Saturday, March 29, 2008

Unplugged: Earth Hour 08

My hectic sked made me almost forget that today, the 29th, marks the first-ever Earth Hour celebration. Thanks to my kumare, Chantal, for reminding me via text in the nick of time. (bai Ferdz texted me as well but I got it the next day since I also shut off my mobile phone at 8pm). Wasn't able to blog earlier or text my circle of friends about it but I did my share from 8.01 to 9.05pm. Even the ref that's eternally plugged got a respite for an hour. Ditto the TV, the Mac, even the iPod got a break. 

Curious that a lot of my neighbors did not participate but nevermind, I was still set to honor my commitment. It may not seem like a big deal but it's a small gesture that's a step in the right direction. Unplug for our earth.F or our generation.A nd for the next one. (Earth Hour image culled from the wwf website)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Picture featured! The OP edition encore

The first time it happened way back a month ago, I was ecstatic. The second time around, I'm very proud to click on Outdoor Photographer online and see two places in the Philippines represented in the Readers' Gallery. It is truly a privilege to somehow help promote these places to a global audience. Especially considering that Siquijor, much less Sandugan, gets little publicity, if it gets any at all. Thank you once again to Outdoor Photographer for this opportunity, and of course to the Man Upstairs. also to Ironwulf, whom I remember was scurrying back with me to sandugan to catch the only decent sunset we were able to capture during last year's Siquijor trip.

PS:  What do you know, it's a back-to-back treat because the OP home page carried my Coron capture as well. I must admit I got a kick out of it but more than personal pride, I'm mighty proud that these two places merited being featured in this international online site. If it makes a tourist take a second look at the Philippines, I'm happy.

Roxas - Little boy blue

Haven't we all been in this same scene before -- when a hot afternoon becomes a good reason to go near the water, wet one's feet, then join one's playmates even as the air becomes cooler as the sun dips below the waterline. Oone of my favorite travel portraits in Baybay, Roxas City.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Roxas - Boy of summer

My apologies to Don Henley for paraphrasing the title of his haunting song.J ust felt it's appropriate for my take on one of the kids we befriended along Baybay. The setting sun provided wonderful sidelighting that makes this capture a real treasure.

Roxas after dark

Maybe we looked like objects of curiosity, my friend Red and I, shooting towards midnight in nearly deserted Roxas Plaza. But what the hey, we just want to see how this otherwise tranquil city looks like during the night.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rhapsody in Roxas

Was supposed to head off overseas for the Holy Week but fate and circumstances (finances, for one) made me change course to a local destination. It’s a price I have to pay for my most recent camera upgrade but what the hey, no use crying over spilt milk.

I’ve always had a curiosity for off-the-beaten track destinations and this time, it became an opportunity to slake this thirst.C apiz has always held a fascination for me, akin to my curiosity for Siquijor. Perhaps it was time to pay this province a visit. Was supposed to go solo on this trip but it was a happy development that Red tagged along. It’s interesting to see what I can learn from this portraitist friend who shoots celebrities when not capturing great architecture or food images.

Having something like 5-6 days on my hand, I also wanted to balance shooting with downtime. Really wanted to enjoy this trip since I declared a two-month moratorium for out-of-towners to save up for a solo backpack overseas trip in June. And why wouldn't I? The weather was greatly improved from just a week ago. Got a reprieve from work. My backpack's packed and I'm ready to go. (Image details: sandy shore of Pan-ay beach, west of Roxas City) 

Travel info: Cebu Pacific flies to Roxas daily. Travel time is approx. 45 minutes • Ceres buses emanating from Cubao also go to Roxas on 18-hour trips with stopovers at Mindoro and Kalibo.

Roxas trip, Day 1 – Coasting along in Baybay

The first afternoon found us literally coasting the afternoon away in Baybay, the coastal barangay which is a popular haunt among locals. Maybe, it was the hefty lunch of oysters, grilled pusit and pork (the oysters are really cheap, P25 for a big mound). Maybe, it was the lack of sleep. Or the afternoon heat. But we felt the impulse to laze the afternoon away. Heck, I wasn’t that hot about shooting yet but seeing the kids of Baybay frolicking and playing around in the wonderful late afternoon sun inspired me to follow Red’s lead and shoot some keepers. The kids were a revelation, they were naturals, needing no prompting or much prodding. 

I had an epiphany right there on the papag why Red was my travel buddy for this trip – I’m an avowed landscapist and not much of a portrait shooter, having reservations about intruding on people’s privacy or risk exploiting others. But this one turned out to be one fun afternoon.A nd I guess it shows in the captures. This inspires me to take more people shots in future trips. Thanks Pareng Red!

Roxas trip, Day 2 – Onwards to Ivisan

Having a fellow photographer-acquaintance in Roxas was a heaven-sent thing. Hannibal, who’s a member of the Panay shooters, played gracious host and took us on a mountain overlooking Roxas City and later on, all the way to Ivisan. 

The Fortuner groaned as the tires negotiated the rocky, dirt road leading to this fishing town with a good beach, about 1.5 hours away east of Roxas City. I was silently cringeing in the backseat because this is really way too much for our newfound friend to take us to. but I guess it was worth it because even in the hotness of the afternoon, we stumbled upon a nice strip of beach. and more friendly people and kids to shoot to boot.

It’s a bummer we had to leave at 3pm if we want to get back to the city. It would’ve been nice to catch the fading sun over there. Maybe next time. The bumpy one hour ride reminded me of my Cordillera trips, but with more dust as this is the dry season. A bit caked with dust, with a few bumps on the head, we were all-smiles as we headed for home.

Roxas trip, Day 3 – Catching the breeze in Casanayan

We decided to explore outside the city boundaries by ourselves so we set our sights on Casanayan, a fishing village west of Roxas. the L300 vans set out from Albar, a short tricycle ride away from city center. From Albar, the van takes one to roads fringed with rice fields upon rice fields. After an hour, we’re in Pilar to catch a 30-minute motorcycle ride through densely-forested areas before we saw the shores of Casanayan. Perhaps, it was the compounding of tiredness during the last couple of days that I didn’t shoot as much as the previous days. But it was nice to talk to the locals and at times, just sit on the boulders on the other side of the beach and watch the clouds and the day go by.

By lunchtime, we felt the intense noon sun drain our energies so we repaired to the first eatery that caught our fancy. What we stumbled upon was a foodie’s dream come true – the tastiest, the most delicious batchoy we’ve ever tasted. Even when we took turns shooting the batchoy, the chicharon/pork rind bits were still crunchy, the noodles firm to the bite and the soup stock very tasty to the last drop.

Just like in Ivisan, we had to leave around 2.30-3 so we can catch the trip back to Roxas. But not after making a side trip to the famous Maria Santa, the body of Maria Besanes who passed away in the 1930s but continues to defy natural laws by refusing to succumb to decay. Out of respect, we decided to put away our cameras and offered prayers instead.

Roxas trip, Day 4 – Joining the Good Friday rites

Downtime day is downtown day -- the day we allotted for just lazing around. no sunrise or sunset to watch out for. Rather, we moved around the city plaza, devoid of much people during our first few days but now filled to the seams with a sea of humanity. Kids, teens, parents, lolos and lolas – CapizeƱos turned in droves, whether to join the Good Friday rites or simply to hang around with friends and family. Finding somewhere to eat turned out to be a tricky game as all establishments are closed (most businesses outside Manila take the friday off during the Holy Week) so we ended up eating at Halaran (a relief!)

We attempted to make a short trip to the Moro tower but in a comic turn of events, most people in Barangay Nipa didn’t know where it is so we ended up in a tower alright – the Smart tower, hahaha.

Roxas trip, Day 5 – Greeting the day at Pan-ay

Our gracious host, Hannibal, took time out to shoot with us for the morning. It was still dark when we set out for Pan-ay, perchance to shoot the full moon, perchance to shoot the sunrise. 

It was a nice time to be out there watching the surf illuminated by the rising sun, seeing olutayan island in the distance. Wasn’t able to cross over there but next time, I will. Then it’s off to the beautiful Pan-ay church. Over 200 hundred years old, it used to have the biggest bell in Southeast Asia; the humongous bell made from coins donated by the townspeople in a token of offering and thanksgiving.

Roxas trip, Day 5 – Finding Moro Tower

What the Barangay Nipa folks weren’t able to point out to us, Hannibal was able to lead us to. The Moro Tower may be in ruins, with vegetation threatening to totally obscure whatever little remains of the structure, but the cliff offers a magnificent view of the two coves that fringe it. The statue of the Christ built on top of the cliff seems to bid seafarers bon voyage. Heard that the cliff land is up for sale and I thought out loudly that it would make an excellent, small bed and breakfast, notwithstanding the climb along the trail overgrown with grass. 

We came back later in the evening to try and nightshoot there in lieu of the pier (not allowed without permission of the Coast Guard) but of all nights, it turned out to be very cloudy. Oh well. but I’m not one to complain as I’ve made a friend of my habal-habal driver, Mang Ped, who used to take up photography in school. We made a lot of kwentos – from aswangs to photography – while waiting for my camera to process the long-exposure images, right there on top of the cliff, unmindful of the darkness and the mosquitoes. If only for that, the extra trip was worth it.

Love resurrection

"What seed must i sow to replenish this barren land,
Teach me to harvest i want you to grow in my hand
Let's be optimistic, let's say that we won't toil in vain
If we pull together, we'll never fall apart again.
We all need a love resurrection.
Just a little divine intervention."
 

Love Resurrection by Alison Moyet, 1984
Music & lyrics by Alison Moyet, Tony Swain, Steve Jolly
 

Blessed easter greetings from Lagalog.
(Image details: the Christ by the cliff of Sitio Nipa, Culasi, Roxas City)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lenten reflection

"Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here."
 

Dare You to Move, Switchfoot;
Music & lyrics by Jonathan Foreman, 2000
 

Lagalog takes a break to introspect for the Holy Week.
Here's to a meaningful lent and a glorious easter to all my readers and friends (Image details: my friend, Dennis, on top of the Sunken Cemetery Marker, Camiguin Island, Mindanao; from my Camiguin 06 archive)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clowning around

As the cliche goes, everybody loves a clown. Being the clown that I am, why do I often get the feeling that I can make almost everybody happy but me. (Image of miniature clown faces taken with Nikkor 60mm micro AF. Toying around with this lens last Sunday since it might get stuck up in my drybox because of lack of use)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Manila Ocean Park - Mere spectacle or worthy cause?

A park as big and spectacular as manila ocean park invites criticism from some quarters. Is it a step towards helping educate the masses on environmental preservation or is it in itself, a form of exploitation? The partnership forged by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation) with Manila Ocean Park may have raised not a few eyebrows. But the latest issue of WWF's newsletter shed light on the organization's decision. As a WWF member, I feel compelled to share this snippet with this blog's readers. 

The Philippines is after all, an important part of the Coral Triangle (with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Pacific islands), the most productive source of marine biodiversity in the world and home to the largest number of marine species in the world. Aquariums and oceanariums like Manila Ocean Park are in a unique position to provide conservation in a genuinely integrated way.A nd for young people of the world's cities, zoos and aquariums are often the first contact with nature. Public awareness campaigns and communications programs are crucial to letting the public aware that nature is both utilitarian and aesthetic. Information taken from wwf's biota, jan-feb 2008 issue

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Manila Ocean Park - Something makes me blue

Didn't have my prime lens when we went to the Manila Ocean Park sneak preview and even with a VR lens, it was pretty hard to shoot the fast-moving sharks even with a wide open aperture and no tripod.  But I think I managed to come home with some keepers like this one as the blur added to the drama, evoking a painting-like quality. 

One other thing, I'm adding a watermark/label on every image I post from hereon (as much as I hate doing it).I ronwulf called my attention to a site that used our images and his video without requesting permission. I usually don't mind other people using my images as long as they comply with the note on the sidebar: please ask permission first. To whoever is the webmaster of the site: www.oceanparkmanilabay.com, please respect other people's rights; at the very least, you could've asked permission first as my posts accept comments and I've explicitly stated my email address on this blog. Or you could've credited the images and videos to their respective owners.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Manila Ocean Park - Patterns

First time I encountered this kind of fish up close was when I was shooting near the shore in Cordova, Cebu. So I'm pleasantly surprised they're in one of the giant marine tanks of Manila Ocean Park. Their striking patterns make them well, very striking especially because they like to swim in tight formation.

Manila Ocean Park - 360 degree view

Call it sensurround entertainment but a huge suspended screen plays audio-visual presentations in a loop. visible from all angles, it is edutainment taken to a deeper level.

Manila Ocean Park - What's ur flavor?

Was so enamored (or should I say, hypnotized) by the dome of MOP that changes color (candy colors hence the title of this post) every few seconds, didn't hesitate to lie down on the floor to take shot after shot, to the amusement of passersby. I'd like to think it looks more impressive in the evening than in the morning but I'll reserve my opinion on that for later when I visit again.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Manila Ocean Park - The Philippines' next big destination

Call it good karma. putting in my photo contributions for the interactive kiosks of the Manila Ocean Park got me an invite for the partners' night yesterday evening for a sneak preview of the Philippine's next big aquatic destination. I thought I would stay for an hour or so but Ironwulf and I ended up shooting and marvelling and shooting for like four hours. 

The open area where the freshwater fishes are kept is a work in progress. The plants are in place but will need the next few months to fill up the spaces beautifully. Leading to the 360 degree surround screen where a documentary continually plays, one can't help but be awed. Now, entering the tunnel aquarium was absolutely a wow! experience. Instantly, I was a kid again.I  can't help but be proud that most of the fishes featured are endemic to the Philippines. It's a fantastic way of acquainting our kids (and kids at heart) of the richness of our seas and oceans. It's also a wonderful way to educate the masses on environmental protection. Each area was labeled in Filipino, which was a nice touch. And the image featured above, the dome that changes color after every few seconds, is of Filipino design.

The aquarium displays are like 60-70% completed. The commercial areas (mall, fish spa where cleaner fishes will clean your feet) are yet to be completed. But once done, I can only imagine the droves of people who would go there to also admire a lovely view of the Manila Bay, near where the Macapagal Harbor and Manila Hotel are located. Many thanks to Ma'am Des for facilitating our invite and personally touring us through the different installations. Sa uulitin po! 

INFO: Manila Ocean Park had its soft opening today, March 1. Location: behind Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park; very near the U.S. embassy and Museo Pambata • Admission prices: P400/adults (around US$10), P350/kids. Manila residents get a 10% discount. Open from 11am-9pm daily, there's parking for around a hundred cars within the compound. Alternative parking near my favorite hang-out, Harbor View Restaurant. • Got this from Ironwulf's site, for info, please call (632) 567.7777 or visit www.manilaoceanpark.com

Manila Ocean Park - Tunnel of wonders & Mr. Crab

My good friend Ferdz aka Ironwulf checks his shots while taking in the breathtaking sight of this Manila Ocean Park main attraction even as the giant Japanese crab gets all crabby in his cool, cool tank.

Manila Ocean Park - Deep blue something

The shark tank is one of the main attractions of the newly opened Manila Ocean Park. But don't just take my word for it. To see the place and experience it yourself is to believe it.

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