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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

#69 Children of the Rice

Ok I have to admit, that was a corny title... but wait... hear me out...

It was harvest-time and we were in a rice field just outside the town of Bontoc in the Mountain province. Bontoc itself was busier and more congested than we expected, considering it is the remotest place we've previously never even heard of (see for yourself, it's on the horizon of this week's postcard.) But here in the fields, where families each have a small plot of riceland, every square meter is dedicated to planting rice. The two children in the postcard belong to a family of five. And because their plot is beside the Chico river, they manage two harvests a year, enough rice to last them for a full 12 months. In most other places, a single annual harvest is all that can be had. Those families plant their second crop in the lowlands, or find other ways to earn the balance of their annual rice bill.

You see then... these are literally people of the rice... and thus their children. Their rice field is their life-line. It feeds them, defines their days, and determines their family's relative prosperity or lack thereof. One day, these two children-of-the-rice will till this land. Join my prayer that the promise of a better future, that which we all seek for ourselves, include them as well. Enjoy.

(Pixel-peepers: The sparsely cloudy sky produced mostly harsh light so even dried rice stalks became reflective. I used a polarizer to remove the reflections and to saturate the warm earthen colors. It helps to keep an eye on fast-moving clouds, shooting only when the sun peeked through, to maximize color saturation. Shot on tripod, 1/3rd stop under-exposed, 2.8/28mm set at f/8.)

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Monday, May 24, 2010

#68 Water... Water... Where?

Cracked earth inside the Magat reservoir? You said it.

Six postcards ago, I posted a photograph taken at the Magat dam in Ramon, Isabela. That desert-like landscape showed the water level shockingly below where it should be, exposing the reservoir's mud-lined bottom. I pointed out then that the dry mud on the lake bed cracked into tile-like patterns which, from a distance, played havoc with my digital camera's sensor. This week's postcard was taken standing on that lake bed. Yup, we were awed as well. Fine earth cracks when it's too dry, that's all there is to it. 

But wait, there's more. Unlike a desert, people live along the Magat dam and river.  They rely on a network of river-taxis to ferry them from shore to shore. When the water level is this low, it simply means they'll have to walk part of the way... to market or to work... wherever people living along a river needs to go. We city folks worry about our faucets running dry, but those who must contend with the river's moods know life goes on, whatever it takes. (I wanted to get this postcard out while the intense summer heat is still beating down our backs. Sweat while you Enjoy!)

Pixel-peepers: desaturated in CS4, curves adjustment to raise contrast.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

#67 Fire at Dawn

Every so often, you get lucky. 

We were on Badian Island in southern Cebu, a secluded little place about 2.5 hours by car from the Mactan airport. The place looked promising: a sprawling wilderness by the sea with few of the usual fixtures of progress. As night fell, I looked out beyond a row of mountains to the east and began to prepare my mind for dawn.

It's mostly about the composition. What elements are there to work with? What foreground objects can I use? Tree branches are good because they silhouette well; thick bushes usually aren't because they become a dark solid mass. Is there a body of water nearby? Yes there is. Reflections are good because they can multiply the faint colors of a dawn sky. There is a mountain range on the eastern horizon... this will delay sunrise a bit. If low flying clouds happen to pass above those mountains at dawn, the sun will light them up from below. It will be spectacular...

But the sky was gray and gloomy the afternoon before.  And although I have a composition in my head, I retired without hoping for much. The eastern horizon could be cloudy. But I set my alarm clock anyway because you never know for sure.

Well, you never do. I woke up to see this reddish light streaming into my bedroom, beckoning me to the window. I peered out to see one of the most awesome dawns unfolding across the still dim sky: an explosion of orange and crimson multiplied many fold by the sea below, in a manner beyond what I had imagined the night before. Peak light had come earlier than expected this morning. There was no time to read the exposure the usual way. I guessed the settings for my first few shots and experience eventually took over.  Five years chasing dawns and the process is like clockwork.  A fisherman and his boat zips into my frame, ok got that too. Sure, luck favors the prepared mind but I still think I just got lucky today. After all, it could have rained. Enjoy.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

#66 Painted Skies

What's more beautiful than a strip of white sand surrounded by an emerald sea? One that's under a painted blue sky, of course! 

Nine years ago, while hunting for a deserted island off the coast of Cebu, we came across paradise about halfway between Cebu and Bohol. There, in the middle of nowhere, we found a long sandbar jutting out from the sea.  On one end is a small town and on the other is a pristine sand beach. We had found Pandanon Island. Its relative isolation is probably the reason why the island hasn't been overrun by tourists and resorts yet. Oops.  

Two weeks ago, we returned to Pandanon Island in Bohol and found it pretty much the way we remembered. The sand is still soft and powdery. The water around it is still a brilliant emerald green. The weather-worned grass huts are still standing. But as if to welcome us back, white wispy clouds had been brush-stroked across the clear blue sky. It was a homecoming of sorts, to one of the best islands among the 7,107. Enjoy.

(Pixel-peepers: Taken near noon helped turn the shallows an emerald green. My polarizer was set to remove the maximum amount of reflections off the water. While that saturated the greens, the downside of over-polarization is a sky that is a shade or two bluer than I recall. Compromises. That's life. Shot handheld at f/5.6, 2.8/28mm.)

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Monday, May 3, 2010

#65 Dusk over Misibis

Patience is a virtue. Believe it.

We waited to shoot the sunset along Misibis Bay on Cagraray Island in Albay but clouds have a way of showing up at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Thank God for the colors of dusk. You see, sunset is often not the main event for twilight photographers. It's when the sun drops below the horizon, that's when the colors of the sky can really go berserk, as it did today. You just need to be patient, patient enough to hang around and keep shooting.

But who has the time?  Well I do, and so do you. Huh?

You see, most people think they don't have time to do that one thing they've dreamt of for years, yet they fill their days with something they will nary remember in a week. Why not sneak away to live that dream, even just this one time, and cherish it for the rest of your life? If there's a will, there's got to be a way. And if that dream includes seeing dusk with your very own eyes, find yourself some place exciting tomorrow morning. Patience is a virtue. Big reward awaits those who wait. Believe it. Enjoy.

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