I look back with fondness over those long beautiful days I spent basking under the summer sun. The first half of my year was mostly spent on a beautiful island called Boracay, we’d fly in and out so often, at quite a dizzying pace, that coming home to the city felt like short pitstops until our next beach wedding. But really, I am in no position to complain. Weddings by the ocean barley feel like work at all. We’d run around (sometimes barefoot and sometimes, I, in a flowy summer dress) the pretty resorts on the island ,shooting sunkissed people from all over the world as they promise each other forever in front of their families and friends with gorgeous wedding details and the beautiful Boracay sunset as the backdrop to their happily ever after. Aaand I get to do this with such wonderful people who I am blessed to call team mates and friends (and photoshoot subjects when the situation dictates) On our free days, we’d get to explore the rest of the island, from the go-to touristy spots along stations 1-3 to cute hole in the wall cafe’s and restaurants at the less popular, more quiet, but equally gorgeous kiteboarding beach that locals call the B-side- now my favourite side of the island for the more laid back and organic feel to it. As I transitioned from gawking tourist to sort of a local (LOL), I’ve enjoyed making fun observations- like how much diversity there is on the tiny island, how lifestyles and profiles change quite drastically at every motorella stop and street corner. (One of the many things I’ve come to love about the place) How the scenery transitions from 5 star resort prettiness to a downright local/authentic filipino street scene. The whole island though is united by the gorgeous Boracay sunset, the prettiest in the whole wide world (in mu humble opinion) From whatever part of the island you’re from, everyone shares the same sky and looks out at the same beautiful sunset. The same sunset locals take fierce pride in and travellers fly halfway across the world for. And that same sunset that unites also signifies the passing of the day and the welcoming of the night, very much like how another good season in this girl’s life has yet again come to pass, that of early morning runs on the powder white beach, of swimming in the turquoise waters at dawn and looking out into the infinite ocean, a season of long working days capped off by the prettiest pink sunsets, of countless photographs (most of which, wedding related. my favourite outtakes from our off days shown above) of memories and laughter shared over the littlest things. And now, that I’ve let all of that out and maybe wasted some of your time, Haha! I snap back into the realities of today, the beauty of longer nights and shorter days, of colder weather, of sweaters and rain. I welcome this new season, one that holds promise of a new adventure. I wait expectantly on our Maker’s good plan. xx Kat
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. -Ecclesiastes 3:1
I’m amazed at how much can come out from a place of lack. How much light can come out of so many moments of longing and emptiness. In the wilderness, you are tested. Away from the comforts of everyday life, your survival skills take center stage. As you tread through steep valleys, your lungs take a beating. How much they feel like exploding, pretty much depend on how well you’ve trained for the hike. In many ways, I’ve come to realize how times hiking in the wild are very much like spiritual droughts. In the wilderness lurks the enemy, who has come to kill, steal and destroy. He preys on your vulnerability, on your weak knees and tired lungs. He asks you, in the most cunning way, “Who are you?” and “Why do you do what you do?” When we don’t know who we are based on the book of life, we often get sidetracked by the question and end up floundering around with a vague idea of our destined callings and take all sorts of wrong turns. But we ought to know our true identity by heart-that we are beloved Daughters/Sons of the One true King, called on a mission to bring God’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus lives in us, as the best part of ourselves. He is the best thing about us. In the wilderness, we sometimes lose sight of that-with the enemy trying to make our fake identities appeal to us more. The goal is to fatten our egos just as pagans fatten calves to get them ready for the kill. In the wilderness, we are vulnerable and subject to compromise. We tend to cave in during times of need-To drink from stagnant water out of dire thirst. I once heard that “What you bend your knee down to on the way to the top of your mountain, is what will control you when you get to the top.” Drink only from living water. The wilderness holds all kinds of darkness. But in its dark places, we are refined. Our characters tested and stretched, our true motives revealed. But when we finally come out of the wilderness (some of us staying longer than others), greeted by the rising sun, we have a renewed appreciation and understanding of the light. We see it again, as if seeing it for the first time and we let it dwell in us, as the best part of us. From enduring the wilderness, we find wisdom and an intense vigor to jump back on the path towards home, towards what really matters. There’s a C.S. Lewis quoteI really like that goes: “A thousand roads lead to the wilderness, but only one road leads home.” I think the beauty that comes out from getting lost, is the renewed desire to come home and see with new eyes, what we’ve always had with us from the very start.
"We’re all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride. And in the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” - Tim, About Time
** beautiful summer day spent with my favorite people in the world. Celebrating my parent’s 25th anniversary in a tiny cabin in the woods. Thankful to Jesus for the gift of family, for His grace and for being the source of forgiveness and true love. Also thankful for the present, for the here and now.
To my beautiful and brilliant baby sister who turns 21 today, I just want to say, your dreams are up for grabs and are yours for the taking. But in the pursuit of them, do not be consumed by them. For you have been called for a purpose that goes above and beyond this world, beyond this life and its temporary highs. In your youth, you will be offered many roads, choose the one that leads to true life. You are otherworldly. Walk with courage, in the knowing that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Something that picked you out of a crowd of weary souls and set you apart. In your walking you will grow tired, especially if you walk in those platform pumps you wear everyday. Fearlessly, ditch the heels, go barefoot and ask love to carry you as you travel along. Prepare to be amazed as you watch yourself run. Walk in knowing that you are immensely loved, in your rawness and imperfection. Let everything you do come forth from that mind blowing truth. Happy birthday you little monkey, you.
Above: Photographs from our childhood. Me and my sisters as beady eyed little freaks with our babies Becky and Trixie. / With some of the most beautiful women we know: Our mommy, Our greatgrandmother Matilde, Our grandmothers Lola Buen and Lola Doring (not in photo, but is equally as gorgeous)
One weekend, while most of Manila was fist pumping away at a big music festival, some of my favourite people and I decided to go revisit a historical volcano not too far away. I’m so happy to have gone on this trip with Elyne, Shake, Zyra and Ryan (who are also pretty much like minded travellers) I don’t think anyone else would’ve appreciated our girly shrieking at the sight of the gorgeous crater (except for Ryan, who for a guy, was pretty tolerant of our girliness) our “The Secret life of Walter Mitty” references , our oooh-ing and ahhhh-ing at the way the light hit the majestic mountains and not to mention our constant stopping for pictures. LOL To say we took a lot of photographs is an understatement! Haha! For the visually inspired traveller, the bumpy 4x4 ride and the 10 km hike up Mount Pinatubo will definitely stun.
Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 was said to be one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the 20th century. Thousands of Filipino families had to evacuate their homes. Their lives changed forever by the volcano’s fury, the excess of ash, rain and lahar. Fast forward to two decades later, there I was, somewhere in between Zambales and Pampanga, at the crater of the volcano I only used to hear about in 5th grade Civics class.
I couldn’t help but stand there amazed at how something so beautiful can come out of the ruin. How so much prettiness can come out from the dust. How something that once brought death and devastation could one day make someone stand in awe at its majesty and make a weary spirit come alive. I’m amazed at how something bigger than ourselves took all of that brokenness- and without human hands, in the fullness of time, while the world continued to spin madly on, while we continued to live and die- right under our noses, something we can’t quite comprehend, created otherworldly beauty worth marvelling at. As I continue to journey across the country I call home , I cannot help but fall to my knees over and over again-unable to fully grasp and process how much beauty we are blessed with. Both in places unspoiled by man and in places once broken. There’s no way all of this is an accident.
P.S. See the film version of our little adventure on my friend Shake’s blog! It is love!
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Trips to Thailand (even short work related ones) are always such a treat. While Bangkok is one big art and culture fest and Samui is a sleepy, relaxing beach town- Phuket, I feel, is an interesting fusion of both cities. When you think Phuket, you automatically think of the cult hit The beach and the gorgeous island of Ko Phi Phi. I however will forever associate Phuket with charming local shops, artsy cafe’s and breathtaking seaside scenery. We spent 3 out of our 4 days there shooting around Trisara (our couple’s lush resort). While it was also fun and sort of relaxing in itself, I felt like I needed to burn all of the excessive Pad thai in my system with some good old adventure. We were blessed with one work-free day and a new local friend Aht, who shot the wedding with us,who generously offered to show us around the city, since we didn’t really have time to hop on a boat to Phiphi island. Seeing the city through a local’s eyes was totally refreshing- a day in the life of Aht, as I fondly call the experience in my head, felt like such an authentic travel experience. It was nice learning a bit about the Thai government, getting to ask about thai culture, thai food and hearing about the other places in Thailand we ought to visit next! (Chiang mai! Who’s game?) We just felt really blessed by Aht’s hospitality and good heart! Also, listening to all his family stories made me realize how similar Thai and FIlipino culture are.
We started off with the prerequisite “touristy” places. We walked around Kata beach (which I felt was a mix of the Legian district in Bali and Venice beach in LA) and then decided to move to a more relaxed and more quiet place near the ocean to grab some lunch. After some delish Pad thai, we then drove up to Prom thep cape, which was according to Aht, probably the most photographed part of Phuket. I was half expecting the place to be crawling with camera toting tourists (like myself! Haha!) but to my surprise and delight, we were the only people there plus a couple who drove up to see the romantic sight on their scooter (Ahhh to honeymoon like that someday!) We got to see Phuket from such great heights (cue the Postal service song!) and I couldn’t resist snapping away on my camera. There was also a local craftsman who was selling bags and charms at the cape. Carmela snagged a few treasures and I had to be content with just taking pictures since I was practically living on my credit card and didn’t have cash on me. Note to self: BRING COLD HARD CASH TO PHUKET as it is crawling with so much thrift shop treasures and gorgeous textile. I shall come back to hoard!
We then moved to Old Phuket town to get some coffee. Aht took us to his friend’s pretty cafe to get our caffeine fix. After which, we walked around, visited out a few nearby temples and then walked further along to check out the weekend market. The whole place was just…love! Streets were lined with food vendors (thai street food in my opinion, is the best ever! I look forward to it everytime I’m in thailand! I stocked up on coconut ice cream and food I couldn’t pronounce) and local crafters. Old victorian buildings that were restored into artsy cafes and vintage shops lined the streets, people from all parts of the globe were just relaxing and sipping on their lattes and watching the world go by-everything was just buzzing with culture, art and local goodness. I went crazy exploring all the shops and stalls, breathing in all that inspiration! This was easily my favorite part of the day.
Instagrams from a lovely afternoon around our hotel and Old Phuket town.
When the sun started to set and the fairy lights at the market came on, we had another round of Padthai, hearty laughter and then decided to head back to the hotel and pack for our flight the next day. We said our goodbyes to Aht and thanked him for being such a gracious host. I stop and look a back at this beautiful day with overwhelming gratitude to our Lord for gentle souls, art and majestic cliffs. All of this by Him and for Him. Praying this isn’t the last time I get to visit you Phuket!
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You
You make me new, You are making me new
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
As promised, photographs from an afternoon with John, Kate and baby Tyler. I had a grand time hanging out and shooting with the newlyweds in their new home. The heavens blessed us with such gorgeous afternoon light too! Infinitely happy for my friend Kate and her beautiful new family. I hope you guys enjoyed browsing through these pictures just as much as I enjoyed taking them. Love and light! xx
The love for equals is a human thing- a friend for a friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing- the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing- to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy- the love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love- it conquers the world.
-Frederich Buechener, The magnificent defeat
In honor of Valentines day, here are a few lovey dovey photos from my cousin’s wedding last weekend. It was an intimate and really beautiful family affair. At most weddings, I am behind the scenes, shooting away all throughout the magical day. So when I actually get to be a guest, it’s pretty darn special for little old me ( Although at my Kuya Koi’s wedding, I still couldn’t put the camera down! It was just too pretty, with the lovely rustic details and all!) I don’t think I’m ever going to get sick of weddings, even if I practically live, eat and breathe them! I go to these things almost every week (twice or thrice a week during wedding season!) and I still get teary eyed almost every time. Kuya Koi’s wedding wasn’t an exception. It was really beautiful to see him and Ate Shayne glorifying God with their decision to get married. More than the dress, the gorgeous details and the look on the groom’s face, weddings are a symbol of Jesus’ second coming. He is the bride groom and we, his church (the body of believers) are his bride. He will one day return, and be reunited with us. It will be the most beautiful wedding ever! Until then, we are called to love one another just as He loves us. I came across a timely piece of literature (the Frederich Buechener quote above)that fits this “call to love” perfectly. We are called to conquer the world with His love. (With my crazy mood swings and selfish nature, I know it will be much easier said than done! But by His grace, it is possible!) We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Happy Valentines day everyone!