Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bicolana baby

Every issue of Baby magazine is special in some way, but you could say that this month's read I will always remember -- not for any article, but for the cover. And not just for the cover shot, but for the entire experience that the pictorial was.

Baby Aeleina Resse Ocenar flew in all the way from Legaspi, Albay, for the photo shoot. Held at the St. Francis Shangri-La Place showroom beside Shangri-la mall, it was highly anticipated -- what with a baby and her family planing in just for the pictorial. When they arrived, Baby Resse was just as cute as she was in the photos of her that I had seen. She had just awakened from a nap, though, so we chatted among ourselves while the 10-month-old tyke got accustomed to the new surroundings.

All is set for pictures of her to be taken in the two-bedroom unit. Then for no apparent reason, Resse cries. No, no, honey, the tears will stain your face and your eyes will be all puffy.

Minutes later, her mom hands her a back issue of Baby, and the crying stops. She stares at the Baby Gallery and smiles at the pictures of the babies! Amazing.

Then we try photographing her again, but then she again proceeds to bawl. Why oh why, dear? Mommy carries her and takes her into the other room. Good thing our pregnant model for the day, Meg (who incidentally writes regularly for the magazine) arrives. We're shooting some situationals for the pregnancy pages as well, so we do that first while Resse rests and hangs out in the other room.

Shoot, shoot.

Resse is calm now so her mom carries her back to the master's bedroom... and then the tears come back once more. It was pretty much that way several more times; everytime she's brought into the master's bedroom, she cries. Clearly, she doesn't like it there. Probably it's the low ceiling? Maybe she's not used to such compact space? Through all this time, Meg gamely does everything we ask her to do, changing outfits for each situation and looking like she's having fun the whole time (she did have fun, after all).

By then it is about 45 minutes till the end of our reserved schedule at the venue. We haven't had any shots of baby Resse that can be used for the cover, and she won't go into the bedroom. Where is she hanging out? At the lobby. So off we go there, and Ralph tries to photograph her from far away with a zoom lens, lest the little one feel uncomfortable and again launches into a bawling session. She plays on the couch, pounds on the side table, she's happy. But the background just isn't right--too dark. So where do we put her? On the floor. And she loves it! She's crawling like crazy and making these "bird in a forest" sounds.

It's funny--we get a high-end locale with posh bedrooms for a venue, and the subject chooses to be photographed in the lobby, and on the floor no less! Well, at least she stops crying. And we do get some pretty neat shots. Ralph is one patient guy (he did, after all, start with photographing kids even though now most of his bookings are for weddings). And having two kids of his own has obviously given him a lot of practice in dealing with testy situations that every parent of young children encounters.

After that pictorial, I got to appreciate parents all the more. Parents of course don't deal with the pressure of having to get at least one beautiful shot for a national magazine, but then spending time with the rambunctious baby is not limited to a few hours--unlike in our case with each photo shoot.

I also got to appreciate God's wisdom after this experience. I realized I had just been fortunate all this time since joining the magazine and being in charge of ensuring a good cover (my first was the July 2007 cover featuring SM Star Baby winner Liam Givens), as the babies since then were pretty easy to deal with. No incessant crying, only momentary whimpering or obligatory feeding breaks. Where is God's wisdom in that? Well, if He had allowed me to experience what I did with baby Resse's shoot, when I was still new at the magazine, I probably would have quit. By the time it was Resse's turn to grace our cover, I was more prepared for the challenge--and God knew that, of course.

Too bad, though, that little Resse obviously did not have a good time at the start of the pictorial (but then she won't remember any of it); good thing she warmed up and seemed to be having a ball once she was let loose in the lobby. But I can imagine the excitement among this baby's entire clan when they get to see the magazine (as is always the case with any cover baby)!

Okay, so what's in the pages of the July issue? Lots! It being Nutrition Month, we've included much that will answer these questions:

How can a child with food allergies cope?

What's the connection between being breastfed exclusively and not being a picky eater later on?

What are recommended foods for expectant moms?

How can one make sense of food labels?

Then there are articles on how to make grocery trips with kids less chaotic, tips on training the yaya, the benefits of babywearing and of rooming-in, what "expectant fathers" can do to help their wife, and how to make a birth plan.

As usual, lots to read. Lots to learn.

[Addendum: Thank you, baby Resse, for making the pictorial memorable! Of course, you won't be able to read and understand this, but your mom probably will and she'll tell you all about it years from now =) ]
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