Random Street Photos and Portraits

I was looking through some old pictures on my laptop today and realized that I still haven’t uploaded the photos that I’d entered into last year’s LensCulture contest. I didn’t want to jinx my chances back then, so I refrained from uploading these, but since the contest is long over and I wasn’t one of the winners, it’s probably safe to put these up now. Having said that, I did get some amazing constructive feedback on these, so I still consider it a win. 🙂

This is a mix of very old work, from when I first started taking pictures in earnest, and some newer stuff from my Hong Kong trip. I’m quite happy with these, and I hope you guys enjoy them. 🙂



Mother of a desaparecido. Manila, Philippines. A mother of a victim of enforced disappearance, or desaparecido, stands in quiet defiance before a line of riot police sent to contain activists on their way to Mendiola St. near Malacanang Palace, Manila. Police prevented the protesters–who were marching for justice for human rights victims in the Philippines–from reaching the Palace surrounds on Human Rights Day 2007.



The illusion of freedom. Quezon City, Philippines. One of the farmers who walked more than 1,700 kilometers from Sumilao, Bukidnon to the Philippine capital of Manila to demand the return of the 144-hectare ancestral land that was forcibly taken from them by rich land grabbers with political ties. 2007.



Ready for anything. Lucban, Philippines. Members of a marching band continue to play at the Pahiyas Festival, an annual harvest celebration in Lucban, Quezon, despite the sudden summer rain. 2008.



Vendor. Goldfish Street, Hong Kong. The Chinese believe that goldfish bring good luck to a home, and vendors on the appropriately named street do a brisk business. 2016.



Sampan pilot. Aberdeen Bay, Hong Kong. Sampans, traditional boats that still ply Aberdeen Bay, are usually piloted by Tanka women who learned their craft as young girls. 2016.



Love/lorn. Victoria Bay, Hong Kong. A young couple embraces as a lone man stares into the darkness of the bay. 2016.



Houseboat. Aberdeen Bay, Hong Kong. A man enjoying a quiet moment on the busy waters of Aberdeen Bay. 2016.



Off to the shops. Temple Street, Hong Kong. One of Hong Kong’s world famous night markets, with shops selling everything from electronics to street food. 2016.



Playing with fire. Hong Kong. A Russian fire dancer and traveler busks on the streets of Hong Kong to earn funds for the next leg of his trip. 2016.

Renewable energy? We’re big fans!




Please don’t kill me for the title. I couldn’t resist. 😀

Did a quick trip to the Alterenergy Wind Farm in Pililla, Rizal this weekend, with stopovers in Tanay along the way. Laguna Lake was visible for most of the drive up the Marikina-Infanta Highway, and the scenery reminded me very much of Tagaytay before it became completely commercialized and kitschy.


There were plenty of roadside stalls selling fresh produce at farm gate prices, and several intriguing eco- and georeserves along the way. The area is also known for its waterfalls and rivers, and is a popular mountain- and motorbiking destination.




My companions and I reached the wind farm after a mostly bumpy ride from the town of Sampaloc. The first two kilometers of the road we were on were paved, but after that it was more potholes and rough trail than road, so I didn’t really expect the crowds that greeted us when we arrived at the farm’s view deck.


We found out after we got there that there was an easier route via Pililla, and that most of the visitors arrived from there.


The place is becoming known as a tourist spot, as evidenced by the small phalanx of vendors selling everything from tatty miniature wind turbine pencil holders to fried chicken skin and fishballs.


I seriously hope that Alterenergy and the LGU can cooperate to make sure that the farm doesn’t become another environmental disaster area.



Hong Kong Holiday, part 1


View from the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Hong Kong 2016. Copyright Marnie Dolera.

To be honest, Hong Kong was never really on my list of places to visit before I die, but when a good friend offered me the opportunity to travel here, I was in the mood to become an anonymous face in a crowd in a place I’d never been to before. I wanted to walk around and get lost in a metropolis where I had no obligations and no one knew me. Vietnam and Cambodia were out of the question, mainly because, for all of their virtues, they didn’t have the hustle and bustle of a true megapolis that I was craving. I wanted the strange (in)security of not knowing anything or anyone, the danger and yet the safety it offered.

So Hong Kong it was.

I have to admit, when I first came here, I wasn’t expecting to like Hong Kong as much as I do now. The only image I had of Hong Kong was one of a homogenized culture sacrificing heritage on the twin altars of commercialism and progress, all shiny and chrome-y and neon lights. But what I learned, after almost a week here, is that life thrives in the spaces between.

I did a lot of walking in Hong Kong, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Three days of almost non-stop walking for eight to ten hours in running shoes that haven’t quite been broken in have left me with aching hamstrings and sore feet, but it was the price to pay to get some insight into this enigmatic city. Walking is always the best way to make a city your own, and discover the pockets of beauty in the heaving, humid mass of humanity determined to carry you along in its wake. There are always those moments, if you’re patient enough to look for them.

Guitarist on TST Promenade. Hong Kong 2016. Copyright Marnie Dolera.

The other night, around midnight, while I was walking on the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, I came across a long haired, lanky young man in typical rocker’s garb – black leather jacket, jeans, and boots – practicing his skills on an unplugged electric guitar. He was completely lost to the world, a bizarre sight on a boardwalk filled with joggers in tiny pastel and neon outfits puffing along, defying the near freezing wind blowing in from the harbor, even at that late hour. I discretely took photos of him and sat shivering on a nearby bench, listening to him strum away, his metronome inexorably counting the beat, watching the lights of Hong Kong Island in front of us while a red half-moon floated overhead.

I eventually learned that his name is Bob, and that he came to Hong Kong for his Master’s degree, and that he was in IT. He goes to the harbor to practice his guitar almost every day, he said, because it was too noisy in the dorms and he couldn’t hear the music. I wondered aloud how he was able to play in the cold, but he said he’d gotten used to it.

We chatted a little longer until we hit the language barrier, and I went off and left him to play in peace, and a lovely Hong Kong moment was added to my box of travel memories.


Hong Kong marked quite a few firsts for me, which I may or may not write about in future posts. As you may have gathered, this will be the first of several blog posts about Hong Kong, written in no particular order and following no particular date. To paraphrase a pithy quote often attributed to Mark Twain, never let chronology get in the way of a good story.

From The Digital Baul Part 3: Would You Like To Ride In My Beautiful Balloon?

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Okay, I just completely carbon dated myself with that title. Haha. 😀

More from the digital baul/digital spring cleaning series. I found this series of photos that I shot back in 2010 at the Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival. J. called me at 1am and asked me if I’d be interested in joining her and her friend on a road trip to see the hot air balloons in Pampanga, but the catch was that I had to be at the meeting place in two hours.

Erm, okay.

But I figured, hey, why the heck not, since I hadn’t been on a road trip in ages. I took a quick shower, packed my bags, and ran out the door. I made it to the venue in record time, and after fortifying ourselves with fast-food coffee, we were off.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Clark in Pampanga used to be a US military base before Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, reducing most of the area to fields of lahar as far as the eye could see. These days, Clark is slowly being transformed into a tourist attraction, with its own international airport, duty free shopping, wide vistas, and the mountain looming over everything and everyone. The mountain feels like a living being, a heavy and forbidding presence even when you’re standing in the middle of a flat open field. Maybe I’m just not a mountain person; I much prefer the feel of the open sea.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

That said, Clark was the perfect venue to hold the festival, as the flat land made it easier to accommodate all those balloons.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga. Yes, that *is* a beer bottle balloon. 😀

The main event started at around 5am, with hordes of people jostling each other for space at the safety cordon so they could take photos of the launch. Luckily, we made good time and got there in time to find a decent spot to hang out.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

This flying barn was one of my favorite balloons that day. I like how it looks like it’s surrounded by its babies in this shot.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

And yes, it came complete with animals and a farmer, too. 🙂

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

The obligatory solo-balloon-silhouetted-against-the-dawn-sky shot. 😀

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

And lastly, my favorite balloon of the day. I must have taken more than a dozen shots of this one, trying to get a steady shot without a tripod. I think I ended up half lying on the hood of JR’s car to stabilize myself for this shot. The very hot and very dusty hood of JR’s car, I should say. Good times. 🙂

All of these photos were taken using my old Lumix TZ3, which was already ancient by the time my dad gave it to me as a hand me down. Most of these are also straight out of camera, except for one image which I cropped just a tiny bit. The details are a bit soft, but for an older model, it’s not bad.

The sea is a continual miracle

On the road in Batanes, Philippines.

On the road in Batanes.

Found this while reading on the net:

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion
of the waves—the ships, with men in them
—what stranger miracles are there?

Walt Whitman, Poem of Perfect Miracles

A boat to carry me away

A faluwa, an interisland ferry, struggles against the waves at Ivana Port, Batanes.

A faluwa struggles against the waves at Ivana Port, Batanes.

“When I’m all grown up, come what may,
I’ll build a boat to carry me away”
― Guy Gavriel KayTigana

There are no wrong turnings

Sabtang Road, Batanes

On the road at Sabtang Island, Batanes.

“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.”
― Guy Gavriel KayTigana