Such a poor country

Cigarettes are cheap in the Philippines.  A pack of Camel Lights here (made in Malaysia) costs roughly US$1.17. A pack of Camel Lights (made in Japan) in Hong Kong is about US$7. And about double that in the U.S.

DSC03008

But even a buck a pack is out of reach for a large segment of the population. And so, you can buy single cigarettes, “sticks”, from vendors in the street and even from stores. (Single sticks of gum, too.)

Morality and health issues aside, one has to wonder how this particular cigarette company thought it worthwhile to advertise cigarettes at P2.50 each or – such a deal! – 2 for P5.

Well, I can’t sleep tonight and this is the best I could come up with at the moment …

Hiring a Domestic Helper in Manila

After a year and a half, I have come to the opinion that finding a good domestic helper is an almost impossible task. And we need a helper – or maybe even two. It’s a big house that takes a lot of work to keep clean. There’s a 17 year old girl who needs to get out to school at 5:30 every morning and my 95 year old mother and two dogs.

Right or wrong, and I think I’m right, my impression is that anyone good who is willing to do this kind of work goes overseas, to Hong Kong or Singapore or wherever, and what we’re left with in Manila is sloppy seconds. If you’re Filipino and want to work overseas, there are certain minimum standards one must meet in order to legally do that. The reward is that you’ll make at least 5 times more than someone working as a helper in the Philippines. So anyone with a brain who can qualify for overseas work leaves.

I came across three agencies on the internet that seemed reputable – well, they had decent enough web sites and claimed various government licenses. We called, told them our requirements. One of them said they had someone and we went to their office to meet her. The office was a hole in the wall on a tiny side street in Taguig, sharing its premises with what appeared to be a gay massage parlor. The woman we met there spoke some English but had no experience cooking western food, even though she said she had once worked for a British family (for six months). We decided to keep looking.

With the other agencies, I decided to save the trip and do phone interviews. The people they found for us couldn’t respond to even the most basic questions in English. “Hello. How are you?” “I am 37 po.” “Okay, how are you?” “I am from Baguio po.” “Okay, how are you?” “I am Maria sir.”

Next we tried friends of my wife’s mother. She came up with 3 women, all appeared to be over 60, only one of them spoke a little English, none of them could cook anything more complicated than rice, mostly they sat on the sofa watching TV, none of them lasted more than a few days.

At the moment we’re using my wife’s sister-in-law and she’s actually quite okay but I think after awhile she might look to move on.

I’ve taken a look at Craig’s List and at least I’ve gotten a few chuckles out of it.

One ad has this photo:

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But then she writes in the ad, “PLEASE NOTE: absolutely NO “extra” service. Please respect me, this is not a sexual service of ANY kind.”

Other ads seem to hint that the person would be willing to handle other chores aside from cooking and cleaning:

/Accompany for business trip ,dinner and outings if necessary.

/Duties and details can be adjusted, it depends on the nature of task

Or this one:

open minded live in companion seeking expat employer.
I am a 31y/o single lady.
Do not ask me to do laundry, cooking, and carry heavy things, I am not good in it. Cleaning is okay.

 

Perhaps she needs to meet this guy:

I am a single Caucasian American man living and working here in Manila and in need of a full time housekeeper and companion to take care of my home and me. Please do be aware that what I am looking for is much more than just taking care of the household things but in addition being extremely personal and intimate with me. I would much prefer a lady that lived in with me rather than one who lives out but we can discuss this aspect.

Please contact me with your complete details, past experience and full length revealing photos.

Actually there are a few ads on Craig’s List that seem reasonable.

I’m looking for a household (live in) job. I prefer foreigners. Family or single. Single is ok as long as it’s a non sexual. Just a pure job. I can clean, do laundry and ironing, can cook basic food, etc. I am friendly. Just be nice and I’ll be nice too:)
I’m a 31 years old female.

and

Godfearing very Trustworthy very reliable kindhearted 29 y/o straight female, with nbi/police clearance,single, no kids but can take good care of children well. Not yet married but know how to do household chores.
Seeking employer with a good heart for any live in job position with own room.

This is My First time applying as a maid or a nanny, but can do the job well, I occasionally cook at home, do household chores, and take good care of my 7y/o niece. I used to babysit my 3 younger siblings when they were younger. I am very kind to kids will love them as my real siblings or own child.
I have a job as a saleslady in my older sister’s friend’s mini store. But the store will be closed soon.

I am only a High School Graduate. Do not ask me to send a cv or a resume.

I do not offer any extra services. Just a normal job as a maid or a nanny.

So maybe that will be the answer.

Random Late Night Thoughts

When I fly out of Manila, I try to get the earliest flight possible so that I’ll have the least amount of traffic going to the airport. That always works fine.

Coming back to Manila, I get a late flight, again so that there won’t be much traffic once I land. That works so-so, because the later the flight, the more likelihood there’ll be a delay. (A friend of mine on Facebook said, PAL = Planes Always Late.) That’s what happened tonight. My 10:30 flight delayed by almost an hour and a half. Then again, I made it from the airport to my front door in 38 minutes.

Anyway, last week a friend was visiting Manila and we went out after work for a few hours. This is a guy who is extremely well organized and I follow many of his tips. His latest tip is to always have a camera and a notebook. Aside from always having both at your fingertips, he says it’s a conversation starter. I silently questioned the wisdom of walking around Manila with a US$1,000 camera in your hands, but he seemed to be doing just fine.

But that got me thinking along a tangent. I have the Nikon D-800. I’ve had it for 5 years now I guess and it is without question the best camera I ever owned. I have ten lenses for it (including the 24-70mm F2.8 and 80-200mm F2.8). And in the year and a half since I came to Manila, I think I’ve used it three times. It’s just sitting there, day after lonely day, in the dehumidifier cabinet.

There’s also the fact that the camera is big and can be quite heavy (depending on which lens I’m using).

I started wondering, if I sold it all off and got a much smaller mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, would I be using it more frequently – and would I be as happy with it (and with the results) as I am with the Nikon?

I don’t know the answer to that yet.

Very coincidentally, Wednesday night walking down Lockhart Road, I ran into a friend and we stopped into a nearby bar to catch up. This particular friend is a member of Hong Kong band The Sleeves. I knew they had just returned from Cambodia, where they recorded their second album, so I had at least a thousand questions. And I joked that they should have brought their official photographer (aka Me) along on the trip. And he turned around and said that the photos I’d taken of the band were the best ever taken (here’s some shots from the studio session we did) – and how sad it is that they can’t use them any more (they have a new bass guitarist) and that I should either bring my camera along with me next time I come to Hong Kong or maybe they’ll all make it to Manila before the end of the year.

I no longer have a studio – and I’m not connected to any local photographers or studios yet. So there’s that.

It also got me missing Hong Kong (even though I was there at that moment) in the sense that on any given night I can still walk around Wanchai or Lan Kwai Fong or TST and run into at least half a dozen people I know while my circle in Manila is immensely smaller.

First and foremost, I have to get out more. So that’s one resolution I will try to keep. With a notepad and camera in hand (but for now, just my Sony RX-100 Mark 3, which is still a damned fine camera for its size).

NAIA Sucks & Philippines Airlines Is Goofy

The Manila airport is awful in just about every way you can imagine. Almost no public transportation to or from the airport. Horrible traffic in both the departure and arrival areas. Rip-off taxi touts allowed to operate openly. Long lines. Air conditioning that barely works. Different security regulations and procedures at each terminal. Good luck if you need to transfer between two terminals – it’s probably quicker to fly to Hong Kong than to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.

Someone spent billions of pesos renovating Terminal 1, and soon after it reopened the roof collapsed. And a similar event at Terminal 3.

Today, they had to shut down the main runway at the airport for most of the day because of holes.

You really have to wonder if anyone in charge has even the slightest clue of what they’re doing. Or perhaps all of the money that should be going to maintenance is going into peoples’ pockets. Maybe Duterte should be threatening to shoot the corrupt – surely that would bring about better results than going after low level drug dealers.

Terminal 2 is the worst of the worst.

I get to Terminal 2. There’s a loooong line outside the terminal waiting to get past the first security check at the front door. I play the “senior citizen card” – I’m over 60 so I get to skip the line. That’s okay. We already checked in online and I have printed out my boarding passes, so we follow the signs that point to check-in for the Hong Kong flight, but there is no bag drop line there – it’s all the way on the other side of the terminal. The person online in front of me has 6 bags and for some reason it’s taking the agent 20 minutes to process those bags.

Once in the immigration area, I have to go to the line to pay the insane P2,170 I have to pay every time I leave the country since I have an ACR card. Except in front of me is a family – father, mother, 3 kids – and it literally takes the agent 20 minutes to check their passports, print the receipts, collect the money and give them their change. 20 minutes!

Once I get inside, public toilets are few and far between (there are none in the wing that has gates 9 through 12). Everything is dirty, every area is congested.Not enough places to sit. Smoking lounge closed. You can get better food at a 7-11 than in any of the “food kiosks”. I pay 85 pesos (almost US$2) for a tuna sandwich on white bread that has an ounce of tuna on it if I’m lucky, maybe less, and one teeny slice of tomato.  A can of Coke costs twice as much at the airport than at a 7-11. A pack of cigarettes costs 50% more at the airport duty free than at a 7-11.

I’m forced into Terminal 2 because my company insists on booking me on Philippines Airlines. I still don’t understand why. Usually Cathay Pacific is the same price or within $20. Cebu Pacific is much cheaper but I’m not allowed to use them. Either of those would let me travel via Terminal 3, which has actual restaurants, an actual smoking lounge, and saves me 30 minutes of travel each way.

As airlines go, Philippines is not that bad, I suppose. The economy class food is no better and no worse than what you’d get on Cathay Pacific. Seat space is okay. No screens at all – you’re supposed to connect your phone or tablet to wifi on the plane and then stream video. I haven’t tried it so can’t comment on how well it works or doesn’t work.

I had to laugh when I landed in Hong Kong yesterday and checked my email.

Philippines Airlines had sent me a flight status update email about my flight – and they sent it after the flight took off!

Here’s the email.

phil1

 

And here it is again, with the timestamp showing:

phil2

 

So for a flight that was scheduled to depart at 2:35 PM, they sent me a status update email at 3:04 PM. So when I landed, I was able to receive an email telling me what time I would land. Except that we didn’t actually take off until after 3 PM and didn’t touch down until almost exactly 5 PM.

Anyway, I’m in Hong Kong now. Where things actually work. A day later, reminded of that not terrible but terribly annoying trip, having had two dinners at two long-time favorite restaurants here, seeing some friends, getting a bit of shopping done at Wanchai Computer Centre, I realize that sometimes I really do miss Hong Kong.

PinoyDVD Frustration & I Still Haven’t Bought Anything & Movie Piracy

Argh. Maybe someone can help me out.

A friend recommended an online forum called PinoyDVD as a great source of info for Manila audio/video shopping. Should be simple enough, right?

They require registration before you can access some of the forums or post your own stuff. So I try to register. Which isn’t as simple as it sounds, as there are two verification questions (out of what seems to be a mix of four) at the bottom of the page, and they are in Tagalog. Friends helped me out here.

  • Nakapangalan kay Epi de los Santos: – so the answer for this one would be EDSA
  • Langhap: – the Jollibee slogan, the answer is sarap
  • And one more asking about the woman on the 500 peso bill – Cory Aquino

So I register and then get the message to wait for an email and click on the link to verify my email address. One week later that email still hasn’t come. I have:

  • made sure I typed my email address correctly
  • checked my spam folders carefully
  • clicked on the “resend verification email” about a thousand times

Nada.

Then, for the heck of it, I thought I’d try to register again with a different user name and email address, only to get the message that I’m not allowed to register more than one account from the same computer. (I suppose I could use a VPN to come in via a different IP address but I’m getting tired of all this.)

There is no way to contact an admin of the page if you’re not a member of the forum already. There is a help page but all that gives you is generic instructions for the software that the forum runs on.

Next, I attempted to join the PinoyDVD Facebook group. It wasn’t too encouraging. There’s a pinned post up top from October 9, 2014 advertising an event one month later. (There are some more recent posts under the pinned post.) But you have to request to join the group and get confirmed and one week later, Zilch.

Now, just to show how persistent I can be, I looked at the members of the group to get the admin’s name. I sent him a message on Facebook but since we’re not friends of course it went straight to his filtered messages folder that he will probably never see.

And then … I found the page admin on LinkedIn and sent him a link request, which he accepted 5 days later. I explained my problem to him … and he replied that he’s no longer actively involved with the forum but he would send a message to the site admins. Two days later, still waiting ….

I also received a recommendation for a guy who I’m told is the king of home theater in Manila. His shop is way on the other side of town from me, so I sent him a text, asked him if I could send him an email telling him my situation and budget before making the long trek to his store. He said okay and sent me his email address. I sent him the details. One day later, no reply, so I sent him a text politely asking if he could respond in the next day or two. He replied that he would but that he’s busy at the moment opening a Potato Corner franchise.

(“Be part of the brand that launched the FIRST and ORIGINAL flavored fries in the Philippines. With more than 400 branches in the Philippines alone, Potato Corner has become a formidable brand that allows you to start your own business, minus all the hassle!”)

One week later, still no reply. I think maybe my budget wasn’t worth his time.

So, given the limited amount of time I have for going around to actual shops, I haven’t moved this epic quest forward at all in the last week. I’m still stuck wondering if I should get:

  • Sony Home Theater in a box, which I think would sound good enough for my old ears, is well within my budget, but I want to hear it first before deciding
  • Yamaha Sound “Projector” which I’ve read sounds better than JBL’s soundbars, but I haven’t found a place to audition it
  • Onkyo or Denon a/v receiver and repair my front speakers and do something about surround sound a few months from now

I’ve also been looking into soundbases, which could be a good thing to have in my bedroom, where I actually watch more TV than in the living room. But poor Philippines. Sony has several models that are well reviewed, and none of them are available here. I mean, isn’t it bad enough that Sony Philippines only lists the BDV-N9100W theater in a box when everywhere else that’s been replaced by the 9200?

I’m really at the point of buying this in Hong Kong, bringing it back with me and taking my chances on customs fees.

Last item but not least. A lot of shops here are selling media players by a company called A.C. Ryan.  They’re similar to my WDTV-Live but feature somewhat newer technology. Some of them come in larger boxes into which one can shove a hard disk – I don’t really need that since I load everything onto a pocket-sized 2 terabyte WD My Passport USB drive.

And what the shops are telling me is that if I buy the A.C. Ryan with a 2 TB disk from them, it will come fully loaded with blu-ray rips of all the latest films – at no additional charge. Scroll through the on-screen display and it takes about 1/2 a second to figure out the source of this, since the file names have tags like YIFY and EVO. Actually, every a/v shop I have gone into to audition equipment, they are using these files for demos rather than DVDs or Bly-Rays.

I suppose I’m glad I’m not in the home video business any more.

UPDATE: Got an email a few minutes ago telling me I was manually activated for the PinoyDVD forum, so one less thing to worry about.

 

 

 

The Frustration of A/V Shopping In Manila

(Writing this because I’m hoping for advice!)

When I was younger I was an audiophile on a budget. I had friends with very expensive audio systems (one had a system that cost over US$100k) and I’ve heard every kind of music live, so I know what things should sound like.

But now I’m over 60, a lot of my high frequency hearing is gone and I have tinnitus, so my requirements are much more basic. These days most of my music listening is either in the car, through headphones (and I have some nice ones) or my computer speakers (Harmon Kardon Soundsticks). But it would be nice to watch movies with decent sound, and I haven’t really had that in awhile.

The set-up in my living room includes an Onkyo A/V receiver that is at least 5 years old (HDMI but no HDMI 1.4, no network features). I have two B&W P6’s and a B&W center speaker that I bought almost exactly 20 years ago. Given that the speakers were bought in Hong Kong, brought to the U.S., brought back to Hong Kong and then to Manila, one of them is kind of beat up but they still sound like the well-reviewed B&W’s that they are. I have a pair of MB Quarts for rear speakers but haven’t wired them up in ages because I don’t have an easy way to run wires for them. I have no subwoofer at all because my last one gave up the ghost a couple of years ago and I never got around to replacing it.

The current generation of home A/V equipment features all sorts of bells and whistles, some of which I would actually find useful. I just haven’t wanted to spend the money.

One thing that you have to have in your home – by law, apparently – is some sort of karaoke/videoke set-up, and we have the Magic Sing. My wife loves it. Even my 95 year old mother thinks it’s nice. (Me, I hate it.) The other day my wife was showing it off to my mother and there was a terrible amount of distortion coming out of the left speaker and my wife said she saw smoke coming out of the speaker. The Onkyo receiver kept shutting itself off too. (No jokes, my wife actually has a pretty good singing voice.) Plus the blu-ray player has been screwing up lately, adding distortion to disc playback (and I try the same discs on the bedroom player and they play fine).

So, win!!!! I can finally upgrade my system. The first problem is what to buy. The second problem, which turns out to be an even bigger one, is where to find it in Manila.

This is, after all, a poor country. A lot of things that one might commonly find in Hong Kong either don’t make it here at all or are extremely rare. As one admittedly minor example, I have yet to find a place that sells Criterion Blu-Ray or DVD discs. These are pretty much the only discs I still buy. I have to email a shop in Hong Kong and ask him to hold things there for me for my bi-monthly visits.

So finding hifi or even mid-fi here turns out to be something of a challenge. People use their TV speakers. Others are going for soundbars over any sort of hifi system now that they’ve dropped in price.

My first thought was the old reliable “home theater in a box” approach. I looked around and saw that Sony has this BDV-9100W that has pretty much everything I could possibly want for around US$800 and I figured the sound would be good enough. Among the features:

  • 6 speakers – rear speakers are wireless
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth music streaming
  • Upscale video to 4K (not that I have a 4K TV or am likely to buy one)
  • WiFi (for streaming Spotify and other internet music sources)
  • 3D Blu-Ray
  • SA-CD and DIY DVD’s with multiple computer formats
  • Dolby True HD & DTS
  • DLNA
  • Smartphone app

Not bad.

So it’s a holiday today and we’re out running errands. We’re near Rockwell so I go over to the Power Plant mall, which is a pretty upscale mall. There’s an SM appliance store in the basement and the only home theater systems they’re selling are crappy little ones with DVD players and speakers the size of a pack of cigarettes.  Elsewhere in that mall is a super high end audio store and a Bose store.

So, okay, have some lunch, walk around, back in the car, head to Megamall. This is, I think, the third largest mall in Manila. It’s on the border between two relatively wealthy areas (Mandaluyong and Pasig). Despite it being a holiday, or perhaps because of it, traffic on EDSA is horrible, of course. But finally we reach the mall and park without killing anyone (I think road rage may be one reason foreigners can’t legally buy guns here).

I head up to the 4th floor, to the Cyberzone, which is a sad version of the computer shopping malls in Hong Kong. I recall there is a huge store there that just says SONY on the sign. I go there. They have one soundbar. No home theater. I tell the guy the model number I am looking for. He tells me they don’t stock obsolete models. I ask him how it can be obsolete if it’s on Sony PH’s website. No answer. I ask him if it’s obsolete, tell me what the new model is. No answer. I ask him where I can find it. No answer.

I go down to the third floor, to a store called Listening Room that has some stuff and a reasonably knowledgeable staffer. There is a Pioneer, the MCS-838, which also has everything I would want except the rear speakers aren’t wireless (a biggie for my wife). They don’t have it in stock anyway (but they can order it).

Then I look at A/V receivers while I’m there. They’re big on Onkyo. There’s a mid-range model, the TX-NR545 that has everything I could want inside the box. I’m thinking to myself, well, if my front speakers are still okay, I could get this and get a sub-woofer and live without the rear speakers. They don’t really have any other brands of A/V receivers in stock. What about Yamaha, I ask? Onkyo is our bestseller is the answer I get back.

Also, when I get home, I find some news that makes me less than happy. This shop tells me the 545 is P35,000 or cash price P30,000. That’s just over US$600. On Amazon it sells for US$345, but no shipping to Asia. In Hong Kong the price is HK$3,588 which is around US$465. I think to myself, well, I am going to be in Hong Kong in 10 days, I could buy it there and schlep it back with me, probably get stuck with customs charges in Manila but possibly still come off cheaper in the end.

So at the end of the day, back home, empty-handed (well, one more stop, at Tiendesitas to get dog food). And still the same questions.

What should I buy? Do I go home theater in a box, everything at once, or go for separate components (perhaps purchased over the span of a few months)?

And where do I buy it? Where are stores that stock this stuff? Where I might be able to actually hear it or at least look at it and ask some questions?

 

Another Reason Growing Old Really Sucks

Okay, here’s something ….

In the 70’s people used to tell me I looked like Eric Clapton. Not bad. Similar hair and beard and glasses, I guess.

The years went by, one night in a bar in Chicago, probably around ’87 or ’88, the bartender starting asking everyone if they thought I looked like Chris Elliott. (And I got that a lot more times after that.)

chris-elliott

I’m a fan, so I didn’t mind. (For the record, my hairline hasn’t receded quite that much, I’m losing my hair from the back forwards.)

In the oughts, i tried telling people that I look exactly like Brad Pitt, 20 years from now, having a really bad day. No, it’s never fooled anyone.

But now? I posted this picture on Facebook a few minutes ago, taken from UK rag Sunday Sport.

sport

And Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm tagged the photo of Boris Johnson as me. I suppose it could have been worse. Or maybe not.

I Don’t Know What to Write About Any More

Whine whine whine ……

My last post went up roughly 10 days ago. That represents a really long gap for me. It has been a rough couple of weeks, for reasons that I won’t go into here. Every now and then I’ve sat in front of the computer and said “I’m going to write about this” and then after a minute or two thought to myself “what’s the point?” and fired up a game or watched an episode of Larry Sanders.

I’m a few months shy of my 12th anniversary as a blogger and for the first time find myself wondering how much longer I will continue. Because I don’t know what the purpose of doing this is any more. I don’t know what to write about any more.

My job and my family don’t leave me enough time to properly run this site, to monetize it or to compose posts that might be more meaningful. I know that overall I get a few thousand visitors to the site each month but if that got broken down into unique IP’s, I’m thinking I’m lucky if I get 500 people reading this stuff.

I just don’t find my life that interesting these days to write effectively about anything other than my past. We had a good meal here. I watched this movie. I listened to this album. I hate traffic.

So if not that, what can I write about in the larger sense?

Trump? Nothing I write about him will change anyone’s mind. And only about 1/3rd of my readers come from the U.S. so how interesting can this be to the other 2/3rds?

Duterte? Writing about Philippines politics has proven to be dangerous for others. For me, a foreigner on a visa living in a place with what sometimes seems like only token respect for the rule of law, are the potential consequences of what I write really worth it?

Photography? I rarely shoot anything worth a damn these days. I’m still depressed from the closing of PASM.

“Depressed” may be the key word. But I’m not going to publicly attempt to dig into it and come up with answers. Many of you may think you know the reasons, and there are indeed many. Some of you might actually be right.

Even now, I find myself looking at the “publish” button and hesitating. But there are still people arriving at this odd destination daily, so I felt I owed it to them to post something to let them know I’m still here. And who knows? I might wake up on Monday and post 3 new posts. Or it might be another ten days until the next one.

Either way, I’m still standing. I’m fine. No major setbacks in my life. Just in an odd mood.

Bulkland – Review & Interview With the Director

Bulkland is a fascinating documentary video about a major city in China that I had never heard of. Odds are that you’ve never heard of Yiwu either, but you’ve bought stuff that was made there. This is the home of cheap crap – no name stuff that’s made to be sold in 99 cent stores around the world. What’s the deal with this city? Who are the people working in the makeshift factories there? Who are the people selling it? And what about the foreigners who have moved there from all over the world to try to make their fortunes? Bulkland answers these questions.

The official synopsis:

In Yiwu, the world’s largest market fills the shelves of discount chains around the world with electric Santa dolls, copies of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring and ear-wrecking vuvuzelas. Meanwhile, day labourers gather by the thousands in a human market and families have their children help make the zippers that might end up on your fake Chinese purse. But the recipe for success isn’t working anymore. China is getting more expensive to live in, and its army of migrant workers require higher wages to make ends meet.

And here’s the trailer:

Continue reading “Bulkland – Review & Interview With the Director”

Farewell to PASM Workshop

“I had the time of my life …”

 

I’m very sad to report that PASM Workshop, the photography studio that I co-owned, closed for good yesterday. Of all the things that I did in my 18 years in Hong Kong, I’m proudest of my connection with this studio.

The idea was Victor Cheung’s (the tall guy in the center of the photo above), a photography studio that would also be a meeting place for the artistic community. When Victor told me the details of the idea, I practically begged him to let me be a part of it. Coincidentally, the opening party in 2009 took place on the day that I left Warner Bros.

The team has grown and shrunk over the years, nine partners at its peak. We did this more as a labor of love than with any expectation of growing rich. The studio held frequent parties, was the Hong Kong branch of Open Show, hosted classes from internationally known photographers such as Emily Soto and probably shot as many charity events as paid events.

My participation in the studio over the years meant that I got to meet so many other photographers in Hong Kong, many of whom were uncommonly generous in sharing advice and tips with me. For me it was a place to learn, a place to try new things and a personal clubhouse.

With Victor’s untimely passing earlier this year, with me no longer in Hong Kong, with the other partners also holding down full time jobs, there was just no viable way to keep the studio going any more. Yesterday was the last day of operations. Today it’s dark.  Read on to see some of my favorite photos from my PASM shoots over the years.

Continue reading “Farewell to PASM Workshop”