Paalam, Ka Celso. We Shall Never Forget.

September 24th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Celso EstrelladoCelso S. Estrellado, War Hero, 1927-2009

While patrolling one night for his guerilla unit in his hometown of Luisiana in Laguna, Celso Suello Estrellado, Pfc., 3rd Co., Cadre Rgt., Tamaraw Unit, Marking’s Fil-Am Guerillas, was captured by Japanese Imperial soldiers and some members of the pro-Jap Filipino Makapili movement. He was stuffed inside a burlap sack and after arriving at the Japanese garrison, he was convinced he was going to die. Full of fear and regret, he was surprised when help unexpectedly came in the hours before dawn. A Makapili who knew his father cut his bonds and told him to immediately head for the hills; there would be no second chances. After a brief stop at his father’s house, he did as he was told. He would not see his family again until the end of the war.

During his flight, he met members of the Hukbalahap in the town of Nagcarlan. He joined their ranks and fought with the Huks during the Liberation of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. At Sta. Cruz, he was reunited with the Marking’s Guerillas. He went on to fight with them in Quezon. There, they united with American liberation forces to attack the Japanese positions in Bicol. He was among those who volunteered to take the fight to Okinawa, but was recalled when Japan finally and unconditionally surrendered. After the war, he found work as a schoolteacher and eventually became the principal of the Central Elementary School in Nagcarlan. I got a call today and found out that Ka Celso had already passed on and today is his interment. He just turned 82 last July 25. At the time of his death, he was the District Commander of the 4th Laguna Veterans District of the Veterans’ Federation of the Philippines.

Ka Celso and I met on a cold and rainy afternoon last January, at his home in Luisiana, Laguna. In a small thatched hut in the middle of his wonderful garden, I had carabao meat, cooked bulalo style, for the first time in my life. After interviewing him and taking his portrait, he brought me to the homes of three other Filipino WWII veterans. He drove me back to Sta. Cruz, just as the sun was setting. Before returning home, he told me one more time how he appreciated what I was doing for the veterans. He wished us both luck. I shook his hand one last time and said goodbye.

Ka Celso_FilcomKa Celso’s portrait on display at the Waipahu Filipino Community Center during the VALOR exhibits in Honolulu last July.

Wedding Photography and Me

September 16th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Ann DiptychAnne, June 2008

I have always been reluctant about getting into the business of wedding photography. I used to say that I didn’t want to get involved with the business part of it and that there’s no glory in capturing cheesy romantic moments, but that’s just obviously my unreformed biases refusing to get with the program. In general, I actually find shooting weddings and engagements a joy, especially if the couple exchanging vows are good friends and they’re game about giving people a peek into their crazy side. My opinion about the whole thing changed even more after I, too, tied the knot. I finally became a subject on the other side of the lens. Given that, the only thing keeping me from getting into the business of wedding photography is my decision not to do so. Things could be different tomorrow. Maybe. Who knows?

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