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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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September 27, 2015

talakudong 2015: tacurong's festival of beautiful hats


Talakudong Festival 2015
Festival of hats

Every September 18 during the anniversary of its cityhood, Tacurong's main streets come alive with a parade of beautiful costumes and lively music. The highlight of the parade is a conical hat typically worn in rural areas (something equivalent to "salakot" hats), but this time emblazoned with amazingly colorful designs.

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September 16, 2015

camotes: bukilat cave in poro island



One of the main attractions in Camotes is beautiful cave in the town of Tudela, a small sleepy town located in the eastern part of the island of Poro.

The entrance to the cave is non-descript, I remember asking the one manning the souvenir shop (entrance fee: Php 20.00) where the cave entrance is. She pointed to a spot practically just several feet away from where I was standing - behind a small gate and some huge ferns is a hole that leads underground.

Related post: Finding tropical bliss in Pacijan Island


There is a cemented stairway that winds around some huge stalagmites before it goes to a huge cavern, light by shafts of light from holes overhead.

Bukilat Cave 1

There is a small path way that traces the edge of a pool with crystal clear water. At low tide the water is just knee deep but can go up to 4 feet at high tide. There are evidences of faded graffiti on some parts of the cave, but apart from this and some of the man-made alterations (and "enhancement"), the cave's condition is relative good.

Bukilat Cave 3

The cave has a long history of providing shelter to the nearby community during times of disaster. During one recent super typhoon while strong winds are wrecking havoc outside, the mood inside the cave was even jovial, with kids frolicking in the pool.

Bukilat Cave 2

Getting to Bukilat Cave

The cave location is relatively remote, with virtually no public transportation going there. The road very is good though, and you'll be passing through some amazing coastal and rural scene. Here are some options:
  • You can rent a motorcycle (Php 500.00 per day), or hire a motorcycle and driver to take you there. Most of the resorts in Camotes are in San Francisco in the Santiago White Beach area and from there it is more or less 30 kilometers to Tudela. (Day trip cost: Php 1,000 - 1,500, but always haggle). I opted for the motorcycle rental and simply just drove around Poro's coastal road.
  • If you are a large group, you can rent a van. Most resorts in San Francisco have day tour packages as well that includes Bukilat Cave.

Side trips

While in Poro, you can drop by some of these attractions/resorts:
  • Buho Rock - just minutes away from the town center of Poro. Offers a nice view of the sunset.
  • Poro Church (Sto Niño Church)- oldest church in Camotes

Poro Church
Poro Church
  • Flying Fish Resort - located on the northern side of Poro island. The resort has one of the best snorkeling and diving areas. The resort also has various accommodation options (Contact Info:  Elsa Whittaker camotesflyingfishresort@yahoo.com, +63 908-876-5427 
Flying Fish Resort

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September 14, 2015

camotes: surreal sunset at consuelo




There is no better way to end the day than watching the sky explode in colors.  One of the tenets of good travel photography is never to miss sunrise or sunset.

In Camotes, the western side of Pacijan and Poro islands are the most settled parts.  After going around looking for a good place to catch the end of the day, the wide shallow area beside Consuelo wharf (main port in Camotes for ferries from the town of Danao in mainland Cebu) presented a perfect spot.

For two afternoons, low tide coincided with sunset. Stranded boats, rocks, exposed sea grasses, and shell pickers all added to making the scene interesting.

Enjoy these:

Of lowtide, sea grasses, and sunset

Consuelo lowtide sunset

Shell Pickers at Sunset

Consuelo lowtide sunset

Who let the dogs out?

I managed to get a time lapse video of one of the sunsets as well. Watch the video and guess what those critters on the foreground are :)


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September 3, 2015

camotes: beautiful sights around pacijan island



Although Camotes is made up three islands: Pacijan, Poro, and Ponson, much of the attractions in Camotes seemed to be concentrated in Pacijan. The beach resorts are found mostly on the western side of the island. The town of San Francisco (the only town in Pacijan Island) looked like the most progressive of the towns in Camotes as well.

Related post: Finding tropical bliss in Santiago White Beach


From our "base" in Santiago White Beach, my friends and I set out to explore Pacijan one fine day. A good way to go around the island is to rent a "multicab" or a van (this can be expensive) as public transportation is scarce and virtually non existent in some parts. A better way, if you know how to ride a motorcycle, is to rent one (Php 500 per day, exclusive of the gasoline).

We made a general plan on which attractions to visit, but the order of the day was simply to follow the back roads and get lost, hoping we'd stumble on a hidden gem or two. We skipped the obvious and well established resorts like Mangodlong Rock Resort, primarily due to the entrance fee (which we feel is ridiculous for a quick look inside their premises).

So here are some of the beautiful sights we saw:

Sitio Unyon Laguban

Unyon Laguban

Stumbled upon this beautiful rocky coast just after Consuelo wharf.  Its one of those "hey let's see where this road leads to" thing.

Fishing at Laguban

One of my friends wasted no time and whipped out his fishing rod. He made some "close" ones, caught no fish in the end. But that's not really the main point, he said.

Heaven Cave

Heaven Cave

Not yet officially listed in Camotes' tourism guide. At the time of our visit, they were finishing the stairs going down to the cave, putting up a sign and clearing an area for the parking lot.  The locals used to get their water from this cave at the time when filtered bottled water is not yet available. With tourism starting to pick up, the owners hoped to exploit develop this into another attraction.  We gave them some tips on how to manage garbage (we already saw some plastic wrappers inside the cave) before driving on. Entrance fee: they have not decided how much to charge visitors at the time of our visit.

Bakhaw Beach

Bakhaw Beach

Still on the western side of Pacijan, we finally made our way to Bakhaw Beach.  Its a favorite beach hangout for the locals and its not very hard to see why: entrance is free, sand is white and fine, and the water is amazingly clear.

Bakhaw beach cottages

Bakhaw acrobat

Bakhaw Beach

Esperanza

Esperanza

We headed further north along the western coast and passed by Esperanza, a quaint fishing village, on the way to Tulang. Stopped for a few photos and moved on. The main destination is the village of Tulang and the beautiful island just off the coast.

Tulang

Approaching Tulang

We descended a steep hill as we approach Tulang, and the first I noticed was the crystal clear waters and glistening white sand beach of Tulang Diot ("small Tulang").

Tulang laundry day

Tulang is a fishing village at the northern tip of Pacijan. The locals' main livelihood is harvesting the bounty from the sea and fresh catch is delivered to the town of San Francisco daily. Its micro economy is thriving during the good weather months, but sometimes they have to completely stop fishing during the typhoon season.

Under the shade

Tulang Diot

Tulang Diot bangka

Tulang Diot is just a 10-minute crossing. If boat fare is Php 20.00 one way for regular passengers. You can rent the whole boat for Php 300-500 pesos (depending on your haggling skills) if you want to go around the island (its a very small one!) and explore its snorkeling area.

Tulang Diot

The beach facing Tulang is nice, but the water goes deep just a few meters from shore.

Tulang Diot midday

My friend who brought his fishing rod tried his luck on the other side of the island with fresh bait he got in Tulang. He came back still empty handed, but he said the fishes are much fatter now for they ate all his fresh bait.

Lake Danao

Kayaks at Lake Danao

After Tulang, we headed to Lake Danao to cool down a bit (Entrance fee: Php 20.00).  Its tree covered hiking trail that traces the shore offers a refreshing walk. There is a restaurant there and several food stalls selling local delicacies.  We picked a table under the shade of a huge mangrove, ordered some fruit shakes and enjoyed the scenery.

Boating at Lake Danao

Sunset in Consuelo

Consuelo lowtide sunset

After checking out several sites along the coast, we decided to head back to Consuelo wharf for the sunset. The tide was low and there were lots of interesting stuff to shoot. It was a perfect way to end our Pacijan island tour.

You might want to check out this short video as well:


What we missed 

There were a couple of attractions we missed:
  • Timubo Cave - this is actually very near Tulang. However at that time, the attraction is closed. There were some conflict between the owner of the property where the cave is on and the adjacent property where the road going to the cave passes (road right of way issue). 
  • Crystal Cave - we passed by the cave on our way to Nonok beach to scout a location for shooting sunset. This is a true crystal cave with beautiful formations and several levels to explore. Unfortunately we did not have time to take photos. (Entrance fee is free, but you can donate for the upkeep of the cave) 
  • Paraiso Cave - Relatively new attraction and we saw several direction signs as we criss-crossed the inner roads. We thought we would eventually pass by it, but we never did :)
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