29 Jun No Comments Geejay Essays, Issue 43

The making of an artpiece “03 11 11 & CIVILLY”

by Paul I. Tañedo

REVELATIONS: The making of artpiece “03 11 11 & CIVILLY” by Paul I. Tañedo

Though the cherry blossoms had just peaked a few days before, April 5th 2011 was not exactly an ideal time to visit the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.  It was cold, rainy, windy. And there was the thunderstorms.

But this day was what I had hoped for.

By mid-morning that Tuesday, I stood at a distance looking up at the Washington Monument. Though it was the height of the tourist season, the place seemed isolated. I saw a couple huddled, struggling with their umbrella at the base of the monument. Their parkas are but tiny bits of color in the gray and gloomy landscape.

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Paul I. Tanedo Artist-&-showpiece

A few weeks back on March 11, 2011, a massive disaster struck in Japan. As news flashed on the TV, I instinctively ran out to the rice fields and looked up at the open sky. How stupid of me, I thought, I was in the Philippines, not in Japan, 2000 miles away!  I was jumpy because the Philippines get more than its fair share of disasters. One of the biggest volcanic eruptions this century happened two decades ago, nearby from where I stand. On TV, news of the tragedy from Sendai in Japan seemed unreal. I longed to get a grasp of reality. After all, most of my life’s work in photography is about people, the displaced, anguished, victims of tragedy, etc.

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Paul I. Tanedo Prepping-artpiece

Back in Washington, D.C., the rain kept pouring. Traditionally, people flock to see the blooms when they are vibrantly at peak. But today is amusingly different. The ground is carpeted with petals, leaving a ring of green around the tree trunks. Up the trees, sparse fragile blooms struggled, flapping in the wind. And at the Tidal Basin, petals bobbed wandering with the tide. In an inlet, millions of petals and debris huddled lifelessly in the violent waves.

What a revelation! I saw reflections . . . found meanings and connections. It’s, after all, been a hundred years. The blossoms grieve . . . missing home. In their mysterious way, the cherry blossoms obliged.  As rain mixed with tears and from a distance, the blossoms open up to me.

© Paul I. Tañedo