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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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January 1, 2014

lantaw: 2013 in photos



Its the New Year! As I look forward to new destinations this 2014, I also look back at the photos defined 2013. Some of these photos have been in my bucket list for quite some time, some are just snapshots but made the list because I may not be able to have the chance to take them again. Some are were straight out of a perfect mix of good luck and serendipity. So here goes:

1. Whang Od: the last mambatok
Whang Od (Fang Od): Last Mambabatok

Whang Od is one of the few remaining tattooed women of Kalinga and is one of the very few remaining who still practices the traditional art. A steady stream of  tourists with Lonely Planet guide books (and camera) find their way to her humble home in Buscalan and leave with a piece of her permanent art on their skin. I did not get one but had the opportunity to watch her work (we stayed there for a few days). This was where I slept the whole time:



2. Buscalan farmer: stewards of the land

We were already wrapping up our sunrise shoot by the rice terraces when I snapped this.  A few months later, this image grabbed the overall prize in a worldwide photo contest sponsored by the company I work for, got displayed in jumbotrons in NY's Times Square and London's Canary Wharf, and earned me a few new shiny gadgets. What's not to like about this image? :D


3. Nagsasa Cove Twilight

I stayed away from one of my favorite camping destination in Zambales for 2 years before returning again in 2013. This was my welcome sunrise. I couldn't be happier.

4. Mt Pulag Sunrise

Mt Pulag (3rd highest peak in the Philippines) has been in my bucket list for years. I finally had the opportunity to climb it last June. It was a perfect weekend: weather was excellent, no crowds in the campsite and peak (most groups cancelled their climb anticipating foul weather). I'm definitely heading up there again this year, this time via the dreaded Akiki trail. Wish me luck :)

5. Alabat Island
Villa Norte sunset

Alabat island is one of those places that is really off the beaten track. Surprisingly its not really difficult to go there, but this island paradise has stayed out of the tourism radar. I look forward to visiting this island again this year

6. The Smelly One

You might be wondering what this snapshot of a smelly flower (I think this is Rafflesia arnoldii) doing in this list. Well, aside from the fact that this is no ordinary flower, this is to remind me of the huge backlog of photos from my trip to Sabah that I still have to post (its the official state flower of Sabah). It takes close to a year from bud to bloom and the bloom only last 6-7 days.

We were on our way back to Kota Kinabalu from Kundasang when my wife and I decided to head the opposite direction to Ranau. We figured we still have a few hours to spare so we rented a van. A fellow tourist earlier mentioned a Rafflesia was already in the late bloom state (withering) in one of the parks there, but that was a few days ago, so I was not really expecting anything. Then somewhere along the highway we spotted a sign: "Rafflesia: first day bloom". Lady luck smiled on us! This may be the only time that I will have the opportunity to photograph this beauty. By the way, it does not really smell that bad at all. Maybe because it was the first day? A kid beside me complained to her mom: "Mom, I think the books lied, it does not smell bad!".

7. The Cable Car Ride

"So tell me, why do we have to ride that thing again?", my wife asked. "I had to take photos of the other side...", was my reply accompanied with the most sheepish grin I can muster. If you are afraid of heights, the cable car ride in Hong Kong's Ocean Park will probably scare the s@#% out of you. My kids loved it though. Family vacations are always the best trips.  This image will also remind me of the tons of photos from our trip that I still have to process!

8. Manila Bay Sunset
Manila Bay Sunset

This area is definitely Manila's sunset factory. Its not your exotic destination, unless you find floating garbage fascinating, but its a great place to head to when I feel that I have not shot any twilight scene for ages. Year after year, Manila Bay has given me images I love.

9. The Coin Diver
Coin Diver 3

Taken in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Its probably one of the best destinations in the Philippines. The fact that its located in Mindanao (long known to be a conflict zone) has deterred some from visiting. But for those who did had their (mis)perception of Mindanao changed forever.

10. Pulang Bato Falls
Malabo Falls

This waterfall in Valencia Negros Oriental got it big in the surreal department. Instead of the usual moss covered rocks, it has blood-red ones!

11. Lake Kabalin-an
Untitled

Another surreal beauty in Negros Oriental. Its uncommon to see these huge swamp trees (a specie of willow?) here. The rainy weather and the Kabalin-an's eerie silence made for a most memorable visit. I would love a second visit and photograph the lake during a foggy morning.

12. Sarangani's sea sculptures
Sea Sculpture


Whenever I have the chance to go home (my day job takes me far away from home), my friends and I often spend one or two mornings (or afternoons) by our favorite spots along the Sarangani coastline waiting for the perfect light. Our favorite subjects are mangroves, or for me specifically, remnants of what used to be huge and magnificent mangroves - nature's beautiful sculptures.

We don't always get good light. In fact we seldom see these fiery sunrises/sunsets. They say landscape photography is the supreme test of patience and endless source of disappointment. But we were tenacious.

Reward came one particular morning. We almost did not push through with the shoot. Most of the our usual shooting buddies were not available. There were supposedly just 3 of us, but one did not make it due to exceptionally heavy rains from where he was (some of us still has to travel an hour just to get to Sarangani). When my friend asked me if we'll still shoot even if we are down to two, I said yes. Heck, I'm already awake anyway so might as well make the trip one of our spots.

When sunrise came, we were more than happy we were there. For the first time since we started going to that place, we got the most amazing sunrise colors. The skies were ablaze you can almost cooked bbq with the warm colors - that's how my friend described it. Before heading home, we made sure to wake everyone else with text messages saying they missed a lot :D

Happy New Year folks! I look forward to another year of great images

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8 comments:

bertN said...

You take such great photos! Keep shooting. Btw, did you sleep without a kulambo in Buscalan? Wala bang lamok? Have a great 2014!

Gretchen Filart Dublin said...

Your photos are so magical, almost surreal. I look forward to more in 2014. Happy New Year!

Lantaw said...

Thankfully, walang lamok :). Happy New Year too!

Lantaw said...

Thanks Gretchen! Happy New Year too!

Milet Miranda said...

Amazing photos as always! Happy new year po :)

Lantaw said...

Happy New Year too Milet.

Renante Mina said...

perfect lahat ng mga photos ang gaganda, nakakamangha.... happy new year goodluck sa taong 2014 sir :)

Lantaw said...

Thanks and Happy New Year too!

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