Friday, December 29, 2006

change is good

yes, it is.

i just love the new Blogger! i completely changed my template. i've been through a lot these past years and this represents all those life-changing moments i've had. the template's name is Snapshot. very appropriate if you ask me, since my blog posts have been snapshots (literally and figuratively) of my life. it actually feels like i'm changing homes, even if the living quarters that i'm referring to is a bunch of html codes and pictures. maybe i should have a blog warming party. :D

anyway, just to show how major this change is for me, i'm actually keeping the pink colors in my site. i never considered myself a pink girl (that color is usually reserved for tonet) but lately i found myself in strange oh-look-i'm-wearing-pink predicaments. like that time i wore a pink shirt to our school's Family Day and a pink dress (gasp!) to gelli's debut. i just hope this is the start of something good. not that i'm giving up blue any time soon.

what i absolutely love about the new features is the post categories. i love it, i love it, i love it! now, i can just click on parties when i'm looking for all my posts about the gimmicks that i've been to or ramblings when i've lost my sense of humor.

but there's a catch. (whaaat??) because i've switched to the new template, the blog reverted to the old comments format. which means, i lost my Haloscan comments! :(( my apologies to all those who visited and left comments on my previous posts. i really don't know how to get those back and i don't want to touch the templates anymore. sigh.

so it's back to a clean slate for me (except for the comments prior to my Haloscan days.)
ah yes, change is good.
* * *
i'm still working on my last tis the season to be jolly... post. will probably post that before New Year.

anyways, i just want to wish everybody a fantastic 2007!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

tis the season to be jolly...with SOLV!

in case you're wondering why i'm actually using capital letters in the start of all my sentences in this post (which is so unlike my usual entries), well this is actually an article i wrote for the January issue of The Vineyard. i added a few sentences here and there but majority came from the newsletter. can you tell i'm feeling lazy? hey, i'm still on a holiday! :D

* * *
It was truly a night of music and fun as the brothers and sisters of Servants of the Lord’s Vineyard (SOLV) celebrated the community’s 22nd Anniversary on December 16, Saturday, at the Verve Bar, Makati City.

After dropping off the December issues of The Vineyard (it's our best yet!), I met up with my special guest, Tet, in Greenbelt 1. We had a quick snack (Auntie Anne's pretzels, yum!) then headed towards Verve, which was a few blocks away. By the time we got there, a lot of people already trickled in. I was immediately given a copy of the newsletter (got my own already, thanks :D) then ushered to a table by Beauty.

Shine Like Stars
Based on the passage from Philippians 2:15, You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, the event was not only a celebration and thanksgiving for the year that passed but also served as a reminder for everyone to be bearers of light so others may experience God’s message of life and love.

The anniversary aptly began with an inspiring talk by Bobby Quitain, a brother from Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and long-time friend of SOLV. Bobby talked about the issues that shape the world today and what everyone, as Christians, can and must do to spread God’s Light to the people. Filled with Scripture passages and touching and amusing anecdotes, the talk was a welcome wake-up call to the brothers and sisters. Following his power-packed talk was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Let's Dig In!
The dinner, agreeably one of the most anticipated components in any occasion, was worth the wait. The brothers and sisters lined up along the buffet table and filled up their plates with the delicious food and desserts. The venue was packed and some people opted to dine al fresco. Soon, the ground floor of Verve was filled with sounds of utensils scraping against the plates as the hungry guests eagerly enjoy their dinner; warm greetings from the brothers and sisters who just arrived; laughter as people exchanged stories and caught up on each others lives; the pages of the Anniversary Issue of The Vineyard issue being turned as some brothers and sisters pored over the articles and pictures; and shutters clicking while the “camera shy” different groups posed and took photos of each other.

Algie and James with the Starstruck Batch 2006 (haha)

group pictuuuuure!!

Tet and I are obviously part of that "camera shy" group, as you can tell from our outdoor photo shoot. Hehe.

huh, the band's playing already?

It’s Party Time!

While everybody was finishing dinner, the house band, H and the Gang, took their spot on the stage and performed their first set. They began with slow songs that the crowd soon sang along to. Towards the end of the set, the band encouraged people to join them. After much cajoling and cheering, some brothers and sisters eventually obliged. Isco Karamihan joined Gloria Palomar in a rendition of “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang.” After the first few lines of the song, Ramil Catcalin took Isco’s place and finished the beautiful duet. Apparently, Ramil and Gloria were being teased (why am I always the last to know??) and I could hardly hear their voices amidst the cheers of the eager crowd. Ross Hernandez closed the first set with her version of a popular song (sorry, can't remember!)

Isco and Gloria; Ramil and Gloria

uuyyyy! :p

go Ross!

Beauty Aycardo introduced the next part of the program, an Audio Visual Presentation (AVP) that she created as a tribute to God and the community. The three-part AVP began with a touching production entitled “Catch The Tears,” based on the song by Russell Watson. The heart-warming music was indeed the perfect background to the beautiful images and scenes. The second part, “Faces of SOLV,” featured some of the brothers and sisters who have played significant roles as active members of the community. I was really touched to see my name on the list (as well as photos of me that I didn't know Beauty had.) The slideshow, which earned countless cheers and applause from the audience, displayed a collection of amusing and memorable photos and videos that showcased the lighter side of SOLV. The AVP concluded with an acknowledgement of the people who contributed to the anniversary party and The Vineyard as well. Another surprise, an old dance video, was included in the credits portion.

Right after the video, I saw Mitch Co stand up to greet the people before she left. "So early?", I asked. Well, she said she had no choice because she was riding with somebody who had to leave. Before she left, I requested for a photo with her.

Star and Waltz, this photo is for you. Hehe.

Of course, the night was still young and the party was just getting started. The brothers and sisters kicked off with their dancing shoes and grooved to the beat of the house band as the group sang popular tracks that kept the crowd on their feet. Since I had less than 4 hours of sleep - thanks to the December Vineyard (not that I'm complaining :D) - I had to take a break after what felt like hours of dancing. My energy level wasn't that high so I really didn't feel like breaking a sweat. But when it was time to take photos, who was I to refuse? :D

with my cellgroup sistahs!

with Tet and Hazel

the real F girls: Beauty, Gloria, and Arlene

water break!

Anyways, after a very exciting set, the band took a break and the community’s own singers took over. Jay-r Rivera, with James Mendoza playing the keyboard, entertained the crowd with a few songs. Later, Jay-r performed with the band and was soon followed by Gloria, Ross, and Ramil. Even if I see those guys every Tuesday, I am still amazed at their talent. Makes me proud to be a part of SOLV, that's for sure. :)

the last set

Our final round of picture-taking with the last men (and women) standing:

the beautiful women...

...and the crazy men of SOLV :p

An empowering talk, a touching and memorable AVP, and a community filled with talented men and women of the Lord. The 22nd Anniversary Party was definitely a time for everybody to shine!

(more photos of the anniversary party

* * *

my night wasn't over after the party. tet and i headed to her house for an after-party celebration. wait, before you call us party animals, this is just my way of saying that we stayed up til the wee hours of the morning eating holiday sweets and watching Desparate Housewives on DVD. party animals, right? in the last holiday party i went to, we had a lot of fun, especially since we used our hands more than our mouths... coming soon! :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

tis the season to be jolly...with FPC!

and what a jolly season it has been!

apart from the regular dinner get-togethers and sleep-overs, i've been to four major parties this month. the first was, of course, gelli's debut which garnered two posts (because one just wasn't enough.) the other three? well, since all of them have been a blast, i'm giving them individual posts as well.

FPC @ Tiananmen Bar

december 7 was the Christmas party of
Flickrs Photo Club or FPC at Tiananmen Bar in Makati Avenue. it was my second time to attend an FPC event and i was pretty psyched to finally meet all the other amazing people of the group, most of whom have been my online friends through Flickr.

that night was also our school's final staff meeting for the year. i was worried that i'd be late for the dinner party. well, even if i was late, the photoshoot hasn't started yet so it was still ok. the minute i entered, i looked for our FPC "boss," pat (
Hocchuan.) he was seated in one of the "cubicles" (what do they call those Japanese style restaurant booths?) with other guys from FPC. after i registered, pat interrupted john edward's spiel to announce my presence (did you really have to do that, sir?? haha) to the group. after a round of introductions to the other FPC members, i took my seat between Spiegelbild and karen and indulged in my yummy dinner.

the minute john edward called out the first of several models the group hired for the photo shoot, the guys (and a few girls) scrambled to get a good spot in front of the stage. i was finishing my dinner while i watched the photographers and photo enthusiasts click away. since it was going to be a challenge to insert my petite self between the bodies, i took photos of the people and the bar instead.

the FPC shooters

JC and Lady G (with Spiegelbild and Leonard behind)

i loved the warm lighting and the hanging glasses in the bar.

the bar

the booze

later, i was able to take a few shots of the models. my camera's zoom had its limitations and i can only do much to get a close shot.

it's a bit grainy but i still like this close-up of the first model i photographed.


my favorite one was leslie, a favorite of shutterglass as well (as told to me by ronrag. hehe.)


i was able to take photos of the next model before they wrapped up the shoot.

my fellow Flickrians had amazing shots of the event! check out this
thread for more photos.

the highlight of the evening was the raffle. there were so many prizes! and none of which i took home (waaah!) well, at least i was able to get 3 free prints of the photos i took that night and an FPC pin. :D

with Spiegelbild (photo by Boso)

Lady G, Rabbit's Foot, Lord Jit, and moi (photo by Ed's)

to FPC, congratulations again on the successful party and here's to more Flickring!

* * *

the second event was definitely a night of music and fun. tis the season to be jolly with...well, you'll just have to wait and see. :D

to be continued!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Birthday Party Shooting Part II: The Day of Reckoning

after our host apologized to the guests for the delay, the laptop still wouldn't run. so, we had to reboot and pray that it'll work this time. unfortunately, her laptop runs like a turtle and the whole restarting fiasco took about 20 minutes (the poor guests!)

thankfully, this was the only noticeable glitch in the program. because the program was well-planned, everything went smoothly. gelli's friends gave a hilarious skit cum musical that summarized her "evolution" from a baby into the young lady that we know now. this was followed by an MTV and documentary by her extremely creative friend (who will make a great director and graphic artist someday.) of course, we still had the traditional 18 dances, which ended with my papa getting teary-eyed while waltzing with my sister. the next part of the program was the messages from friends and family, this time with a twist. the first part was for the messages from gelli's friends,

messages from a few of gelli's friends

while the second part was video messages from relatives and family friends which we showcased during dinner.

we could see that everybody was having a lot of fun, the opening boo-boo totally forgotten. my only frustration was that i wasn't able to take shots of the souvenirs and food as well as close-up stolen shots of the guests. my camera's zoom can only take so much stretching and i couldn't move closer to the tables because i would block the host. so most of my candid shots were whole-body photos (which i can still crop.)

papa getting all choked up during the last dance

cupcake icing fight!

my only consolation was that the tripod helped me take clear shots in the dark hall. even with all the lights turned on, the party hall was still a bit dark, particularly the terrace area. but the photos turned out pretty ok despite the dark lighting.

gelli's throne and cake table

gelli and her "real" escort, christian bautista

in the terrace with our cousins

anyway, after the whole shebang, i realized that, aside from those i mentioned in my previous post, there are more things to consider in planning and photographing for a party.

Location, Location, Location
familiarize yourself with the venue. make an occular inspection weeks before the party, especially if you're not just the photographer but the party planner as well. during our dry runs, we took note of:

1. the electric sockets
after checking out where all the sockets were located, we realized that we needed about 3 extension cords for the sounds, electric fans, and laptop with projector. if we didn't do an occular inspection, i can just imagine the panic and destruction that would happen. WW3, here we go!
2. the lighting
because i had to turn off certain lights during different parts of the program, i listed down which lights had to be left on when the host is speaking and those that had to be turned off during a video/slide show. it was also helpful to run through the whole program while operating the lights.
3. the time
we made sure to visit the clubhouse at the exact time of the party just to check the lighting and other things we should take note of. it was a great idea that time too because we found out during our 1st inspection that the clubhouse holds masses (just recently) every sunday from 6-7 pm. we had to coordinate with the priest and adjust to their time. when we were there, we noticed that the mass ends at around 6:30.

coordinate with the caterer. you should have an agreement about the lay-out of the tables, buffet area, cake area, gift table, and the celebrant's position (my sister was provided a special chair.) because we were in charge of the decor, we gave the caterers instructions on how the centerpiece should look like. also, we gave them the candles that we bought so they can prepare the centerpieces ahead of time (they were in charge of the flowers.)

Be My Guest
because we had to move the start of the program from 6 to 6:30 in leiu of the mass, my sisters informed their guests that they can come at around 6 pm instead of 5. of course, because i was so busy doing other tasks, i neglected to inform my guests. an obvious mistake in my part when one of my guests arrived at exactly 5 pm, while we were still setting up.

Use a Tripod!
i cannot stress this enough, especially for owners of P&S cameras like myself. the tripod spared me from potential photo disasters, bigtime. never mind that i had to throw all attempts at poise as i lugged the three-legged contraption with me around the hall in my fuschia dress and stilettos. at least the photo subjects are visible and clear.

oy, wag masyadong malakas, gelli! taob na si #1!

Shoes Ko Po!
speaking of stilettos, it's definitely not the brightest idea to move around wearing three-inch heels while photographing the whole event. comfortable flats or rubber shoes are still the best footwear. but this was a party so i really didn't care. haha!

this is, first and foremost, a party. no matter how stressful the event may be, it is still important to take a deep breath (or more, when needed) and just enjoy the show. after all, there's something bound to go wrong in any event so you better accept it and move on (something i've learned the hard way.)

(Not So) Picture Perfect
even if the photos didn't turn out as expected, what's more important is the memories that everybody will take home with them. days after the event, my sister told me that her party was still the talk of the school. well, looks like all our hard work payed off after all. :)

moi, papa, gelli, tonet, and mama

now that gelli's debut is over, the real work has just begun for me. i still have to compile, edit, and lay-out the photos for gelli's photo book. unlike the party, this has no deadline so i'm taking my sweet time. pass me the remote control, please! :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Birthday Party Shooting Part I: The Long Wait

after almost 3 months of preparation, stress, and a failed attempt at WW3, gelli's party is finally over and done. except for me, that is.

because of financial constraints, my family refrained from hiring an official photographer. guess who volunteered to do the photos instead??

the task is daunting, to say the least. the only time i covered an event was for my
godson's party a few months ago. it was held during the day so it was easier to get clear and colorful shots.

my sister's party was going to be an evening affair, which posed as a challenge for my P&S camera. knowing the limitations of my A520, i prepared for my stint ahead of time. we had 2 dry runs during the exact time of the party (5-9). i took photos just to see how my camera will perform. it was pretty ok but i still felt anxious. the debut is our family's 1st and only party so far so i wanted everything to be perfect.

prior to dec. 3, i made mental notes of what to photograph:

for any event, it is essential to capture what transpired behind the scenes before the actual "show." this includes set-up, decorations, invitations, souvenirs, and other important stuff like the celebrant getting her hair and make-up done.

Program Proper
it is extremely important to familiarize myself with the flow of the party. this way, i'll know where to position myself at certain times of the program.

for instance, i have to stay in front of the staircase for gelli's grand entrance at the beginning of the party while for the 18 dances, i would get a clearer shot if i'm at the side of the dance floor. then for the candle blowing, i have to get as close to gelli as possible to get a nice, tight shot.

Smile, You're on Candid Camera!
i love candid shots! so for the party, i told myself to take as many stolen shots (mainly of the guests) as possible.

of course, a photo album wouldn't be complete without shots of what happened after the "show."

Have a Seat!
for an organized party, assign the seating arrangements of all the guests. i printed out the guest list with their table assignments. each table had the number and place card so the guests will know where their table is.

Gearing Up
i'm not a professional photographer nor do i own any professional gears. so when it came to gathering my "ammunition," it didn't take that long. hehe.

Canon A520
4 rechargeable batteries
2 pcs 128 Mb memory cards
1 pc 32 Mb memory cards
a sturdy tripod
a small wristlet (for the spare batts and memory cards)
a camera strap (in my case, it was a long fuschia string to match my outfit. ;) )

with my gear set, all i could do was pray for clear shots. as for the lighting, i can always use Photoshop.

with all of these in mind, i anxiously braced myself for DDay.


nothing, NOTHING, can ever prepare you for the actual event.

initially, this was the schedule that i set for myself:
3:30 - set-up decors and table paraphernalia
4:00 - start taking photos of pre-party essentials
4:30 - freshen up for the party
5:00 - party time!

just imagine my surprise when, upon arriving at the clubhouse, we saw that the lay-out of the tables was all wrong. the space for the dance floor had the long buffet table while the celebrant's throne and gazebo was set up right in the terrace, where the older guests should stay. it turned out that their (caterer) boss didn't inform them of the supposed lay-out! because i had to coordinate with the person in charge, there was a delay with the decorations. i tried to keep my cool despite the fact that i was getting more upset by the minute. luckily, by the time i was putting the table decors and place cards, i was able to take a few photos.

i didn't have time to do a complete shoot of all the pre-party preparations since i had to assist the others in hanging our polka dot curtains.

to my horror, my guest (a HS friend) arrived. i checked the time. it was 5 o'clock already! i couldn't believe it! after apologizing to carol a gazillion times, i went back to fixing the decor. the sweet girl even volunteered to assist.

when i saw that everything was going smoothly, i excused myself and freshened up for the party. when i got back, carol was already snacking on the pink and green puto and Nips we laid out on her table.

a whole Justin Timberlake's concert DVD later, a few guests trickled in. it was a few minutes past 6:30 and most of gelli's friends haven't arrived yet. i had to remind myself that this was a common occurence in parties. finally, by 7 pm, we were ready to start.

or so we thought.

for some insane reason, tonet's laptop stopped working. our host already invited everybody to stand up for the prayer, a Powerpoint slide that was going to be projected unto the white wall. since we couldn't start immediately, we had to tell the guests to sit down. how embarrassing! tonet's laptop is efficient, yes, but it is just the slowest one i've ever seen! talk about bad timing!

to be continued...