As Vanessa

As the music played and she moved, sitting in my mama’s wheelchair, I could feel my eyes water. For the first time in my life, in the middle of shooting, I found my self moved to tears. She was unafraid to be so raw.


Unedited. Untouched like the first photo in this story, I will aim to write about this session with all realness, just to give justice to the moments that brought me where I am at present.


She came in bare-faced, loaded with energy. We immediately got talking and I shared with her my vision for the shoot. A concept that goes along the lines of “imprisoned but free” – this thought just brought to mind a book I read for my philosophy class in university, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Good read.

Vanessa and I found common ground in parallel feelings, we laughed about dark times and enjoyed ourselves in the present. Then I said something that surprised me, I directed her by saying, “Just be me.” I let her in my little world, and we captured it. This post could also be aptly named, “As Vanessa, As Ritz” because… Well, just read and watch the story unfold.


There’s an old saying that goes something like the body is the prison of the soul. But I choose to see it from a different perspective, that the body is a shell for our soul. Have you ever marveled at the beauty of a simple shell? If you haven’t, try it out and just marvel at the flawless design of nature.

There were just those times when I felt like I was behind bars. Sometimes imagined, and sometimes real. But no matter where these pockets of prison were, the element that saved me was my imagination.


Dreaming would soothe my spirit. I knew that the reality I faced, harsh as it may have been, was merely temporary. Though I had no idea how to get myself out of the situation, I trusted the universe to bring me to a much better place. Some may call these concepts, faith and hope.


No matter what darkness I found (or lost) myself in, I would always hope for a better tomorrow. No matter what.


When I would try to curve for a smile between my lips, I would feel my tear ducts swell. It was like my body was giving the world the honesty I could not accept.


“Are you okay?” They asked.
I would stay silent and think, “Do you really care?”
Then they would look at me like I had a disability.


It got to a point where I became exhausted just trying to explain myself. So for a few months, I became a hermit trying to find peace in my little shell of the world.


As the winds of change swept through my existence, my self evolved.


I felt a strange surge of strength. However, I questioned my ability to sustain that power. Then, I realized that the strongest people were once the most broken. I scrambled to find silver linings in the situations I found myself faced with.


Time brought a certain sense of healing.


Until one day, I found myself able to hear the beauty of sound again. I chose to embrace this profound experience of pain and listen patiently to the message it was trying to relay.


Music became my sanctuary. Space, my guide.


Though darkness still enveloped the horizon, I remained still.


For it is only a matter of time when night gives way to the day.


“Remain still.”
I constantly reminded myself.


I remained in my little corner of the world.

With songs on repeat, I paused time and let me be me.


Like a lunatic, I stared at the moon.


Some may call it madness, while some may call it genius. I’d like to see it as a process. I just did what I know I had to in order for my joy to awakened.


I set forth to create.


Create a reality worth living.


In my silence, I screamed.


In speaking, I was silent.


In destruction, I felt life.


In darkness, I found light.


In chaos, I found peace.

Then, I realized that everything led to me remembering my self. In so few words, let’s just say I found who I am in myself.


I am different.


In a place where everyone wants to be seemingly normal, it’s a challenge to be something else.


But sometimes one just has to fuck with normalcy (pardon my well-used profanity) and embrace who they are, as they are.


I embraced my trinity.

Model: Vanessa (Elite Manila)
Photographer: Ritz Marie

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