Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flashback: Sailing around Coron

The grey hung over the sky like drapes about to fall onto stage. The calm waters stir with the increasing billowing of the wind. In the fading light, the limestone cliffs amaze and awe everyone on board. Even with a stormy countenance, Coron assumes a beautiful, if wild, face.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flashback: Crossing over to Calauit

On a rainy evening like this night, my thoughts rewind back to our Calauit trip. When the clouds hung precariously above the somber landscape, obscuring any promise of sunshine. When the excitement to shoot is tempered by apprehensions over whether this assignment will yield anything worth publishing. When the temptation to yield to the sandman tips the scale over attempting to overcome the lazy, sleepy mood of the day.A  look back at our coron-calauit on assignment trip for DPP.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flashback: Ilultuk Bay, Calauit

With the inclement weather, had no opportunity to field test my lens. So I'm digging deeper into my Palawan stash, having seen the final DPP magazine layout and knowing which images I can post. Here are dramatic rocks i found while scrounging around Ilultuk Bay in Calauit. as evidenced here, the water is crystal clear, making the rocks appear as if they're floating.

Flashback: Calauit

Palawan has some of the most unbelievable rock formations in the Philippines and Calauit in the Calamianes group in Palawan is no exception. Here's a flashback to Calauit, from the outtakes of our DPP On Assignment: Coron trip.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Seeing double

I'm posting a color version of the bare branches image I previously posted to underscore the point of this thread: I feel doubly blessed. one, some 30 or so of my images have been chosen to be used in a yet-to-be-disclosed TV project. And two, I saw the layout of the Digital Photographer Philippines Magazine Coron issue and saw three of my images featured. Can't wait for the TVC and next magazine issue to come out. Thank you Lord! My friend, ironwulf, called my attention to it so might as well write about it -- after parting with my first DSLR (a Nikon D70 I nicknamed Sev), I finally got my Christmas wished-for walk-around lens, a Nikkor 18-200VR. Many, many thanks to Din for making it happen. Now, if only the weather improves so I can field test it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thinking back, thinking forward

Here's a keeper from my Siquijor stash to tide me over until the next trip to wherever, I haven't really decided yet.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wishful thinking

Like peanut here, I ponder and wonder: willI  get my holiday wish(es)?  In any case, happy holidays in advance to all this blog's readers.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Red, green & gold holidays

Festive Christmas cupcakes by Marga, styling by Dindin Lagdameo, photography by Og.

U simply mousse

Melt in your mouth Choco Mousse Cake by Marga, styling by Dindin Lagdameo, photography by Og

Have a berry merry Christmas

A berry apt treat for the holidays. Berry Strawberry Tart by Marga, styling by Dindin Lagdameo, photography by Og

Dog day afternoon

After over two months, Din and I got to shoot sweet treats again for a friend who's got the most spoiled dog this side of town. Here's Peanut in a classic windswept pose. Move over, Marilyn.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Casaroro flow

Pardon another title inspired by an Enya song. Found this gem hidden in a bigger composition, from my Casaroro stash. Funny I should be posting something about water when I'm writing this from an internet cafe within our compound, waiting for the flood waters to recede so I can go to work.

Bamboo zen

Cropped this from a vertical/portrait shot of bamboos we found in the Casaroro forest and tweaked using CS2 to achieve a painting-like effect. An image to meditate on and quieten the mind, rest one's weary spirits.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catching the morning blues

In the bluesy hours of the early morning, Sandugan fishermen gets ready to cast their nets and hope for a good catch. Image taken at Sandugan, Larena town, Siquijor.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life in mono

The misty morning scene in Sandugan, Siquijor. A Zen-like moment. Reinterpreted in mono. Tweaked in CS2.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No kidding

Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I respect other photographers' opinion on street photography. But I might as well come clean:I  have an aversion for taking pictures especially of kids in orphanages or out in the street for posting in some forum, inviting the viewer to heap praises on the captures instead of evoking sympathy and inviting assistance. Many times, I turn away when I keep seeing these images in the internet.

One of my favorite charities is the Sisters of Mother Teresa. One time, I ventured there armed with a DSLR. But the sisters explicity yet nicely told me not to take pictures. At first, I wondered why not? But one of them told me that more than the pictures, what the kids need is my time, my caring. That was a sobering explanation. Which is why now I think there's a never-ending flow of images of the needy everywhere but not enough people who would want to take their hands off the camera, get their hands dirty, and personally give their time and undivided attention to these kids.

Anyway, the child in the picture was hankering Ironwulf and me for a shot so we felt compelled to take it. But I really feel guilty not even asking the child's name. I intend to make amends.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hey look at the sun

A fellow flickrista, Cornelio, who's based in the US. wrote to ask me about resources on Philippine destinations/food outlets/accommodations which are not available through Google or other search engines. I had the same idea quite some time ago but the irony of the endeavor is that to come up with an exhaustive site on telling people (mainly those on a backpacker's budget) on how to travel the philippines without breaking the bank, one needs quite a hefty sum of money. It's a nice idea though, like putting the late Doreen Fernandez book "Lasa" on the web. Maybe one day, I'll get around to doing it. 

For the time being, will use this blog to help out. I'm just aghast that people often find it incredulous that one can indeed travel on a budget. Was watching ABS-CBN's "Trip na Trip" La Union episode last Friday and was really floored that one establishment was charging almost 5,000 pesos a night. Migolly, that's more than my entire budget for my 4-day Dumaguete-Siquijor trip inclusive of accommodations, guide fees, land transportation, and food!  No wonder a lot of Pinoys I know won't dare go out of town.A nyway, I haven't given up on this dream project. Who knows, one day soon, the resources will materialize. Maybe, it's just a matter of looking at the sun, at the brighter side of things. maybe. Image taken at the Tulapos Marine/Mangrove Sanctuary, Siquijor

Opening doors

This image of the San Isidro Labrador convent in Siquijor as viewed from the doorway of the church of Lazi fits my thoughts as of this moment: 

- I'm concerned whenever news of development comes to island-provinces like Siquijor as it can be detrimental instead of beneficial. But in this case, if the Siquijanons would never waver in their concern for the environment, then development can be balanced with prudence. In the short time that we made chit-chat, Emely, the owner of Casa dela Playa and recently re-elected as barangay officer in Sandugan, Larena town, told me of some interesting developments.

One: American investors are interested in developing Camp Bandilaan, the highest point of the island where right now, the 360 degree view is obscured by overgrowth. I guess development ain't bad if there is check and balance.

Two: the port has been expanded to accommodate true roll on, roll off vehicles. This is amazing since I've visited only about 3 months ago and this was just being started. Hopefully, this can bring in visitors from nearby Dumaguete and Bohol.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Feast your sights

The habagat season may mean unpredictable lighting conditions but if one is patient, he can get his just rewards. Like this eyeful of an early morning scene at Salagdoong at the eastern part of Siquijor island. Go up a limestone cliff. Smell the breeze. Take your sweet time. Let the hours pass you by.


Oh, to have wings and fly. braving the winds. soaking the sun. skimming the seas. Capture taken at Sandugan, Larena town, Siquijor

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A sheltered life

The massive Acacia trees in front of the Lazi church right across the San Isidro Labrador convent in eastern Siquijor have these immense canopies that practically shelters the whole expanse of road. One can't imagine which is older, the convent or the trees but I suspect the trees were there way, way before anything else was around. Oh, the stories these really old behemoths can tell. I bet they will speak of countless people who've seen the coming and going of the seasons, of mystical tales and "rural" legends.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dumaguete Trip - Day 01: For the nth time, tell me why did I go on this trip?

Funny but I slept early Wednesday night, only to wake up 2.5 hours later, at 10.30 and not being able to sleep again until it was time to leave for the airport. Learned that my travel buddy, Ironwulf (aka the bigger clown), was still recovering from the flu. While it may seem like a bummer if he indeed is unwell to make the trip, was bracing up for the notion I may have to go lonely planet style again. But make it he did 30 minutes before boarding time so I had a clown, este companion (terms borrowed from a friend, you know who you are, hehehe) for the trip.

As standard procedure, I always fall asleep as soon as the unfasten seatbelt sign is turned off. but touching down in Dumaguete, a burst of adrenaline keeps me wide awake throughout the afternoon.

After checking out Bethel Guesthouse along Rizal Boulevard, the most popular (and expensive) in the city, we took the advice of our newfound friend, Willie, to check out Hotel Palwa. tucked along Locsin Street, the place is alive with colors and tasteful accents. Not to mention that the price is really a steal, at P899 for a two bed a/c room, hot shower, cable TV, wi-fi connection, and free breakfast.

Dumaguete Trip - Day 01: Falling over Casaroro

After a rather forgettable breakfast at the palengke, it’s straight to Valencia to see Casaroro falls. It’s worth the trip as the falls is breathtakingly beautiful even though it’s rather desolate and isolated. From the Valencia Town Plaza, one can hire a motorcycle driver to take one through the largely rough and steep road to the Mt. Talinis jump-off where the Casaroro falls is located. 

Tidbits: Prepare to haggle as the motorcycle drivers tend to charge varying prices – anywhere from P100-150 one way. Negotiate for the return trip not unless you’re willing to hike through steep, muddy, and rocky road for an hour or so. To get back to Dumaguete, ride the jeepney with the signboard: Dgte-Valencia. Fare is P10.00

Dumaguete Trip - Day 01: Who let the dogs out?

Here’s Ferdz aka Ironwulf aka dog whisperer. Believe me, everywhere we went, dogs were practically following (read: hounding) him. Hmmm, something to speculate on (and I thought I was the original dog whisperer, hehehe). Seriously, this talented photographer/ webmaster/dog whisperer kept yours truly in stitches throughout the trip. My favorite question: for the nth time, tell me why did I ever join this trip? Go figure, hahaha. Next question: if by chance you meet us on the road, please tell me who’s the bigger clown, hahaha.

Dumaguete Trip - Day 01: Dusk over Dumaguete

Hoping for a decent sunset, we returned early to Dumaguete to freshen up, buy budbod kabog (a native delicacy like suman but made from millet bird seed (hence the name kabog) instead of sticky rice. Was out on a mission on this one as I’ve twice tried and twice missed out on this native treat in my previous trips. The verdict: yummy. Not having much to night shoot, we whiled away the time at the breakwater, eating the budbod kabog before heading to Jo’s Chicken Inato, my second food trip mission in Dumaguete. Was ravenously hungry from the so-so breakfast and lunch, had two chicken orders, gambas and coconut halo-halo. It’s worth all those times waiting to taste this pride of Dumaguete.

Just Passing Through - Day 02: From Dumaguete to Siquijor

We wanted to shoot Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete in the morning but the weather had other plans. after partaking of our free breakfast, our newfound friend Willie took us early to the Dumaguete port to buy tickets for the 12.30 Delta fast trip.

The waiting was longer than the trip as we reached Siquijor in around 45 minutes. Certainly a big relief from the over 2 hour car ferry trip I experienced the first time around.

Not wanting to waste the afternoon away, we jumped onboard the Casa dela Playa AUV to go eastwards as soon as we dropped our things at Casa Blanca. The weather alternated between sunny and rainy as we navigated through the coastal highway and through the island’s interior road. 

Tidbidts: Several ferries make the daily crossing from Dumaguete including Delta Fast and Car ferries. The Delta Fast trip takes 45 minutes and costs P160; the latter takes over 2 hours and costs P70. Buy/reserve your tickets a day in advance to avoid missing your planned schedule.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 02: Chocolate colored waters at Cambugahay

The recent rains rendered the green waters of Cambugahay Falls a muddy mocha but that didn’t stop us from trying to get a piece of this wonderful, cascading falls located around 20 minutes away from Lazi church.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 02: Dropping by Lazi church

Wouldn’t want to duplicate my shots from the last trip so went for details this time. This pulpit detail shows the beauty of the church which is located just right across the historic San Isidro Labrador Convent, the largest and oldest convent in the Philippines.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 02: Finding local color at San Isidro Labrador

The former caretaker has now moved on and the replacement guide of the convent museum is not as knowledgeable but I really appreciate the chit-chat as well as the free suman (yummy!) that Aling Soseng gave us as pabaon. I'm adding this as a rejoinder to Ferdz's post - it's either we look like kind guests eager to taste the local flavors or we look hungry all the time :-)  A P15 entrance fee is charged to museum visitors. Video and still photography are allowed in the premises but restricted within the museum.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 02: Sunsetting at Sandugan

The beauty of staying at Sandugan is getting a glimpse of marvelous sunsets without leaving the premises (as long as the weather allows). We weren’t able to repeat this over the course of our 2.5 day stay but one takes the chance when he gets it. And today, on our first day on Siquijor, we consider ourselves lucky to get decent sunset shots.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Sunrising at Salagdoong

Wanting to shoot the sunrise we hired the habal-habal driver I befriended from my previous trip, Dennis, to take us to Salagdoong at 5.30 am. The sunrise was not what we hoped it would be but the sun did rise and shine much later. But we wouldn’t leave without taking interesting captures of the place. As an update from my previous trip, the hotel here is already open to the public, a welcome treat to those who would want to catch the sunrise without making the 35 minute trip we made from Sandugan.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Revisiting Maria

Made a stop at Maria to eat breakfast at the eateries alongside the market.B ut not after taking posterity shots of the old but beautiful church. The church belfry is located on its side, accessible not through the church but rather outside.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Stoppin’ over at Tulapos

Our first marine/mangrove sanctuary stop is at Tulapos. Thick within the mangrove forest, the treehouse is sadly in a state of dilapidation, even worse from my last visits here a few months ago. What’s good news is that the DENR is just awaiting release of its budget allocation to rehabilitate the treehouse, which is a great alternative accommodation for naturists like me. 

There’s a small fee for visiting the sanctuary: P10 which goes to its upkeep.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Goin’ to Guiwanon

Our second marine/mangrove sanctuary stop for today is in Guiwanon, about midway between the towns of Larena and Siquijor. The elevated wooden walkways are still standing but some parts are still needing repair. The good news is that the bridge connecting to the proposed restaurant/ viewdeck is now in place. I can only imagine myself bingeing the day away as I look far and wide into the open sea and marveling at the scenery, the fresh breezes, the birds that flock, the schools of fishes that swim underneath in the shallows. 
An entrance fee of P15 is charged for visiting this place. a conference hut and several other facilities are for rent.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Dropping by San Antonio

The old church of San Antonio was closed when we dropped by but that didn’t keep us from bringing out the camera and shoot for posterity. The town of San Antonio is known (or should I say, famous) for its healers or mananambals who purportedly can either heal or cast spells.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 03: Cantabon cavin'

It’s a muddy, dirty job, but one really has to do it. Missed out on this one on my first Siquijor visit so figured this is the chance to finally do it. The cantabon cave is easily the most popular cave in the province, and for a good reason. Featuring a 8-9 meter drop underneath Mt. Bandilaan, the path snakes through places littered with dripstone formations. One oftentimes has to bow, crouch down low or crawl to get through. prepare to get wet as there are places where you have to wade in waist-deep water. I myself, slipped on a rock and fell to neck-deep water (luckily, Ironwulf got hold of my D80 camera; thanks buddy!) so it pays to wear sturdy footwear that grips well even when wet.

As a message of concern, please refrain from smoking within the cave as this can harm the dripstone formations as well as pollute the air. We personnally had to pick up fresh cigarette butts on our spelunking trip, wishing out aloud that the guides will have the courage to tell guests, whether foreign or not, to please respect rules. 

Tidbits: To explore Cantabon Cave, stop over at the Barangay hall and register. A fee of P600 applies, inclusive of guides, porters and gas lamp. One can leave a clean change of clothes at the Barangay hall along with items that may get wet. The tour is anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours long, depending on your pace. (for photographers like us, we took our sweet time since the low light conditions automatically mean setting up the tripod again and again)

Siquijor V.2 - Day 04: Peaking at Bandilaan

Since we’re already in the vicinity, we figured we might as well go from under the mountain to the top. Sayang, the view up at the watch tower can be a 360 degree, breathtaking vista of the whole island, weren’t it for the thick tree growth. learned from Emely, the affable owner of Casa dela Playa, that the Americans are interested in developing Camp Bandilaan and rehabilitating the place. Now, that would be an interesting development to watch out for. We scampered home in the growing darkness, missing out on sunset shooting but there were clouds obscuring the horizon anyway. 

tidbit: Mt. Bandilaan, at nearly 600 meters, is the island’s highest point. Hikers would appreciate the trail through old growth forest while other guests can take the easy way to the summit via motorcycle or 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 04: Blues clues over Sandugan

Waking up to a squall made me sleep again after waking up to wait for the sunrise. Ironwulf preferred to wait outside, at the veranda overlooking the sea but apparently, the waves lapping the shore lulled him back to sleep, hahaha. But mi amigo was kind enough to wake me up to do some morning shoot like this bluesy capture about fifty steps from where we stayed in Sandugan.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 04: Hope floats

Strolling along the northern part of beach, I couldn’t help but notice this emerging mangrove – a testament to nature renewing itself even against the lashing of the waves and the blowing of the wind. It's actually inspiring to think that this little shrub-like mangrove will grow into a tree, strengthened by the elements.

Siquijor V.2 - Day 04: Beachin’ on a Sunday mornin'

Dropped by the high-end Coco Grove Beach in San Juan, about 10-15 minutes away from siquijor, Siquijor, on the way to the pantalan. The dramatic limestone cliffs contrast the seaweed-strewn white sand beach that ripples with the merry laughter of local kids swimming, dipping, running around.

After some troubleshooting, the journey continues

I offer my profuse thanks to friends and readers who in turn, offered their words of encouragement and consolation during a trying time. I contemplated on either stopping blogging or moving on to another. Then again, after a short hiatus and a refreshing out-of-town break, I'm eager to start again where I left off. honestly, I'm still a bit depressed and frustrated with my current lot in life but what the hey, knowing I'm able to bring a bit of cheer, a bit of the beauty of this corner of the world, to friends from all over give me the impetus to keep moving forward. God bless y'all!


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