The Hair Combing Buddha

The Hair Combing Buddha

Whoever made this
Buddha image in Krabi
is humorous.

Sounds like he was
trying to appeal to
a generation of men

who are openly
metrosexual in
terms of their outlook.


Going Back In Time... In A Lift!

Going Back In Time… In A Lift!

In Penang, I finally
was able to ride
a century old lift.

My mind tried in vain
that moment to make
my eyes see in black-and-white.

Hi, I’m back!

Sorry for keeping you guys hanging for awhile since my “Election in the Philippines” post in the middle of the month. I’ve been busy travelling around the region and it’s only now I’m able to settle down for a bit. And it’s only now that I have the time to post again. 

Not to worry, I have enough material for the next few weeks’ worth of posts. Please stay tuned as I begin to look through the pictures and post them on hellokindredstrangers. Thanks for following this blog. I greatly appreciate it. And enjoy my upcoming posts… 🙂 

Election in the Philippines

Late in the afternoon, people trying to get their votes in before the 7PM deadline go to the election officer to get their ballots.

Late in the afternoon of Election Day, people trying to get their votes in before the 7PM deadline go to the election officer to get their ballots.

One of the things that kept me preoccupied (and away from hellokindredstrangers) is the 2013 Midterm Election in the Philippines, my country. In this election (which happened this past Monday), people were asked to elect 12 Senators and a Party-list representative (see the following link if you aren’t sure what “party-lists” are about in the country’s political system: at large, and their House of Representatives member, Mayor, Vice Mayor and six City/Municipal Councilors at the local level. And despite the passage of time, certain things have not changed.

Just outside the precinct, a media vehicle sits right next to a cluster of campaign posters.

Just outside the precinct, a media vehicle sits right next to a cluster of campaign posters.

You know it’s election season in the Philippines when you notice the following around you:

a) Vehicles roam around with loud speakers, blaring campaign jingles of the candidates that paid them to do so. [I have tried but failed to capture a picture of this because either I see them when I don’t have my camera, or they aren’t there when I am lugging my camera around!]

b) Flyers and banners of candidates all over the place. There used to be tons of campaign posters that stuck to walls that blighted the landscape and were difficult to remove. Thankfully, the authorities have cracked down on that lately and recent elections haven’t been blighted by such.

c) Local celebrities (of various kinds) campaigning for a position in the government, or helping out in someone else’s campaign.

d) News that talk about candidates breaking campaign rules, committing verbal gaffes, mudslinging each other (probably a universal thing when elections come around), or worse sending goons to kill off rivals and their supporters. The last is the reason why we have

e) Gun bans (where you’re not allowed to bring out in public your firearm) that run from mid January to mid June of an election year. Due to this, there are usually checkpoints (especially during late nights) at random locations. There are always at least several hundred people who get busted for violating that each election season.

f) Someone you know tells you about being offered money and other freebies to vote for a certain candidate.

g) You won’t be able to buy alcohol on the day before or on Election Day.

h) On the Saturday before, the biggest election rallies take place – usually in order for a political party (or alliance) to summarize what they stand for in order to make one last push for votes. We have a term for that in the Philippines: “Miting de avance”.

i) Your neighborhood voting precinct will have tons of campaign material (namely banners, flyers, and posters) nearby.

j) Some places will experience unexplained power outages on that day.

k) The official election commission won’t start counting the votes until at least a week after the voting finishes, and the results aren’t often finalized till about a month later. [Regarding this point, I did hear that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) promised to change this practice and even promised final results within 48 hours of voting precincts closing, but most of us weren’t convinced considering their track record. Indeed it’s been over 48 hours since the polls closed and we are still waiting for their official final tally. Surprise!]

l) There is always a losing candidate that will complain about “getting cheated” after the Election.

There are other things that characterize a Philippine election, but these are the very things I tend to notice regularly ever since I became conscious of politics.

A camera man for the network ABS CBN arrives outside the precinct to help set up before the designated field reporter arrives to report from there.

A camera man for the TV network ABS CBN arrives outside the precinct to help set up before the designated field reporter arrives to report from there.

On top of that, there’s the embarrassingly obvious fact that many of the most qualified candidates frequently get overlooked by voters swayed by name recall, glamour, money, freebies, and a host of other rather (for lack of a better word) shallow factors. It’s sad and annoying at the same time, and I never fail to shake my head in embarrassment at something once the vote counting finishes.

I highly doubt this 2013 Midterm Election will be any different. However, such is democracy and in such a scenario you aren’t always going to get what you want. I guess it is because of this that there are people who emphasize the necessity of getting involved with your nation’s political affairs beyond just casting a ballot.

Some people finished voting hang around the precinct.

Some people finished voting hang around the precinct.

Nevertheless, no matter how this Midterm Election turns out, here’s another thing that will never change: I will always LOVE my country, even though it and its politics can annoy the hell out of me!

One Month Anniversary

How time flies! It was only a month ago when I started hellokindredstrangers, and now here I am with exactly 40 posts of pics and ink polaroid-style haikus. With this in mind, I decided to celebrate the anniversary by allowing my readers to pick their favorite post so far. 

Please state your opinion by commenting on this post. Mention the entry name and why you like it best. I’d love to hear feedback so I know what kind of entries my audience enjoy so I can try and feature a bit more of them in the future. 😉 

Having a one month anniversary also increased the urge to add more to my profile (which quite a lot of you may find a bit spartan), as well as publish more posts that deviate a bit from the usual to keep things interesting. I’ll do my best to work on those things but I can’t promise them soon while I’m quite busy with other things at the moment. With that in mind, please also note it’s unlikely I would post anything (whether ordinary or different) after this entry until at least sometime next week – but then again you may never know. We’ll see. 😛 

Anyway, please stay tuned for more updates from my blog. Thank you to everyone who’s subscribed to and/or read my blog. I hope to see you guys stick around and enjoy future posts. Ciao! 

Stains of the Khmer Rouge

Stains of the Khmer Rouge

I was shocked that
blood stains from that
traumatic Khmer Rouge era

over thirty years ago
could remain visible
on that floor.

I guess it’s a perfect
metaphor for the kind
of trauma that

era has inflicted
on the Cambodian
people as a whole.



I love how green
and well-maintained the
island of Bohol is.

I hope provinces in
other islands heed
the lessons it offers.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

With the Southern Ocean
and the Twelve Apostles
looming before me,

I longed to visit lands
even further south than
the Great Ocean Road.

Malacca Graffiti

Malacca Graffiti

I’ve always heard
people complaining
about graffiti and

how dirty and ugly
it looks, as well as
signal social decay.

I doubt these people
have ever visited
Malacca, Malaysia.

The Rice Farmer

The Rice Farmer

This Quezon province
rice farmer may do
physically tiring work,

but I’d bet he’s
a lot less stressed out
than us city dwellers.

I’m sure I’m not alone
in envying this guy
when it comes to that.