Monday, June 30, 2008

Vietnam • Blue bay

So where does the sea end and the sky begin? Where does one karst intersect with another in a layered array of blues against the canvas of water and clouds? Can we, in a moment of suspended reality, sail the sky and fly the waters instead?

Here's another take on Halong Nay as captured during our junk's run back to port. After processing literally hundreds of images, I've come across this vertical/portrait orientation and liked the negative spaces where the sky and sea should have been. Hope you liked this serene scene as much as I do. I really find it calming, especially after a long day at work.

Vietnam • Warm and cozy on Halong Bay

The choice to book with Handspan Travel was one of the best decisions we made for our Halong Bay tour. The price is just right (US$112 for the 1 1/2 day & 1 night trip), the rooms cool and cozy, the food (mostly seafood fare) marvelous and way better than we expected. The t&b are very clean, I wouldn't mind reading during my morning ablutions, hahaha. that Phu, our guide, is affable and approachable is really a great bonus. Booking online with them is prompt and hassle-free. I highly recommend Handspan for the first rate service.


no Travel will be complete without partaking of the local food. certainly not when you travel with a buddy with an appetite that matches (surpasses?) yours. From Hanoi to Halong all the way to Sapa, the foodscape is as wonderful to explore as the landscape and seascape. and we're talking more than just the popular pho.

• In Hanoi, our best picks would be: Little hanoi (for the great food and even more delectable desserts); and the century-old recipe of fried fish served with noodles and herbs at Cha Ca La Vong. This last one is filled with customers eager to try the restaurant's one and only item in the menu - a bold move on the owner's part that indicates how good the dish is.

• In Sapa, Gecko Restaurant serves the most melt-in-your-mouth spring rolls, exquisitely prepared main course and desserts that's worth the US$10 you pay for the set menu. Also recommended: the sapa mushrooms at Ban Mai near the lake; the freshly-made cake & ice cream desserts at a new french place tucked at the back of the public market (sorry, forgot to take note of the name).

• Most exotic alternative to pho: the duck egg and spinach soup we had for a late, late lunch at Ta Van, Sapa Valley. It tastes different but yummy and filling all the same.

• The coffee in most of Hanoi establishments we tried was so consistently good, I always drank mine black. The taste is clean and flavorful with little bitter aftertaste, the aroma certainly enticing -- a perfect foil for sugary desserts. 

Image 1 - Melt-in-your-mouth spring rolls at Gecko in Sapa; the wrapper is paper thin, the filling cooked to perfection. The vinegar sauce is very mild, not acidic and actually refreshing to the palate. Quickly became the benchmark for all other spring rolls we ordered afterwards.

Image 2 - Exotic-tasting duck egg soup at Ta Van in Sapa Valley. At first, tasted a lot like isaw (pig intestines) but filling and delicious just the same

Image 3 - Carrot cake and vanilla ice cream at the French cafe at the back of Sapa public market.  Both the cake and ice cream are home-made and fresh. 

Image 4 - Apple pie and vanilla ice cream at little hanoi in hanoi

Just thinking back to all that good food makes my mind wander and my taste buds hanker for Vietyum, er, Vietnamese food.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vietnam • Chasing boats

Apologies to Snow Patrol for borrowing the title of their popular song, "Chasing Cars" as it's a case of big fish tailing the small fish all over Halong as the junks seemingly chase the small boats around the bay.

Vietnam • Sunsetting at Halong Bay

My funny buddy, ironwulf, contemplates (introspect?) the moment as the sun sets dramatically among the mysterious-looking karsts of Halong Bay. Taken from the vantage of the karst Tito P, named after the famous Russian cosmonaut of the 70s.

Vietnam • Halong sari sari boat

The waters of Halong Bay are peopled by sellers of all sorts, peddling anything from bottled water and packaged foods to rather exotic shells.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vietnam • Hanoi Hoan Kiem Lake reflections

The water of Hoan Kiem Lake may not be that clear nor clean but makes an afternoon rather pleasant just watching the reflections of the clouds, of people, of stray and random thoughts on the lake.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Taking a break in Batanes

I'm taking a short break from my Vietnam posts to share with you a snippet of my output for a photo assignment i did for Seair last weekend in Batanes. Here's the Sabtang lighthouse at mid-day when the tides expose the coral-lined shore. It's my third time to Batanes but my first to venture (thank God for the weather) to Sabtang so i guess third time's the charm. It was nice to see my friends and acquaintances anew as well as make new ones.

More Halong blues

I've had a hectic past few weeks and i'm very much lagging behind in downloading, processing and uploading my images so i'm sort of offering a compromise in posting another favorite from my Halong treasure chest.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vietnam • Halong blues

In the morning light, the outlines and layers of the karsts surrounding Halong Bay become haunting sights to fascinated expectators like us as our Aloha junk sails back to port.

Personal note: I'd like to put this up for my readers as bai Allan noted - our overnight liveaboard cost US$112 all-in.  It comes to around 4,500pesos which may seem pricey but if one thinks about it, it's the price of a backpack or pair of jeans. The price includes transport to Halong Bay and back to Hanoi in a comfortable, a/c van; a guide; dinner, breakfast and lunch; a cool, cozy room with really nice t&b; boat trips and fees to selected karsts/islands on the itinerary. As I've noted earlier, it's advisable to book with reputable operators like Handspan to avoid being gypped by fraudulent operators in Halong Bay.

The Vietnam Chronicles

As soon as Cebu Pacific announced their budget fares to Hanoi in mid-April, we knew it was an offer too good to pass up. Nevermind if it was a red-eye flight. Always wanted to go to Vietnam for sometime and this time is as good a time as any to discover the culture, see a new place and experience a sliver of the Vietnamese way of life apart from what i can read from the net and books.

Vietnam • Day 1 – Red-eye to Hanoi, bright-eyed and karsted out in Halong Bay

We landed in Hanoi at past 1am and spent the next hour or so looking for transient accommodations with the help of the driver of Noi Bai taxi who understood little English. We ended up in the the dorm of Hanoi Backpacker Inn occupied mainly by Caucasians. The room was cool and comfy but suspiciously reeking of hashish wafting from the veranda. Waking up to a drizzle, the overcast skies left us with little inclination to shoot hoan kiem lake so we had pho for breakfast at a nearby resto. Map in hand, we trudged our way to Ma May for the Handspan office.

As it was the off-peak season (peak season starts november and lasts until march), the van that took us through the 3 hour land trip to Halong port was very comfortable and not at all packed.  Arriving in Halong port to a drizzle that turned into a squall, we were a bit apprehensive about our chances of seeing Halong Bay in a beautiful light. but the weather cleared while onboard the Aloha junk.

Funny that the many karst formations littering the bay reminded us so much of Coron in Palawan. Objectively speaking, our waters are bluer and clearer though. We had a tour of what the locals call the amazing cave and waited for sunset at the gazebo atop the karst named Tito P (after the Russian cosmonaut of the 70s, thanks to our affable tour guide, Phu for the bits and pieces of info).

By nightfall, our motley group (or junkies?) of five Asians and five Caucasians were joking and clowning around on the dinner table.T he table fare, mostly seafood, was really delicious. The accommodations were spiffy and comfortable, while the shower room was more than I expected (for this, I highly recommend Handspan). Would have loved to night shoot but the junk gently sways to the waves, making long exposures next to impossible so clowning around became the next best option.A nd when you travel with a clown (I’m one, guess who the other one is), it’s a great thing to just keep finding ways to laugh and have fun. 

Some notes: Handspan is one of the more reliable tour operators in Vietnam with offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Halong. Most of the guide books recommend booking your Halong Bay cruise with an operator as a lot of underhanded operators ply the bay but shortchange customers. • Inset picture: standing from l-r - Ferdz aka ironwulf, Jessie (Taiwan), JJ (Korea), Mark (Vietnam), Felix (Germany), Jim (taiwan); kneeling: Oggie aka lagal[og], and our guide, Phu

Vietnam • Day 2 – Riding the overnighter to Lao Cai

Woke up to a drizzly morning that quickly changed to sunny as we partook of breakfast with our newfound friends. To fulfill obligations in the itinerary, we were later taken across an inland lagoon in a very short trip that left much to be desired. 

Dropping off at the handspan office in Hanoi post-lunch, it was a bit sad to see off our new friends. Train tickets in tow, we had a few hours to spare so we walked around Hanoi, ate the famous century-old grilled fish and noodles dish at the famous Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant for dinner and a post-dinner meal at Huo Guom Café near Hoan Kiem Lake. Then, it’s off to the train station onboard an overcharging taxi (tip: avoid the blue and green taxis) with a meter that seemed to work like a one-arm bandit, clicking after every few meters.

The station was a bedlam but we quickly found our train. It's going to be night of bumpy sleep from 9pm to 5am. Nevertheless, the softsleeper was cool and a bit comfortable. Tired and sleepy, I quickly met the sandman, knowing we have a full day ahead tomorrow.

Vietnam • Day 3 – Hieing off to the highlands of Sapa

Arriving in Lao Cai at around 5.30am, we found ourselves in a sea of passengers also headed for Sapa. Return train tickets would have to be bought on the day of departure so meeting Hie, the owner of the nearby Pho café, was a godsend. We rented a van at 50,000 dong for the one hour trip to the foggy highlands of Sapa. 

Personally, I found Sapa interesting though much too sophisticated to my liking. It reminded us of sagada (and can also serve as a fair warning of taking development too far).  The tell-tale difference is the presence of brightly-colored H’mong tribal people going around town, pressing their wares to visitors and attracting most of everyone toting a camera.

The cool weather made eating a popular past-time for us so we ate at every opportunity. We rented motorbikes to go to the farming villages of Cat Cat and Ta Van (at a rather steep $9/person) Where we gazed at rice terraces that reminded us so much of the Cordilleras back home.A n interesting accommodation to explore would be the homestays in Ta Van ($8-10/night) as it offers a more appealing, back-to-basics idea for people like us who crave for the more rural pace and way of life.

Coming back from the fields, we stumbled upon a new French resto near the marketplace that serves the best homemade desserts we had during the trip. Then, for a rather late dinner at 8, we had a foodie’s dream come true at Gecko’s. From the most sumptuous spring rolls to the very decadent desserts, it became a high point during our trip, the benchmark by which every other restaurant we encounter would be compared to.

Would have loved to nightshoot but it was a foggy evening, better left to welcoming the sandman in Pinochio inn where we stayed. funny thing, we got locked out by the inn at 10pm (moral lesson: the town, for all its sophistication, goes to sleep early). Waking up at 3am due to a supernatural feeling I can’t shake off, decided to night shoot the quiet town even as buddy ironwulf similarly rouses from his sleep so it’s kuwentuhan as I take long exposure shots until nearly the break of dawn.

Vietnam • Day 4 – Back to the heat of Lao Cai

Waking up to a foggy and drizzly morning, we had to change plans to explore the other neighboring farming communities and settle for breakfast at the charming Ban Mai, fronting the town’s lake. One of the best things with traveling with a good friend is that radical changes in plans become interesting detours to catching up and making alternative plans. We made friends with the owner of Ban Mai Inn which has really nice rooms at affordable prices ($4 up/night) and a good view of the lake, plus a good location on the quieter side of town. We found the Sapa mushrooms so good we ventured asking the owner where can we buy them. Being the kind soul she is, she volunteered to get it for us in time for our return to Lao Cai.

Going back to warm and humid Lao Cai, we immediately missed the cool weather of the highlands. Hie, the owner of the Pho Café, was true to his word about our train tickets. It was bedlam at the station when it opened but the softsleeper cabin we got was better (cooler, more comfortable) than the one we had coming here. We completed our expenses accounting and kulitan early before turning in for the night, the chugging motion of the train lulling us to dreamland.

Vietnam • Day 5 – Catching up on rest in Hanoi

Lack of sleep, non-stop walking (and relentless eating) can make anyone, even Lagalog and ironwulf, tired so caught up on sleep for most of the morning in an inn tucked near ma may street. The advantage of a loose itinerary means one can have a late, leisurely lunch which we had at the much-recommended Little Hanoi which didn’t disappoint. Going out to Hoan Kiem Lake to wait for the sunset, we were besieged by sellers of shirts and salakots at every turn (we ended up buying some to take home). The overcast skies didn’t give us the sunset we wanted but it’s nice to just relax the afternoon away before repairing to the Huo Guom Café right at the side of the Hoan Kiem Lake for an early dinner. 

Post travel notes:
- always prepare loose change
- always have dong on hand. sellers and establishments can be arbitrary in setting their own dollar-dong exchange rates
- haggle, haggle, haggle. the language barrier makes some sellers take advantage by offering goods at double or triple the real cost
- avoid the colored taxis and ignore those parked cabs as their meters charge more than double the real fares
- prepare to wander and wonder

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ta Van and beyond

Here's something for you dear readers to look at while i go somewhere to fulfill an obligation this weekend. i promise to write my complete Halong-Sapa-Hanoi post next week. have a good weekend everyone!

In transit: Positively going somewhere

To borrow my buddy, ironwulf's title, I'm in transit for the time being, shuttling between skeds and places. I wish i can get started on my Vietnam chronicles but that would have to wait for a little while. So, like this H'mong woman on the ridge, I stand on the edge, looking out for my opportunities and taking on the road to where it leads. Apologies to Jennifer Paige for my borrowing the title of her 2005 album.

Salakot sunset in Hoan Kiem Lake

The salakot or conical hat is archetypal Asian and while we have it in the Philippines, it is more strongly associated with Vietnam. And rightfully so, because even in the city, people unabashedly wear it to shield them from the strong sun or the rain. Having no one to model this salakot, the task fell on our shoulders so I'm returning the favor to my buddy, ironwulf, for featuring me in his Vietnam preview post. Aan afternoon of waiting for the sun to set on Hoan Kiem Lake.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Karst sunset along Halong

Funny how you can be reminded of home when you're in another country. The karsts of Halong are beautiful in their own way though they remind us of Coron.I n any case, here's another scenery to share while biding my time, waiting for the chance to upload and process my Vietnam images.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chao Buoi Sang Vietnam!

Just got back from a week in Northern Vietnam with my buddy, ironwulf. Arrived at the office after just a few hours of sleep to a hefty workload. Will be flying north in a few days so I guess my Vietnam excursion account -- from the karst wonders of Halong Bay, the bustle of hanoi, to the foggy highlands of Sapa -- will have to wait until next week. Meanwhile, here's to sharing a breathtaking view from a high vantage point on the stretch of road to Ta Van, southwest of Sapa.I n our ruminations along the way, Ferdz and I shared a common view - we went all the way to Vietnam to appreciate what we have back home. To echo ironwulf, don't get me wrong, I liked Vietnam. But at the same time, i saw a lot of reminders of home -- Sagada and Cordilleras in the terraces of Sapa; Coron in the karsts-filled bay of Halong Bay. Anyway, more captures and stories to come. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, enjoy the view.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lagalog takes flight

Will be gone for a week, maybe two, on personal business, a much-needed break from civilization as i know it and a bit of introspection. God bless y'all and see ya soon. Image taken in Candaba, Pampanga, Luzon Island

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Candaba - Gorgeous day to hike

The sun is up, the rain clouds have come and gone, the road beckons. Another fine day to just walk with no destination in mind, feeling the crunch of the earth underneath your feet, savoring the fresh breeze, resting your weary eyes on the sights over the trees, at the swamp and around the bend. Dry season in Candaba means there are more dry paths to trek, no pesky mosquitoes to deal with, and gorgeous scenery to drink in.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Candaba sunset blues

While yesterday's sunset wasn't something to crow about, a landscapist learns to make do with what nature provided on a given day. Given that the trip was exploratory in nature, I consider myself lucky to come home with a few keepers like this one, a bluesy rendering of the sky over Mt. Arayat. It's a blue sunset alright but honestly, it's nothing to be blue about.

Candaba reflections

I'm a reflection freak; I find something zen-like in water reflections like this one, a mirror image that spells simplicity and serenity that soothe tired eyes and weary spirits.

Candaba serene scene

In the heat of the mid-afternoon and fighting the urge to grab some siesta, found a myriad of views to refresh the eyes such as this banca parked near Mayor Pelayo's resthouse.

Candaba cows

Got not much in terms of bird images but yesterday's Candaba trip was a sight for eyes made sore by the concrete jungle. Found this trio of cows grazing and thought their formation was a symmetrical sight to see.

Candaba triangles

While we got disappointed by the sunset yesterday, found this interesting interplay of triangular shapes at the watchtower at Candaba swamp with a view of Mt. Arayat in the fading light.

Candaba commuting

Yesterday's trip was one of the most enjoyable daytrips I've ever had. It started out as a well-intentioned query by bai Allan Barredo -- why isn't there any decent direction available on the net when it comes to commuting (read: not 4x4ing) to the candaba swamps in Pampanga? While it isn't the migration season, it's a good enough time to find the answer with an exploratory day trip and get a budget backpacker's perspective on the matter. 

LOST AND FOUND. While I really wasn't feeling that well with only 2 hours of sleep, woke up early to meet the flickristaindios at the Baliwag Bus station in Cubao at 4am. We got to baliwag for breakfast before boarding tricycles that will take us straight to Candaba town proper via a shortcut on rough roads. Good thing we were prepared to get lost as our tricycle drivers passed Candaba town onto the road headed for Paniqui. After getting directions from the munisipyo, we were told to look for a bank of trees about 5 kilometers away from the town proper.F rom the main road, it took a 15-20 minute walk to get to the watchtower where we positioned ourselves for sometime before moving on to find Mayor Pelayo's resthouse.

The caretakers were kind enough to let us drink water and rest while waiting for the afternoon showers and the hot afternoon sun to taper off. Later on, we found out that the resthouse is open to visitors free of charge (a very good idea for commuters since there are no places for overnight stay in candaba town). Just bring food and drinks as the nearest store is 5 kilometers away.

There were only a few birds around; and most of what were there are flighty in nature. Not being a birder, I contented myself just looking at the relaxing views – certainly beats staying in stuffy manila for sure. We waited for sunset at the watchtower which turned out to be less than glorious. Three of us lingered for a little while and hiked the 5 kilometers back to Candaba town in the darkness.T ell you the truth, it was swell to do the night trek, singing old classics on the road with newfound friends. I may not have many pictures to show for the trip but I really enjoyed it. Thanks bai Allan for the invite. Till next time. 

INFO FOR COMMUTERS: 2 routes available: (long route) 1/ take bus trip to baliwag, ride jeep to santo domingo, take tricyle trip to santa ana, ride another jeep to san luis, take another tricycle ride to candaba, take another tricycle trip to the road going to the interior path leading to mayor pelayo’s resthouse (bus fare, non aircon is P62 or roughly $1.25; 45 minutes; jeep fares around P20; tricycle fares vary); (short route) 2/ take bus trip to baliwag, ride tricycle on the shortcut/alternative rough road straight to the interior road or to bahay-pari (cost: P200 or roughly $4 to hire the tricycle). during the rainy season, only the long route is feasible as the shortcut road goes underwater. • most tricycles also stop plying their routes around 7-7.30pm except for special trips that entails hiring the tricycle for stretches of the long route, in our case, we took a tricycle from candaba to santa ana (P80 or roughly $1.90), then a jeep to san fernando (P18 or $.45) to catch the bus going back to manila.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Welcome aboard Mabuhay Magazine

It seems fortuitous to find my pictures in two different inflight magazines on the same month and in reality, it is. But what the hey, I'm not complaining. Thanks to Ira of Mabuhay Magazine for facilitating this one. It really came as a pleasant surprise since one, I totally wasn't expecting it, and two, I didn't expect it to be that big. I hope maulit uli.T hanks to our Roxas City host, Hannibal Ong, for selflessly driving us through the two-hour dusty, rough road to Ivisan. And of course, many thanks to the Man Upstairs without whom this would not be possible. It's nice to finally get some breaks after relentlessly traveling the past two or so years to deepen my portfolio, and most importantly, deepen my understanding of our fellow Pinoys.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A warm welcome aboard Seair

I thank my lucky stars that i got onboard Seair's InFlight Magazine starting with the June-July issue. Truth to tell, while I've seen the initial layouts a month or so ago, I still find it kinda hard to believe to see my pics and byline in the magazine. It's also sort of ironic because I've done events and AVPs for them for the last three years but they probably never even knew I'm a photographer, only now. But I guess it's never too late. I also pray this partnership is taking off to a good start. Thanks Mons, for this break. Also to Jocas for the faith and trust.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

1,000 Thank yous

This entry celebrates my 1,000th post-milestone. Wow, even I am taken by surprise.

Allow me to reminisce: rewind back to January 20, 2004,1.02am during an overtime when i discovered a friend's blog. I was experiencing the heady effects of Tramal (the only painkiller I can safely take) because of a back problem and the frustration of not being able to play badminton (was competitive for around 3 years then). Dunno what moved me to try this relatively newfangled thing called web journalling. Maybe a way to reach out to the world? Find a world outside my realm? Discover friends i may not otherwise find? Maybe, maybe, maybe. Writing for a living, I'm no stranger to writing journals. But to expose them to the world? Hmm, let's see.

FROM BLOGGIE TO TRAVELOG TO LAGAL[OG] - My naivety made me choose the name "bloggie" for this blog's first incarnation. Good thing O don't have any screenshot of it -- it was gaudy. And wordy, since i haven't gotten into photography at that time. After a year, it has become "travel[og]" and armed with a nikon point and shoot, I slowly introduced some pictures.I t wasn't until i got into more serious photography in 2006 when I had an epiphany, deciding to give this blog a sense of purpose: to promote the Philippines. by this time, it has assumed the name, "lagal[og]".

FUTURE LAGALOG - For the future, I hope to stay true to this commitment by showing more of the Philippines and helping promote backpacking in the country.

SPECIAL THANKS - Let me take this opportunity to thank all my friends and readers, old and new, who have been part of this space. allow me to name some of them because they were truly instrumental in showing the way and helping me grow:
Dindin, aka supermom and superfriend, for introducing me to and helping me grow in my photographic journey; her defunct site,, was my earliest inspiration
Ferdz, aka ironwulf, who's like a kid brother to me, for all the support and help through these years
Boyet b, A Philmug orig, thanks for introducing me to blogging
Estan, for helping me get out of a rut that nearly made me shut this blog down last year
Lori a, from Manila to California to Arizona, you've always been a dear friend and supporter

WWW.LAGALOG.COM - I would also like to take this chance to announce the birth of my own domain, which will serve as my online fotofolio. The prototype is now up. I will continue this blog and link it to the new site under the travel[og] subheading.I  owe a lot to Ferdz for making this long overdue project happen. God bless you always, my friend. And God bless y'all and with your support, I look forward to the next 1,000.

Take my breath away

I don't know if I'm a frustrated poet or just a freak of nature. Iam a big fan of sunrises and sunsets. Particularly, sunsets. I somehow appreciate the fact that our Creator puts on this show of nature everyday, unfailingly, and yet not a lot of us notice this breathtaking show that plays with or without an audience.I  was guilty of this for so many years and the past few years, I've been making amends.I 'm very happy to share with my friends and readers this wonderful moment before the sun set and the Pyro Olympics commenced yesterday. Funny that my most favorite capture of the day happened before the event I planned to shoot.

Pyro Olympics 08 - Fellowship

As early as 5pm, Ferdz and I staked out at the breakwater near the restaurant row of SM Mall of Asia. There were already a lot of early eager beavers who came armed and ready with their portable chairs, snacks and refreshments for the finale of this year's edition of the World Pyro Olympics. It was a good time to see friends i haven't seen in quite a while like Red, my Roxas buddy, as well as meet new ones like Allan B (nice meeting you finally bai). The program started on time but imho, the fellowship performance paled in comparison to the awesome displays of the previous weeks, especially that of Venezuela and Italy. I guess the people expected a longer display, and rightfully so.A fter all, isn't this the Fellowship of Fire? I think it lasted for like 10 minutes and the crowd hankered for more.

Come 8.45, we were expecting the announcement of the winner but never heard it. Not that the crowd was noisy, it was just the fact that the announcements seem haphazardly planned. At 9pm, Team Philippine's performance commenced.I t was short and sweet, making a statement that we're not going to fall behind in terms of creativity, visual magic and audience impact.

Of course, grabbing something to eat somewhere after the event is a matter of Pyro Olympic proportions, it being a payday weekend as well. We repaired to David's Teahouse till the crowd dispersed and getting out of the SM MOA complex became more sane. 

TEAM ITALY WON! Thanks to Joanne, I got the news that our favorite, Team Italy, won the competition. We missed the first weekend when Teams China and Australia participated so it's hard to say if italy, indeed, can win.

Pyro Olympics 08 - Pinoy sparkles

The Philippines participated as guest in the Pyro Olympics. I wasn't around last year to witness the event but friends were saying the program last year was longer and more spectacular. Nevertheless, the host country put on a wonderful performance capped by a unique ending (which I didn't capture because I ran out of card memory). We staked our position at the breakwater near Pier One, very near the barge's location, early on but moved back because of the thick crowd. Here's an interesting take I captured during Team Philippines' performance where a cellphone-wielding member of the crowd seem to be holding a sparkler, producing a display that dazzled the crowds as much as the other participating countries did.


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