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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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April 23, 2008

my first feature in outdoor photographer

Finally! One of my photos got a nod from the editors of Outdoor Photographer. Thanks for the feature!

I'm very pleased they choose of one my big favorites for this. Anawangin is a very special place for me. The photo itself is quite memorable. Its one of only 3 shots I took that afternoon. After the 3rd shot my tripod gave way as the loose wet sand under it washed out. In a split second my lens is buried in several inches on sand. All is well now. :D

Thanks bai Oggie for the inspiration! Thanks Francis for the "libot"!

Outdoor Photographer
Link to photo here.
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April 21, 2008

cabacungan, tambobong, dasol

We decided to cap the last day of our Pangasinan adventure with some (very) minor spelunking. After exploring the Balinmanok wreck,we headed to the northwest end of Tambobong Beach for a small but interesting cove. Its beach is lined with rust colored rocks and there is a small cave at one end of the cove.

Cabacungan Cove

You can hike to the cove but its best to take a short banca ride from Tambobong. On the way to the cove you will be passing by a small island whose one end resembles a semi-submerged crocodile head.

Crocodile Island

Inside the cave is a nice emerald green pool about 8-10 feet deep at its deepest. There are several entry points to the cave : there are two easy ones on the beach, another one is on top of a hill above the cave where you can jump straight into the pool, and several entry points submerged under 4-5 feet of sea water. (Btw, some of locals fondly call the cave "The Baby Factory" :D )

Cabacungan Cave

Caves like this are pretty common along the rock walls of Pangasinan's west coast. The photo below shows a typical rock wall along Sitio Pedeg.

Rockwalls of Pedeg

There are sporadic beaches in between these rock walls (like the Cabacungan cove). When the waves are strong you will be able to see the columns of sea water surging up the blow holes. Because of these blow holes its common to see white sand deposits on top of the rocks, particularly those in Sitio Pedeg.

More photos here.
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April 18, 2008

timapog na bato, burgos, pangasinan

The journey continues...

This time we headed north along Pangasinan's west coast (Burgos and Dasol). We came across a large formation of rocks in Brgy Ilio-ilio in the town of Burgos. The locals call the rock formation "Timapog na Bato" which means "a rock that moved to the sea". The place is a favorite excursion destination for the townspeople of Burgos and the nearby barangays of Dasol.

Timapog na Bato

The rocks provide an excellent shade for the beach goers. It's very cool under the rocks even with the searing summer heat. The water in front of Timapog na Bato is also a great snorkeling site. The area is generally shallow but it has "holes" about 5-7 feet deep scattered all over. Small colorful fishes have made these holes their home.

Screaming Rock Tower (name courtesy of zherwin)

The Gateway

Banca ride
Timapog na Bato is just a 30 minute banca ride from Tambobong Beach.

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April 16, 2008

balinmanok wreck, dasol, pangasinan

A short 10-minute boat ride southeast from Tambobong beach is another rustic community called Sitio Balinmanok.

Sitio Balinmanok

There is a road from Tambobong to Balinmanok but its not very vehicle friendly so the best way to go there is via banca/boat.

Balinmanok beach

The beach is clean and the water is clear. But the best thing about Balinmanok is the shipwreck site just 50 meters from shore. I did some research but was not able to get the name of the ship so I'll just call it the Balinmanok wreck.

Balinmanok wreck

There is a very interesting story with that wreck site. It was a Chinese vessel carrying an assortment of cargo, including a huge load of shabu (crystal meth) - about 600kilos, coming in from the South China sea. There was a storm and the ship accidentally dropped its anchor near the island of Hermana Mayor (about 1 hour from Tambobong). The hull of the ship got damaged and she began taking in water.

Stripped of its usable timber

The crew offloaded the "precious cargo" but they were apprehended near the town of Infanta. The authorities were able to seize about 250 kilos of shabu, the rest of the cargo vanished without a trace.

The ship was towed to where it is right now - in front of a beach in Sitio Balinmanok. The wreck site is now a nice snorkeling area.

me taking a breather (photo by Francis - libot.blogspot.com)

Artificial reef = playground of the fishes :)

The area near the shipwreck is also a good place to spearfish for your lunch :).

Nature's bounty
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April 15, 2008

balaki island, pangasinan

Last weekend was a very very long weekend - 4 days of Pangasinan's sand, sea, and sun :). Our group's initial plan was to camp at Hermana Mayor (a.ka. Miss Universe Island because of the 1979 Miss Universe swimsuit photo shoot there) for 2 days. Although we know that the island is privately owned, we decided to take our chance and head there. We have some fisherfolk friends in Tambobong who know the caretakers of the place and they MIGHT let us stay there for a couple of days.

Hemana Mayor
Hermana Mayor

Unlucky for us the owners are flying in for the weekend (the island has its own airstrip) so off we go searching for another island. Its a great thing if you are friends with the locals, you'll get to the real nice places. And thats how we "discovered" Balaki Island.

The island is about 30 minutes from Hermana Mayor or about 1 hour from Tambobong. There is a resort at the western tip but we decided to head for the undeveloped north side. We don't fancy resorts that much, we would rather rough it out ( read: cheapskates :D )

Island Taxi
Balaki Island

Balaki Island
our interisland taxi

The beach was nice but the thorny bushes there are a real pain in the ass, literally :).

Thorns everywhere

Some folks come here all the way from Tambobong just to spearfish. Less than an hour of spearfishing the shallow waters yielded enough bounty for a hearty lunch.

Balaki Island
After lunch, some of our companions decided to take another shot at spearfishing.

Eel for Dinner
Moray eel for dinner

It was a fun day, all worth the 303 km of paved road and 18.2 km of punishing rough road from Manila to Tambobong (we left Manila at 11:00PM and arrived in Tambobong at 6:30AM). As the sun sets, the sky flaunted its surreal evening colors. It was such a show, especially that I can now smell what my friends a cooking just a few meters away - eel simmering in thick soup!

Just the Two of Us

Tambobong Afterglow
Sunsets in Tambobong Beach

More stories later. We will be exploring great rock formations, a sunken ship, and a great pool inside a cave.

How to get to Tambobong (from Manila)

Bus - Victory Liner bus to Sta Cruz, Zambales (380+ pesos)
Jeep - Sta. Cruz to Dasol Market. (35 pesos)
Jeep - Dasol Market to Tambobong (30+ pesos)

How to get to Balaki Island

Boat - 1 hour from Tambobong
You can also get to Balaki from Infanta.

I'm not sure about the boat fare from Tambobong to Balaki. We have some friends in Tambobong who let us use their banca for free. We just paid for the gasoline (about 350 pesos)

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April 8, 2008

the fall of daranak and batlag

Yesterday I went with a group of friends (fellow photogs from the flickristasindios group in Flickr) to Tanay, Rizal for the Daranak and Batlag Falls. We decided to skip Hinulugang Taktak Falls in Antipolo because of the articles we read mentioning the sorry state of the place.

Daranak, Batlag, and Hinulugang Taktak are all found in the province of Rizal. They are very accessible from Manila (less than 2 hours). Take a jeep or FX from Edsa Central to Tanay (60 pesos). From Tanay market, there are lots of tricycle for the falls (300 pesos). There is a 20 peso entrance fee for Daranak Falls.

Hinulugang Taktak is in Antipolo and the jeep/FX bound for Tanay passes by Antipolo.

All of us are excited to take photos of both falls. The photos from several blogs show how picturesque the place is. But we were in for a surprise that day. :)

The place was packed (although it was a Monday, twas also an official holiday). To say that the place was crowded would be a great understatement. You can't take a shot of the scenery without people in them, not near the falls, not even in the river downstream from the falls. And with the huge crowd comes the mountains of garbage, literally in every nook and cranny.

(downstream from Daranak Falls)

Since its summer, the water in the falls is considerably thinner. The catch basin was still deep enough though for a nice swim.

Just a short walk from Daranak is Batlag Falls. The falls is located in a private property so you have to pay another 20 pesos for the entrance fee. The folks at the gate tried to squeeze a few more bucks from us seeing that we were all carrying cameras and tripods. They reason we have to have an "exclusive booking" of the place if we want to take photos there.

They finally let us in after hearing the ".. falls is beyond the commerce of men..." and "... do you have barangay permit to charge entrance fees?.." and "do you also charge folks with cellphone camera for photos?" talk from our group. :)

(Batlag falls)

Just like in Daranak Falls, the place was packed to the hilt. And of course the garbage was every where. I also saw a road being built to provide an easier access to the place (right now you have to go through Daranak in order to reach Batlag). More people, more garbage.

I find Batlag a little bit better than Daranak. There are more trees for shade and there are lots of small pools downstream.

(one of the pools downstream from Batlag)

In the rainy season when the falls are fuller, and with probably less people visiting the place, the scenery could be better. However if the caretakers do not address the mounting garbage problem there wouldn't be any scenic place to take pictures of, rainy season or not.

More photos of my Tanay trip here.
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April 2, 2008

anawangin dreamscapes

The last time I went to Anawangin I had my sights on taking IR photos. You see Anawangin is perfect for IR photography. It has all the elements needed for a nice IR shot: lots of foliage (pine trees), water (the river and sea), and lots of sun.

One of my friends noticed that I brought home "too few" photos of Anawangin the last time I went there. It's because I practically spent more than half of the day taking IR photos :)

Pink Mood

I use a FUJI IR 76 filter. Its an acetate type filter and I just hold it in front of my lens. Its very cheap but sometimes very difficult to handle even with a filter holder. I'm still looking for a good screw in type but affordable ones don't really have the "qualities" I'm looking for (Hoya R72 is too much for my budget right now :D ).

Different IR filters have different Wratten ratings, meaning they differ in the frequency of IR waves they let through(or block). Thus IR images produced by different filters vary in tones (and colors). Furthermore, different camera sensors may "behave" differently even with the same filter.

IR photos don't really have colors, except red of course. The colors you see in IR photos are products of post processing thus these photos are called "false color IR". False or not, these images always have this out of this world look. And this is what I like most about IR photography.

Here are some IR images of Anawangin River:

Mocha World

Mood in Peach

Solitary Boat

World in Magenta

The cove itself is a nice vantage point for IR photography. You have the sea and the pine trees lining the shore.
IR Cove

Ethereal Shores

IR photography is looking at places or things in a different light, literally. It turns a mundane scenery into a dreamscape.

More IR photos here.
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