Friday, 21 March 2014

One Picture, Three Stories

A few months after publishing this blog, I started looking for Philippine-born writers and authors who are either based in the UK, or weave stories about both the UK and the Philippines in their plot. England is now home, but I will always have a spiritual connection to the Philippines, and would love to fuse my affection for both through the stories I will hopefully tell one day.

I found Candy Gourlay online and have since enjoyed her debut novel 'Tall Story' about a giant Filipino boy called Bernardo who moved to London to join his mother, who was a nurse, and his half-sister Andi. 

I follow Candy's blog and read her post in January that she decided to take up a challenge by illustrator Jane Heinrichs to do a One Picture, Three Stories link-up. Jane believes--and I agree with her--that photos are composed of many different layers and angles. Sometimes, images convey more than words do.

Click HERE for the photo and stories that Jane shared.

And HERE for Candy's.

I left a comment on Candy's blog that I'm joining Jane's project and will let her and Jane know that I've done it. Here it goes.

photo courtesy of my cousin

I love black and white films and photos, especially of family members from a bygone era. The year was 1923. The Philippines had been independent from Spain for only 25 years. My grandfather was only 7 but already a bereaved son. His grandmother raised him when his father remarried. I was struck by the uncanny resemblance of a younger cousin to my grandfather. It's been 91 years since this photograph was taken--just 9 years short of being a century old. I am amazed at how much history it has survived.

The older women were wearing a variation of the María Clara gown, a traditional attire by women in the Philippines in the 19th century. The dress was named after María Clara, the mestiza heroine created in 1887 by Philippine national hero José Rizal in his political epic Noli Me Tángere. Unlike a sari which is still worn in modern India and Bangladesh, a  María Clara gown is now only ever worn for formal occasions or cultural events. It's very nostalgic to see women wearing it on a daily basis, but it could also be that the photo opportunity was such a special day that it called for a special dress.

My grandfather and grandmother were complete opposites. She could talk the whole day. My late uncle used to tease her about being 'low batt' when she kept silent for a few minutes. My grandpa was a man of few words. If they had social media then, my gran would be constantly updating her status and most likely taking selfies wearing her DIY dresses. My grandfather wouldn't have an online presence. A few days before I moved to London some years ago, my grandfather told me he had a gut feeling we will not see each other again. His voice was shaking. I told him I'll visit him the following year. He passed away 5 months after I left--2 months after my father. 

If you'd like to link up, click HERE and let Jane know about your one picture and three stories.


  1. I love this!! I love the photo and the three stories and the concept in general!! What a fantastic idea and lovely to see other bloggers who have a distinct voice. Thanks for sharing Ms Chinwags!

    1. Thank you. Thanks to Candy, I found it. Beautiful concept x

  2. The tender restraint of the stories matched the delicate beauty of the photo. Slow clap for Ms. Chinwags!

    1. Had to laugh. Really laugh. Hahahhaha. But thank you x

  3. Another beautiful concept hun. You are quite right - an image can convey more than words. It leaves a lot up to the audience to interpret. What I interpreted when I saw the photo on Instagram is different to what I have just read here - a beautiful piece of writing......a beautiful photo! xx

    Have a lovely weekend x

    1. Thanks Colleen. I fell inlove with the concept, I had to do it also :) Thank you for the compliments x

  4. I like the stories and I would really want to visit the Philippines one day. Unfortunately I still don't know that much about its history but the best way to learn more would be to see the place for myself.

    1. Thanks Anouka! You must visit one day. Let me know when you plan to so I can give you some tips :)


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