Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Postcards, Portraits and Memories

Batanes - Sabtang Chavayan Nanay Fely in a Vakul
Nanay Fely wearing the traditional Ivatan headwear, Vacul
I started the year on a reading binge, finishing a book every 3-4 days.  I had a health issue that required resting.  Ahh, reviewing this year meant coming to terms with having to strike a balance between looking for projects/earning a living and wanting to go out of town more.  I have not traveled as often as I wanted but that's life.  I may have not visited a lot of new places I haven't been to but the places I've revisited merited a second, even third immersion.

3-Island Batanes hopping. Batanes is a happy exception as it is my fifth time to go to this northernmost parts.  With God's providence, we were able to mount our second Batanes Backpack Photography Photo Tour this year, and a three-island hop at that.  The trip to Itbayat was a particularly memorable one with a tempestuous sea and a disembarkation at the other port, in Mauyen.  I distinctly remembered the air nippy for the time of the year, the well-stocked sari-sari store beside Nanay Cano's homestay, and the hike to Torongan Cave.
Go Hotels PPS Cathedral Skywards
Blue skies and wispy clouds over the Puerto Princesa Cathedral
Palawan-bound. Revisiting Puerto Princesa courtesy of a photo assignment from GoHotels made me think how bustling this capital has become.  It was two days of shuttling from the location of the hotel where a new mall is being constructed to the city proper about 15 minutes on a tricycle, just enough time to see a bit of commercial attractions but missing out on much of the natural ones.
Boracay - Desolate Beach at Sunset
White Beach towards sunset
Boracay eats.  It may sound like a writing assignment from food heaven but my return trip to Boracay while well-appreciated was like an acid reflux lab experiment.  Imagine eating 5-6 heavy meals five days in a row, then shuttling to and from one eating place and all the while just eyeing White Beach.  I'm grateful as it's not everyday that you get you eat at the island's nicest eating places and get paid for it.  On our fifth day, a scheduled prospect canceled so I got my wish to swim even for just two hours.
Siliman University Theater Ballet
Interesting installation on the Siliman University grounds in Dumaguete
Missing budbud kabog in Dumaguete.  Another assignment for GoHotels took me back to Dumaguete.  While it was only 1 1/2 day short, it was nonetheless nice to revisit and see how Rizal Boulevard has changed from the last time I was here.  The tempurahan at the boulevard was a nice change.  And while I missed out on eating budbud kabog at the palengke, eating the Silvanas at Sansrival Cakes and Pastries will suffice for the time being.
Imugan Moth II Closer
Having fun shooting macros of Imugan's interesting little denizens
Chillin' in Imugan. It's rare that my erstwhile blog circle, now good travel friends (informally called the Plurkees) get together because of our diverse backgrounds and conflicting schedules so going to the farming town of Imugan in Nueva Vizcaya for the weekend was a real treat.  Venturing again to the pine forest of Salacsac and the waterfalls made for a relaxing weekend.  I remember the rains that came and went and having the time of my life either reading, shooting macros of the beautiful insects that didn't mind our presence.
Quezon Borawan Sunrise Boat
Alibahaban Island at sunrise
For another writing assignment, I had the rare privilege of road-tripping all the way to Quezon and island-hopping to some really interesting places -- San Andres to Alibahaban, Burgos to Borawan and Padre Burgos to Cagbalete Island.  Our team were also treated to incredible hospitality.  The trip to Cagbalete is very memorable to me because of a dog I've befriended that went home with us all the way from one end of the island.
Dumagat of Maconacon Isabela IX
The expressive eyes of a Dumagat child of Maconacon
Imagining Isabela.  For Backpack Photography, we went on an ocular of Isabela thanks to SkyPasada.  It was an honor to interface with the Dumagats of Maconacon and Divilacan.  While we would've wanted to go all the way to Palanan (a dream destination for me for the last five or so years), we needed more time to do so especially since it was the habagat season.
Villa Escudero Pink Museum and Grey Clouds III
The eye-catching museum at Villa Escudero
For a writing assignment for InFlight magazine, I took another road trip to Quezon, turning back the century in Villa Escudero.  Curious that I've heard about this place all this time and only went this year.  I remembered being sick with fever when we started the trip but got better during the overnight assignment.  Credit it to the healing power of nature, I guess.
Guimaras Costa Aguada Twilight Mangrove
Beautiful mangrove area of Inampulugan at dusk
Still for InFlight, I was able to to revisit Guimaras and Nagarao, this time adding a few days in Inampulugan and Costa Aguada.  During the previous trip to Nagarao, the sea was particularly rough so it was a relief to island hop on a very calm sea.  Beautiful in a rugged sense, it is need of more upkeep though I still like its small island feel.  Contrast this to the big island experience of Inampulugan.
Sagada Tree-D
Sunlit valley in Sagada
Befriending the dogs, sampling the eats in Sagada.  We ventured back to Sagada to catch the All Saints' Day ritual of Panag-apoy.  Hitches aside due to the peak season, it was an enjoyable trip punctuated by interesting dogs we've met in Yabami, the dogs we revisited at Rock Inn, the acquaintances we made during the trip, and the glorious food (Misty Lodge Cafe deserves a special mention) we had.

No overseas trip for me this 2012.  That can change next year, hopefully if plans proceed as plotted out and the stars align.  We'll see. In the meantime, I'm thankful to Yahweh for the travel, the delicious calories, friendships made and friendships renewed.  May the good Lord bless us and keep us for the coming year.


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