Points of Reflection

Praise Song for the Day
A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration
By Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.


Bahrain, though a close ally to the US, does not keep mum to the sufferings of their Muslim kin in Gaza. Though I haven't seen an actual demonstration/rally, I've read in the news about it. The rallies definitely speak more strongly against Israel and their crimes towards the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Commercial billboards and posters calling for support for Gaza such as these are everywhere in the streets of Manama.


Sinulog! ala-Manama

Yesterday, we received an SMS from Joel that there was gonna be a Sinulog celeb in Sacred Heart that afternoon. Lester, Joel and I (our little Bohol mafia) agreed to go. It was (Free)Day after all and what else was there to do?

Nope. I haven't gone religious or something. I was in it for its cultural worth. Ehem.

The Sacred Heart Church celebration of the Sinulog (feast day of Sto. NiƱo) was not much but it was okay for a Catholic celeb in a Muslim country.

Sacred Heart Church grounds in Manama, Bahrain.


There Goes My Neigborhood

The area where I work and live in Bahrain is not the friendliest place for foreign workers. At least this is what I hear. It's a very local community, see, so this might be expected, though I don't think that's a fair assumption even. But it would be safe to say though that it would be cooler to live in a generally commercial area where expats abound.

I looked up about this political naturalization issue in the internet and here's what I found.


Meet Lester

Lester is the latest addition to the Bohol mafia in Bahrain. He just arrived in Bahrain last day of 2008 to work for a print shop.


JPG is saying goodbye

I don't know, but I'm actually stricken-sad. I could cry, too, if I was the crying sort. Received an email today with the heading: JPG Magazine says goodbye. I thought it was their clever way of greeting Happy New Year, saying goodbye to year 2008 and all. But no, it was for real. It is for real. jpg.com is shutting down this Monday. I've never been really directly affected by the global economic crisis, save for this. This is so, so sad.

The letter from JPG Mag reads:

Today is a particularly sad day for all of us at JPG and 8020 Media.

We've spent the last few months trying to make the business behind JPG sustain itself, and we've reached the end of the line. We all deeply believe in everything JPG represents, but we just weren't able to raise the money needed to keep JPG alive in these extraordinary economic times. We sought out buyers, spoke with numerous potential investors, and pitched several last-ditch creative efforts, all without success. As a result, jpgmag.com will shut down on Monday, January 5, 2009.

The one thing we've been the most proud of: your amazing talent. We feel honored and humbled to have been able to share jpgmag.com with such a dynamic, warm, and wonderful community of nearly 200,000 photographers. The photography on the website and in the magazine was adored by many, leaving no doubt that this community created work of the highest caliber. The kindness, generosity, and support shared among members made it a community in the truest sense of the word, and one that we have loved being a part of for these past two years.

We wish we could have found a way to leave the site running for the benefit of the amazing folks who have made JPG what it is, and we have spent sleepless nights trying to figure something out, all to no avail. Some things you may want to do before the site closes:

- Download the PDFs of back issues, outtakes, and photo challenge selections. We'll always have the memories! www.jpgmag.com/downloads/archives.html
- Make note of your favorite photographers. You may want to flip through your favorites list and jot down names and URLs of some of the people you'd like to stay in touch with. You may even want to cut and paste your contacts page into a personal record.
- Catch up with your fellow members. Our roots are in this humble flickr forum and we recommend going back to find fellow members, discuss the situation, or participate in another great photo community. www.flickr.com/groups/jpgmag/
- Keep in touch. This has always been much more than just a job to each of us, and we'll miss you guys! We'll be checking the account jpgletters@gmail.com in our free time going forward. We can't promise to reply to every email (since we'll be busy tuning up our resumes) but we'd love to hear from you.
- Stay posted. Although the magazine is ceasing publication, we'll be updating you on what's happening with your subscription early next week.

We're soggy-eyed messes, but it is what it is. At that, JPGers, we bid you goodbye, and good luck in 2009 and the future.

Laura Brunow Miner
Editor in Chief

I received the 2 issues (that I got free for having my photo published) just last December (right before I left for Bahrain).

The issue my photo was published in.

My January 1st Dinner

After coming back from New Year's Eve all-nighter (+ daytime, too) party at Tom+Marlyn's+Claire's+Kuya Boy's place with Joel and Lester. Night after New Year's Eve. Heated leftover from Chinese lunch last Tuesday. And I'm using chopsticks, too.


New Year 2009

Back at Tom and Marlyn's place New Year's.

New Year's Day is a holiday here, this time. Thank goodness. We could actually celebrate New Year's Eve, countdown and all. Well, not all. Nothing loud and festive. No fireworks, no firecrackers. But there was food. And karaoke. And booze. And Lester (who just arrived from good ole Pinaz that early, early morning.

Karaoke again. Joel, Ate Marlyn, Kuya Boy.

The karaoke chair.


I had a light lager.

Claire and Tom.