Dahilan

The Wedding of Cris Villonco and Paolo Valderrama

She insisted on riding her own car on the way to the church, foregoing the luxury ones from her dad.

It was a Toyota Innova she was proudly paying for herself.

That was the kind of person she is.  Low key.  Not flashy.  As if all manners of pomp and glamour were displayed on the stage where she let it all hang out.  Only to retreat to her quiet, unassuming, unpretentious cocoon when the curtains go down.

I met her somewhere in Promenade a week before her wedding.  Of course, the first words out of my mouth were “Oh my Cris! This has been a long time coming!  You booked me more than two years ago!.

She quietly mouthed the words, “THAT”S NOT HIM! THAT’S A DIFFERENT GUY!”.   Shaking her head,  controlling her laughter.

Floor.  Eat Jason.  Now.

I shot Paolo a glance, fully expecting a glare (or a beatdown).  Neither happened.   Instead, a sheepish smile.

“It’s fine”  Cris said.  “He knows.”

And that’s the kind of person he is.  Quiet. Dignified.  Understanding.

We talked about their wedding.  How she wanted it uncomplicated.   How she wanted to forego the spinning rings and the flying veils.  She wanted the raw, the real, the truth.   Exactly how we do it.

Cheers to the Baker, and the Baker’s Wife!

___

Postscript.
At the tail end of the meeting she threw me a curveball.   She requested for a Filipino song.
And thankfully, I was able to obtain permission to use Dahilan by The Benjamins.  Thank
you to the very kind, and the very talented Paolo and Miguel Guico.

Everything happens for a reason.  We might get sidetracked or take a longer route, but in the end, we are better, stronger and wiser persons for it.

Sitti and Joey: Wedding Highlights

I’d like to share with you today the very beautiful, the very moving wedding film of Sitti and Joey.

I need fifteen minutes of your time. It’s longish yes, but savor every moment, every cut, every beat, every breath of the edit.

You will feel love. In your mind, in your heart, in your bones. You will feel the chill of the cold wet Baguio weather, and the warmth of the people sharing the big moment with the couple.

You will feel the calm beauty of the bride, not minding the elements crashing onto her wedding day. Embracing it even. You will revel with the couple as they clumsily hop and dance on the stage half drunk with alcohol, half with happiness. You become part of the big bear hug with Martin Nievera and catch a glimpse of how perfect and still in love Aiza and Liza are.

This will take you away. I promise.

The story behind the song

Home by Reese Lansangan

Reese Lansangan’s Home featured in a center spread of this month’s YES Magazine.

The wedding day of Vic and Pauleen was drawing near and I was still searching for that ONE song to use for their wedding film. I was drawing blanks.

The collaboration with Johnoy Danao for Nikki Gil’s wedding was so creatively fulfilling (and successful) that I just had to do it again. But I have yet to find a songwriter given the time constraint.

So one night just after Christmas, I was driving home from a shoot and heard this quaint song on the radio. The melody was catchy but it was the lyrics that hooked me. It was witty. It was hilarious. It was intelligent. That song was Grammar Nazi, and it was by an artist I was familiar with – Reese Lansangan (whom I cannot tag here because she has exceeded her friend request limit – I know the feeling).

I reached out right away and set up a meeting. Wedding season was still in full swing so we had to meet at night after a shoot. We braved Katipunan and met her and her cousin Thea in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

She was very much the vivacious artist I pictured her to be.
Platinum hair. Enthusiastic. Appreciative. Creative.
That meeting was on January 16. Despite the constraint, she gladly said yes to the project. The wedding was at the end of the month.

Really the only input I had were the themes of the song and a certain structure I needed for it to work with moving images.

We all know there was a certain “you and me against the world” start to Vic and Pauleen’s story that I wanted to play up. And that they didn’t care. Reese’s lyrics dealt with those teams in a tender, moving way that avoided cliches.

And when I heard the demo, I knew then and there, that was it. That was THE song.

But nobody knows
How we go
When we’re alone
It’s like we’re home

https://reeselansangan.bandcamp.com/track/home
Words and Music by Reese Lansangan (c) 2016
Arranged by Reese Lansangan, Allen Dave Articulo, and Choi Padilla
Mixed and Mastered at Point Bee Multimedia

Photo by Oly Ruiz.

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Jmag: Will Work For Free

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Let’s agree on one thing.  Some of the best things in life are free,  your favorite app,  that donut in Krispy Kreme when you fall in line and your dog’s excited yapping when you come home at night.

Hell, even my services can be free!  For real.  It’s not April 1st, it’ already the 5th.

I’ll do it.  Just for you.

Just me. One camera. One man. One story.  Your story.  Send me a pitch.

I’d like to go back to my roots, shooting alone.  It’s a creative exercise for me, a not too foreign experiment.  As for the output, expect something different as well.  Prepare to be be surprised.  We’ll pick a couple.  Maybe a few.

Send me details. Locations, logistics.   Your vision of your wedding or whatever your event is.  I’m listening.  It doesn’t need to be local,  I can travel.

I’ll drive, I’ll fly.  I’ll ride a canoe.   Let’s arrange it.  A good meal would be appreciated but great coffee is a must.  

Your wedding (or not) doesn’t need to be one of a kind,  nor push boundaries.  The only thing  it needs to be is compelling.    To inspire people to love.   Or to make people understand.

#jmagwillworkforfree

Fill out the form below – I’m excited.

http://bit.do/jmagwillworkforfree

Please DO NOT send me an email or FB message for this.  Let’s keep it through the form.  Thanks.

A Wedding in Puerto Princesa

Marissa and Basti

I had to admit to myself even just a little bit, that the timing was off for this wedding we took in Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Everybody was gearing up for the long vacation and here we were lugging our equipment for a flight going south to work.

After touchdown, we drove off for another hour and a half to a resort away from the city – Sunrise Mansion.

And slowly, the reservations melted away. The place had something to do with that of course. It was charmingly beautiful.  No it wasn’t the poshest of resorts.   But you don’t go there and expect butler service nor 24/7 ac.  You go because you want to taste the comforting salty winds blow though your room.   You come to appreciate the endless sea of blue of both the sky and the sea.

But more than the place, it was the people.  We were greeted eagerly by the bride and groom.  Making sure we were comfortable and settled.    Taking care of our every need.  Too much really.  We felt we were family.  And that feeling was special.  To break bread over their table, with no delineation of who were guests and who were suppliers.  To share the same 3 in one coffee sachets and to lounge in the same pool.

And that allowed us to know more about everybody, and therefore make a more meaningful film.

I learned that “Sebastian” moved from Germany to Melbourne and likes the Aussie lifestyle better.  That they met and fell in love there.  I learned that Marissa’s family was from Ilocos and it was the first meeting of both families (imagine the nerves!).   I learned that what they have is not defined by ethnicity or color.  They just – love.  And everybody was happy for them.

I could not have spent my Holy Wednesday any better.

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Letter to L

This is a shout out to all the kids who try hard (most of the time) but get less than stellar grades in school.

We can’t post your report cards (plenty of 7s), or medals (we’re only gunning for the loyalty award) or the merit cards (umm, you don’t have any).

Can’t deny that there’s a hint of jealousy when other parents humblebrag about their children’s hardware. But know this, we love you to bits and won’t have anybody else in your stead.
Sure your penmanship is bad. And we still can’t do fractions well. But hey we get high marks in cleanliness and you’re never absent not tardy. I appreciate that.

Grades aren’t the end all and be all. I’m just happy you study your ass off and I know you try.
We all know you can smoke ’em in COD. I know I can ask you to get my socks and and my wallet and a drink of water on three separate trips with nary a complaint. Well. Just a bit. But you’ll do it anyway. You light up the house. That’s your gift. That’s good enough for me.

We’ll get ’em next time kiddo.

Love,
Dad

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The shoot was a quick one. Solenn, ever unfussy, wanted a quick e-sesh with not a lot of frills. The party met up at the Louvre and walked it's way down the Seine, finding its way to Pont des Artes and Notre Dame, and still getting enough free time to get gelato at Bethillion. This couple. They are the easiest. And this brief story isn't even about the film. It's about what happened in between takes. Two things stand out. Sos, I get to call her that now, at least for the meantime, was hesitant to even have her handbag carried by other people, even her close friends. She didn't want to put a burden on anybody. She didn't want to oblige anybody. I know her friends would do anything for her, the least of which carry her bag during a pre wedding photoshoot. But Solenn was apologetic and half embarrassed at the mere suggestion. And that's the kind of person she is. Polite, humble, never the diva. You see past the beauty, the talent, the intelligence, and you find something more beautiful inside. Now Nico. We were walking down the right bank and out of nowhere, a bus pulled up and a mother with her baby on a stroller tried to get on it with much difficulty. In one fell swoop, Nico scooped down and grabbed the stroller aiding the young mother. "Merci!" It happened so fast that the time I took to process what was happening in front of me, Nico was two steps ahead with his actions. A man driven with inherent kindness and selflessness. It was second nature to him. And then you step back and just flat out admire them. These two? They good.

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Rima Ostwani and Jay Najjar. Here's a lovely lovely wedding highlights of Rima and Jay's wedding. It was our first time to film at the newly opened Shang Fort and it did not disappointment. The gorg location provided a stunning backdrop to this beautiful marriage of two people and cultures. And Rima! Oh Rima! Such a doll! Have a look.

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Rima Ostwani and Jay Najjar. Here's a lovely lovely wedding highlights of Rima and Jay's wedding. It was our first time to film at the newly opened Shang Fort and it did not disappointment. The gorg location provided a stunning backdrop to this beautiful marriage of two people and cultures. And Rima! Oh Rima! Such a doll! Have a look.

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We flew to Butuan City over the weekend and had the greatest opportunity to film Char and Marc's wedding. The city was charming as usual and the people most kind and hospitable. Every corner of the Philippines deserves a beautiful wedding video. You have to share this if you're from Agusan del Norte!

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Lois and Kerim A most happy, most touching wedding we filmed in Shangri-la Mactan in Cebu. Absolutely love love working in this place. It's one of my favorite Shang properties.

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Georgina gets married! Had the lovely opportunity to film Ms. Wilson's last Preview Magazine cover as a single lady. Watch out for the wedding film we shot in Winchester, UK coming out soon!

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Judy Ann and Ryan. April 30. Batangas. Damn. 7 years down the line and still going strong. #couplegoals. ___ Side note. I filmed their wedding 7 years ago on Super 8. Their son Lucho was always asking why he wasn't in the film. Incessantly. So they just had to get married again. This time with everyone involved.

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The juxtaposition seemed jarring at first. A good amount of people, including the couple and the entourage were dressed in traditional Indian garb, and yet were congregating inside Madre De Dios Church. After the initial wonder (and amazement at the intricacy of the clothes), I settled in. Appreciating the nod to their heritage but maintaining their Christian upbringing. Hooray for pluralism!

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Rima and Jay's Pre-wedding Film You were you, and I was I; we were two before our time. I was yours before I knew, and you have always been mine too. -LL

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Kaye and MJ. In the afternoon, there's a magical way the slowly setting sun hits the facade of St. James the Great in Alabang. It's as if the gods themselves approve of the union and they grace the recessional with the sun's glorious warm light. Beautiful and magical.