This photo was taken at my hotel room, on the 12th floor of the Ibis Bencoolen. I think our room was 1203. I had only recently acquired a Polaroid Impulse for about $60 from a flea market at the National Museum. The ladies there were very enthusiastic about their cameras, but it was difficult for us to understand one another because, to each other, our accents were indistinct and blurry. We both spoke fast, but in the accents of our region. The camera doesn’t allow you to override the flash, so whenever you take a photo through a window, it adds an artificial sunset, as seen here. This is actually about noon. The aperture was set to darken. I thought it meant you had to slide it there when your subject is dark. It’s the other way around. It’s kind of a stupid idea to think that, actually. There is a blue tint because our hotel room was cold.
This photo was taken at the Sentosa beach. I forgot what the beach was called. There are regular bus rides and you can rent a Segway. I wanted to ride one, but Ysa kept making excuses. We would have probably died on that thing, anyway. Humans aren’t supposed to ride those things. There is some damage to this photo because Ysa kept insisting that she shake the undeveloped photo “like a Polaroid picture.” We kept taking it out to check if it has developed. You’re supposed to keep it in darkness until it develops. There is a red tint because it was so hot. We were at the very edge of the beach because Ysa couldn’t find the changing room. We were very tired. I had some rootbeer and buried the can in the sand. If you dug deep enough, you’d encounter the concrete on which they dumped the sand so everyone can pretend this is a beach. There were only a few people around. The beach was artificial, and you could see large boats in the distance, along with a net you’re not supposed to cross. The changing room turned out to be at the very front of the beach, and we only saw it while leaving. There was a sign by the parking lot that said, “Beware of peacock attacks.” We made vulgar jokes about this. We never saw any peacocks.
This is me on the beach. That blotch is from a pierced set of film, I think. I read somewhere you’re not supposed to touch it. It’s red and damaged again because at this time I had no idea how to work a camera, especially this camera. I am wearing a polo shit in the beach, like a perversion of nature, a beast pretending he is human because he can walk on two legs. I was told that when I wear that shirt I look richer than I am. I think I fell for it, too, because I bought so many things in Singapore. The flea market where I got the camera was a good time. They were selling a lot of hipster nonsense, a lot of vintage stuff. I liked talking to the merchants about their merchandise. There’s a story for every object. Ysa once told in the hotel room, “Love fades, but things are forever.” I bought a lot of stuff I didn’t need. I bought old postcards in French (I read them, like a voyeur hiding in history) and matchboxes decorated with posters from the Cultural Revolution. You’re not allowed to bring matches on the plane, so I had to throw their contents away in the hotel. I also bought pins from the Chinese and Russian Communist Party. The woman accidentally gave me two Russian pins. At another market, the Thieves’ Market, I bought two games for the Megadrive. They just toss a lot of old stuff together at the Thieves’ Market. I really like it there. There were a lot of old cameras lying around. One of the games were stolen. I also bought a vintage toy robot from the Toy Museum. That was stolen, too.
This is Ysa and me on the beach. She was fun. She knew how to get around Singapore using the MRT and LRT system. I didn’t understand how to do any of that. I stayed with her at the same room her mom paid for, with a breakfast buffet. Whenever we would see a handsome boy we would say, “Anuncio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papam.” We ate at a beach front. It was very nice there. I drank her bottled water and replaced it with fountain water. You can drink right out of the tap in Singapore. You buy bottled water for the bottle, not for the water. I was suspicious of this at first. This is a good way to get cholera back in Manila. I saw a boy I liked in the Sentosa Aquarium. Glasses, blue shirt, goatee, broken English. Ysa and I followed him and his date around, until Ysa couldn’t take it anymore. We ran into them a lot of times. Ysa indulged me by taking a picture of him at the shark aquarium. She made it look like she was taking a picture of the sharks. I ran into him on the way out. He got in my way. When I passed him, Ysa asked: “Why didn’t you smell him? He smelled nice.” I don’t like going that far.
This is Ysa posing for a photo at the Sentosa beach. It is also smudged with some type of chemical. When we were looking for the film for the camera, we entered a mall where an alarm had gone off. In Manila we call this an annoyance. In Singapore this is very serious. We still went inside even if we already noted that people were leaving very fast. We looked for the store we found in the internet that sells Impossible Project film, but someone started shouting: “Evacuate! Evacuate!” I said, “I think we need to book it, man,” and we did. There was a fire, we would later find out. We were also in the wrong mall all along. I also found another mall a day later just behind our hotel that sold the film cheaper. The film for this camera is very expensive. Every photo must be special, must be worth the paper its printed on, must really be worth the thousand coins I paid for it. I really like that idea.
This is a photo of me taking a picture of myself. Ysa was out having dinner with her brother. It is the window of my hotel room with me reflected as a ghost holding a camera. It is the intersection of three images: the messy hotel room, myself, and the Singapore skyline. You cannot see it because the flash is too strong, and the aperture was not set properly. I think that’s why you cannot see it. You can see the artificial sun added by the camera’s mandatory flash. I really like this photo. A photo is not just an image of something your eye saw at a particular point in space and time. What I like about the Polaroid is that it is a testament to your being-there, your material self, at a particular place, at a particular time. This is proof of it: Its chemical sheet reacted with the light at that particular point, at that particular moment; and the colors by coincidence may be that which your eye saw, sometimes no. What is important is that I, this piece of chemical paper, and the points of light which bound us together, were there at that one time, and what I carry around is the three, a triune intersection, entangled forever.