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, February 28, 2010

#56 Dawn at Kiltepan

Nowadays, Facebook and Twitter keep us so connected it makes our world feel a lot smaller. Yet if you can peel yourself away from your computer long enough to climb up Kiltepan Hill in the Mountain Province, the world will look anything but small. 

We arrived in Sagada shortly past 10pm the night before, having lost our way driving from Bontoc at sunset. The dark and winding roads were rough and narrow in too many places, a prelude to the raw remoteness of this mountain town. Shortly before dawn, we drove out even higher to Kiltepan Hill, a viewpoint named after the three barrangays surrounding it (KIL-ong, te-TEP-an, and AN-tadao, I think). From there, you can see the rest of Sagada, or rather its other hilltops during a foggy dawn, stretched-out as far as your eyes can see. 

One of the rewards for making these remote dawn treks is the opportunity to view the truly grand landscapes.  Stare into the photograph for a moment and let the horizon take you all in. FB and Twitter notwithstanding, I have to say the world is still a pretty big place. See for yourself and let me know if you agree. Enjoy.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

#55 Dawn Silhouettes

Can the end excite you as much as a new beginning? Possibly, if you're on top of a mountain overlooking the misty town of Bontoc in the Mountain Province, waiting for the sun to rise. 

We stuffed ourselves into our vans before 4am and drove up a steep winding road to a vista point overlooking the misty valley below. The town was just beginning to wake up, and the fog over the entire valley had just started to lift.  Soon, the lights of the town, the outline of the grand terraces surrounding it, and the subtle reflection of the mighty Chico river winding across the valley below us began to appear. Sunrise was at hand.

Hunting for a unique composition, an unending row of trees along the trail obstructed the best view. I doubled-back about 200m to find this vantage point devoid of trees, but instead, filled with bushes who've seen better days. Well, if you can't beat them, why not include them? Using a low vantage point and shooting skywards, almost from a dog's point-of-view, what I saw through my viewfinder excited me. Dead and lifeless bushes reaching out for the sky of a brand new day. The extreme elements of life and death cavorting within a single composition. Believe me, stranger things have excited me. Enjoy.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

#54 On Golden Ponds


When you look into a pond, do you like what you see?

You might if at dawn you find yourself in barrangay Minuli in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. We've been on the road for three hours now, driving into the dead of the night until the sky started to brighten. In our mind's eyes we imagined photographing golden landscapes peppered with children and grass huts against a dawn sky. Fast-forward and driving past electric lines smacked in the middle of rice fields, nothing so far looked truly extraordinary. Should we just stop and try our luck?

Then just around the next corner, we spotted a row of hills bathed in the golden light of dawn, set against white cotton-like clouds and a true blue sky. Now only if we can find a ... wait!.. stop!.. stop!.. stop!... I yelled. Just behind a row of roadside shacks, down what looked like a small valley's ridge, were newly planted rice fields filled with water. We couldn't see any reflections from the roadside but from experience I knew they'd be there.  Reflections of a golden landscape, hey that works for me! 

Within minutes, we were scurrying down a dirt trail towards the water. The sweetest light doesn't last more than a few minutes. I quickly planted my tripod low down at the water's edge, framed the landscape's reflection between the dikes, and guessed the exposure for my first shot. Mama mia! I looked into a pond and I definitely liked what I saw! Find yourself somewhere new at dawn tomorrow... and so will you! Enjoy.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

#53 Harvest in the Hills

It was a nice day to be in barrangay Samoki, a swath of fertile paradise half-a-day by car north of Manila, on the outskirts of the town of Bontoc, high up in the Mountain Province. But it was more than just a nice day in January. It was a time of great joy. It was harvest-time across the valley.

Because they farm along the tributaries of the great Chico river, they can squeeze-in two rice crops a year. Examine the photograph as I explain what is going on: 

Each family owns a plot of land delineated by earthen dikes. After they cut the "pregnant" stalks, they use foot-powered mechanical tillers to separate the grain from the chaff. The grain is sacked and then sun-dried, while the spent stalks are laid out in the field to dry. The stalks will be carabao fodder in summer when grazing fields become sparse. That carabao will help them till the land again in the next season, completing a cycle that has sustained them for generations.

Now compare this with the "all-consuming-but-not-producing" carbon footprint we city-dwellers have! Feeling guilty yet? Hahaha. Enjoy.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

#52 Fire in the Sky

When you look up at the clouds, do you sometimes see things that aren't there?

One crisp morning in Tagaytay City Cavite, the sun painted me a most memorable dawn canvass. It began without a hint of glory: a veil of fog in every direction I looked, with thick but fast-moving clouds over the entire valley. Still, the clear view of the eastern horizon held much promise & excitement.

Soon, the silhouette of Mount Makiling magically appeared on the horizon even as darkness still shrouded Taal Lake nearby. When the sky eventually lit up, it was painted with such an array of intense colors, it was beyond what I had ever seen in the Tagaytay sky, before and hence.

And then familiar shapes started popping-up amongst the clouds.... do you see a slithering snake? A majestic dragon? Or a bask of crocodiles? The name for this phenomenon, of seeing familiar shapes in the otherwise random patterns of nature, is called pareidolia. The mind sees what it wants to see! So what do you see? Enjoy. Bobby

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