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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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February 23, 2009

tambobong: hail to a new day (dasol, pangasinan)

Hail to a New Day
Sunrise in Tambobong Beach

No matter how dead tired I am, the lure of seeing God's gift of a new day wrapped in amazing hues of gold, red, and magenta is just too hard to resist. Seeing the amazing display of colors that morning in Tambobong beach felt exactly like this:

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

-excerpt from Morning has Broken by Eleanor Farjeon (popularized by Cat Stevens)

(photo courtesy of Buboy Eito)

Warm sunshine on your face, the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast ... what could be more perfect than this?
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February 17, 2009

tambobong: on the edge of cabacungan cove

At the Edge
a gorge lined with sea weeds

Cabacungan is a small cove found in Cainan Point in the western coast of Pangasinan. The locals frequent the place because of a cave with emerald green pool inside (I wrote about my first visit to the cave here). Its a cove with a cave :).

Hike to Kabakungan
shallow waters between the islets

Because it was low tide, we had to leave our bancas at the other side of the island (where I got my Nalasin photos). I did not know there was a trail from there and I love discovering something new about what I thought were familiar places.

single file (courtesy of Buboy Eito)

The trail took us through an arid landscape that looked like it had been through a bush fire recently. It was not a long hike, we reached the cove after a few encounters with some thorny bushes. The last segment of the trail has not been used for sometime and we had to do a bit of clearing.

Kabakungan Cove
the cove at last

You will be able to see the entrance to the cave on the photo above. (Click to enlarge, the entrance is on the far end of the shore).

Elias and the Cove
rust colored rocks of Cabacungan

What made my visit a bit different this time was the discovery of a chasm just a few meters from shore. Tide was really low when we were about to leave the cove and the edge of the chasm showed.

Seaweed Gorge
Cabacungan chasm

Golden light was hitting the huge rocks at the end of the chasm, the yellow brown seaweeds seem to glow with it. I positioned my tripod near the edge and took a few shots. Its one of the most surreal scenes I ever saw, its a world on its own and far from the typical white sand covered beaches of Tambobong.
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February 13, 2009

nalasin: in pursuit of the light (tambobong, dasol)

The Outdoor Photographer
Buboy chasing the light in Nalasin

"I'm staying behind.", I declared as our group prepared to board the outrigger boats back to camp.

"Me too.", Buboy (a kindred soul) seconded the motion.

The rest of the group simply smiled and gave us that "here you go chasing the light again" and "you're both crazy" looks. But they know us too well to convince us otherwise, even Buboy's wife didn't utter a word of protest. So there they left us, on a shallow area the locals called Nalasin - a rock filled channel between two islands in Tambobong (Crocodile Island and Kabakungan).

We set up our gears in eerie silence, found our respective rocks (we love to do "rockscapes"), and waited for the right light.

Rock Towers
Nalasin sunset

I found my vantage point on top of a rock and stood there as if I was alone. No wind, no waves, no crickets even. It was just us, the peaceful sea, and the sky filled with the awesome colors of sunset.

Nalasin Twilight
Nalasin twilight colors

I'm not sure how long we stood transfixed on our chosen locations, taking photos and mesmerized by nature's display. The light was quickly changing and we didn't have the luxury of changing vantage points (I prescouted the location an hour or so before while we were on our way to Kabakungan cove on the other side of the island). Both of us were so engrossed with the scenery that we did not even spoke, not until we saw that the colors are fading and its was already time to go.

Pursuing the light does not come without challenges though. Now we have to cross another shallow channel (about waist deep while its low tide) to the mainland and hike several kilometers to our host's house, if we can find the trail. Or we can call our host and have him fetch us by banca. I took out my cellphone, the signal was strong, so... banca it is :).

Here I am while waiting for our ride home, almost 36 hours of no sleep (I was already awake at 5AM the previous day, travelled to Tambobong after work and went straight to shooting the sunrise and snorkeling in Balinmanok).

trying to look tough (photo by Buboy Eito)

And yes I look awful :D.

All that for just several minutes of colors? Well, yes. And why not? Its several minutes of beautiful colors some will not even witness in their lifetime.

And why the outdoors? Urban landscape can also be stunning, true, but there is something spiritual about the raw beauty of nature. What I feel can be best summed up by an excerpt from Landscapes of the Spirit (by William Neill):

"The beauty of nature motivates and inspires my photography. It nourishes my artistic sensibility and restores my spiritual balance. In landscapes of silent rock, reflecting water, and parting cloud, I feel most connected to myself and to life itself. In the clarity of wilderness light, my mind and my heart are soothed and uplifted by the serenity of Creation. These are landscapes of, and for, my spirit."

There are other little rewards too :)


I finally found out the official name for Crocodile Island: its Lagtaras Island. The area of Lagtaras and Kabakungan cove is officially known as Cainan Point. There is always a disparity between the official names and what the locals call the place. Its best to know the latter. Even the tourism websites sometimes don't refer to the places by their official names.
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February 8, 2009

balinmanok: breakfast, beach, and shell pickers

Sun-kissed shores
Sun-kissed shores of Balinmanok

I was the ad hoc tour guide for day, and my first planned destination is Sitio Balinokmanok, a quiet beach a few minutes by boat south of our "base camp". My friends are pretty excited to see the shipwreck I featured in this post. But first we got to eat a good breakfast :).

Capturing the beautiful colors of the dawn after a long trip was draining but we manage to prepare a decent meal to jump start the day.

Old School Cooking
beats the hell of out gas stoves (photo by Buboy Eito)

Within a few minutes, our paksiw was ready. (Fresh catch simmered in coconut vinegar with a plethora of spices : ginger, garlic, onions, ground pepper, some fresh green peppers and everything in between). The spicy smell is guaranteed to wake a sleepy head up.

paksiw na isda (photo by Buboy Eito)

After that hearty meal, we readied our gears for a day of snorkeling, "photo hunting", and snoozing under palm trees - real hard work :D. (One actually does not have to go far in Osmeña to see a great beach. Right in front of where we are staying is an amazing stretch of fine white sand with crystal clear waters).

Our banca ride

A serene, sleepy beach front welcomed us in Balinmanok. Tucked in a small cove and not very accessible from the back roads (thats why we took the boat), its deserted most of the time. It only gets crowded (no, not Boracay crowded, not even close) during the Holy Week when relatives of the fisher folks come to visit.

Some of us went straight to the hammock and makeshift hut under the palm trees while a couple of enthusiastic ones borrowed some spear guns and head out to "catch lunch". As far as I can remember all they manage to do was scare the fish away. Our fishermen friends would politely smile later when the hunters bring home their meager catch.

A friend and I delayed our snorkeling a bit to wander down the beach. It was low tide there are a couple of locals picking shells and small white clams (called tulya). We saw a group of 3 siblings rummaging through the rocks. The eldest was complaining that they woke too late and now there's nothing left for them (even though their "slim pickings" could still amount to a decent meal). I could just image a large plastic bag full of shells if they had gotten there real early.

John gamely posed for us

We also met Nanay Pilar, a retired school teacher who spends her quiet morning picking shells. She chatted with us while we took a couple of "environmental portraits". She was a good sport even when our host teased her that she can be the next top model :). Turns she is our host's cousin. (In hindsight, I notice that everyone here is related - either an uncle, an aunt or a cousin).

Nanay Pilar
Nanay Pilar showing us some of her tulya

Its amazing how one can get these little white clams by digging just a few inches in the sand. Soon several of us where kneeling on the beach (just near the water's edge), busily shifting the sand and eagerly picking tulya.

Guess what soup we had for lunch :).
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February 3, 2009

finding my way back to osmeña (dasol, pangasinan)

My trip to Cagbalete island was canceled due to the fickle weather in Quezon province (its facing the Pacific Ocean, east side of Luzon). But another one quickly opened up, a group of friends wanted to go to Tambobong beach (on Pangasinan's west coast), they've asked me to take them there for the longest time. (Btw, Tambobong was split into two barangays: Tambobong and Osmeña. However some folks still refer to the beach front in Osmeña as Tambobong beach).

It was a long drive, we left Manila at around midnight and drove north to Pangasinan via Tarlac. The road is well paved until we reached the town of Burgos in Pangasinan. There are two roads to Tambobong/Osmeña: one is via Dasol - about 20km of extremely rough road, the other one is via Burgos - about 25km of narrow partly cemented road. I opted to go via the latter, and boy did I wish I had that GPS! Although I am familiar with the route, navigating the dusty backroads at night was a bit different. I can't see the landmarks and twice we took the wrong fork. The "misadventure" was enough to put every one on alert mode :).

We reach the fishing village just before dawn, just in time to see the first rays of the day. The rest tried to catch up on their sleep (I was awake for 24 hours already by the time we reached Osmeña), but two of us decided to head down to the beach and quickly got to work :).

Sunrise Shooter
Sunrise shooter

The beautiful hues of the dawn were enough of a reward for the long trip.

Rosy Morning
a nice way to start the day

The sky was clear, indicating we will have a fine day ahead of us. The tones and colors intensified just before the sun popped out of the horizon.

Goooooood Morning!
sunrise banca

The hues of red, pink, and magenta were gone within a few minutes after the sun rose. The "magic hour" is really just a couple of minutes.

We headed back to our host's house after we had our takes. Time to unpack stuff and cook breakfast. We still have a long day ahead of us, and snorkeling is hard work. :)
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