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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 16, 2014

alibijaban island: of paradise colors and local hospitality


Sunset by the Shipwreck

A little speck down on the south eastern part of Bondoc peninsula, fine cream colored beach, beautiful mangroves, no tourists, and the best part: raw and rugged shoreline that would make a landscaper photographer happy at sunrise and sunset.

Related post: alibijaban: welcome to an island paradise

Our short stay in the island yielded some new favorite images. The middle part of the island on the western side (some 1.2 kilometers from the barangay center on the southern end) have some of the best looking mangroves I've seen.

Mangrove Row at Sunset
mangrove row

Near the mouth of a river lies what remained of a small ship, reduced to a few timbers. Photos of it from some years back clearly shows the structure of the hull. Huge waves from probably washed away some of it, with a few pieces ending up as someone's firewood.

Boat Skeleton Sunset

It made for an interesting foreground, nevertheless. Though the tide was receding, the mangroves are still out of reach.

Sunset by the Shipwreck
sunset by the shipwreck


surreal sunrise and a taste of local hospitality

On our second day we woke up early well before dawn and walked to the southern end of this small capsule shaped island. The moon was bright and the horizon looks promising. The air was exceptionally still and I could clearly hear the sound of our feet squashing out the sand as we walked on the beach

The plan was to round the southern tip and make our way to the eastern side, only to be blocked by a rock wall. No beach to walk on going to the other side.

We decided to back track to a point where we think we would have the best view of the sunrise given the limits of our location, sat on the beach and waited for dawn. This quiet moment, waiting for the sun, anticipating some colors, and simply watching the world stir start a new day - these are the things I love about sunrises.

Not before long, a man walked toward us and invited us to his home for coffee. "You still have plenty of time before the sun rises", he said. Complete strangers, who he could not probably see the faces clearly, invited to his home for coffee. Alibijaban hospitality.

We followed him to a small hut, inside was a boiling pot on a wood-burning stove, and he proceeded to make us two cups of coffee. He introduced himself as "Domeng". His wife kept on apologizing for the little that they have, and Mang Domeng offered us rice porridge if we cared for some very early breakfast. Best coffee I have tasted, if I would say so myself.

After finishing our cups we went down to beach again with Mang Domeng. We were hoping to use his boat as foreground on this rather empty shoreline, but he was leaving for town. We saw another small one under a tree - this turned out to be his as well, so we borrowed this instead. "Knock your self out ... " -  I could imagine him saying that as he left on his bigger bangka.

Still Sunrise 

It was one of the most surreal sunrises I've seen, as surreal as the date itself that morning: 12/13/14.

For a moment, everything stood still. The breeze was so light, just enough to let you know its there, but careful not to ruffle the water's surface. The fishes were probably careful not to cause ripples too, so were the egrets which normally busy feeding at dawn. Why? I am not sure, maybe because this date - 12/13/14 - we will never see again in this life time :)

Still Sunrise
still reflections

The sunrise colors may be muted, but the mirror like surface of the water created some surreal reflections. As a bonus, we got to see Mt. Mayon (Philippines' perfect cone volcano) clearly even if its some 100 kilometers away, on another peninsula in the Bicol region.

Mt Mayon, so far yet still visible
vision of Mayon from Alibijaban

Related post: Visions of Mayon


It was a pity we had to cut short our trip (we would have been able to shoot 1 more sunset and sunrise) due to a low pressure area that is threatening to pass through the region, possibly forming into a typhoon. We did not want to risk getting stranded in the island. But even with the brief stay, the island and its people have shown much generosity. 
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December 15, 2014

alibijaban island: welcome to an island paradise



Its one of those islands you probably would not know unless someone really point it out on the map. And with the 7107 islands in the Philippines, that's quite understandable. But if you are into unexploited destinations, this one should be right near the top of your list.
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December 1, 2014

photohunt: of pineapple fields and fiery coastal sunset


Pineapple Fields Forever (Mt. Matutum)

It was one ordinary Sunday, with no real itinerary. Sure we had some hazy idea where we'd want to go, but there was no real pressure to be anywhere. But sometimes its these unplanned trips that yield the good images.

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November 28, 2014

majayjay: hidden gem that is bukal falls


Gift of the Forest Fairy

While Tanay Falls may be the drawing campers to the sleepy town of Majayjay at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, one beauty has stayed off most nature lovers' radar for some time now. So popular is Tanay Falls in Majayjay that its commonly called "Majayjay Falls". But this post is not about Tanay Falls. Its about Bukal Falls. And most folks, even those who think they knew Majayjay, would likely respond: "Bukal Falls? Where?"

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October 31, 2014

iloilo: san joaquin cemetery


San Joaquin Cemetery Campo Santo

Built in the late 19th century, the San Joaquin Cemetery is one of the oldest in the island of Panay. Its red-domed "camposanto" or mortuary chapel can't be missed if you are on the highway heading to the town of San Joaquin.

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October 21, 2014

legazpi, albay : visions of mayon


Mayon's hidden beauty at dusk

Like a true Filipina lass, Daragang Magayon ("beautiful lady") peeks from her glowing cloud cover at sunset to give us a glimpse of what tourists from all over come to Albay for. The locals said that if you are lucky and she favors you, she'll show you all of her perfect cone allure.

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October 9, 2014

wat pho: bangkok's temple of the reclining buddha



Reclining Buddha

Thailand never seem to ran out of beautiful wats or temples to visit. One such notable temple in Bangkok is Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is situated right next to the Grand Place so it a perfect place to head to after visiting the Grand Palace, or in our case, after we did not make the 3PM cut-off for visitors to the palace.

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September 24, 2014

thailand: damnoen saduak floating market - still worth a visit?


Smiling fruit vendor

Mention "floating market" when you are in Thailand and one place floats to the top of the list: Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi province, some 2 hours away west of Bangkok. But travel-savvy folks, and those probably on the jaded side of things, would be quick to retort: "touristy!", "fake!".  So is this floating market still worth a visit?

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September 18, 2014

doi inthanon: a day trip to the roof of thailand


Strolling on the roof of Thailand

Doi Inthanon towers above the other peaks in the mountainous northern Thailand, and at 2563 MASL, it is the highest point in the country. Its one of the most popular destinations for both local Thais and foreign tourists, offering attractions like waterfalls, bird watching (home to nearly 400 bird species), hill tribe villages, and forest trails.
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September 15, 2014

thailand: chiang mai's wat phra that doi suthep


Dusk

Located near the peak of Doi Suthep, this Theravada Buddhist temple is one of the most iconic temples in northern Thailand and a sacred site to many Thai folks.

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September 11, 2014

thailand: chiang mai's wat chedi luang


Chedi Luang at dusk

Standing at around 82 meters during its glory days, the chedi (or stupa) must have been the tallest structure in ancient Chiang Mai. A great earthquake in 1545 toppled the spire, reducing its height to 60 meters, but this brick chedi is still a marvel to look at.

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September 10, 2014

chiang mai, thailand: hill tribes at baan tong luang


Kayan Lahwi lady

They are known as Thailand's "hill tribes" or "chao khao" which literally translate to mountain people. Most of them are originally from parts of Tibet, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and China, and today make up less than two percent of Thailand's total population. Most still live in small villages in scattered in the northern and western parts of Thailand, a good number of them are technically "outsiders" -  have refused to assimilate or refused Thai citizenship, or have been refused citizenship.

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September 4, 2014

chiang mai, thailand: upclose with the big cats at tiger kingdom


Up close

If you like cats, getting really close to a big one like a tiger without ending up as their afternoon snack,  is maybe one of the things in your bucket list. Sure some zoos offer you a glimpse of these apex predators, but in Thailand,  you get to sit near one and pat it on the back, and still retain both hands.

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September 2, 2014

chiang mai, thailand: of elephant camps and elephant riding


Bonding

When I was researching for a trip to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, a visit to an elephant camp always seem to come in every material (mostly blog articles and travel websites) I read. Its not just in Chiang Mai, it seems that when you visiting Thailand, your trip will not be complete without some form of interaction with an elephant.

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August 14, 2014

islas de gigantes: island life at the scallops capital of the philippines


Rain approaches

Unlike the popular mainstream tourist destinations, Islas de Gigantes is uncomplicated. It is one of those places where you on vacation but does not really feel like you are "on vacation" -  it feels more like home than some unfeeling place. There are no layers to peel off to see the real place. What you see is what you get.
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July 21, 2014

alamada | cotabato : asik-asik falls


Asik-Asik Falls

The "secret" of Asik-asik Falls went public just over a year ago, thanks largely to social media. I remembered being amazed looking at the photos on my screen: thin veils of water gushing forth from behind a green wall. I have seen countless waterfalls but this one is truly surreal and one of a kind.
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June 23, 2014

carles | islas de gigantes: travel guide to higantes islands



Islas de Gigantes in Carles in the province Iloilo has recently been getting more attention as photos of its beautiful islands flood the web. It's still a relatively off-the-beaten path destination and largely unexploited by mainstream tourism. This guide aims to provide the necessary information you need to plan a trip to the islands.
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June 20, 2014

carles | islas de gigantes: antonia beach at gigantes sur




What the Islands of Giants lack in terms of giants, it more than made up with its beautiful beaches and towering rock formations :). One such beauty in Gigantes Islands is Antonia Beach.

While being promoted as "Antonia Island Resort", its not technically an island. The beach is found on the southern tip of Gigantes Sur's eastern side.

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June 19, 2014

carles | islas de gigantes: postcard perfect cabugao gamay island




Cabugao Gamay ["smaller Cabugao", and "Cabugao" is the Hiligaynon word for "pomelo"] is simply the most photographed island in the Gigantes group of islands. Its small sandbar connecting two islets is now becoming to be the poster photo and unofficial face of Gigantes.

Its not surprising, the island is really beautiful. Cliche? Oh yes definitely! But I don't mind beautiful clichés.


Cabugao Gamay Viewpoint

Typhoon Yolanda washed away or eroded most of its fine white sands [photo above: the sand used to be up to the light green area even at high tide] and stripped its coconut trees of leaves, but the island is bouncing back.

Cabugao Gamay

Cabugao Gamay Climbers

There is a small hill on the northern end and this is where most of the photos of the island were taken from. A guide rope was laid to help the climbers. The area at the top is not very wide and could easily get crowded, but offers the best view. Its worth the climb on a sweltering day.

Cabugao Gamay: Watcher

The swimming area is perfect after you have worked out a sweat climbing the hill. But our guide advised us to use snorkel/goggles to make sure we don't bump into jellies.  Care must be taken as well for the shore slopes from waist deep to "help I can't swim" deep in just a few meters.

Cabugao Gamay: Clear Water

Cabugao Gamay is one of the stops in the island hopping package offered by resorts in Gigantes Norte. If its not a package tour, you'll have to pay Php 50.00 as "entrance fee". See this map for island's location.

Cabugao Gamay: Picnic Area

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June 18, 2014

carles | islas de gigantes: among the giants in the island of giants



Strong, sturdy, unwavering, and resolute, they stand firmly along the shore of Asluman in Gigantes Norte. I did not find any "real giants" in Islas de Gigantes, but these beautiful mangroves could very well be the giants. For two beautiful mornings I stood among these giants and enjoyed the dawn.
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June 11, 2014

sabah | malaysia : attractions you should not miss in kundasang and ranau


Kundasang

If you find yourself in Kota Kinabalu needing a break from the islands and beaches, Kundasang in Ranau district is the perfect destination. In fact, you can just skip the islands and head straight here if you fancy cooler climes and mountain vista.
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June 6, 2014

aurora | dingalan : rugged and rough - the way we like it


Moody Pacific Sunrise

There was barely a slit in the eastern sky that the sun can peek through as dark rain clouds paraded that morning. I was hoping the rain gods would get their business over with quickly and relinquish the sky , but no, they had too much fun taunting us, occasionally sending a brief shower to get you guessing whether to pack your gear or stick it out.
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June 5, 2014

singapore | nightscape: clarke quay at night


Clarke Quay Colored Umbrella

If there is another spot in Singapore that looks spectacular at night, aside from the Marina Bay area, that would probably be Clarke Quay. Situated upstream along the Singapore River, this historical quay puts on her best night lights as the sun goes down.

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June 3, 2014

singapore | nightscape: marina bay sands and supertree grove


Marina Bay Sands

With only a few hours to spare before my flight back to the islands, I headed to one of the most iconic locations in Singapore: Marina Bay.  You can literally spend the whole evening going around and not run out of eye-candies to shoot. But with my limited time and such a huge area, I went straight to Marina Bay Sands and the nearby Supertree grove.
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May 19, 2014

dasol | pangasinan: i finally found my way back to tambobong


Early Morning in Tambobong

One of the places that got me to shoot and blog about Philippines' hidden gems. For years I have been going back there to enjoy its beauty and its people's hospitality. Then I stopped. Four (4) years of no Dasol. Work and some lame excuses got in the way. I vowed to be back, and so I did. This time I got the whole family in tow (all the way from South Cotabato in Mindanao), and several of my good friends (we were 14 in our group!). It a great weekend of sun, sea, sand, and warm hospitality. No fancy accommodations, no beach parties - just the way we like it.
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May 12, 2014

pangasinan: salt making in dasol


Into the Salt field

Where else to best see how salt is made than in a province whose name literally means "place of salt-making".

For two straight mornings I made the pre-dawn trip, together with some of my friends, to a salt field in Dasol, a small town in western Pangasinan - the province best known for its salt. We were staying in Tambobong, a remote fishing village, and had to take a 45-minute bangka ride, tracing the shore, to the mouth of Dasol river where the most of the salt fields are. We almost did not make it on the first day as our boatman was hesitant to leave early. There was no moon and it was pitch black and we risk the danger of running into the numerous fish traps, especially at the mouth of the river.

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May 7, 2014

south cotabato: must-see, must-do, must-meet


Passing through

Been asked this a number of times already: "What's there to see or do?". I usually get this question every time I invite friends to come over and visit my home province. I have to admit I balked a couple of times in giving out something like a "top ten must-see or must-do" in South Cotabato. Do I know my province well enough? Its often the case that we are strangers in our own home towns or provinces. So consider this as my best effort in promoting my province :).
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April 25, 2014

mauban | cagbalete island: a slice of daily life at sabang


Cagbalete Island | Sabang

Clear turquoise waters and amazingly fine white sand - some of us simply can't get over Cagbalete's beauty. But for some of the folks there, its just another day in paradise. You can take the "paradise" bit in a literal sense.
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April 16, 2014

mauban | cagbalete island: lowtide stroll


Cagbalete Lowtide: Friends

Cagbalete island has one of the most amazing low tide scenes. During low tide, the water recedes 800meters (up to 1km in some areas) from the shore, drying up a 3.6km stretch of white sand beach. Two of the local kids,  Billy Joe and Lawrence ( aka Momon), took us for a quick stroll one sunny afternoon.
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April 15, 2014

landan | trappistine monastery: starting holy week with a family retreat


Trappistine Monastery: Fiery Sunset

A sky on fire - fiery clouds figuratively screaming strong orange hues, juxtaposed with the soothing silence of the monastery grounds. Such was our welcome when we spent a Palm Sunday weekend in the Trappistine Monastery in Polomolok.
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April 11, 2014

mauban | cagbalete island: from dusk to dawn


Cagbalete: Crepuscular Rays

There is nothing that makes a place lovelier than a grand light display during sunrise or sunset. And wherever my trip is, sunrise/sunset shoot will always be in the itinerary :)
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April 7, 2014

mauban | cagbalete island: revisiting paradise


Cagbalete Island - Boat Taxi

Fire up Google Earth and scour the Philippine map for small white rimmed islands - thats what a friend and I did before that led us to Cagbalete Island. Nobody was really blogging about this small gem in Lamon Bay back in 2006-2007. Off the coast of a small town in Quezon province called Mauban, its fine white sand is clearly visible in Google Earth.
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April 4, 2014

singapore | chinatown: masjid jamae


Masjid Jamae

Masjid Jamae, located in Chinatown’s “3-temple street” and just adjacent to the Hindu temple, is one of Singapore’s oldest mosque (established in 1826)
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April 3, 2014

singapore | chinatown: sri mariamman temple


Gopuram  (Entrance Tower)

Another temple in Chinatown’s “3 temple street” is the Sri Mariamman Temple - the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.
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April 1, 2014

singapore | chinatown: buddha tooth relic temple and museum


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Singapore is a cosmopolitan city. Go downtown and you’ll know hear several languages spoken before you can walk a block.But if you want more visible examples of cultural diversity  then head Chinatown. There, along South Bridge road, are temples of three different religions, all in one street and just a short distance from each other.
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March 30, 2014

baguio: our lady of atonement cathedral (baguio cathedral)


Baguio Cathedral

With distinctive spire and rose-pearl facade glowing in the morning sun, Baguio Cathedral is an unmistakenable landmark in the City of Pines.
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March 25, 2014

singapore: going around chinatown in 3 hours


Singapore Chinatown

With just a couple of hours break from our 'official' itinerary, a fellow traveler and I decided to check out Chinatown. We had our sights on the 3 temples of 'different religions' that's supposed to be adjacent to one another, and of course pick up a few knick knacks on the side.
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March 24, 2014

lantaw update: skyscanner bloscars 2014 in singapore


skyscanner bloscars2014

Indulge me on a quick back-patting, will you? :)

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