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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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November 21, 2008

visiting old churches in marinduque


Boac church spire

When the Spaniards colonized the Philippine islands in the early 15th century, they did so with the sword and the cross. Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, spread quickly across the Luzon and Visayas regions (Mindanao remained a Muslim stronghold even up to the time of the American invasion in the late 1800s). The Spaniards ruled the archipelago for the next 400 years. It is therefore not uncommon to see old colonial churches in most of Philippines 7100+ islands.

It was overcast that day when we went around Marinduque to see the sights including the old churches in several towns. From Gasan in the western side, we rode a rented jeep down south to Buenavista. Buenavista's parish church is relatively new (town was founded in 1954) so we decided to skip it.

From Buenavista, we traversed Mt. Malindig going to Torrijos in the south eastern side. I was already getting drowsy and the cool mountain breeze and the overcast weather were not helping at all. Soon we found ourselves in the sleepy town of Torrijos and went straight to the parish church. The town of Torrijos was founded in 1880s but I cannot find any reference as to when the church was built. However, from the church's architecture one could surmissed that its relatively new.

St Ignatius of Loyola Parish Church in Torrijos

After taking a couple of shots of the church's facade, we made a detour to Poctoy White Beach and had a quick look around. The long stretch of fine coral sand was a totally different view from what we saw in Gasan. From beach one has a great view of Mt. Malindig (cloud covered that day).

Poctoy White Beach

After the quick tour, we drove further up north to Sta. Cruz. We had a hearty lunch at the public market before going to Sta. Cruz church. It started to drizzle when we got there.

The town of Sta. Cruz was founded in 1609 but it was not until 1714 when the Sta. Cruz church ( titular: Holy Cross) was erected. Much of the tower and the facade remained intact but the church had undergone numerous renovations over the years.

Sta Cruz church facade

The church's altar is typical of colonial churches: adorned with statues of the saints and intricately designed. Renovations/repairs were being done of the altar area when we were there. It was difficult to take photos of the church interior due to successive funeral masses.

alley at the side of the church

We had better luck with the weather when we visited Boac the next day. The sky was blue and the cloud cover minimal. Boac, founded in 1580, is the oldest town in Marinduque.

The Boac church, built in 1756 in honor of the Blessed Virgin of Biglang Awa (Immediate Succor), is situated on top of a small hill. The church has retained much of its Fil-Hispanic gothic architecture. The interiors of the church: the floor designs and the elaborate altar were beautifully preserved. The stained glass windows were a newer renovation aimed at enhancing the granduer of the church.

Boac church (Immaculate Conception Cathedral)

The church was much bigger and the aisle much longer than that of the Sta. Cruz church. I was about to take some shots of the interior when a funeral procession started pouring in. I had to gather my gears and quickly head out as the crowd began to swell.

restored Boac church facade

There are other old churches in Marinduque like the ones in Gasan and Mogpog. But our limited time there dictated we will have to visit those in another time.

This is my first entry to That's My World Meme - a site where we can show the world around us.
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Lantaw
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November 20, 2008

accommodations in pinggan, marinduque


Club Marinduque main house and pool

If you want the shortest bee line to the Tres Reyes Islets then I guess staying in a resort in Brgy Pinggan would be best for you. We haven't really checked out all possible accommodations in Pinggan, but I think there are just a couple of resorts in the area . We arrived in Pinggan at around 7am and were too tired from the bus and ferry ride. Folks pointed us to the direction of two nearby resorts : Club Marinduque and Casa de Azul (the two are less than 200 meters from each other). We went to check out the rooms at Club Marinduque first then proceeded to Casa de Azul. The owner of the latter informed us that they were making renovations at the moment (they will be reopening after a week) so our obvious choice would be Club Marinduque.

I'm not much of a resort person (I would not complain sleeping in a tent with an earth pad) so any of the two would have made a great choice. But what was really nice was that we got the whole resort to ourselves - the perks of traveling off-season.

Club Marinduque has cabins near the beach. You have a choice of single or double rooms. The single room costs Php 1,080.00/night and Php 200.00 pesos per additional bed.

Cabins

The double room (Php 1,800.00/night) was quite spacious and could comfortably fit 6-8 persons (ideal for a large group).

Double room with TV, aircon, ref, and bathroom

Some of the cabins have a view of the beach. Now if you are expecting a nice beach get ready to be disappointed. The sand is just your ordinary construction quality sand and the water not too great either, at times it was a bit muddy in color. Its better to head out to Tres Reyes for swimming and snorkeling.

Garden view

The staff at the resort were all friendly and service was great. They were very helpful in arranging transportation for us (jeepney and boat) and even waited for the bus at the highway for our return trip.

The food: this is another story. The breakfast meals (and other items in the menu) were pricey (I'm skipping the "a bit" part). I'm not really very picky with food but I know good food when I taste one, and good food does not have to be gourmet. I also know good food can be expensive. What we had for two days there was expensive but not good.

Dining area

You have the option to buy from the market in Gasan and have it cooked there (for Php 100.00). The problem with this is that after a long trip exploring the sights in the island I doubt if you still have the energy to go to the market.

Overall I would say our stay there was memorable. I enjoyed the pool a lot.

Contact details
Casa de Azul - (+63)919-206-3358 or (+63)928-488-6679
Club Marinduque - visit www.clubmarinduque.com
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Lantaw
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November 18, 2008

catching the sunrise in gaspar islet


Sunrise colors in Gaspar

I'll fast forward to our trip to Gaspar islet, the only inhabited islet of Tres Reyes Islets. I was dead tired from our non-stop trip: the bus ride from Manila, the ferry ride, then a jeepney ride around the island to visit the old churches and the falls (will post photos of these soon). Though pretty much exhausted, I was still looking forward to our 4AM jump off to Gaspar the next morning to shoot the sunrise. I live for the sunrise and sunsets.

After a hearty dinner, we took a quick dip in the resort's pool and decided to hit the sack early. I was planning to take some night shots but Oggie declared he is going to take a rain check on it. Guess who was the first to take his tripod and camera out when the moon shone brightly amidst interesting cloud formations :). We all ended up going to the beach and taking long exposure shots of the moon and the sky.

We woke up at 3:30AM that morning. Still sleepy-eyed, we went straight to the beach after packing our gears. The boat was late (Filipino time?) so I decided to setup my tripod and took a shot of the moonlit beach.

moonlit shores of Pinggan

The boat ride to Gaspar was uneventful, the sea was calm and there was no wind. After about 30 minutes we reached the sand bar on the eastern side. It was a good thing we stayed at a resort directly fronting the Tres Reyes Islets (thanks Ferdz!).

Gaspar islet

We wasted no time scouting for a nice spot to catch the first rays of the day from. The folks there were still asleep so we practically had that part of the islet to ourselves.

silent night at Gaspar

The first sunset colors were subdued and pastel like. It was a good thing there was not much of a wind. I remembered the time I was in Capones Island in Zambales at 5AM shooting the sunrise, I could hear the wind whistling.

rocks and sunrise, with Mt. Malindig in the background

The colors got real intense a few seconds before the sun finally went up the horizon. The cloud patterns got interesting too.

with Mt. Malindig and Elephant Island in the distant

Time fly fast when you are shooting sunrises or sunsets. The shooting window is just a couple of minutes.

sun's finally up the horizon

When we finished shooting, the village was already up and about. A group of curious kids began to gather around. I went to join Oggie and Ferdz who found their spot several meters from my position. Oggie was already full steam ahead with his jokes (never a dull moment) and was obviously pleased with his "[OG] shot of the day".

Notes
  • Its best to stay in Gasan, particulary in Brgy Pinggan, if you want an early tour of the Tres Reyes Islets
  • You can stay in Club Marinduque (photos soon) or Casa de Azul if you are in Pinggan.
  • Look for Kiko in Club Marinduque for boat arrangements. He knows the folks in Gaspar as he is their village electrician
  • Boat fare is Php 1,500 for a tour of the 3 islets
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Lantaw
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November 17, 2008

traveling to marinduque


Marinduque is a small heart shaped island found south of Luzon. Before I went there last weekend I only know it as an exotic island popular for its Moriones Festival during the Holy Week.

Coco Trees in Pingan
along the coastal road in Brgy Pinggan in Gasan

I was lucky to tag along with two travel photographers (Oggie Ramos and Ferdz Decena) and got to experience the island firsthand.

Marinduque is not as fancy as destinations like Palawan, or Boracay maybe, but it has its own rustic charms. Most would consider it an off-the-beaten path destination. There are centuries old churches (we got to visit some), scenic falls (this too), and beautiful uncrowded beaches. A winding highway with a great view of the coast connects the towns around the island, just driving on it is an experience.

Getting to Marinduque
There are several bus lines that ply the Manila to Lucena route (JAM, JAC, Lucena Lines) and they have their terminals in Cubao and in Buendia-Taft. From Lucena there are fastcraft and RORO (Roll On, Roll off) vessels (see Montenegro Lines) that goes to Balanacan port in Mogpog or to the Cawit port in Gasan. The RORO vessels mean that you can bring your own car or van if you have a large group.

We took the JAC bus that goes straight to Boac via RORO (fare: Php 717.00 including the terminal fee at the port). The bus leaves the JAC terminal in Kamias at around 6PM and goes to their terminal in Buendia-Taft, arrives there usually at 8PM. You have to be real early if you plan to catch the bus in Buendia-Taft since there are only a handful of seats available once the bus gets there (a JAC employee told us there are only about 10 slots available). During the off-peak season there are only 2 schedules for the bus straight to Boac, one in the morning and one in the evening.

I got to the Buendia terminal at around 5PM and found out I still have 3 hours of waiting time. Good thing I had Oggie and Ferdz for company, never a dull moment.

It was already around 9PM when the bus finally got on its way to SLEX (South Luzon Expressway). We got to the Lucena port several minutes past 1AM, waited a couple of minutes before the bus went into the RORO vessel (scheduled departure time for Cawit port is 2AM).

JAC Liner to Boac
JAC bus rolling in

There were just a few vehicles that morning but during the Holy Week this vessel is packed.

Tricycle into the ferry
Tricycle with market goods

Once inside the ferry we went up and looked for a place to idle the time away and maybe get some sleep. Its still a good 3 hours before the ferry reaches Marinduque. We saw an aircon lounge (additional fare of Php 42.00) and went in. We later found out that the air conditioning is not working. Although tired, the group's mood was still jolly, exchanging jokes and making comments about the lousy local game show being played on TV. We tried to sleep on the cramped couches but it was too hot. Oggie and Ferdz settled for the the plastic mono-bloc benches outside the lounge. I followed suit on Oggie's suggestion that its much cooler on the benches.

I'm not sure how long I was able to sleep (half-sleep maybe the correct word) before the PA system announced our arrival in Cawit port. From Cawit the bus proceeded north to Boac before heading down south to the municipalites Gasan and Buenavista. We were supposed to alight in Boac but missed the stop (somebody overslept! hehe) and ended up in Gasan, which is good since Ferdz actually planned to head to Brgy Pingan in Gasan anyway. What's better is that the bus conductor did not asked us for additional fare. Folks in Pingan are real helpful, pointed us to the nearest resorts when they saw us walking down the coastal road.

Getting around in Marinduque
You can catch the public jeepneys that go around the island but if you are concerned about your schedule its best to hire a tricycle (if the destination is not very far) or a jeepney if you want to go around faster and visit more places. We decided to rent a jeepney for the whole day (Php 2000.00)

More stories soon...
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Lantaw
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November 7, 2008

puray falls: revisited


I returned to Puray last weekend, still on a mountain bike. This time I had the guts to bring most of my photo equipment sans the tripod. The falls was a bit bigger than it was the last time I was there and definitely more majestic looking. I managed to get to a closer vantage point, past some thorny bamboos and slippery rocks.

I've always been enthralled and drawn to the water. I love the beach but I'm addicted to falls. And I seek them out, the more remote the better. You might be asking: whats so interesting about a stream of water falling down a ledge? I really don't know for sure - maybe its seeing something so dynamic and so beautiful. Maybe its the privilege of seeing something only a few (except for the locals of course) have laid their eyes upon on.

I could stare at a waterfalls for hours. I love to listen to the thundering yet lulling sound it makes as the waters hit the rocks and the catch basin below. When you are staring at such a beauty, you don't dare ask the whys.
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November 4, 2008

outdoor photographer #6


This is Bitbit in Norzagaray, Bulacan - all worth the 80km of mountain biking (I wrote about my trip to Bitbit here). We still have a lot of unexplored and unexploited places here, and I hope I get to (most of) them before they are pristine no more.
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Lantaw
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