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About Me

My photo
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 29, 2008

nagahama ramen

So whats the best thing to do in a very cold winter's night here in Japan? Eat ramen of course! And not just any ramen, it should be Nagahama ramen. This is my first order of business, straight from the airport.
I make it a point to eat some (preferably some more) every time I'm in Sagamihara (Kanagawa prefecture). The smell is enough to make your mouth water and you can spell "heart attack" with the thick soup. The noodles are always fresh and its polite to slurp, the louder the better. Thats why no icy winter wind can stop me from waiting outside the small ramen shop for a vacant seat.
(photo by Francis, from left: Ed, Joriz, Mike, and me)
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January 22, 2008

anawangin river

The river in Anawangin could very well be in Alaska. Not much to say, I am letting the photos speak for themselves :)

A dreamy landscape

Crystal clear (and very cold) water
Some IR shots of the pine trees that lined the river
More photos at my Flickr
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January 20, 2008

lost lake in anawangin

On our second day in Anawangin we decided to follow the river and try to find its source. The caretaker told us there is a small lake somewhere near the mountains that supplies the water to the river.

After a hearty breakfast we grab our gears (and some water+trail food) and proceeded to the river just 50 meters from our campsite.
The river is dry this time of the year. Part of the trail is blanketed by dried pine needles from the large pine trees that lined the banks.

We trekked for more than an hour, our GPS indicated that we have already traveled some 1.8 kilometers. Still no sign of water.

Along the way we found some animal tracks and fresh droppings. We thought the tracks could belong to a horse but the droppings are definitely from a carabao (water buffalo).

We later found out from Mang Danny (an Aeta we met there, he was hunting wild boars and deers) that the tracks (and the droppings) belong to tamaraws (pygmy water buffalos). Good thing we did not encounter one. These tamaraws are fiercely territorial and it would have been one hell of a chase had we found one. The tamaraw would be the one chasing us of course :).

We never did find the water source. One of my friends (Owen) decided to scout ahead for the trail. But our main group lost track of his trail and we couldn't hail him . The rule was he should stay in voice contact with us. We decided to make a bee line for our camp, and wait for him there. We would retrace our tracks if he does not arrive in 30 minutes. Knowing Owen, he would also do the same once he thinks we lost him or he lost us.

Mang Danny just came from checking his traps deep in the mountains and was heading to the bay when he spotted Owen on a nearby hill. He thought Owen was lost (well maybe he is. hehe) and decided to come to him. They caught up with us in a clearing while we were taking a breather.

Mang Danny told us we were VERY CLOSE to the small lake there. Just one more hill and we would have found it. But there'll be a next time, for sure.
Our group, from left: Elias, Mang Danny, Owen, Deo, Francis (not in the photo)
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January 18, 2008

awed by anawangin

Anawangin looks like another world. As you approach the bay, you couldn't help but wonder if you are still in the Philippines. Unlike most beaches, Anawangin stands out as one of the few where you have pine trees instead of the usual coconut trees. The muted green needle leaves of the pine trees that lined the shore contrast nicely with the salt-n-pepper colored sand. The barren mountains at the back of the bay provide a backdrop of varying shades of green and brown.
Anawangin is one of the best real "getaway place". It is "shielded" from most of man's daily tech. No electricity, no cellphone coverage, no radio and TV signals.

I have read articles and seen photos of Anawangin for almost two years now. Been planning to go there for the longest time. Last January I read about it again in an in-flight magazine on the way back to Manila from the province. So I decided that thats it, its going to be my first destination for 2008. Luckily I have officemates who like the outdoors a lot too, so forming a group for the trip was easy.

Getting there
We took the 11:30PM Victory Liner Bus (bus going to Iba, Zambales) from their Caloocan station. The jumpoff point to Anawangin is in Brgy. Pundaquit in a town called Sta. Ana. Its about 2 hours or so from Subic. We arrived there at 3:30 AM, too early for the boat ride to Anawangin. Luckily there are open "gotohan" (goto is rice porridge with ox tripe) near the police station so we decided stay there for the time being. We planned to get supplies (food + water, there are no stores in Anawangin) but the market opens at 7AM. Lady Luck seemed to be smiling on us that day, for one of the tricycle drivers offered to take us to Brgy. Pundaquit (about 20 minutes ride from Sta. Ana town proper) and introduce us to a boat man who can provide us with a place to sleep/rest. He also offered to be the one to go to the market for our supplies! (see my previous post for the boat rates).

First day, first time
Anawangin used to be really secluded, only a handful of people go there. But not anymore. We were not surprised to see several tents already pitched when we got there at 8AM. I heard from the caretaker that the place can get really crowded during the summer vacation (and Holy Week).

The sun went away somewhere during our first day so I spent most of the morning sleeping in my tent and on my friend's hammock (I was able to pry him off it every once in a while).

In the afternoon I checked out that nice river lined with pine trees just several meters away from our campsite.
Anawangin is a photographer's haven. Its fairly common to see folks toting tripods and serious looking photo gears.
Essential stuff to bring in Anawangin
  • food and drinking water (there two water pumps there for washing)
  • toiletries (there are I think two CRs there, the one near our area has walls are made of some reed)
  • flash light + batteries
  • cook set (better if you have a portable burner)
  • tent (it can get cold so a sleeping bag and/or jacket would help)
  • camera + lots of batteries + lots of CF or SD cards!
  • lots of booze!
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January 15, 2008

captivating capones

Capones is one of the most visited places in Zambales. The words "scenic" and "picturesque" are not enough to describe the island.
On it stands Punta Capones, one of the Spanish era light stations in the Philippines. It was completed in 1890 and was built using the same plans for the lighthouse in Isla de Cabra, an island northeast of Mindoro.
The hike to the lighthouse was quite a challenge. If you approach the lighthouse from the south side, the trail is short but the beachhead is too rocky for the boat to come really close to the shore. You have to wade waist deep waters, maybe deeper, with very slippery rocks (very tricky if you are carrying photo equipment - I fell once on the way back to the boat). There is another trail from the north side of the island.
(Tip: Its best to go to Capones during high tide, if you want to go to the lighthouse. During low tide it will be impossible for the boat to approach the south side. We went there at about 3PM)

However once you reach the lighthouse, the view is all worth it.
The lighthouse's lens and lighting equipment have been upgraded (I also saw solar panels) but the keeper's house is in very bad shape.

Another interesting fact about Capones Island is that the beach MOVES! During rainy season you will see the white beaches on the north side. Otherwise, you will find the beaches on the south side. (Photo below is the south side of the island)
How to get to Capones
From Manila, take a Victory Liner Bus to San Antonio, Zambales (buses going to Iba will pass by this town). Once in San Antonio, take a tricycle ride to Barangay Pundaquit (you will see the island once you are on the beach).

Many backpackers make Capones as a side trip on the way to Anawangin (blog entry for Anawangin later). If you want to visit the lighthouse, I suggest you pass by Capones on the way back from Anawangin, preferably after 1PM when the water on the south side is deep enough for the boat to approach the shore.

The price for a boat ride from Brgy Pundaquit to Anawangin (and back, and with side trip to Capones on the way back) ranges from Php1200 to 2000 depending on the size of the boat. A medium size banca (worth Php1800) could fit a group of 5-7 persons (including camping gears).

You may contact Mang Vic(+63-09284537121) for the boat. Very nice and accommodating fellow. He can provide parking space if you bring your car. He can also provide you with a place to sleep, free of charge, if you arrive in Pundaquit in the wee hours of the morning (we got to the place at about 3AM when we took the 11:30 PM bus from Manila).

More photos here

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January 2, 2008

starting 2008 with a bang

My photos were featured in a column in Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect section. (Jan 1, 2008). Perfect New Year's gift! Thanks Picture Perfect!
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