Known for its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters, Boracay island is considered one of the best beaches in the world. But today, due to environmental issues, this paradise is on the verge of being banned for tourism. This is the problem when we promote too much tourism but failed to take good care of our environment. I hope this calls for awareness to everyone to do our part in preserving the beautiful places in our country.
If you will ask most of the backpackers and photographers here in the Philippines what is on top of their list of travel destination, for sure most will answer, Batanes! As seasoned traveler and photography enthusiast, Batanes is on top of my bucket list among the places I want to see in the Philippines. It’s a dream destination ever since I met a good friend of mine who’s family is from Batanes. I remember us talking a while back, he described the place like you are not in the Philippines but rather in Scotland. He also mentioned that when you’re there, It feels like the time stops and you will realize how majestic and breathtaking Batanes is. Eversince that conversation, I was intrigued and I knew that I have to see the place to experience it myself.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to see Batanes for the first time with bunch of friends and loved ones. It was a long time planning since going to Batanes is not easy because the weather is unpredictable. So booking the flight during summer is the best time to avoid the hassle of getting your flight cancelled.
Batanes is a province located in the northernmost part of the Philippines, composed of three main islands- Batan, Sabtang & Itbayat. On our first day, we headed to Batanes mainland which is Batan. This is where most accommodations, businesses, and restaurants are. We toured South Batan island the entire day. Some of the famous spots you’ll see are Racuh A Payaman a.k.a Marlboro Country, House of Dakay(Oldest Ivatan stone house), Honesty Coffee Shop, Port Of Ivana, Alapad Hill & Rock Formations, Chaw View Deck, Mahatao Boat Shelter and the two Lighthouse from Basco and Mahatao. My favorite among those spots was the Marlboro Country. Walking in the vast greenery landscapes while the strong wind blowing felt like you’re on top of the world! Cows were everywhere, the panoramic view of the sea with Mt. Iraya in the background made it so spectacular!
The following day, we went to Sabtang island. Going there, you have to ride a faluwa(traditional Ivatan boat without beam support designed to withstand big, strong waves). The faluwa ride was unforgettable! It wasn’t the typical boat ride you usually experience when you do island tours. The boat trip from Batan to Sabtang lasted for about 2hrs because of the huge waves. One will think and question why go through the hassle just to go to Sabtang?
Well, After spending two days in Sabtang Island, I have to say it has its own unique charm compared to Batan. The experience in this quiet and unspoiled island will make you appreciate nature and simple living. It is where you will see better Ivatan heritage because of the stone houses and traditional villages.
Ivatans are known to be friendly, hospitable and honest. No wonder Batanes have 0% crime rate. It was in Sabtang where I was able to eat interesting local food such as uvud, dibang or flying fish,lun-yis (Ivatan adobo), tamiduk(pako), turmeric rice and coconut crab.
Some of the spots you’ll see there are the Sabtang Lighthouse, Savidug and Chavayan Village where most stone houses are, Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint, Nakabuang Arc Rock formation in Morong beach, and fishing village in Sumnanga.
Part of our travel in Batanes was to provide school supplies and bags to Ivatan kids. It was simple gesture that made out trip even more meaningful in the beautiful Batanes.
I love outdoor adventures! In August 2009, I first experienced hiking, trekking and spelunking during a five-day backpacking trip to Mountain Province of Philippines. The plan was to go to Batad and Sagada! But this post is about Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
My friends and I left Manila 10 in the evening and arrived in Banaue around 7 in the morning just in time for breakfast. Then we headed to the view deck to see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. It was a surreal experience to see the rice terraces because I remember seeing them only on the books during grade school. The nine hours bus ride from Manila was worth it just to see one of the 8th Wonders of the World! We only spent a few hours in Banaue and then left for Batad.
Batad is a small village in Ifugao. From Banaue, we rented a jeepney to Batad saddle. Since there were no roads and vehicles going to Batad, we hiked for about 1.5hrs to the area where the few guest houses were located. Despite the challenge trekking in the small, stiff and muddy road to Batad, upon reaching the viewpoint, the spectacular view of the rice terraces was so breathtaking!
Exploring Batad, I was surprised to find out that these terraces are about 10 feet tall! We were so careful and brought long stick for support and balance during our trekking on the narrow terraces.
The weather in Batad was unpredictable and can change drastically. We were on our way to Tappiya Falls when rain started to pour. We found a small shelter and waited for the rain to stop. However, we decided not to push through anymore coz there was still lightning and thunderstorm even after the rain. We went to the small village in Batad but wasn’t able to meet the locals because of the bad weather. Nevertheless, it was a great experience to be near these 2,000 year old terraces.
We stayed at Rita’s Inn for the night. It was a small house with decent rooms and shared bathroom. I remember waking up with the window open seeing the dawn by the mountains. We were also surprised to be served with pizza during breakfast! We had a nice breakfast with a view of rice terraces in front of us like it’s a staircase to heaven! Staying overnight at a lodging house with no internet and phone signal, it was really the best way to disconnect from modern world and appreciate nature at its best!
Seeing Banaue rice terraces alone was amazing! But the journey to the rice terraces of Batad will make your experience more memorable. Batad amphitheater like rice terraces was one of the best sights I ever seen! Something I am proud of that this is in the Philippines!
Lately, I have been contemplating with my life. Trying to recall how my 2016 went and what 2017 has in store for me.
Last year was a roller coaster ride for me in terms of life in general and my photography but thought I should focus on photography since this post is about my photographic journey. There was a time last year when I almost gave up on my love for photography. Since having a family two years ago, I seldom travel and use my dslr camera. The thought of giving up my camera and focus on what matters most in life came to my mind after not having been able to produce worthy images I can share with. But I realized it was not only through travels and using dslr should my photography will depend on.
“The best camera is the one that’s with you.” – Chase Jarvis
For the past 2 yrs, I’ve been shooting mostly using iPhone. At first, I thought I can never make images using mobile camera but since it’s the one I always have and carry, I eventually learned how to maximize its camera and focus on composition and the story in my images. The camera then became just secondary or a tool. Using my iPhone to capture images of my daily life and travels, it made me appreciate the importance of always having a camera that is portable yet decent enough to capture precious moments. They may just be a simple snaps, what matters is the photo you make have personal resonance.
I did have a few travel last year and from time to time, I tried to find and capture beauty in the mundane. I have learned to be creative despite the limitations of the iPhone camera, used natural light when shooting, and understood the importance of subject in photograph. So the notion of giving up on photography really didn’t happen. I guess the quote “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” is true.
But really my realization was that Photography is a way of life. You photograph base on how you feel and the way you see things.
Just Do It! My favorite motto of the famous brand, Nike.
I’ve been wanting to put up my own photography blog but had trouble because of the things I consider (questions like what is the purpose? and for whom?). I am into photography. I started this hobby back in 2008 during a surfing trip in San Juan, La Union. Back then, I have no idea about photography. All I knew was that I wanted to capture beautiful sceneries, the surfing locals, and the amazing sunset in Urbiztondo beach. That time I was using a Sony digital camera yet already amazed with the pictures I took.
The hobby continue when me my friends went for a road trip to Bicol. We first went to Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte. We left the car in Vinzons and rented a boat to Mahabang buhangin(Long Sand) beach. I remember how excited I was seeing the beach from afar. You can see the entire stretch of the beach with white sand just like Boracay. At that time, Calaguas beach was not yet known. We were lucky to have the beach by ourselves when we went there for an overnight stay. It was amazing experienced to camp by the shore and just have a great time with what the beach/nature had to offer.
Looking back, aside from my love for nature and water sports, I believe that’s where my passion for photography started. I want to be able to capture memories and share them with friends and family. I know I have just been shooting for only 8yrs, but this blog is about my journey of my passion for photography through travels and daily life.
This is my first blog post and I realized that the idea of putting up a photography blog will not happen unless I will really do it. So here it is! The website is work in progress so bear with me.. Thanks for reading!
While waiting for the luggages at the arrival in Basco airport, I noticed these colorful yet broken chairs. No one bothered to sit on them despite our bags wouldn’t arrive anytime soon because of the rain. As an observer, I find these chairs interesting that I had to capture to remind myself that there is beauty in imperfection.
Riding a faluwa boat going Sabtang is something to experience when traveling to Batanes. Our group woke up before sunrise to avoid the big waves going to the island. But before going to Sabtang, we decided to check first this small inhabited island called Ivuhus. The 1.5hrs boat ride made me nauseous. I decided to stand and get some air. I saw this two boat men on top of faluwa trying to navigate the boat because it was too heavy to get to the shore due to low tide. Our boatmen couldn’t really explain why the island was inhabited and they warned us not to go beyond the shore! Creepy as it looks, the island will always remain a mystery.
I was walking on the way home on a late afternoon and noticed the tree with sunset hue of clouds in the background. On my previous post, Burnt Tree, I wrote about how this leafless tree looked burnt. I often pass by this tree and always think of creative ways to shoot it. This image below is the visual representation how I always envision this tree…burning!
I always pass this street and I have been wanting to shoot this tree that seemed burnt but has an interesting shape. One morning on the way to work, it was traffic and happened to be stuck near this tree. I thought I should take the chance to capture it. I waited few seconds before I took this shot because of the guy riding a bike. Having human element on street shot like this add a bit of story to the image.