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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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June 24, 2008

outdoor photographer no. 3

My third feature in Outdoor Photographer's Favorite Places (Web Gallery). This was taken in Candaba Swamp during an "exploration" trip with Oggie (lagalog) and several flickristasindios. Thanks Buboy for the filter! Thanks Dong for the good vibes :D.

Thanks Oggie and Pau for the songs! :D
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June 23, 2008

celebration jump (iMag may 2008)

Contest: Celebration Theme
iMag Photography Magazine
Vol 2 Number 3 Issue 16 (Infinite Light)
(May 2008)

What's nicer is that I'm actually IN the photo :) iMAG Photography magazine was professional enough to rectify an error with last month's printing (the photo was supposed to be included in the previous month's issue). They also did a great job with the articles and tips (composition tips and a nice new cove to explore in Zambales).

The photo was taken in Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon. Its was low tide (two low tides - one at around 10PM and another one around noon) so you can see that endless stretch of sand Cagbalete low tide is known for. After breaking camp and before hiking to the another side of the island where Sabang is (the port), we decided to do a celebration jump to cap our 4 day adventure.

More Cagbalete photos here.
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June 19, 2008

puerto princesa evenings...

...are best spent having an extended dinner with friends at Ka Lui's

ceiling lanterns

a place for family/group dinner

bamboo floors, off limits to slippers and sandals

(went there early before they opened and asked if I can take photos before the dinner hordes arrive)

or eating pinoy street food (bbq, balut, isaw) near the fountain in front of the provincial government building.

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reminiscing puerto princesa

Sunset at Honda Bay wharf

The rainy days are here (darn!) so there could be no weekend outdoor trips for a while. Maybe I'll try some touristy destinations down southwest (I do shift to tourist mode once in a while, but still no fancy resorts, and definitely no Boracay!). A favorite destination of mine is Puerto Princesa. Been there (regularly) for a couple of years now and might "escape" there for a couple of days when the storm season goes full swing.

A 3-day weekend is usually enough to take a tour of the sights in Puerto Princesa. A usual itinerary may look like this:

Day 1 (Honda Bay)
Take an early morning flight to Puerto Princesa. If you fly Cebu Pacific you can be there around 9-9:30. Plenty of time to spare for a day of beach and sun in Honda Bay. Get a tricycle and head to Honda Bay Wharf (30-40 minutes travel time). You can drop your bags in your hotel (if you are the type who travels with tons of baggage) on the way to the wharf. From there you can get a boat for a whole day of island hopping (Php1200-1500).

Snake Island Banca Parking :)

I usually just head straight to Snake Island - a marine research outpost (and a fish sanctuary). You can feed schools of fish with bread even at waist deep waters, they are very friendly and are used to humans.

The "snake" part of Snake Island

Last time we were there we saw a large school of jacks (thousands of them) around this area (see photo above). The guides in the island will gladly lead you to your "choice" of fish to see: from jacks, to surgeon fish, to "Nemos" (clown fishes) :D.

You won't need serious diving gears. All you'll need are your flippers, your mask, and several pieces of bread. The fishes will come you, except for the jacks. They just go around and around in a imaginary circle. We had fun"following" them that day. (BTW you can buy fresh catch in one of the sari sari stores there and have it cooked to your liking)

On the way back to the wharf (after you have had your fill at Snake Island) you can pass by the Pambato Coral Reef (just in front of Luli Island, docking fee is 50 pesos per person). The variety of corals there is amazing.

Day 2 (Underground River, the easy way)
For this one you can take can join a tour group for convenience (Php 1200.00, including lunch). Its a 3 hour travel to Sabang - the jump off point to the underground river, officially known as St. Paul Subterranean Underground River National Park.

Sabang Beach

Its a short banca ride from Sabang to the underground river (there is a hike trail from Sabang if you want an adventure).

Underground River beach head

Its a quick exploration of the underground river (20 - 30 minutes). Sometimes the queuing for the boats takes longer. It is one of longest subterranean river in the world, 8.2 km are navigable but tourists are only allowed up to the 4 km mark.

Into the unknown

You should do this tour only ONCE (although I did it twice hehehe). Its going to be boring the second time, the routine is all too familiar. You will also tend to preempt all the jokes of the bangkero (boatman) on your second tour hehe.

By 3 PM you will be in Puerto Princesa again. You can head to Mitra's farm for some scenic views of Honda Bay or pig out on pastries in Baker's Hill (very accessible by tricycle).

Day 3 (around Puerto Princesa)
There's a lot of choices for the last day (make sure your flight back to Manila is after lunch). You can spend the morning dolphin watching, or you can hire a tricycle and head to the Crocodile farm (not much to see there last time I went, no more petting the baby crocs). If you want cheap pasalubongs you can head to Iwahig Prison Farm (45 minutes, same direction as the Croc farm).

There is also a nice coffee shop/garden/art gallery called Kamarikutan just a couple minutes walk from the airport. You can head there after you have checked in your baggage.

Bancao Bancao Lighttower

I was also able to visit the unsung light tower of the city in Brgy. Bancao bancao. Its not part of your travel brochure's "Palawan experience". The caretakers told our group that we were the first "tourists" to visit that light tower :).
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June 10, 2008

the candaba experience

The swamp in Candaba is popular for the flocks of migratory birds that made the place their breeding grounds. Some even chose to stay there for good :).

black bird singing

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June 9, 2008

backpacking your way to candaba swamp

Indios in Candaba 2
Baliuag - Candaba road

No aircon tour buses. No 4X4s. Just your sandals and your backpack.

I've been trying to find out how to go to Candaba swamp using public transportation. I read blogs about Candaba swamp but I was not able to get sufficient information. Even the "definitive guide to backpacking ..." blogs don't contain much information. So I decided to just go there together with willing friends (lagalog and flickristasindios) and find out for ourselves.
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June 5, 2008

yonggungsa temple, korea

A Japanese travel companion of mine often wondered what I do with my spare time after checking in early in Incheon airport during my return flights to the Philippines. His idea of whiling the hours away was getting a massage and checking out the rows of duty free stores. Mine was a bit different.

Temple Lanterns
Yonggungsa temple main prayer room

I usually go down to the arrival area and check out the transit tour booths. The 1 hour Yonggungsa temple tour is my favorite (tour just cost USD5.00) and I have taken it several times already.

Its a short 20 minute drive to the foot of Mt. Baekun in Yeongjong Island where the temple is located (Incheon is composed of small islands and the airport itself is on a separate island). Along the way you'll be able to see one of Korea's longest bridge connecting Incheon City to the Incheon International Airport.

I feel a deep sense of peace and calm whenever I'm there. Maybe its because nobody really goes there and I'm are usually "alone" during the tours (not counting the tour guide and the monks meditating somewhere of course). All you can hear are the chirping of birds, the gentle murmur of a nearby spring, and the crunching of gravel or fresh snow as you walk around.

Temple Lanterns
Colorful lanterns and traditional Korean roof paintings

I witnessed how the bell house had progressed from being just a wooden frame to finally containing a bell. I'm sure next time I'll visit it'll be already painted with the traditional Korean colors.

Unfinished Bell House

The most interesting thing about the temple is the presence of century old zelvoka tree. The male tree called Father Tree is already 1300 years old. (the temple was built by Reverend Priest of Wonhyo Daesa in the 10th year of reign by King Munmu of Silla Dynasty 670 AD)

Father Tree
Father Tree, 1300 years old

Mother Tree stands nearby. It is believed that a pair of male and female trees form a single tree. Legend also has it that Father Tree will only branch out towards Mother Tree. Couples who are unable to bear children often drink from the nearby spring and pray under the trees for blessing.

Mother Tree
Mother Tree

The short 1 hour I spend wandering the temple grounds is enough to rejuvenate me. Now I'm ready for the long flight home.
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June 2, 2008

world pyro olympics 2008

The last day of the World Pyro Olympics 2008 drew a huge crowd especially that the weather was good and it was a payday weekend. I arrived at the back of SM Mall of Asia at around 5PM only to see what all the prime locations were taken. Some of my friends were already there and they manage to secure a small area on top of the sea wall...and its getting smaller by the minute as more and more people squeezed in.

Sensing that it would be impossible for us to setup our tripods in such a very cramped space, we decided to take up positions just behind the sea wall crowd. So most of my shots have people in it.

The first display started at around 7:30PM. It was called the Fellowship of Fire and it was designed by all of this year's participants.

Fellowship of Fire - Indian Chieftain

Folks who went to previous World Pyro Olympics noticed that this year's presentations were noticeable shorter. The Fellowship of Fire this year, for instance, lasted only a mere 10-12 minutes.

Fellowship of Fire - KryptonFellowship of Fire

The next presentation was from Philippine's very own La Mancha Pyro Productions (it was slated at 9PM so we had to wait for almost 1 hour for it). It was supposed to be pyro musical but somehow I missed the "musical" part (maybe I was just too busy taking photos hehe).

La Mancha - FirestormLa Mancha's Firestorm

It was a very nice evening overall. I was expecting more of the fireworks but hey I got to shoot the last day of World Pyro Olympics for FREE.

Colored YarnLa Mancha's Colored Yarn

The next challenge after the fireworks presentations was finding a place to eat. Every restaurant was practically overflowing with hungry customers. We ended up queuing at David's Teahouse after making a short tour of all the eating places hehehe. Food was ok and conversation was lively (thanks bai Oggie and Ferdz!). I didn't notice the time until one of the waiters presented us with our bill as they are already closing for the night.

I got more photos here.
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