

Only thing was, the guy doing the framework wasn’t doing what my mind pictured him to be doing. So I waited, taking a few test shots and waited some more.

Until he finally went down. And all I got were test shots.

Desperate, I frantically waved at him and asked, hollering across the street to where he was, if he could just climb one more time and raise his hands when he got to the spot he was previously perched on. It took a while to convince him, but he relented at last.
Canon Photomarathon 2014 Philippines at BGCI was surprised when he went all the way to the top of the unfinished column and started raising his hands to high heavens. It was definitely more than I asked for. I snapped as fast as my Canon D30 compact would allow me—which means, three shots.

Profusely thanking him, I put down my camera and stopped shooting. We still have an hour left but I knew that I had the shot. The same way I knew that I had it during the 2010 and 2011 Photomarathon.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, November 10, 2014

Camp Bud Datu Sulu

The weather was cool and the breeze felt nippy. The panorama from the balcony we were standing on was incredible. From our vantage, we can see the sprawling land filled by trees. It felt like we were in Tagaytay City but for the crescent moons topping the graceful roofs of mosques and minarets. We were in a military camp in Sulu, Camp Bud Datu.

Military Escorts Camp Bud Datu Sulu

From the MBLT-6 Camp in Patikul, where we were based during our four-day stay in Sulu, our convoy of three trucks, a bulletproof SUV and a tank clambered up the mountainous region of Sulu to visit the eco-tourism center at the town of Indanan at Bud Datu.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quezon Beach in Patikul Sulu

Three kids, rowing and playing with a seemingly too narrow bamboo raft paused in front of me. Take our pictures please! They playfully hollered at me. Above their heads, a feather of a cloud was lighting up with fire. A few inches above their ankles, the warm sea was lazily pushing waves, lapping the white sandy shore of Quezon Beach.

Military Escort in Quezon Beach at Patikul Sulu

It was another fulfilling day of taking portraits in Patikul, a town in the island province of Sulu. With a few hours of daylight left, the group decided to chill a bit and visit one of the beaches in the island. Quezon Beach is located less than half a kilometer away from the MBLT-6 camp where we were bunking in, but still, we went there with full military escorts; safety being the primary concern of our hosts.

One of Sulu’s sultans lives right in front of the beach, Mohammad Muejuddin Jainal Abirin Bahjin. He gracefully chatted with us and even gave us some coconut drinks before we stripped off and ran to the waters.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Juan Portrait in Patikul, Sulu

Okay, you’re next, one of the teachers told a bashful girl wearing a traditional Muslim clothing. She led her to where I was standing and coaxed her in their local dialect, Bahasa Sūg, to smile a bit.

Taking portraits is really not my forte, finding rocks and waves much more interesting. But there I was, trying my very best to talk to these shy kids to pose in front of my camera. It was something alien to most of them; something they’re probably doing for the first time in their lives.

En Route to Kaunayan Elementary School in Patikul, Sulu

The distance between where we were staying, the Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 camp at Barangay Buhanginan and the Kaunayan Elementary School, where we were to photograph the kids, was only 600 meters. Close enough for a leisurely seven-minute walk.

But we weren’t allowed to do that.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, October 27, 2014

Drinking Beer Outside the NAIA Terminal III

It was still some hours before our flight to Zamboanga City; our jump-off point to the province of Sulu. We were headed to the town of Patikul in particular. And I was totally dreading it.

With time to kill, we got out of the airport and bought a few cans of Red Horse. We brought it to a grassy patch near the terminal and guzzled a few down. I was hoping to unknot the terrible loops forming in my stomach.

And then we were flying. The metro was still dark as we took off. There’s definitely no going back now.

Flying Over Metro Manila En Route to Zamboanga City

Some weeks back, I was invited by a photographer friend, Chris Linag, to join a shoot in Sulu. Having never been to that province, I immediately said yes; it was for a good cause anyways. We’d be going there to take portraits of school kids, print them and give them back the next day. Easy, right?

It was the second time they’re doing this so I assumed that Sulu is a safe place; so much so that I never even bothered to research about.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, October 24, 2014
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KLM Get friends & WIN!

KLM Philippines launches a new game on Facebook today where you can win a pair a roundtrip tickets for the Netherlands. For those mooning over a winter trip to Europe, the game is easy enough.

Simply head over to the KLM Philippines Facebook page and share the link of the game on your Facebook timeline. Every successful invite to join the challenge earns you 10,000 game miles. And for every 30,000 miles you accumulate, you get one eligible raffle ticket.

Simply put, you get one ticket for every three friends you refer. And you can refer as many as you can.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, October 23, 2014
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