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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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December 31, 2009

2009: lantaw looks back at a year of photos (part 2 of 2)


My recount of 2009's travels continues (read part 1 here). My wanderlust have taken me to see more waterfalls, rock formations, heritage sites, and caves.

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2009: lantaw looks back at a year of photos (part 1)


A year is wrapping up and another one is about to begin. Join me in revisiting the places that made 2009 a year to remember: from stormy coastal scenes to waterfalls, from hidden coves to architectural treasures.

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December 24, 2009

merry christmas!


Koronadal Holiday Lights

May the Lord shower you and your family with blessings this Christmas!
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December 18, 2009

guimaras: villa igang's colors of dawn


Steadfast
muted colors of dawn

While the rest are still in dreamland (and some others just about to hit the sack), we are already up and about, wandering the resort grounds at 3 in the morning. I am not really sure how much sleep I got but I was pretty desperate to find a "sunrise POV".

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December 15, 2009

guimaras: villa igang's sunset cave


Sunset Cave
sunset as seen from inside a cave in Igang

Imagine this: a great cavern, facing the sunset, a few steps from your villa. Its cool crystal clear waters soothing your tired and sunburnt body after a day of island hopping.

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December 10, 2009

iloilo: molo church (st. anne parish) - the feminist church


Molo Church (Parish of St. Anne)
church facade at sunset

In front of Molo's plaza stands an architectural gem whose red spires tower over the Iloilo skyline. The spires, one of the symbols associated with Iloilo, are so distinctive you can even spot them from the nearby island of Guimaras on a clear day.

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December 7, 2009

guimaras: villa igang's inviting charm


Perfect Time for a Morning Dip
morning dip in Villa Igang

Scenic rocky coves, caves, a small lake, different species of mangroves, and rich marine life: these are just some of the charms that leave one enthralled in Villa Igang. Tucked in a rocky cove in the town of Nueva Valencia, Villa Igang is the perfect secluded place for a quiet getaway.

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December 4, 2009

cagbalete's low tide beauty in Seair InFlight Dec '09 - Jan '10 issue


Insider's Guide (Nature Unfurled)
Insider's Guide (Nature Unfurled) pp 66-67 spread

My photo of Cagbalete's unique low tide scenery joins other photos from unspoilt destinations in Seair InFlight magazine's Insider Guide (Nature Unfurled) for its Dec 2009 - Jan 2010 issue. (Seen on the same spread as my friend Eric's Turtle Sanctuary photo)

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December 3, 2009

iloilo: miagao church, looking beautiful amidst repairs


Miag-ao Church: Under Maintenance
Miagao's barouque church

The Miagao Church, with it coral stone walls glowing in the early morning sun, still looks grand even with the scaffolding. This impressive 212 year old architectural treasure, constructed in 1786 and finished in 1797, has every right to be considering that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Baroque Churches of the Philippines).

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December 1, 2009

escape to iloilo and guimaras


Exploring Guimaras
a sandbar in Igang in Guimaras

I managed to squeeze in, before the rush of the holidays, a trip to Iloilo and the island province of Guimaras last weekend. My wife, together with two of our friends, flew in from Davao while I took the first flight from Manila. I was excited to plant my feet again on my father's home province after more than 2 decades.

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November 23, 2009

villavicencio ancestral house: taal's gift house


Walls painted using Art Nouveau style
walls painted with distinctive art nouveau curves and twirls

A trip to the heritage town of Taal is a trip to Philippine's colonial past. There, one is treated to the grand vista of an old Spanish era church and a quiet stroll down streets lined with colonial houses.

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November 20, 2009

burgos: kapurpurawan rock formation


Kapurpurawan Curves and Shadows

If you are used to Philippine's coastal scenery of fine white sand beaches with swaying palm trees, then the Kapurpurawan rock formation found in Burgos, Ilocos Norte is surely a unique treat. This astonishing geological formation could easily pass for an English coastal vista (the chalk cliffs comes to mind in this one).

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November 17, 2009

taal: basilica of st. martin de tours


St. Martin de Tours Basilica
facade of St. Martin de Tours Basilica

When someone mentions the name "Taal" the images I associate it with were those of the volcano and the scenic lake. That changed when I visited the heritage town of Taal in Batangas last weekend. For me, "Taal" is now a sleepy town of colonial houses and the facade of St. Martin de Tours Basilica, glowing in the golden light of the sunset.

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November 11, 2009

candaba wetlands: of fisherfolks and sunset


Tres Pescadores
from their favorite fishing spot

Like the migratory birds, a lot of things are seasonal in Candaba wetlands. The road, for one,  "disappears" during the rainy season. You'll see the fields transform from  rice fields to fish ponds (and vice versa) depending on which month you go there.

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November 5, 2009

candaba swamp: a solo trek on the day of saints


Typhoon Santi derailed my plans to go to Polilio island on the long weekend of Nov 1 (All Saints Day). Flights were grounded and boat trips were canceled. Everyone braced for the incoming storm.

When it came it blew strong winds for a couple of hours and poured several millimeters of rain. And then as suddenly as it came, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. So there I was with nothing to do on a cloudless Sunday morning, too late to go to where I planned to spend the weekend.

Without thinking too much on where I was going, I grabbed my pack and headed to the bus station. By the time I arrived at the station, I had decided to catch the sunset in the bird sanctuary in Candaba wetlands. Its bird season and I thought I might get lucky with some bird shots, with a beautiful sunset as bonus.
Wide Open Country
candaba's wide open space

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November 4, 2009

manila bay: bay of colors


We are all equal, you just have to find the right perspective
famous Manila Bay sunset

Manila Bay undergoes a transformation when the sun dips below the horizon. Its just like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but this time it goes from ugly to beautiful.

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October 26, 2009

bangui windmills: wind of change on renewable and clean energy


Bangui Windmills
windmills of Bangui Bay

The first time I saw them, I could not help but ask myself if I'm still in the Philippines. The wind farm scenery looked like it was in some distant shores in a foreign country. But no its not. The giant wind turbines, spaced 236 meters apart, are on a 9km strip of deserted beach in Brgy. Baruyen in a sleepy town of Bangui in Ilocos Norte.

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October 20, 2009

maira-ira: the journey north to blue lagoon


North bound

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

It seemed like we were at that moment. No, not good travelers exactly, but travelers not intent on arriving.

My first clue? A 6-hour wait to board the bus. It was a long weekend, and the PARTAS bus station in Cubao was packed with all sorts of travelers heading north, young and old, and surfer dudes in between. We were at the station by 10PM, but was able to board the bus only at 4AM the next day. By the time we were on the bus, I am already awake for 24 hours. Nevertheless I was happy to start the trip.

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October 12, 2009

samal: monfort bat cave


Hanging Out
fruit bats in Monfort Bat Sanctuary

Before I visited the Monfort bat cave (officially known as Monfort Bat Conservation Park) in Samal island, I heard that the place has a large concentration of Geoffroy’s rousette fruit bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus). "Large" turned out to be a huge understatement: the caves are packed with over a million fruit bats!

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October 5, 2009

maira-ira: blue lagoon's wild beach


Wild Beach
Blue Lagoon's wild beach

The alarm woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. I got up and felt reinvigorated despite the almost 24 hours of being on the road the day before. Sleeping in an open hut, with the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep, has its benefits I suppose. Soon my companions, who included travel bloggers lawstude and dongho, were up and about.

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October 1, 2009

lantaw infocus (sear inflight oct-nov 2009)


Cabacungan InFocus

SEAIR's InFlight Oct-Nov 2009 issue is now out and I am very honored to be featured in the magazine's InFocus section. One of my favorite images of Cabacungan Cove in Tambobong, Dasol (Pangasinan) got selected for the feature (Thanks to Jocas See and Margie Francisco!).

Tambobong is one of my favorite destinations and I never pass up the chance to visit Cabacungan cove whenever I am there. Timing was perfect the last time I paid the cove a visit, it was low tide and the sun's going down. Went against conventional wisdom that afternoon, selected a POV on an seaweed covered ledge that runs east - the opposite of sunset. Now I'm glad I did.

Text on the page:
This image of clouds and the horizon drenched in purple pink light was taken March this year at Cabacungan Cove, Tambobong Beach in Dasol, Pangasinan. Allan Barredo waited patiently forthe sunset to light up the cumulus clouds in the east and was rewarded with this brilliant scene.

Barredo’s love of the outdoors led him to photography and starting a travel blog (http://lantaw.blogspot.com) two years ago. He shoots mostly landscapes and waterscapes. He was a contributor to the local paper Manila Bulletin’s Through a Lens, Clearly and his works had been featured in IMAG Photography magazine and Outdoor Photographer website (www.outdoorphotographer.com).
-- Margie F. Francisco

Grab yourself a copy if you happen to fly SEAIR this October and November. The cover story is about diving in Boracay.
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September 24, 2009

maira-ira: blue lagoon's wavy welcome


Can the waves be more awesome than this?
Blue Lagoon big waves at sunrise

So there I was, after more than 24 hours of long queues, butt numbing bus rides, bus transfers, and busted air conditioning. There I was standing on the shores of mainland Luzon's northernmost tip, a place called Blue Lagoon Cove in Maira-ira, Pagudpud, savoring the salty morning sea air. Couldn't believe that just a few weeks ago I was in mainland Mindanao's southernmost area.

I've seen postcard shots of the place, the bluest of blue waters and the whitest of white sand on a clear sunny day. But I like Blue Lagoon's moody sunrise after a night of heavy rains. The waves are huge and they hit the shores with a booming sound. No wonder the place is becoming to be a surfing destination.

And as if to welcome us first timers there, the sea certainly presented us with a display of awesome waves. More photos of my Blue Lagoon morning soon. (photo left: lantaw vs the waves, courtesy of dongho).



See other sights in
Thats My World.
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September 23, 2009

samal island: hagimit falls quickie


Source of Hagimit Water
Hagimit's water source

I know from research that Hagimit Falls is a touristy place with its cottages and other structures. While some folks like to go to "developed" destinations, I like my destinations (especially waterfalls) wild, pristine, and unspoilt. But my wife and I decided to check it out anyway since we got time to spare before heading back to Davao City.

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September 21, 2009

samal island: a quick detour from davao


Whenever you are in Davao City and you have a day or two to spare, hop on a ferry and head to Samal island. Whether its a day trip or an overnight one, Samal island, officially known as Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) with very good reasons, has something to offer.

Samal is very near Davao City. There are lots of options for ferries going to the island. There are ROROs (Roll on, Roll off ferries) if you have your own vehicle. There are buses from Sta. Ana pier with routes to Babak and Penaplata, two of Samal's most progressive districts.

The fastest way is via the commuter ferries in Km 11 in Sasa wharf (fare is 13 pesos or .25 USD). Its a bit hard to find the ferry station if you are a first timer (its hidden behind a wet market) but taxi drivers will take you directly near the station (taxi drivers in Davao are honest, thanks to the much loved and feared city mayor)

Babak Pier
Babak pier on a sunny day

The ferries leave every 15 minutes and the ride only takes 10 minutes. You'll be in Babak pier before you can even doze off.

Samal Ferry Boat Passengers
Samal commuter ferry

As soon as you arrive in Babak pier, habal-habal (motorcycles on steriods) and multi-cab drivers will descend on you before you can even get your bearings. If you are traveling with a group or if you are the type who brings around a lot of luggage, then the multi-cab is for you.

If you are the type to likes to ride fast and hard then better get one of those habal-habals. The inner roads of Samal are terrible but the habal-habal's souped up shocks will make the ride enjoyable. The drivers liked to really rip the roads, so hold on to something, or just close your eyes.

Habal-habal
Samal's habal-habal

A day's tour of the island's beaches and other sights will set you back about 600-1000 pesos, depending on where you want to go and your haggling skills. Its best if you have somebody with you who can speak the local dialect. For example I only paid 200 pesos for a trip to Canibad cove, while others paid 1000 pesos (as mentioned in their blogs).

Licup Viewpoint Flowers
viewpoint in Brgy Licup

There are many options once you are in Samal. There are caves to explore: the Monfort Bat Sanctuary is just near Babak pier, and several waterfalls (Hagimit Falls is one of the more popular, drop by Brgy Licup's viewpoint on the way to Hagimit).

Licup Midday Viewpoint
great sunny day for an island tour

There are zip lines if you are the daring type. White sand beaches abound, head to Kaputian (which literally means "whiteness" in local dialect) for great but affordable beaches. You can choose from nipa hut accommodations to posh resorts depending on your budget (see http://samalbeaches.com/).

Will feature photos on Monfort Bat Caves and Hagimit Falls soon.
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September 14, 2009

canibad: colors of dawn


Canibad Silent Morning
a sleepy cove

I was up and about while the rest are still in slumber. My wife aroused from her sleep, eyed me preparing my gears, but knew too well to ask me where I was going. Soon she was back in dreamland while I stepped outside our little hut to claim my "gift": the gift of morning colors, the gift of the new day. Its given for free everyday but you have to wake up early to get it.

The cove was empty, yet full at the same time. Empty of man's daily activities but full of nature's: the soft whisper of the early morning breeze, the booming sound of the waves breaking near the shore, and slow moving cotton clouds. Dawn is the best time to see what the world early is.

Canibad Pastel Dawn
Canibad's pastel dawn

Soon the colors of Canibad's dawn broke through the horizon. It was a hue of pastel pink and blue. Canibad's coral rocks, seen in many photos of the place, figured prominently in the landscape. No two sunrises, or sunsets, are ever the same. So each you see one you are getting a unique and special gift.

Colors of Dawn
colors of the first light

As the sunrise colors grew more intense, there was a display of softer, more subtle colors at the opposite direction. The anti-sunrise (or anti-sunset) colors are often missed simply because most people immediately dismiss the less obvious. Yet there are times when these colors are more interesting than the actual sunrise or sunset.

Canibad Sunrise, Burning Tree
by the burning tree

When the sun rose above the clouds lingering by the horizon, everything was splashed with a golden light. The pastel colors gave way to a bright warm glow which seems to signal the official start of the day. Folks started going about their daily chores while some kids played on the beach. For most, its just another ordinary day.
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September 8, 2009

canibad: a samal hideaway


Canibad Solitude
paradise found

It was empty, much to our liking.

My wife and I had a couple days to spare before we head out to the highlands of Lake Sebu for an assignment and we decided to check out some the places in Samal island (Island Garden City of Samal), a paradise island just a couple of minutes boat ride from Davao City.

One of our destinations is Canibad, a "secret" cove on the far side of the island, facing the shores Davao Oriental (lots of white sand beaches there too). During the course of my research I learned that Canibad has become sort of an "open secret" these days and is a favorite destination for those seeking rustic solitude. A dozen or more folks thinking the same thing like "lets go to Canibad for some peace and quiet" and you got yourself a crowded cove.

So we chose the date to go there very carefully: a day after the biggest festival in Mindanao - Davao's Kadayawan festival. I figured most folks would already be on their way home that day, and those who aren't are still probably nursing a hangover from last night's festivities and would not enjoy the very bumpy ride to the cove. And it paid off.

Canibad Western View
view of the south western end of the cove

After a scenic habal-habal (motorcycle) ride along Babak and Peñaplata's paved coastal road and down really rough backroads of central Samal we finally caught glimpse of the cove's azure waters.

From the main road its a 5-minute hike down to the beach. There are no high end resorts there, just simple huts and cottages you can rent. No electricity, no air conditioning, no electric fans. Cellphone signal is sporadic.

Canibad Hut
accommodation in Canibad

What Canibad lacks in amenities it makes up with its natural beauty and the hospitality of the folks there.

Canibad View from a Hut
open cottage with a view

While for most folks the place is boring and is devoid of the beach fun they are after, we like our beaches empty, and quiet, with lots of shaded nooks where you can read a good book or catch up on your sleep.

Canibad Cool Shade
cool shade

If you are into snorkeling, there is a fish sanctuary on the rocky north-western end of the cove. Its also a perfect place to catch the sunrise if you can get up early enough.

Canibad Rocks
fish sanctuary

It was exactly what a getaway should be (at least in our book): plenty of open space and beautiful scenery, with the sound of nature to lull you to sleep.

where to stay in canibad
There are about 5 or so private resorts in Canibad all with just a couple of rooms or cottages for rent. You can pitch a tent on the beach for a minimal fee, at least would be able to use the facilities of the resort. No restaurants, so you'll have to bring your own supplies. You can buy fresh catch in the morning and have it cooked.

We stayed at Canibad Secret Paradise resort. They only have 3 cottages for rent at Php 500.00 (10 USD) per night. They have a generator set which they turn on at 6PM to 9PM only, but they are no electrical outlets in the cottages. You'll have to go to the caretaker's house if you want to charge your batteries.

If you want to reserve a cottage you may contact Lyn-lyn or Jun at +63-906-903-2749
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September 3, 2009

canibad: a preview



sunrise in Canibad

Canibad is a nice secluded cove on north-eastern part of Samal island (officially known as IGACOS or Island Garden City of Samal). Its a small island in the gulf of Davao that is very popular for its fine white sand beaches, waterfalls, and caves (bat caves). Lovers of the great outdoors also frequent the island for its ziplines and mountain biking trails.

My wife and I went there just after the Kadayawan festival (the biggest festival in Mindanao) and found the cove empty, save for the locals.

More stories and photos soon.
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September 1, 2009

business and pleasure


Business and Pleasure

My wife joined me in my recent assignment documenting the arts and craft of the T'boli tribe in the remote barangays of Lake Sebu. Our 10th wedding anniversary coincided with one of our shooting days there. Our T'boli friends insisted on lending us some traditional wear for a mock tribal wedding which turned into an instant photo session.

Photo by Ogie Bautista
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August 20, 2009

what's packing in lantaw's bags


I sometimes get questions asking me what gears I use and what I usually bring on my outdoor trips. So here's a peek at some of the stuff I might pack on trips.

Lenses
I have three staple lenses: Sigma 10-20mm, Tokina 28-70mm/f2.8, and a Nikkor 70-300G. These 3 lenses covers a good range from wide to telephoto.

Lenses

On mountain treks, where I'd probably be shooting landscapes 99% of the time, I usually just bring the wide (for landscapes) and telephoto (for wildlife like birds - although 300mm is seriously not enough when shooting birds) when weight is an issue. The Tokina lens weighs like a brick!

When I'm mountain biking I just use a kit lens: a Nikkor 18-55mm. Plastic and feels like a toy but does a great job - unbelievably sharp for such a cheap lens.

Filters
Since I'm always shooting landscapes, these are always in my bag. I use a ultra thin Marumi DHG CPL which is always attached to my Sigma 10-20mm. It serves as a lens protector also as I don't use a UV filter. Gotta avoid vignettes when shooting wide, especially when I'm stacking filters.

Filters

Aside from the CPL I bring along a Hoya ND8X, an ultra thin Haida Infrared 720 filter (equivalent of Hoya R72) and several Cokin P-series GND filters. I tend to bring soft and hard edge GND8 filters and a GND4 most of the time. I stopped using colored graduated filters like the blue or sunset filters. I'd like to get my hands on 'em Singh-Ray filters one of these days. A single Singh-Ray filter costs an arm and a leg and a good portion of your torso.

AccessoriesLittle stuff I can't do without. I bring several SD cards of different brands. On a typical 3-day weekend trip 4 extra cards usually suffice for my needs. I cycle through 3 extra batteries (the most I can bring is 5). If I bring along my flash gun then I also bring 8 AA rechargeable batteries.

Accessories

Other stuff includes: commercial grade lens tissue (that can be used for cleaning sensors as well), several lens pens, a blower, camera rain covers, a small but ultra bright torch, a small compass, chargers for camera and AA batteries, a set of RF receiver and transmitter for remote flash, and IR remote trigger.

LightingCurrently I have only 1 flash gun: a Sigma EF-500 DG SUPER (Sigma's answer to SB-800). I use small Lastolite light modifier which is great for outdoor portraits.

Light

If there is a significant source of natural light I also use a disk reflector. There are 5-in-1 versions you can find in most camera shops. It has gold, silver, white, black, and translucent parts.

SupportA tripod is a landscape photographer's best friend. I don't leave home without it. Nobody has rock-steady hands.

Benro tripod

My Benro A-157 with a BH-1 ball head has seen its share of rivers, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, mountains and rocks, and has the scars to show for.

Keeping them all dry
Dry bags or dry sacks are essential especially if you are trekking in the storm and crossing rivers and lakes. I use a 4-L bag and a 25-L sack. I use the bigger sack for my camera and lenses; the smaller one I use for the accessories.

Dry bags

I also bring along several of these small dehumidifier kits that can be bought from hardware shops. I put one inside my camera backpack and another one inside the bigger dry sack. I try to keep my gears as dry as possible whenever I go out and shoot waterfalls.

Dehumidifier

Thats it! Maybe next time I'll share some tips and photos on shooting in rainy or bad weather.
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August 17, 2009

nagsasa cove: summer memories


Nagsasa Sunday Morning
Nagsasa morning

I am missing this cove terribly. The two summer weekends I spent there were enough for this place to become THE destination in Zambales, at least in my book. Surreal and pristine (for now) come to mind when I hear the word "Nagsasa".

I love waking up to the soft rhythmic splashes of the surf. I woke up early each day and head straight to Wild Horse Creek to wait for sunrise. The distant bare mountains glow to a golden brown as the first light of day falls upon them. It was a sight that mere photographs cannot easily show.

Nagsasa Dawn
dawn at Wild Horse Creek

I remembered the bangus (milkfish) catching frenzy one weekend that we were there. A typhoon ravaged the western coast, trashing the fish pens in the nearby province of Pangasinan. Close to a million bangus got freed and some (by "some" I mean several thousands) made their way to this cove and stayed near the shoreline. The locals just picked them off the water, literally. It was easy pickings for several days.

Nagsasa Cove:  Solitary
a lone fisherman after a night of bangus catching frenzy

I miss the backwoods of Nagsasa. Its a different world from the pine tree lined beaches that traces the cove. There you'll see a huge valley bordered by rolling green hills. "Its Marlboro country", a friend remarked.

Nagsasa Wilderness
Nagsasa wilderness

I spent one hot afternoon clambering up to one of the peaks and nearly lost my equipment, and my wits, trying to. Went down bruised and soiled but happy I was able to take a few photos from a different vantage point.

Nagsasa Backwoods
backwoods

There was no indication that this huge valley once served as a bombing range for US air forces during the time when Clark Air base was still nearby. Well maybe there is: a HUGE portion of the area is completely devoid of trees.

Nagsasa Cove: Frozen Shore
Nagsasa frozen sunset

And the best part of the days I spent there? Sunset. Beautiful sunset.

More photos of Nagsasa in these articles:
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