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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 6, 2014

aurora | dingalan : rugged and rough - the way we like it

Moody Pacific Sunrise

There was barely a slit in the eastern sky that the sun can peek through as dark rain clouds paraded that morning. I was hoping the rain gods would get their business over with quickly and relinquish the sky , but no, they had too much fun taunting us, occasionally sending a brief shower to get you guessing whether to pack your gear or stick it out.

Rain Clouds over Dingalan Bay

I glanced over to my right and saw the far end of the coast getting a heavy downpour already, and it looked like its getting to where we are.

But it looked like the sun’s not giving up without a fight and was desperately trying to get itself seen. So as not to waste its effort, a few of us [ fellow outdoor photography enthusiasts I met the previous day] picked our gear up and did what we went there to do.

The Eye

A few hours ago I was walking under a moonless sky with a billion dazzling stars. I could clearly see part of the Milky Way that everyone's been shooting lately. Looks like weather's going to be great. I did wish for a few clouds that would nicely reflect hues of orange and red. A few nice high cirrus clouds, not thick, black, and nasty looking rain clouds. But to the rain gods’ credit, it did make for moody photos. [“moody” is photographer speak for “I did not get the colors I was hoping for”]

Rainy Sunrise in Dingalan Bay

It looked like Dingalan and I will see each other again.

Dingalan's rustic beauty

Matawe Shoreline

Dingalan’s beautiful coastline has attracted photographers from all around. The tide lands at Matawe particularly, is where most flock at sunrise. Low tide can be a surreal scene.

It's rugged coastline faces the Pacific Ocean and offers some of the best sunrise views. Combine that with large swells and unpredictable moods and you got something a landscape photographer cannot resist.

Matawe Lowtide Morning

Dingalan is far from touristy and is far less popular than its surfing destination neighbour Baler on the other side of the mountain range.


Its gray-sand and coral beaches, rustic and raw. And that's probably what attracted people to come here.

Matawe Dusk

Sunset here can be muted, but that's OK. It gives you a sense of solitude - perfect time to contemplate on how you are going to tackle that glorious sunrise the next day. That is if Pacific Ocean does not wake up on the wrong side of her bed.

Matawe Smooth Waves at Dusk

Commuting to Dingalan

Getting to Dingalan from Metro Manila, particularly to Matawe, can be convenient by private car. Leave after midnight, be there at sunrise, and be back at Manila before lunch time. Commuting is very doable as well, but will take more time. Here’s how you can get to Dingalan:
  • Take any bus heading to Cabanatuan City. There are several bus lines in Cubao including Five Star and Baliwag Transit. You can take the first morning trip, usually at 2AM. Bus ride takes more or less 3 hours so you will be in Cabanatuan City by 5AM. Bus fare is Php 280-300.
  • From Cabanatuan, there are vans and buses heading to Dingalan. However its best to take the bus heading to Umiray, which will pass by the town center, then head south to Umiray, passing by Matawe (aka Brgy. Cabug) on its way there. The first trip is 7AM. Bus fare is 80 pesos up to Matawe.
Matawe Rural Scene

Travel time to Matawe is a tricky thing. The bus will stop to pick up passengers, livestock, farm produce, etc as long as there are few square inches of space left on the bus. It will stop every few hundred meters if needed and will probably pick up a cow if it can fit in the bus. In short, travel time can vary. For this particular trip, it took 3.5 hours to cover the 60-70 km from Cabanatuan to Dingalan.
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[name=lantaw] [img=https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8237/8458831412_c95b7dbbae_t.jpg] [description=Loves to shoot nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and other natural wonders] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/lantawphotos) (twitter=https://twitter.com/lantawphotos) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/lantaw/)