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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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May 29, 2008

where is taal volcano?


If you have been to Tagaytay, most likely you have marveled at that all too familiar small cone shaped volcano down in Taal lake. You probably seen it in countless postcards, textbooks and websites too. And with the cool Tagaytay air you sigh: "Ahhh... Taal Volcano...". Sorry to burst your bubble, but its not THE Taal Volcano.

Binintiang Malaki as seen from the shore of Taal lake

That small dormant volcanic vent is called Binintiang Malaki and its just a small part (northwestern tip) of the Volcano Island, or real Taal Volcano.

How to get there (to the real Taal Volcano)

The jumpoff point to the Volcano Island is in Talisay, Batangas. It is that lake side town you see at the northern shores of Taal lake if you are in Tagaytay. There are several options going to Talisay via public transportation:

1. via Tanauan (ride buses bound for Batangas City, along Taft Ave in Manila) then ride a jeepney from Tanauan to Talisay

2. from Tagaytay, there is a winding road down to Talisay. There are jeepneys plying that route. The jeepney terminal is on Ligaya Drive.

When you reach Talisay there are lake resorts that offer banca rides to the Volcano Island (prices vary from Php1,500 to Php2,000). The banca ride is just about 30 minutes or so. You'd be surprised to see that there is a small community at the northern shores of the Volcano Island (talk about living in a danger zone, Taal is an active volcano). From there you can hire a guide and some horses if you prefer do it the Korean way hehehe.

The hike...
Daang Kastila, hike trail to Taal Volcano crater

The hiking trail is very manageable, but since there are no shades be ready to get real sweaty :). It is also very dusty especially if a group of 10-20 horse mounted Koreans passes you. (hey I've got nothing against Koreans, its just that Koreans comprise more than 90% of Taal volcano visitors nowadays. Some of them even tried building a spa resort near the crater).

Along the way (and especially near the top) you'll see (and smell) occasional steam hissing out from small cracks on the ground.

Taal crater lake

The view at the top is really marvelous. Its best to enjoy it by sipping that outrageously priced fresh buko juice (or softdrink) they sell at the peak. Yes, there are a couple of sari sari stores there.

Trivia about Taal Volcano and Taal Lake

1. the crater lake is on a volcano which is also in a caldera lake (Taal Lake) on top of an ancient volcano.

2. The Taal Lake is home to the tawilis, the world's only fresh water sardines. The fish is endemic to this area.

3. Taal Lake is also home to one of the world's rarest sea snakes, Hydrophis semperi.

4. Bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, used to be part of the lake's once-diverse ecosystem. They were hunted down in the 1930s
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Lantaw
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May 26, 2008

outdoor photographer no. 2



My second feature in Outdoor Photographer's Favorite Places! Here's the photo:

This was taken during my hike to Taal Volcano's crater lake with Trekkers Xavier, Oggie, and Shine.

Thanks Outdoor Photographer!
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Lantaw
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May 15, 2008

sctex - philippine's best expressway


Revvin' up your engine
Listen to her howlin' roar
Metal under tension
Beggin' you to touch and go

Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone

Headin' into twilight
Spreadin' out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin' off the track
And shovin' into overdrive

Highway to the Danger Zone
I'll take you
Right into the Danger Zone

If my first pass through SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway) was to be a scene in a movie, I would choose Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone (from Top Gun) to be the sound track :D. The highway's so well built we didn't have a problem "cruising" at 180kph, for a couple of minutes at least hehehe (we did 140-160kph most of the way hahaha). SCTEX could well be Philippine's autobahn, except of course for the 100kph speed limit.

through the pass

From Clark to Subic you would be passing through some very scenic Luzon countryside.

approaching storm

Its all worth the Php116.00 toll fee if you want to cut your Clark to Subic trip time by almost half.

Government Warning
Overspeeding is dangerous to your health. Obey the traffic rules and follow the speed limit!

Beware of the radar totting cowboys!
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May 6, 2008

hike to caliraya falls


The Caliraya Falls is just about 1 hour or so of leisurely hike from the Eco Saddle campsite. You'll be passing through a pasture field with rolling green hills and huge rocks protruding from the ground. You could easily forget that you are in Laguna, the scenery almost looked like it is somewhere in Batanes.

Batanes ... almost...

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May 5, 2008

caliraya's eco saddle campsite


We have been camping in Lake Caliraya for the past 4 years. The Eco Saddle campsite is perfect for city slickers who would like to "rough it out" without the real rigors of the outdoors.
a serene morning

It's a place where you can pitch a tent just a few meters from your jetski. But I go there mostly for Lake Caliraya's sunrise, as I yet have to get my hands on a jetski (which could take a lifetime hehe). You have a good view of the sunrise from the campsite. So far I have never been disappointed, all the 4:00AM wake ups always paid off.

scenes from a moody Caliraya morning

I've seen the place changed shape for the past years, new trees were planted, old ones were cut down. The ones that Typhoon Milenyo had ravaged have recovered. There are huts now where a group of 4-5 persons can comfortably sleep in thus eliminating the need for tents.

Electricity have slowly invaded the place. The CR/bath area now has lighting, so do a couple of huts. And with electricity comes karaoke! Gone are the quiet evenings...

I have never been so pissed off in a trip. I can take mud, rain, mosquito bites and still relish the sound of crickets as dusk falls. But not loud karaoke music with bad singing that could easily put William Hung to shame. The torture ended at 4:14:06 AM with the song "Banyo Queen" by the rapper Andrew E.

Will I go back there? Hmm, maybe I won't, maybe I will. But one thing's for sure: I'm a sucker for sunrises/sunsets :).
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May 2, 2008

caliraya in my mind


Lake Caliraya has a special place in my heart. Its where I got my first memorable sunsets and sunrises in photography a good 4 years ago.
morning has broken in Lake Caliraya

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