Last week I entered the Lens Culture Street Photography awards and I am
just too happy and proud to announce that one of my Iloilo Photos has
been selected to be featured on the website! This is soo much more than I
dared to hope. Please have look at this link to see all the 10 photos I submitted (just scroll to the right)…

And of course feel free to share the link :-). Check the gallery on the lens culture website for hundreds more great street photos…

One of the things that I still notice in the Philippines is the love of uniforms. There are many many official uniforms around and it starts at a very early age. It is not uncommon to see very small children in (pre) school uniform. It follow through the whole educational system. Whereas there are some universities and schools without uniforms, most have. When I am in Iloilo and get up early before class to have breakfast, there are many students in uniform around. Not only school uniforms, but also nursing students in their white outfits and naval students in their white officer uniforms, including caps and sometimes insignia. Many offices and businesses have their uniforms and more.

Apart from that there are the informal uniforms here. Women selling fish can almost always be recognized by the fact that they both were pants and skirts…

Another feature are the more informal uniforms. Parties having a political rally or an action for a cause will have t-shirts printed. The registration fee for a Fun Run where you are running for joy or a cause will always include a jersey or t-shirts and I have even seen funeral where the direct family are all wearing a t-shirt with the portrait of the beloved one.

I know it gives a sense of unity and stimulates the sense of belonging to a group, but for me, as a bit more individual Dutch, it is still something I don’t fully get, but it mesmerizes me in a way. For a long time I have been thinking of doing a project on these people in uniform. This lady guard with the big log book at Terminal 3 in Manila International Airport is the first of maybe many more to follow..

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(c) Ubo Pakes


Usually I like things a bit old and dilapidated for my pictures. The older parts of the city markets and so forth are therefore usually the first places I go if I have the chance.

When we were in London last week, we stayed near the Wembley stadium and that area is quite the opposite. New, bustling with building activities and with many, many new and modern buildings. Not really my cup of tea; but when I walked around a bit, my eyes were drawn to this modern building. I liked the waves and curves and waited for a person to pass by to add a bit of dimension.

The landscape oriented shot I made did not turn out so well because of the distractions from parked cars etc, but I am quite pleased with this one as well..

(c) Ubo Pakes

This will be, I think, the last photo from my trip Holland for a while (until I get a chance to go back). The area I used to live had a number of small trains or trams going in the steam area, now over a century and half ago or so. Sadly enough they have gone and so have many of the paths and small bridges that cross the river Reest. At some places you can still see some traces of this history. My father knows some locations where parts of the bridges still can be seen at low water in the river

I am not sure if this is part of that history, or just a smart move in recycling more modern railroad materials. Here an old railroad ty (or sleeper, depending on your English) is used as support for a fencepost. Mostly made from Oak wood and heavily impregnated with all kinds of stuff against rot and insects they last a long long time. This specific one has been strengthened with an iron band as can be seen at the top of the post. I like the nice contrast with the green and the flowers.

I have taken some more shots of these posts and you can find them here:


the meadow

The good thing (or actually one of the good things) about coming home to Holland is the jet lag after traveling here from the Philippines. I know this is not a common opinion, but for a photographer, waking up without an alarm early in the morning is just a good thing. Especially if you get to roam around the area where you grew up. There is a downside however as well. Coming from Cebu City with temperatures well above the 30 degrees Celsius, makes 530 in the morning on a cold spring day very very cold.

The river Reest in my hometown has some nice wet meadows and in spring there is an abundance of wild flowers and more and more small paths and bike lanes have been developed so it is more and more accessible. The morning was nice but a bit gloomy, still it was just to great to be out here and be back home.



Last week in Bohol we stayed for a while in this house of one of the farmer leaders. As usual in the Philippines, the farmers are not rich (please note the understatement). This was also not a rich household, but i noticed that the house was built and maintained with love. The walls are not painted, but well finished, the floor was smooth concrete, the wood was well cut and finished and the few furniture was nice. To me it really made a difference

This small spot on near the front door looked so homely to me. Nice chairs, protection from the sun and a sleeping dog really made it home, even if just for a few hours. The photo needed some tweaking because of the very strong contrasts, but I am happy with the outcome and it was very nice to take some pictures in the shade instead of outside in the blistering sun.

Hope to be back with these nice people soon.

the oil lamp

I love these kind of oil lamps. Small bottles that have been retrofitted with a small pit and using kerosene for fuel. They appear at the most unexpected places here in the Philippines. My late father in law had one in his store in case of an electricity brown out. A cigarette lighter was always hanging from a string in the store, so he was never in the dark long.

This one was hiding in a small corner in the kitchen of the house of a family of a farmer leader in the small town of Mabini, Bohol. Even in case of a brown out, which happen often here, at least food can be cooked and diner can continue. It was nice to see it in the corner of the bamboo house. The fact that they turned a very small bottle of agraricus forte in to a small oil lamp at a farm just seems to be appropriate.

With the low light it was a hard shot to capture hand held, but I wanted to capture the dark atmosphere in the kitchen, even at noon time.


Nang Citas


Nang Citas (short for Felicitas) is one of the founding members of the San Roque Farmers Association in Aloguinsan, Cebu, the Philippines. This is a small organization trying to improve their lives and that of their children by cooperating to improve harvests. It is small poor communities where toilets are far and few between, live is harsh, and most of the farming work is done by hand or using carabows (water buffalos). The landscape between the mountains and the see is wonderful and views are great.

The small community of nang Citas is also fighting a case against the possible land grabbing of their properties and during meetings and activities they also sing their theme song, composed by Nang Citas. She also composes more songs and poems to keep the spirits up in difficult times.

She is truly a remarkable woman and has a very characteristic face which I could not resist. The photo was taken during a general assembly of the organization when my wife was conducting interviews for her research on landgrabbing


Istamby is Philippino English for stand-by, or hanging around. Last week I was able to join my wife for her field research to Aloguinsan in the western part of Cebu province. Aloguinsan is a small town depending mostly of mall scale fishing and farming for its livelihood, so apart from the market area, there are not much stores. To provide the participants in her research with some snacks during the sessions, we settled for the local burger joint (as I said, there are not much options here).

To my surprise there was a bike parked inside the shop together with some stocks of soft drinks and all. It also turned out to be a favorite hangout for the kids in town. The older youth and the men could be found near the bus stop and municipal hall, but the boys were here. Maybe the fact that you get two burgers for the price of one also played a role here.

I loved this kid hanging around the bike, looking tough with his colored hair and the bracelet around his ankle, but he was surprisingly shy when he saw me. Even more when I asked to take his picture, but we both liked the result in the end..



Boy with a hat


Last week I was lucky to be able to join Leny and the Women’s Resource Center of Visayas to a Gender Sensitivity Training in Medellin, for women leaders of the communities we support after typhoon Yolanda. I am always looking forward to these trips. It is great to support these activities and people and apart from that, they offer great possibilities for taking photographs in places you would not usually visit. It had been a while since I was out to shoot photos and I was really looking forward to roam around. Too bad that summer and el Nino hit Cebu hard and it was just too hot to go around town.

The good thing about being around a women’s organization is that there are always plenty of children around. This boy was very happy with his hat and during one hour or so he wore it in three or four different styles. Just as regular cap, sideward left and sideward right, back to front, fully pulled over his eyes and more… I really loved this, but too bad for me, he was also very shy and aware of me and did not want to have his picture taken. So at one point I gave up and just rested outside in the shade checking my cell phone.

This was interesting and for a while he just looked over my shoulder and then he sat down and rested as well. This gave me the opportunity I needed (but never thought would come again) and I was able to catch this photo. He still doesn’t trust things completely, but he smiled when I showed him the photo. The wall and his clothes were a bit drab and earthen colored, but after converting the photo to black and white things turned out very fine and I love the expression in his face.

A tailor at work in the dark center area of the Market in Danao City, Cebu, Philippines

In many of my trips I see tailors at work. Many work in small shops along the road, if possible with a lot of bright light bulbs. This man was working in the interior, covered part of the public market in Danao City, Cebu. It was a really dark area where four or five small sewing shops were placed together. He was not too shy to pose for a photo. I really liked also the clothes (which look like business uniforms to me) at the background.

After a short chat he allowed me to take his portrait and it took a few shots before I could hide the small bare lighbulb behind the sewing machine. A little brightening of the shadows in his face took care of this project. I am not yet done with the subject, but I am quite happy with this portrait.

The poster and invitation of my first exhibition!

I am really happy the way the exhibition in UP has turned out. Great amount of visitors, nice reactions and for me a general feeling of well being…

I was also very much touched with an email from from Daniella from with the request of they could use some photos for their review of the exhibit. That is of course no problem. Made you curious? have a look at their review here