Stalking the most beautiful places in the Philippines

Welcome, welcome 'o weary traveler... from where do you cometh? Are you seeking new lands to conquer, perhaps planning a visit to the Philippines? Or are you simply feeling home-sick and hungry for photographs of home? Whatever, feel free to look or share. An adventure awaits.

I try to post new images weekly from my travels across this beautiful land. If you like what you see, please leave a comment or two. Or write me a note, I'd love to hear from where you cometh. Enjoy. Bobby ( Join this group to receive new postcards weekly or become a fan of my Facebook page.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

#43 Simple Pleasures

Having a leisure breakfast... along a grand terraced landscape... in the middle of nowhere... I can live with this simple pleasure... except that this mountain paradise is transforming before our very eyes...

We were in the town of Mayoyao in the province of Ifugao. Mayoyao isn't far from the more famous Banaue rice terraces, but bad and dusty roads kept it isolated except to the most determined travelers. Yet, tourism was on everyone's minds. For the next generation to keep the terraces viable, they need income other than their annual rice crop. The town mayor hoped our photographs will put them on the map, which eventually did inspire waves of photographers/tourists through that place. But whether that is a good thing, it now depends on how they balance economic progress with preserving the traditional Ifugao lifestyle.

While meandering down the earthen dikes (pilapil), we chanced upon this young family having breakfast under the shade of their clothes line. You can tell progress had arrived to this part of the world.  Notice their relatively modern clothes, ornamental cacti among plastic pots, and modern eating utensils. Even the thatched grass roofs on their homes have been replaced by sturdier corrugated metal sheets. (And yes, our mobile phones worked most everywhere we went. We didn't ask but they probably own a mobile phone or two too.) The "buhay-probinsiya" of old is transforming fast, do plan your own trek to Mayoyao's country-side soon. And just in case, here's hoping our images make it to the future. Enjoy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

#42 Sunrise on the shores of Taal Lake

What does it take... to photograph an unforgettable sunrise? I know, I know... a really good alarm clock! Well, you actually need a little more than that.

In the town of Talisay in Batangas, along the cold windy shores of Taal Lake, we awaited sunrise with a jacket and a prayer. This time two years ago, we made a spur-of-the moment trip to capture our last sunrise of the year. We had a classic image in our minds: fish pens and stilt houses silhouetted against the dawn sky. Simple enough.

At about 2:30AM we drove two hours to the sunrise point, and in near-total-darkness, hauled our gear down a dirt path, winding through a field of waist-high grass. Standing by the edge of the lake, we identified true east, selected a workable vantage point, planted our tripods on the ground, and then compose our shots as silhouettes started to appear on the horizon. As the sky brightened, we swapped density filters and tweaked exposures, waiting for the exact moment when every element in our minds' image came together. Lucky as we often are, a lone fisherman was minding his nets nearby. This unplanned element would be part of our composition. About an hour or so later, we were done.

So what does it take?

To trade 4 hours of sleep for a handful of images, you NEED to really want to do this stuff! To witness the darkest part of the night become day... priceless. Try it! Enjoy.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

#41 Palawan on Fire

When was the last time you took time-off to witness a sunset?

On the shores of Corong-corong, in the town of El Nido in Palawan, we chanced upon a whopper of a sunset, the mere memory of which still gives me goosebumps today.

It had rained hard that afternoon. And when the sun returned, the light alternated between harsh and flat, on a sky filled with featureless clouds. At some point, it looked like the sunset we had all dreamt of was going to be a dud.  But shortly after the sun slipped below the horizon, the magic began. The sun's fading light lit-up the underside of the same rainclouds that had spoiled our afternoon. It was on this canvass she painted us a spectacle of fire, a grand afterglow, so overwhelming that some of us first-timers froze in awe and forgot to take any pictures! Yes, some sunsets are beyond the thousand words a single picture can muster.

The sun sets on every single day of the year, every year of our lives. Yet when was the very last time you stood outdoors to witness its glory? Most people can't remember. I say, don't miss your share of sunrises and sunsets, life is too short. Enjoy.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

#40 Just Add Water

The advantage of driving the countryside is that you not only get to see all sorts of things along the way, you get to see life, specially the simple version.

We were driving home through the town of Bugallon in Pangasinan, minding our own business, when we saw a farmer with his beasts in tow. We slammed on the brakes. Huh? It's a man with three cows. But hey, we're city-slickers, we've never patted a real cow before. Besides, we want to know what he's up to.  

With a smile from ear-to-ear and looking like he'd just had a great nap... "I'm from that small baranggay back there", pointing to a stand of trees on the horizon behind him. "And I'm going to take my cows to drink from that pond over there." he said, "I do it several times a day specially when it's hot like today." And "No, I don't know who owns that pond. I think it's public." With that statement, and after posing for some more pictures, he walked his cows right onto the water's edge where they slurped-away with abandon...

Our world runs on oil, but his' runs on the sweat of his brows. One day we all hope to retire to such a simpler and slower life... of living on a farm... taking long lazy naps... and then walking our beasts to water... er.. but wait... isn't he already doing that today? And we thought we had it all planned out... Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#39 A Modern Harvest

In the rural backroads of the Philippines, rice is still planted and harvested by hand. We expected to see rice stalks threshed by whipping the stalks against boards, metal screens, or wooden racks. Glistening sinews covered in sweat, as they manually beat the grain from their stalks, now that would have made a great photograph.... But not any more!

We woke up before the sun and headed towards Alaminos when sunrise found us in the town of Sta. Ignacia, Pangasinan. The morning sun had cast a warm golden color onto everything it touched, a perfect sweet light that makes photographs magical. To our delight, we chanced upon a group of men threshing their harvest by the roadside, amidst a scene painted in the colors reminiscent of Amorsolo.

But to our surprise, even the countryside has joined the 21st century! They had a gasoline-powered thresher that automatically blew off the stalks and deposited the grain neatly in sacks. No more half-naked men flexing their glistening muscles. Still, it was a lovely scene.

Were we disappointed not to have found the image in our minds? Not at all. Progress comes to all things and to all men. Had we come by 10 years ago, we might have found what we were looking for. But then we're glad we didn't wait to do this 10 years from now, who knows what else we would have missed? Enjoy.

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