Travel Diaries: Virginia & D.C 2019

This time around, I didn’t really take too many photos. I enjoyed and relished my time with our family here and sometimes I just forgot to take photos. Also, a lot of days were allocated for shopping (yaaaaas to Target and Walmart and Trader Joe’s haha) which requires much focus and much of my attention.

In between the time these photos were taken were a lot of laughs and chismisan and life updates and talks about how our home country (The Philippines) is doing. These were moments that I really enjoy and will take with me until the next time I come back (hopefully!)

Day 1: National Mall (Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Castle & Tidal Basin)





Photoset: Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms








Day 2: Gravelly Point

My brother wanted to go plane spotting so our cousin showed us one of the most amazing plane spotting sites and we had a picnic and ate popcorn all afternoon. 






Day 4: Old Town Alexandria

Our cousin was kind enough to tour us around this enchanting place. I felt like I was in Stars Hollow. 

Carlyle House


Our lovely cousin who toured us around!


Old Town Books







So that was our trip!

You may also see what we did in New York below!


Travel Diaries: New York 2019

New York is an overwhelmingly fast-paced city. Its bright-lights-and-loud-taxi-cab-honks-and-naked-people-on-times square type of energy is stopping for no one.  I barely caught up with it, but I was intrigued the whole time I was there. This city is so full of life that I wanted to take photos everywhere I went. I always imagined how I wanted New York to look like in my dreams, but now that I’ve actually been there, I feel that it is even better than what my mind could ever come up with.

Photoset: In Times Square Colors











I went off on my own to explore how Times Square lights colored the freshly rained on streets of Times Square. 





Day 1: Bryant Park, NYC Public Library, Grand Central Station & Broadway 

Day 1 was full of walking around and doing touristy things (which I didn’t mind at all). The massiveness of everything, most especially the majestic New York Public Library, left me in awe. I felt like a teeny tiny small human being amongst giants that were made with steel, concrete, and glass.














Day 2: Central Park & Intrepid Museum 

Again with massive things- Central Park was humungous. We didn’t even get to explore the whole of it. I really enjoyed walking around nature and people chilling out or playing in the sun (even if it was really cold for us humans from the other side of the world). We then went to the Intrepid Museum for my brother who wanted to see a real-life Concorde.








Day 3: Strand Bookstore, Flat Iron, The High Line, Chelsea Market 

Our mom needed to rest on our 3rd day, so it was just me and two of my siblings going around. So naturally, we went to a bookstore first. Strand Books had the most amazing collection I have ever seen. Their photography books section was so extensive and so specific. They even had a rare books section where I found a copy of Annie Lebovitz’s book “A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005” that was signed! Amazing! Didn’t buy it though because it was expensive haha. We then did a quick visit to the Flat Iron and then went to walk the High Line. We then went to Chelsea Market and ate at our go-to brunch place Friedmans. On our way home, we passed by Milk Bar! A dream come true! I loved their cereal milk soft serve and cookies ❤ We then went back to where we were staying to rest for a while and then visited Top of the Rock to see a gorgeous view of New York.



The Rare books collection section! : 

















Photoset: ILY, NYC






Upon exploring, I took photos of people in the moment. I love how open and affectionate the people I saw were. In the midst of busy streets and moving cars, they still found these moments to be still and just hold each other. 




Day 4: Brooklyn

I had a Bean-to-bar workshop in Brooklyn in the afternoon, so we spent the morning walking around DUMBO and eating  (We had THE BEST OLIVE OIL ICE CREAM at Oddfellows.) I proceeded to my workshop after and then we watched the sunset at Brooklyn Park.



















Special Mention: Our favorite Diner

We stayed in Times Square for our trip, and our hotel was right in front of a Junior’s. We had the best comfort food there and we spent most of our (huge) breakfasts there.






Photoset: Black and White Hustle. Shot with Tri-X 400 film. 












If you’ve been following this blog from the very beginning, you’d know the reason why I actually started this blog. I wanted to find a way to express my emotions.

But some emotions, for me, are just too overwhelming and too big of a wave to deal with. But still, it’s therapeutic to try, I guess.

I haven’t been writing about this for a while because I’ve generally been having fewer intense emotional episodes, and if I did have them, they would last only for a while (not as long as before, which lasted about 30 minutes to a few hours). These episodes usually start with a strong and overwhelming sense of loneliness, and need to release this feeling, but not knowing how. It’s a heavy feeling in my chest, it’s a lot of questions on my mind, it’s traumatic scenes playing over and over in my mind. At this point in the episode, I would usually find it in me to fight it and take a walk, take pictures or do something to get out of that space in my mind. But there are just days when I can’t. Today is one of those days.

I feel alone and lost. I am irrelevant. I am nothing.  I want to feel belonging. But I belong nowhere.

Where does one run to when you have nowhere to go?

It’s hard for me to express these emotions, because these are such personal emotions, and writing something like this and releasing it publicly usually elicits judgment, but I really don’t know what to do. I have no one.



Film & Digital Photography Philosophy

My Photography Journey

Before I get into this, let me start by telling you a little bit about how I started taking photos. I started photography when I was about 16 or 17. Ever since we were young, my dad would always carry a camera every time there was a special event and when I got older, I would get to use his DSLR every once in a while. I started getting curious, and so my dad gave me a small Samsung point and shoot to start with. I slowly started getting more and more into it, so my dad gave me dvds about the technical side of digital photography. He then gave me a prosumer camera, which I used for a while to practice the “program” setting and then after a while, I finally, I got my very first DSLR with full manual settings! (It was red. Her name was Penny.)


A young Gabbie photographed by my father. 



Some photos I took with my Point and Shoot 




Some of my first shots taken with my first DLSR! 


After a few years of doing digital, I got so obsessed with getting the perfect shot. I wanted everything sharp. I collected photos like they were trophies. And with the rise of Instagram, I started creating a toxic outlook towards my photography. I started getting anxious whenever we would travel as a family because I just had to take good photos. I HAD TO. And then I forced myself to come up with photos like I was a machine. So then naturally, I got burned out.

Some photos from our travels: 


Skagway, Alaska


Santa Monica Pier



So I decided that I needed a way to detach with my toxic obsession with getting the perfect shot, and got back to the root of why I liked photography in the first place. I liked it because it was a different way of seeing things. It reminded me that each moment, when dissected and reviewed and ruminated and taken in, is more than what meets the eye. It wasn’t the capturing that made it worth it for me, it was my need to observe the moment.

This is when I decided that I should try film. I wanted to take photos as raw as possible. This was an uncomfortable area for me. I shoot with a 35mm Pentax Kx whose lightmeter does not work. My first roll came out blank and I was totally heartbroken. I didn’t like it. But I tried it again, and again. And slowly, I started to be okay with the idea that I won’t be able to get every good shot. You win some, you lose some. That’s just life.


000011 2






Okay, so Digital or Film?

Honestly, it’s not an “or” question. I truly believe in the power of both. Personally, I use digital when I already have a specific shot in mind. I believe that I can be more precise, and more at ease with a digital camera in hand. For film, I use it when I’m feeling a little bit lost, or when I have a need to detach from my own need to control everything. ( I hope this makes sense haha!). It’s a little more experimental, and the developing and scanning time really makes me appreciate each shot and each moment even more.


Whether it’s digital or film, or phone or whatever, these are all just tools. The most important part is knowing how to see or knowing how to be creative, whatever tool you’re using. Photography has evolved so much and we are at an age where we are given so much options, but at the end of the day, options won’t make you who you are as a photographer. It is your intent and knowing why you do things the way you do that will set you apart. 


As with anything you’re passionate about, always go back to the root of why you feel in love with your craft in the first place. For me it was examining a moment. And both digital and film can do that perfectly well.



Lost in Osaka & Kyoto

So the premise of this trip was that each day we spent in Japan would be planned by different pairs of siblings of the family (I have 9 siblings, so we had a lot to work with). Because of this, we got to see drastically different sides of Osaka and Kyoto. From peaceful mountains and parks to bustling shopping centers and markets (and even the cup noodles museum!) this trip had a mix of it all.

So much so that I decided to arrange the photos in “sets”, because each experience felt so different, that I had to edit and take photos of them in different ways.

Set 1: Honmachi in the Morning

It was the day after New Year’s, so the streets were extra quiet. I woke up and walked around the area we were staying at the time and waited for sunrise. I wanted to take photos of how even if the streets were empty, the things around us, the lights, the vending machines, were somewhat alive.



When the sun rose, and the streets felt warmer. Still quiet. Still empty. But warmer.




Set 2: Train stations are an interesting place.

I took these photos from different places in Osaka and Kyoto. It’s always interesting taking photos at train stations because it’s the closest we can get to know what normal daily life is like in a place. I observed that the Japanese had a quiet type of urgency around them. Even if they were in between places, they were quiet. Everything was so precise that you had to be extra focused or you’ll miss your stop. And they implemented all of this in the stations without any loud alarms or huge red block letters. Everything was just a-matter-of-fact. No matter how complicated the information they were presenting was.

For this set, I wanted to capture that stillness in between transits.








Set 3: One with nature at Mino-o Park

I was not prepared for this place. This place was so scenic (and so cold), that I couldn’t help but stand still and take in what I was seeing. Our taxi cab had dropped us off on a steep high road where a path began. It was a long walk but it didn’t feel like it because we were walking among tall trees and rivers. The amount of zen I felt at that moment lasted me a loooong time. The trail leads to a beautiful waterfall, that was framed by this vibrant vermillion bridge. It was a sight to behold. As we continued through the trail, we stopped to eat Maple Leaf Tempura and Takoyaki. This is definitely a place I would spend a whole day in (given the luxury of time).













(A specialty of the place: Maple Leaf Tempura)









Set 4: Shinsekai Vintage Dreams

After Mino-o park, we then proceeded to Shinsekai. It was the perfect contrast to a quiet afternoon. It was a sight for the senses: from pink and orange neon lights to the smell of different delicacies, this place definitely left me curious. I wanted to stay longer and explore each store.






(A Billyken (the god of things as they should be) Manju!)



Set 5: A Walk in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

We woke up (relatively) early to go to Kyoto and visit this Bamboo Grove. Although lined with groups of tourists and families wanting to take photos with the bamboo trees, the place still seemed peaceful.






Set 5: Pictures of Serenity at Okocho Sanso Villa

After walking through the Bamboo forest, we arrived at a gate that lead to the Okocho Sanso Villa. This place was unreal. It was composed of gardens and small trails that lead you to stunning views of Arashiyama. This place seemed to frame nature perfectly, using modest structures and natural elements to really put the place surrounding it front and center. After the trail, we were asked to proceed to a teahouse where we were served with some perfectly bitter matcha and a small sweet treat that complemented the matcha really well.









Set 6: Nishiki Market & Gion

After our time at the Villa, we explored the city a little bit more. We visited what they call The Kitchen of Kyoto: The Nishiki Market. We had tofu donuts and dango, and of course, more Takoyaki. We also visited Gion, where the bustling streets were lined many restaurants and traditional architecture. People would walk in the streets in their elaborate yukatas or kimonos and visit the Yasaka Temple.










Yasaka Shrine:





Set 7: Shinsaibashi

We had to do some shopping too, of course. Our main stops were Tokyu Hands, Muji, Drug Stores (for cosmetics), BIC Camera (for Camera equipment, tech stuff and other things!) and Don Quijote.




Set 8: Kuromon Market

As much as I loved our convenience store breakfasts here in Osaka, I have to say that our breakfast here was my favorite of the trip. Kuromon Market was a goldmine for amazing Japanese food like otoro, fresh seafood, fresh fruits and veggies (like the coveted white strawberries!) and other food items!


Our first stop was at this small food-court like space, where they had many different things like takoyaki, grilled sausage, and fresh seafood. But my eyes were on the prize: I wanted to try the Otoro. Otoro is fatty tuna that is supposedly so good and so fresh, it melts in your mouth. It definitely did not disappoint. The tuna was so fresh that it didn’t have that fishy/metal taste that usually comes with sashimi. It was so rich and so smooth. It had the texture of really tender steak. It was like eating a salmon tuna hybrid. It was glorious. Ugh, my mouth is watering.


Various seafood around the food court:


After eating the Otoro, we saw this sign on the table we were sitting at that said “Daifuku. Delicate as a feather, Soft as Silk.” and it lead us to my favourite dessert that I had in Japan: The Strawberry Daifuku. (A daifuku is mochi filled with sweet filling)


The picture above is the texture of the mochi the vendor was preparing before we ordered our food.





This Daifuku kept its promise: It was delicate. So delicate that the mochi didn’t have its own separate taste or texture, it melded so well with the white bean paste and a whole strawberry. It was so soft, but it in a tender, smooth way. It was like biting into a custard. Not like mush.



Another highlight of this market was the White Strawberries, though I had tasted it with as a Daifuku, I also wanted to taste it on its own.

I was very surprised when I tasted this because there was no aciditiy in the white strawberries whatsoever. The strawberries in Japan were already so sweet, but this White Strawberry was definitely in another level! It was like it was dipped in honey!

We also roamed around other parts of the market and were fortunate enough to taste some other delicacies.

More mochi!


Tofu Donuts



Warm soy milk which my sister describes was like a hug since it was so cold out (I totally agree) :


Fresh Sashimi!


That’s it, folks!


There were lots of things that I didn’t take pictures of but I also really enjoyed (like the Cup Noodle Museum and Universal Studios), and there are lots of memories that I was not able to write about here, but this trip was more about spending time with the family and getting ready for the year ahead, and I think we all did just that.

A little late, but here is a proper goodbye to 2018


So every year, I make a book out of some of my favorite photos of the year. In making this book, I also thought about what happened this year and some of the things that made this year so different from the others. This post is just a quick rundown of things that happened this 2018.


Literally, everything changed. My body changed, my career path changed, my priorities changed, everything! And I was worried about it at first. I thought about how every year ever since I graduated were so drastically different from one another, but most especially this year. But then I thought, maybe all this changing also means progress. So I just chose to see it that way. Hahaha


I used to work for a makeup brand that was the bulk of my monthly income, but then one day, while I was in Europe and on leave, they told me they were terminating my contract by the end of the month (that was two days from that time!) And I was completely terrified because I didn’t know what I was going to do next. When I calmed down though, I thought about how it was a good opportunity, and how I learned a lot, but I knew that it was time anyway.


At the time also, I also made weekly visits to the farm, and I loved being there. And since I had free time, my mom invited me to help with the farm. And so I did.

My mom’s dream was to create a local bean to bar chocolate brand. (Well one of her dreams), and now slowly, it started becoming one of my dreams to. Throughout the year, I learned how to make chocolate, and I’m proud to say, we were able to produce some jsut in time for Christmas! So yes, from fixing lip colors and skin blemishes to grinding beans and making chocolate. GREAT BIG HUGE CHANGE!

I still take freelance projects though to fund some of my other dreams.


This year, I also started to go on a diet, and at first I have to admit my mindset going into it was not really healthy. But, I learned and found a healthy philosophy when thinking about my philosophy about my self-image! To read more about it you can read my essay here.

Along with everything that went on this year, I also started to change my philosophy on taking photos. I used to be so caught up on being accepted by the people I looked up to, that I was so focused on getting a picture, that I punished myself when people don’t notice my work. So then I decided it was time I tried film again. That way I would alot time to detach from the actual outcome of my photo and dedicate more time to experiencing and thinking about the photo I was taking. Sounds like a lot of bullcrap, I know, but it did work. I started taking photos for what I saw, and not because I wanted others to see it. It became a very personal experience for me. And that, I think, is how I wanted it to be.


So I could go on and on and on about how my 2018 went, but I don’t think I would ever finish! It was a great year. I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, next.


A Garden (or Farm) of Zen Thoughts

If you see my previous posts or if you know me personally, you’d know that I spend a few days of the week at our farm. Being around nature and quiet has really had a significant effect on my mental health. It gives me time to pause and think, and truly reflect on what truly matters to me. So I decided to write some of those thoughts down.



One of my biggest emotional turmoils ever since has been my insecurity about my work, or how good I am at what I do. Since I work as a freelance graphic designer and photograher, I would get jealous of people who put out such good work and I would immediately put myself down for not releasing “good enough” work. This is especially magnified when it comes to my photography. And whenever I felt this, I would get restless and I would immediately spiral, until time makes me feel better.

Probably, my biggest realization about this is that you always have to go back to your “why”. I started thinking about why I liked being creative and sharing my vision. It was because I felt that it was the best way that I could express my emotions. And following that as a guideline, I realize that I am doing my best, and that what I put out, is what is in my heart. It may not necessarily be the best, but it is an encapsulation of what is dear to me, and that makes it special, even if it’s just for me.



What do I want? That’s the first question that guided me when I thought about what my dream and purpose in life were. And because of that, I started seeking out for what I thought I wanted:  I thought that what I truly wanted was to be recognized. I wanted people to have a good perception of me, I wanted to have a perfect life, I wanted to be remembered. But the thing is, everything I just stated was based on external factors. And after chasing these things for a while, it became toxic. I became too dependent on this. And because I thought I was “failing” for not getting what I “wanted”, I isolated myself, and decided to go to the farm with my parents and just escape.

And in isolation, I started to question myself. I tried to analyze life as it is. No frills, no anything. I asked myself this question: “What is in the core of your soul? If there was one thing you wanted to be, or if there is one thing that defines you as a living, breathing, human being, what would you want it to be?” and at that moment I decided, what matters to me the most is that I just wanted to be a good person. Whatever space I take up in this world, I just want to live my life trying to do something good, whatever field, no matter how small or big. I just want to do it with heart, and with kindness and hopefully, I can make my small space an impactful and productive one.




Not really a thought, but I always feel this:  With all the politics, and all the bad people in the government and in high positions, and people dehumanizing and destroying other people, I often have a hard time thinking about all our country’s issues. But when I stare at trees, and at sunlight peering through the leaves, I feel a little bit better. And it reminds me that I love this rich and generous land that is my country.

Still though, some people are just scum. Please vote wisely this 2018 elections! Vote people who will empower the citizens, not just who they want. Preferably those who truly love our country. 





My parents are amazing people. I get inspired by them everyday.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. 



Being genuine and living your truth is key to finding what truly matters to you. It is a constant struggle to find what matters to you when you box yourself in who you think you are, or who you think you should be. Your personality is not a checkmark or a list. It is your choices and your decisions.

Be genuine and observe. You will find what really matters to you.

September (and early October) in Film

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: Weekend at the farm


Kuya Abet driving us to the farm. It was a not-so-sunny-but-not-dim kind of afternoon.


My dad always has meetings. He has a way with people. Maybe it’s in how he always has good intentions and purpose in everything he does.


The empty “meeting room”


As we were walking around the farm, I stepped on a spud-like thing, and pointed it out to Kuya Abet. Apparently, it was Singkamas (Turnip). I was so surprised, I thought someone just threw it on the floor, but apparently, it was “ligaw”.


Kuya Abet always helps out in the farm. He gives his honest opinions, and gives feedback about farm activities!


We were in a Mango Orchard, and my parents were discussing something, and the light hit them oh so dramatically, I just had to take the shot.


My Dad under the mango trees.


These Kamotes (Sweet Potato) were actually just planted to keep grass away from the Papayas. But they turned out so beautiful and sweet!


These flowers looked so pretty, and I was fascinated by the small bulbs. My mom would bring home some of these to put on vases at our house in Manila.


The farm.


These are Dalandan trees. My mom told me about how these trees bore fruit this year even if it wasn’t their season yet. This is one of the possible effects of using organic matter to enrich land and plants! 🙂


My mom and one of the farmers walking around the Dalandans.


Under the shade of a dalandan tree!



SEPTEMBER 30, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: Birthday Dinner in Makati



A view of Makati/Mandaluyong from the condo.


My sister doing her make up before we headed out for dinner

OCTOBER 2, 2018, Ektar 100, Pentax K-x 35mm: An Afternoon at Home



I really liked the light streaks coming in from the window, so I photographed my hand with it. I really like how even small gestures of hands can communicate different things. It can be delicate, or stern, or giving or closed off. 





Self portraits through a mirror. 




A photo of some of the trinkets and items on our dresser. 



OCTOBER 7, ILLFORD XP2 ISO 400: Early Morning, while waiting to go to Centris Supermarket



Shadows of raindrops against a window.


My sister Frances taking a selfie.


Almost leaving.


My sister’s profile.


Sleepy morning.



OCTOBER 8, ILLFORD XP2 ISO 400: A random day doing chores



My sister in her natural element.







Street photos while in transit.




I like how the lighting fell on my body, subtly forming shaped and lines amongst the darkness.


Journal Entry: Freelancing, Making Chocolate & Being off of medications

1.) If you knew me personally, you would know that it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve gone into freelance photography and graphic design. (woot woot! Please follow @gabbiedoesfreelance for updates!) So I usually spend my weekdays huddled over my laptop, working on random things like invites or photo clean ups!



2.) On weekends, I usually spend my time at the farm. We’ve recently been into cacao farming and I even made chocolate bars from our beans already! Although sometimes I want to cry as the process of making chocolate demands precision and it’s so very tedious, I keep thinking about the farm and how my purpose is to help out our farmers, and I think about how my mom is so passionate about Organic farming and then I take a deep breath and just repeat the whole process again.







Chocolate making process:







3.) I was recently given the go signal to take my meds off. I have been taking Lexapro for quite some time now, and the psychiatrist recommended that I exercise, eat healthily and sleep early for a few months (which I did) before I taper off the meds. And finally, a few months ago I was able to completely remove them.

Scan 38

It isn’t an easy process though. It still isn’t easy. It’s like I’m feeling everything again. It’s quite painful to be feeling things again after them being so mundane before. I was actually surprised because I didn’t know how great the effects of the meds were before. But, I am grateful that I have a psychologist who helps be build thinking structures when I feel these things. And it’s only been a few months, so I’m still getting used to it. I’m trying my best to handle these intense emotions.

So that’s it for this quick life update! I promise I will update this blog more.


The Body and The Self

So for the past 9 and a half months, I have been dieting and working out. I initially did this to improve my mental health and eventually remove my medications for depression (I eventually did! But that’s a whole other story). It has not been an easy process, and I wanted to share with you a little bit about my on-going journey. No, this won’t be the inspirational “You can do it!” or “You can be sexy!” or “If I can do it, you can too!” type of post. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician so I am not qualified to give advice on how to lose weight. What I wanted to share with you are my introspections and my image of the “self” as realized over the past few months.




One thing that a lot of people forget is that the “self” is made up of more than just your body. According to Plato, there’s the body, the mind and the soul. It’s so easy to forget everything else when you’re focused on losing weight, or eating less or trying to be strong. Although the body is a very integral part of the self, it is not all there is. I do believe in taking care of your body, for it houses the mind and the soul. But not to the point where your whole image of yourself is entirely dependent on how your legs look, or if your shirt makes you look fat. No, that is not the entirety of the self. Beauty can come from the mind, the way you speak or your ideas. It can even come from being so passionate about something.



So if it’s not your self-image, what drives you to take care of your body? 

Although sometimes, I am still guilty of having self-image or beauty as motivation for working out (I am just human after all), I do believe that there is a bigger picture. I workout and eat healthy because of the following reasons:

1.) For the mind: Working out helps me focus and it helps me mentally because it gives me breaks from my overthinking brain and all I could think about is the exercise that I am currently doing. It also helps me become more tolerant of doing things that I don’t want to do. My workout mentality of “Just start it and do what you can” gets carried over to everyday work.

2.) For the body: Well aside for being more mobile and being stronger (ya’ll know those things already), I also find that working out makes me feel sexy no matter how I look. Sweating makes me feel good about myself. It gives me confidence and pride that I am working with this booty, and these thighs and this stomach so others’ opinions matter less to me because I know that I have my own relationship with my body.

I could think of maaaany other reasons but, I feel like these two are what motivates me the most.

I’m not saying though that you shouldn’t measure yourself, or that you shouldn’t take health seriously. By all means, do it. I’m just saying that you should go into this for the right reasons. Go into this without judgment or bias. Take it as it is, and don’t lose your “self” in the process.