Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Personal Musings

2 is the Magic Number

Today, a new notification from wordpress says that it is my 2nd year anniversary here.  It has been 2 years since I started writing this blog, initially with the intention of sharing my adventures and thoughts on photography, mountain climbing and other similar stuff.  About a year ago, the blog has focused almost exclusively on sharing my photos – whether on the beach, mountain, at home, in the office or somewhere else.

I also noticed that a day ago, I had my 200th follower for this blog.  For that I am thankful to all those who read my blog, especially to those who frequent it and those who comment.

Thank you and I hope that my posts and images brings inspiration, happiness or whatever it is you are looking for when looking at a blog.  🙂


The Mark Joseph Solis Controversy

These days, Philippine social media is abuzz over Mark Joseph Solis, but not in a good way.

Mark Joseph Solis has been exposed as a fraud or a “photo thief” after he won the Calidad Humana photo contest sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Chile (here in the Philippines). “His” winning photo is supposedly of a boy in Zamboanga province (a province in the southern part of the Philippines) playing with seaweeds. In fact, his photo was taken by Gregory John Smith, a Brazil-based social entrepreneur and founder of Children at Risk Foundation, of a boy from Brazil.


The photo at the center of the controversy.  Gregory John Smith’s photo plagiarized and entered into a contest by Mark Joseph Solis.

The fraud was exposed after people contacted Smith on the use of his photo for the contest (after it already won).  The contest, with a theme of “Smiles for the World” carries a top prize of $1000, an all-expense paid trip to Brazil and Chile and a high end smartphone from a local telecom company.  Adding fuel to the fire is that this is not the first time that he’s done it.  Reports indicate that he’s done it five times, entering photo contests with pictures taken from flickr and other websites.

The controversy sure seemed like it was blown out of proportion.  Primarily, I think this is because Mr. Solis is a student of the University of the Philippines (UP), a public university and the premier institution of learning in the country.  He graduated BS Political Science from UP and is now taking graduate studies in the university’s National Center for Public Administration and Governance.  I guess people were expecting much higher standards from students who graduated from UP and whose education were paid for by their taxes.

Plagiarism is a serious thing in UP (same as in higher institutions of learning).  It is punishable by expulsion, though the application of that is not clear in this case as this is not a school-related project or activity.  (I remember when I was in college in UP, there was a history teacher that I hated.  Two or three years after I’ve taken her class, she was exposed for having plagiarized her thesis or dissertation for her doctorate degree.  I don’t think she was fired or expelled, probably suspended, and last I heard, she said that she’d prepare her own thesis).

Not surprisingly, UP students and alumni were much irritated to have the name of our beloved university tarnished (once again) because of the foolishness and lack of intellectual honesty of one person.  Photographers and photography groups were also on fire criticizing Mr. Solis for such photo theft.

For me, the more disturbing issue is that Mr. Solis is a student with leadership and debating skills and he has been recognized as an outstanding student by the Knights of Rizal (a chartered organization devoted to the ideals of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal).  Furthermore, he has taken Political Science and is doing graduate studies on Public Administration – indications that point to him having an interest in a political career.

Another hot topic in the Philippine social media today is the pork barrel controversy involving several top political leaders (senators and congressmen).  And it is frightening that Mr. Solis, at his age 22, may already be on his way to becoming one of these corrupt leaders.  Today, someone else’s picture to win some prize money here and there.  Tomorrow, the public’s money for personal gain.

In some ways, everything will be well for those affected (except perhaps for Mr. Solis who is still subject of criticism).  Mr. Smith’s foundation earned media exposure, and so did the photography contest sponsored by the Chilean Embassy.  UP’s name, though tarnished, still remained with shine as the second and third place winners were also from UP.  Mr. Medardo Marquez, previous second prize winner has been awarded the first place in lieu of disqualified Solis.

44mMedardo Marquez’s prize winning entry.

Since this is my blog, I’d like to take this opportunity to post some pictures on the contest theme.  They may not win some prize but they are my own and I’m proud of them.

Kids from Tambobong Beach, Dasol, Pangasinan.

Kids from Paracale, Camarines Norte.


Feeling down today so I’ll just post this prayer made by Max Ehrmann.

I only became acquainted with this when I was working.  The advice are really spot on for me.

  • If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. – So true.  So eventhough I’m envious of the photographers in, I’m better than others.  No need to be bitter.  Other persons are richer but I’m doing pretty ok.
  • Keep interested in your own career – Sigh!  Seems like I’m slipping in this regard.
  • Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. – Is there such a thing as a quarter-life or one-third life crisis?  What if I have not yet enjoyed my youth.

Travels and Pictures

Just realized that eversince I’ve started photographing the places I’ve been to, I now judge the beauty of a place by the actual beauty of the place when I saw it AND how the place looks in my pictures.  This may be the same but not always like when I adjust the white balance (temperature and tint) of a landscape picture that makes it look better than it actually is.

Midlife Crisis (?)

I’m beginning to finally understand what midlife crisis is all about.  I’ll be turning 31 in a little over a week from now and a chat with a college friend last night intensified the feeling of depression.

I’m learning that midlife crisis comes when someone evaluates his/her life as opposed to what he/she dreamed or planned it would be and how far that path he/she has achieved.

Midlife crisis is supposed to come when a person is on his late 30s early 40s age.  However, my generation has been used to getting results fast (the NOW generation) and there’s a sense of entitlement.  Furthermore, the free flow of information have barraged us with details of young persons who’ve already made it big (Mark Zuckerberg, et al).  It also seems that I have college classmates and friends who are achievers and have made it big in life and my life seems to be average when compared to them.  Thus, the pre-birthday sadness.

Back in college, I was really depressed, sometimes for months.  But back then, there’s always the silver lining that when I get out of college, things can only get better.  And things have indeed gone better.  But now, what’s there to look forward to?

Oh well, on to more adventures.  If life won’t make my previous dreams come true, I’ll just create new dreams and make them a reality.  And the fact that I am evaluate my life is probably a good sign.  I have friends, I have adventures, I have fun!


“How Are You?”

A few weeks ago, an expat officemate commented that when asked how I am, I always answer with “I’m fine” or “I’m ok.”

I’m not so good at pleasantries and this got me thinking on what should be the appropriate answer.  Do I pour my heart out to them and tell that I’m not in tiptop shape, or that I am depressed for that day, or that I am having morbid thoughts? Do I tell them that at times I don’t even want to rise from where I’m lying in the morning?

Do they even have the time and the ear to listen to more than a minute’s worth of answer?

Please let me know.