Albi and Me

Many have asked about the story behind my profile photo and the interesting animal in the portrait. Everyone, please meet Albi (short for Albino). His name is not very original and some of you must be thinking, how un-politically correct! Albi was one of three albino carabaos or water buffaloes (the Philippine national animal) saved from the slaughter house and we just wanted to celebrate his nude/ peach/pink color. Which answers the next question---his color or image wasn't photoshopped. He was docile all throughout the two shoots. Our first attempt was a night shoot in his surroundings but the studio shoot worked out better. He only made a fuss when we tried to put on a Swarovski lariat necklace by Miranda Konstantinidou (Konplott) so we left him au naturel. Looks much better anway. The dress by talented fashion designer, Ronald Villavelez, and Konplott jewelry ended up matching Albi without much forethought. When I talked to Ron about the dress, I told him I wanted something in eggshell or nude and a modern take on the Filipino terno (our national costume). He called me for the fitting and my jaw dropped when I saw the laser cut florettes on the sleeves, the delicate ruffles and the mix of nudes. Leave it up to him to create something better than imagined. The jewels were an afterthought. I called Miranda while getting made up at the studio and asked if she had anything peachy pink. The driver came back with a bunch of beautiful jewels and I picked this Swarovski pearl layered necklace and bracelet which look like they were just made for this moment. Albi and I unintentionally matched! If I remember correctly, we wrapped up in 2 hours.
If a picture speaks a thousand words, then O speaks volumes. How long will the story of a photo be after Romero Vergara transforms the subject with his amazing maquillage artistry and then Jon Unson captures that particular image at that moment? Alive yet frozen in time.  I am thankful to be part of this book collaboration by publisher Eva Gullas, photograper Jon Unson, and make up artist Romero Vergara. Published in 2006.

A book called O

O is for openness, an open door to
exciting possibilities, a space that
allows access...it is an open
mind, receptive to ideas, and open
to vulnerabilities...

O is just like oxygen, a necessity
to living a life...

O is a circle that gives
a different view, a different

Introduction by Jing Ramos

The Company We Keep

It takes more than wit to capture the nuances and mood of a community that is on the brink of turning cosmopolitan. Welcome to our times - Cebu on the throes of constant upswing transformation, peopled by the pages of this book - hopefully viewed with sympathy by the next generation.
The photographs Jon Unson have taken, fortunately, are all for art's sake. And like most of his works they often explore the nature of closeness and disaffection, sameness and anomaly, belonging and exclusion, the tension derived from sentimental expectations of what is supposed to be and the debacle of what really is. Or perhaps the timing is just a coincidence.
Something uncanny occurs in civilized people when they're suddenly confronted by a truth they have long repressed. Our dignity, after all, depends upon continence, in the broadest sense of the word, and Jon Unson's subjects leak their souls. Some sitters were in part souvenirs of initiation and trophies of acceptance.
Portraiture in whatever form is an autonomous high minded act. But if the pictures make you wonder how Jon got them and why his subjects consented to pose as they did, everyone with a true and false identity secretly knows the answer. In the process of becoming visible one risks being seen through. On the other hand the photographs have blurred the lines of class distinction and social roles, while the photographer harrowed the more subjective, unstable terrain of eroticism and gender.
Romero Vergara's aesthetics bring out a distinct reality that can only be described as his own. And it takes a publication like Zee to tackle the challenge of a unique perspective and bringing this vision into the mainstream.

Romero Vergara + Jon Unson

Please allow me to share a few of 117 lovely portraits....

Rose Amores Hudson, florist

Oj Hofer, fashion designer & aspiring bodhisattva

Joanna Maitland Smith-Lhuillier, bag & jewelry designer

Stephen Aznar, sommelier

Amparito Lhuillier, business+social doyenne

Kenneth Cobonpue, furniture designer

Marjay Ramirez, model

Miranda Konstantinidou, jewelry designer

Margot Osmena, First Lady of Cebu

Butch Carungay, jewelry designer

Rosebud Sala, interior decorator

Nina Kokseng-Misa, restaurateur

Jaja Chiongbian-Rama, entertainment media director

Behind the scenes:

Albi post mud-bath
with Jon and Romero prepping


Unknown said...

fantastic....stunning..... and thank you for sharing a great ready.....Congrats!

Null said...

Wow, I had no idea it had such a "meaty" story. Thank you for the link; sorry for the pun;-)

Froulala said...

Haha! Thanks for asking about the story. Hope it wasn't a mouthful, in response to your pun :-)

Unknown said...

Hi. I am an animal advocate. I would like to ask permission to use your photo with Albi for a quote I'm writing for our advocacy, if it is possible. I will cite your blog. Thanks in advance.