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About Me

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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 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and look beyond the lights


Merry Christmas
a bright Christmas to every one!

May your Christmas be as bright and bountiful as the Christmas lights all around you!

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December 15, 2010

aurora: towers of ampere beach


Blue Steel Sunrise
Ampere beach at dawn

Located about 20 kilometers north of the surfing town of Baler in Aurora province, many photographers frequent this beach for its distinctive sea stacks and large smooth boulders lining the shore.

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December 8, 2010

ditumabo falls: aurora's "mother falls"


Ditumabo Falls
Ditumabo Falls

This amazing wonder is not called Aurora's "Mother Falls" for nothing. Standing more than a hundred feet, water thunders as it hits the catch basin. I watched in awe as the spray swirled around us. Standing a few feet away from the falls, I could certainly feel its power.

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November 8, 2010

candaba wetlands: bird sanctuary yearly pilgrimage


Watch Tower
the lone watch tower in the swamp

It has become a yearly pilgrimage: trek to the bird sanctuary in Candaba wetlands on the first week of November (last year I went there on November 1 - the All Saints Day feast), and wait for the sun to go down. Its a perfect day trip, watch the birds feed at sundown, and be rewarded with great sunset colors.

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November 1, 2010

iloilo: sidetrip to jaro, miagao, and guimbal for the churches


Jaro Cathedral New front yard
Jaro Cathedral right after sunrise, the garden at the front was removed

A trip to Iloilo is not complete without dropping by a church or two to marvel at their beautiful forms. Iloilo has of lots of these architectural gems, each town has its own iconic and historical church or cathedral - a reminder of the rich Roman Catholic influence brought about by almost 400 years of Spanish rule.
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October 24, 2010

bulubadiangan island: sunbirds, bantam chickens, blue skies, and puffy white clouds


Bolobadiangan Sun Bird (Tamsi)
Bulubadiangan tamsi

I missed the sunrise that morning, something that rarely happens when I'm on a trip. Blame it on the cool breeze that passes through my open cottage and the lull of the gentle waves, with the light rain around midnight sealing the deal.

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October 21, 2010

iloilo: concepcion's bolobadiangan island (bulubadiangan)


Bolobadiangan Welcome Lounge
welcome lounge

With a super typhoon threatening central and northern Luzon (and expected to bring heavy rains to Manila as well), I hopped on a early morning flight to Iloilo city. My tentative destination: Bolobadiangan island (name is also spelled as Bulubadiangan) in Concepcion, a quiet fishing town on Panay's north eastern coast, some 2-3 hours away from Iloilo City.

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October 9, 2010

paoay church at sundown


Paoay Church at Sundown
Paoay sundown colors

The setting sun warmed up the facade, its blocks of coral rocks turned golden.  For a few seconds, the passing clouds turned pink, providing a great backdrop for this quaint church in Paoay.

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September 25, 2010

kapurpurawan rock formation in a different light


Kapurpurawan Rosy Clouds
rosy clouds

Its a surreal place made even more magical by the first light of the day. As the sun rose from slumber, pink and orange clouds accentuated the Kapurpurawan's otherworldly form.

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September 16, 2010

kaangrian falls: burgos' hidden gem


Kaangrian Falls Cascades
hidden gem

Its unlike most of the waterfalls I have photographed. Instead of single drop, it has a fantastic wide configuration, with silky strands of water flowing over rounded boulders and on to mini-cascades and pools downstream. It looks delicate rather than powerful.
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September 9, 2010

journey back to the magnetic north


Pagudpud Coast
Maira-ira coast, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

In a few hours I'll be heading north again, to the magnetic province of Ilocos Norte. Its wild shores, rock formations, and hidden waterfalls beckons.
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September 5, 2010

glan | gumasa: a quiet escape called isla jardin del mar


Gumasa Lifeguard Watch Platform
Isla Jardin del Mar afternoon

Tucked in a cove on a sprawling 14-hectare property in Gumasa, Isla Jardin del Mar offers a secluded sanctuary away from the rat race.

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August 31, 2010

glan | gumasa: weekend of sun, sea, sand


Gumasa Sailboat
beach weather in Gumasa

While its raining almost everyday in Manila, weather in Gumasa, way down south in Sarangani province, was pleasantly summer-like. Last weekend was a few days of sun, sea, and sand (and with a weather like this, one can't help adding another "s" - shoot photos!). I had the whole family with me, but I managed to sneak out a few times to take snaps :D. More photos in the coming days.
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August 25, 2010

balagbag falls: a weekend escape


Balagbag Cascade
a fuller Balagbag falls

My mission that weekend: photograph a waterfalls, no hiking/camping, day trip only, on a shoestring budget. Its rainy season again and its the ideal time for shooting waterfalls.

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August 8, 2010

coron: mt. tapyas at sunset


Coron: Tapyas Sunset Viewpoint
as the sun goes down

When you are in the town of Coron in Busuanga, climbing Mt. Tapyas' 718 steps is a must. At the summit, one is treated to a breathtaking view of the nearby Coron Higantes island and the rest of the islands in the Calamianes group.
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August 5, 2010

bantay abot: gateway to maira-ira's blue lagoon


Bantay Abot gateway
Bantay Abot gateway

Bantay Abot rock formation greets visitors heading to Maira-ira’s Blue Lagoon cove (officially known as Malingay Cove). This distinctive attraction, naturally sculpted by the waves and winds of South China Sea, is a favorite stop over and offers a view of the rugged seacoast.

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July 18, 2010

capones: zambales' beautiful rock


Encore
how a day ends in Capones

Capones is an outdoor photographer's heaven. Accessible, deserted, amazing landscape, white sand beaches, views of both sunset and sunrise, the list can go on.

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July 10, 2010

coron: sunset theater at the public market


Coron Colorblast
unexpected color blast

I was pretty beat that day (from all the island hopping and snorkeling), and frustrated. We had to head back to the port in Coron's public market before the tide gets too low and the boat will not be able to dock near the port. I was hoping to find a better POV for shooting the sunset, say a mangrove area. But I don't relish the idea of wading through the murky water near the market if our bangka got stuck. There won't be any sunset shoot that day, or so I thought.

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June 27, 2010

coron: kayangan lake, the tranquil lake


Tranquil Lake
tranquil Kayangan Lake

Locked beyond towering limestone rocks in Coron Island (one of the islands in the Calamian group of islands in northern Palawan), this lake is considered to be the cleanest in the Philippines (if not in Asia). Its calm turquoise water seemed more tranquil once you are swimming in it.

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June 20, 2010

samal:sunset at monfort bat cave and a day in talicud


Babak Sunset
Babak sunset

Much of my travel plans for the summer had been derailed by a new job. The transition period, leaving the old and preparing for the new, is always demanding and chaotic. But sometimes out of chaos comes unexpected opportunity. Mine came in the form of another chance to visit Samal island (IGACOS - Island Garden City of Samal) with my family.

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May 22, 2010

lake sebu zip line: fly above the 7 falls




Every since the dawn of civilization, man had been fascinated with flight. We have imagined it, weaved fantasies about it, and with technology, invented countless contraptions and flying machines. But there is no sensation of flight when you are couped up in a flying machine. Other forms like sky diving, hang gliding, base jumping, etc, are simply too prohibitive or inaccessible for common folks. So we went back to basics: a simple line between two elevated points and some secure harness and we've got ourselves several seconds of "flight".

The scenic town of Lake Sebu (a fave place of mine, see Favorite places section of this blog), known for 3 lakes and 7 major waterfalls, is one of the best places to visit in South Cotabato. With the addition of the zip lines (only in its 4th month of operation at the time of writing), things just got even better.

Related post: The Lake Sebu Experience


What sets the zip lines in Lake Sebu apart from other zip lines in Mindanao is the scenery you get to see. You won't only see tree tops, you'll get to see waterfalls, river systems, and wild life. In fact the first line is located a few meters downstream from Falls 1 and passes over the drop of the 2nd falls, the highest of the 7 falls in Lake Sebu.

2nd Falls
2nd falls

I was beaming with anticipation the first time I tried it. It was the first time I'll be riding a zip line. My wife, who is strapped beside me, has tried the zip lines a few weeks back and assured me I'm in for an unforgettable ride. I insisted on bringing my camera along, secured using carabiners on the body harness (I also have my camera bag and tripod on my back).

2nd falls drop
first drop (2nd falls)

I could feel the adrenaline rush on the first few seconds on the first zip line (740 meters) as we went over the sheer drop of a cliff. One second you are just a few meters above ground, the next you are 400 meters up in the air. I was frantically pointing my camera every where and shooting in burst mode.

Above the rivers and the trees
high above

Soaring at a top speed of 100-120 kph over a forest canopy and a river system was a sensory overload.  I stopped taking photos after a while (after I realize it was rather pointless, I could not enjoy the ride if I'm on photo snapping mode) and decided to enjoy the few seconds left of my flight.

Falls #4 and #5Zip line mae and mencit
Falls #4 and #5 (left photo), happy flyers (right)

A jolly crew will meet you at the end and even take your photos using your camera if you like. You'll be given a few minutes to recompose yourself and gather your wits before they strap you to a second line (400 meters).

Terminal
approaching the end of the second line

The second line is much lower than the first, its just above the forest canopy. However it still offers a great view of the waterfalls and if you are lucky, you'll see a troop of monkeys at the tree tops.

How to get there
There are daily flights from Manila to General Santos (1.5 hours). From Gensan, take a bus to Koronadal (45 min). Koronadal is the regional hub, so transportation is not a problem. From Koronadal take a bus/van to Surallah (20 minutes). From Surallah there are jeeps/vans/motorcycles going up to Lake Sebu (20 minutes). Hire a motorcycle to take you to Falls #1 where zip line #1 is once you get to Lake Sebu (10 minutes)

Info and Tips
  • Php 250.00 for the two lines. You'll start near Falls #1 and you'll get to see Falls 2-5 during the ride.
  • Its best to ride the zip lines early in the morning. It usually rains around midday (its surrounded by a rain forest after all) and the zip line operations stop if it rains.
  • There are motorcycles at the end of line #2 that can take you back up to Falls #1 (10 pesos/pax). You can also hike down to Falls #2 where they have a Tourism center.
  • To truly enjoy the ride, leave your camera behind.

Updates 2011/12/28
They really made it more efficient this time. Gearing up (putting on the harness) is much quicker than the last time I was there. They used to take your photos using your cameras, but not now. They have ready photogs at the end of the line to take your souvenir shots and they have a printing booth. This made "zipping" much quicker since they don't have to ask for your camera, then push you back a few meters to take your photos.  The lines have been busy, with riders zipping by every few seconds. 

There lots of stores now at the end of the 2nd line, selling souvenirs, food, and whatnot. Its as touristy as Lake Sebu can get! Its a big business.

More Falls
In the mood for a trek? There's actually more"hidden views" on the zip line grounds, like Lake Sebu's Falls #5 (Hikong Kefo-I).

Hikong Kefo-I

Of the 7 falls in Lake Sebu, only Hikong Alu (#1) and Hikong Bente (#2) are easily photographed. Both are so accessible nowadays they have probably been shot a million times already. The rest, however, are rarely photographed up close.

Falls #4 and #5 are usually just photographed from above (while riding the zip line) or from a safe and far vantage point. I braved the rain and slippery trail one afternoon. Climbed over and under fallen trees, scampered down slippery rocks, and got everything I had soggy wet, just to get as close as possible to this beauty. Kept asking our guide "can I go down there?". A friend who accompanied me played it safe and did not bother with the "risky shots".
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April 27, 2010

bangui windmills: sunrise and sunset moods


Rosy Light
Bangui pastel dawn

I got another chance to revisit Ilocos Norte a few weeks ago with my brother and sister-in-law who were on vacation here for a month. My brother, who is  also into photography (you can find his gallery here), had no questions about the itinerary I prepared which included visits to places scheduled at hours most tourist would consider "ungodly".

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April 16, 2010

socsargen: summer moods and colors


Maasim Sunrise
Sarangani sunrise

Its been three weeks since I last posted an entry. In the blogging world 3 weeks is an eternity. So I'm sharing some of the moods and colors I captured during my last trip home.

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March 25, 2010

iloilo: jaro cathedral (church of st. elizabeth of hungary)


Jaro Cathedral
Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

This Baroque church with Gothic spires stands in the middle of Jaro district in Iloilo City, the richest district in Panay island during the Spanish colonial period. The cathedral aptly became the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro, one of the oldest in the country, which encompasses the whole province of Iloilo and the nearby Guimaras island.

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March 24, 2010

taal : our lady of caysasay church


Our Lady of Caysaysay Church
Our Lady of Caysasay church

During the Lenten season and especially during the Holy Week a lot of us Filipinos observe the tradition of "visita iglesia" or "church visits". The Philippines, being predominantly Christian, has countless beautiful churches with rich histories (as a result of more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule). This post kicks off a series of features on churches you may want to consider visiting.

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March 19, 2010

buntot palos: laguna's hidden falls


Buntot Palos Falls

The thundering sound of water falling from a 40-meter drop filled the huge gorge as the warm afternoon sun made the cliff walls glow. The volume of water flowing down belied the fact that it is currently summer here and the ongoing drought (brought about by the El Niño phenomenon) has wreaked havoc across the country - drying up watersheds and lakes, and reducing once magnificent waterfalls to a trickle. Buntot Palos (literally translates to “Eel’s Tail”) seemed to be immune from the effects of the drought.
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March 12, 2010

tambobong: dasol outdoor photography workshop by the beachy life


Tambobong Midday
Tambobong beach

Last weekend was two fun days of sun, sea, and sand with a group of enthusiastic photographers in a workshop about outdoor photography. The venue: the scenic coastal barangays of Osmena and Tambobong in Dasol Pangasinan.

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March 4, 2010

guimaras: a visit to seafdec in barangay igang


SEAFDEC Wooden Bridge
to the fish cages in SEAFDEC

It’s summer in my corner of the world! We have searing temperatures that average above 30 degrees Celsius lately. And with the El Nino phenomenon, it’s going to get hotter in the coming days; time to head to the beaches for a cool dip.

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February 26, 2010

silanguin cove: revealing her true colors


Star Bright
starburst at sunset

You cannot really see the magic of a place unless you wake up early for its sunrise, or stay out late for its sunset. It is in these fleeting moments that a place will reveal its true self.

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February 15, 2010

silanguin cove: grand cove of zambales


Morning Driftwood
Silanguin driftwood

I was finally able to complete my "tour" of the Zambales coves last weekend. It all started several years ago when I first spent a weekend in Anawangin cove. Over the years I have revisited Anawangin but moved on to the next cove (Nagsasa cove) when it got too crowded there. I instantly fell in love with Nagsasa cove, but the lure of seeing what's beyond Nagsasa cove was too strong a pull to ignore. So I gave in.

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February 4, 2010

nagsasa cove: chasing its soothing tranquility


Nagsasa Morning Reflections
Nagsasa Morning Reflections

It is hard to believe that just a year ago a group of 10 campers already constitutes a huge crowd in Nagsasa cove. Now hordes have invaded the place, and its not even officially summer yet. My "mission" there last weekend was to rediscover the things I love most about the place: its soothing tranquility and its grandeur.

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January 15, 2010

lake sebu's enduring beauty and charm


While the rest are still sleeping
Serene morning in Lake Seloton

Lake Sebu: the land of the 3 lakes and the 7 falls. It is a place that abounds in natural beauty,  culture, and tradition.

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January 8, 2010

sarangani: kawas mangrove forest


Strong and Sturdy
a mature mangrove tree stood firm against the waves

The wind and the waves were stronger than I expected. Several times I almost got toppled over. Its just the second day of the year but here I am already drenched in seawater, looking for another coastal beauty along the north western shores of Sarangani bay.

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January 5, 2010

i-mag's color in black-and-white photo challenge


Samal Vinta
Samal vinta

"One of the challenges in photography is how to render a colorful world in, uhm, black-and-white. The challenge is to make the viewer fill in the blanks, so to speak - to make him see the colors in his mind while viewing a black-and-white photography, and most of all to be able to differentiate between the colors", says i-mag photography magazine about their Color in Black-and-White photo challenge.

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calle crisologo: vigan's treasured street turned golden


Calle Crisologo
Calle Crisologo after an evening rain

What would one do in Vigan on a rainy evening if one has only a few minutes to spare? I suggest you head straight to Calle Crisologo and take your own postcard shots of the place.

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