There’s a spiritual belief I encountered once, that sees life as fluctuations over the surface of nature — like how all matter is mere excitations of the Higgs field, and like the waves that rippled across the koi pond outside the wake of my aunt and my grandfather.

At the flick of a koi’s tale a new wave forms. It cuts proud and defiant across the water. At the touch of a higher being or with the permission of pure randomness you were granted existence. You were borrowed from beautiful everything.

I like that the word is, “excitations,” like the…

Guarded optimism cuts through daily anxieties as a bakery does its best to survive the pandemic.

From the kitchen of her residence in Marikina City, Metro Manila, a baker does her best to keep her business afloat. Alongside her works a crack team of seven bakers and a company driver, taking orders and minding their posts as they ship orders to customers through courier systems. This remote work is new for them. Their physical café is gone. The blows have been dealt — but they continue on.

Rosemarie Lantin is a baker of national renown. The owner of a bakery in Marikina City, she is both manager and hands-on baker, filling in whatever gaps need…

A showcase of some of my best shots taken this 2020, presenting the myriad ways in which regular Filipinos have persevered through the difficulties of the past year.

In Occidental Mindoro, a fisherman hauls a yellowfin tuna ashore, to be taken to traders in his hometown of Sablayan. Already caught up in a difficult livelihood, artisanal fishers have been forced to spend days at sea as climate change push fisheries further off shore. Photograph © Alo Lantin

Gilda Ravago lives alone. Her late husband passed away last year following a stroke in 2018. Her children live away from her, together with their families. Her only companion is Yoli, her helper, as well as a young cat and a Chow Chow. Her home in Paranaque is silent, save for the wind and the occasional passing vehicle, tires crunching across the asphalt outside.

She claims not to be lonely. A busy woman, she maintains many hobbies; In her backyard she maintains a garden, making fertilizer out of discarded egg shells, while in the kitchen she experiments with old recipes…

A dangerous assumption in journalism in general is the idea that we can truthfully represent the stories of others. Our own gaze prevents us from doing so. We are an ‘Other’ imposing our interpretations of the world upon our subject. The most truly representative piece can only ever come from the subjects themselves — but through careful, caring, humble, anthropological study of our subjects, we can eliminate our own gaze, at least to some degree.

From our limited perspective, we assume that our own gaze is enough to glean a “truthful” story out of the images and stories we gaze upon. In actuality, our understanding of what we see is fueled by the narratives we carry internally. “Photograph[s add] substantiation to fictional narratives [and] narratives can add a sense of fictionality to the photographs,” writes Imbrigotta as he details the way in which our gaze acts as confirmation bias toward our internal interpretations of the world. In short, we understand the world in a certain way, and our gaze makes our subjects conform to that…

A quick study of controversial, hot-topic front pages from mainstream Philippine broadsheets. Passing glances at headlines and cover photos, perhaps on your commute to work or as you browse lazily through a convenience store on an off-day, can inform, build upon, or challenge the narratives we carry in our head. The power of the front page is the power to direct public thought.

Sunday, September 24, 2017 — The Philippine Star

I remember this broadsheet cover becoming something of a meme in local news. The headline was of the Philippine government stating that there were no skeletons in the closet…

In bedrooms and living rooms and in private spaces, time has lost meaning under the weight of the COVID-19 lockdown. For the Lantin household, their ‘new normal’ is rife with quiet anxiety.

The Philippine government declared a nationwide lockdown on the 16th of March in response to rising cases of COVID-19 throughout the country. The nation’s capital and major urban areas across the country remained under Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ), as the administration had coined the lockdown, until the 1st of June, making the two-and-a-half-month quarantine one of the longest in recent history.

Communities under ECQ transitioned to Modified Extended…

I thought very hard about whether or not to write about this particular article because of how sick reading it made me feel, but I figured, given recent events, it might be good to revisit one of the most disturbing photo essays to come out of one of the darkest periods in Philippine history.

I’m very sorry if the photos I’ve chosen make anyone feel uneasy.

Daniel Berehulak documented Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in his photo-essay, ‘They are slaughtering us like animals.’ The essay details, plainly, scenes of violence as Berehulak witnessed them. …

Alo Lantin

Environmentalist, culture conservationist, essayist. Development studies graduate. A collector of stories.

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