Picture Perfect Pick

  • Fishes of Siquijor
    Fishes of Siquijor
  • Fishes of Siquijor
    Fishes of Siquijor
  • Fishes of Siquijor
    Fishes of Siquijor
  • Fishes of Siquijor
    Fishes of Siquijor
  • Fishes of Siquijor
    Fishes of Siquijor

Fishes of Siquijor

The original plan is to snorkel in Tubod Marine Sanctuary near the popular Coco Grove Beach Resort. However the waves are as high and as powerful as the waves for intermediate surfing due to habagat or the southwest monsoon winds. So from San Juan, we went to the next town of Siquijor where the waves are relatively pacific. And there is the Caticugan Marine Sanctuary waiting for us. The calmness and clarity of the water while the starfishes scattered welcoming us add excitement.

We enjoyed the activity greeting protected creatures of Caticugan. We saw colorful and camera-loving fishes, sophisticated corals and even sea snakes (or are they just eels). Just look at those creatures in these funny comic strips. We didn’t notice that we actually took a long time in those Siquijor waters. But we had to catch the only fast craft ride back to Dumaguete in the sea port few minutes away from the sanctuary. So we left the sanctuary but with high hopes. Caticugan Marine Sanctuary is just a preview of the marine biodiversity of the island. We would see more if we scuba dive next.

Wide Wednesday: National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine

Wide Wednesday: National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine

Taipei, Taiwan – The National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is dedicated to the revolutionary heroes of the Republic of China who engaged and died in different expedition, and civil wars, and crises in Taiwan. Besides its architecture reminiscent of Forbidden City in Beijing, crowd of tourists flocks to the shrine because of its hourly ceremony for […]

True Tuesday: Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain

True Tuesday: Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain

When I came to Seoul, South Korea, I made sure that Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain be crossed from my must-visit and must-photographed list. It would be challenging to capture its colors and beauty at night. But at the same time it would be a reward for all the walks that happened within the day.

Banpo-Jamsu Bridge is a two-decker bridge that connects Seocho and Yongsan districts. Also known as the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, it is the world’s longest bridge fountain. The water is released from more than 300 nozzles and is pumped directly from the Han River river itself and continuously recycled. Meanwhile, there are more than 200 lights that illuminate the water projectiles and are synchronized with music.

The fountain show starts every hour starting 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on weekdays, and every 30 minutes from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM on weekends.

You can also see the N Seoul Tower from afar.

How To Get There
Take the train and alight from Dongjak Station along the Seoul Subway Line 4, Exit 1 or 2. Follow the Dongjak Bridge and it will take you to Han River. Walk along the Olympic Park as you reach the Banpo Bridge.

How Did I Get There
I took the subway and alighted from Banpo Station because it’s Banpo! Unfortunately, I got lost in a village with no exit near the Han River so I wasn’t able to see the light and sound show on that night. Even though I missed the last show, I was able to start a conversation with four International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) students who are having a picnic in the park grounds. Two of them are from Taiwan, one is from Bhutan and the other is from Malaysia. It began with a question on the schedule of the Banpo Bridge fountain show, climaxed when they shared their true Korean fried chicken and ended up as we’re running to and catching the last train. We were like classmates of the same year. Because of my Facebook security settings and my iPhone was already drained, they were not able to add or even to look my account up. It would be exciting to see them in Taiwan, after 6 months, in my birthday. Yes, I already booked that flight that early.

My second attempt was successful the next day even I came all the way from Everland. And it was sweeter because I was able to catch two shows that night. There were several photographers and spectators who bring their bikes and friends waiting for the light and sound show. On that night, only one side was pumping waters of Han River. I stayed longer and planned to catch the last train again. Because it was my last night in Seoul. Because separation anxiety.

Memory Monday: White Beach of Boracay Island

Memory Monday: White Beach of Boracay Island

Mondays won’t be a struggle if you’re waking up to enjoy the sea, the sand and the sun. Standing from the top of the Willy’s Rock in Boracay Island station 1, this is only a glimpse of the 4-km White Beach of the island. The tide was low and was leaving a wide and lovable natural white beach. This was taken Monday after Ati-atihan Festival in Kalibo last January. One of the good times in the year to savor a clearer Boracay waters.

How To Get There
You can reach Boracay Island from two nearest airports in Caticlan and in Kalibo. From Kalibo Airport, you have to take a 1.5 to 2 hours trip in a passenger van to get to Caticlan jetty port. It will only be a 15 minute ride from Caticlan airport to its jetty port.

Station 1 is located at the farther north of the White Beach and relatively the most quiet among the three stations. You may take a tricycle from the main road in the island for ten pesos but why would you miss your chance to step on a world-known fine white sand of Boracay?

How Did I Get There
This is a side trip after the Ati-atihan Festival which is the 54th weekend project.

Aliwan Fiesta

Aliwan Fiesta

Like flowers planted in the middle of the asphalt road, this contingent from Zamboanga showcased their own Hermosa festival through streetdancing in Aliwan Fiesta in 2013. Dubbed as the Festival of all Philippine Festivals, this vibrant event is where the best provinces in the Philippines vie for prestige in three competition categories, the cultural street dance, the float parade, and a beauty contest named as Reyna ng Aliwan. Participants parade their respective prides in the long stretch of Roxas Boulevard starting from Quirino Grandstand and culminating at Aliw Theater, owned by the main organizer Manila Broadcasting Company. For years, the Philippines Grandest Fiesta gives the grand winner in streetdancing PhP 1 Million.

How To Get There

As early as mid-noon, more than a dozen of contingents are already preparing for the competition at the grounds of Quirino Grandstand. You can already feel the vibe as you walk from the U.N. Avenue LRT-1 Station to Rizal Park until you reach the first venue of the program. Since it is also a parade more than a competition, you can witness the shortened street dance performance, the competing floats and the contestants of the beauty contest along the Roxas Blvd in the comfort of your personal space. You can also check in Aliw Theater grounds. However, the first group to perform will only arrive hours after they performed from Quirino Grandstand. The improvised bleachers aren’t enough for a large group of spectators. Also, the grounds in Aliw Theater are not covered compared to the former.

How Did I Get There

It’s a choice between getting a good seat in front of the performance stage of the competing provinces or taking a good photographs of the participants in full costume. Even I wasn’t able to catch a full performance of a group in Quirino Grandstand or outside Aliw Theater, triggering shutter buttons for and with the kids and the students is more enjoyable. Seemingly exhausted, they still have the unbelievable drive to continue and to win the competition. I just wish these kids, who had flewn all the way from Visayas and Mindanao, would still have their time for fun (maybe a visit in Star City nearby) after the competition.

Valugan Boulder Beach

Valugan Boulder Beach

While there is no fine white sand in this beach, Valugan Boulder Beach offers a unique stretch of boulders and smaller roundish stones which possibly came from the nearest volcano, Mt. Iraya. Valugan means “east” in the native language, Ivatan, of Batanes. Valugan Boulder Beach is facing the humbling Pacific Ocean. The long stretch of Valugan Boulder Beach can also be appreciated and be seen below from the top of Rolling Hills.

In the foreground of the photo is an output of a rock balancing done by visitors and locals in the beach. You can see in the background one of the many cliffs and green landscapes of North Batan.

How To Get There:

PAL Express, formerly Air Philippines, and SkyJet are the two airlines servicing to Basco, Batanes. Within the compound of the Basco Airport, you can inquire to one of the travel agencies to tour you in North Batan.

How Did I Get There:

I joined a North Batan tour organized by Ate Remy, +63 928 239 7629, who is also one of the caretakers managing Novita House in Basco town proper. It is one of the cheaper alternative yet worth the money accommodation. We headed to Valugan Boulder Beach after a short visit to a Japanese tunnel.

Ambangeg Trail of Mt. Pulag

Ambangeg Trail of Mt. Pulag

There are several mountain trails at Mt. Pulag you can follow depending on your starting point and your hiking experience. Ambangeg Trail is the executive trail meant for beginners.

Mt. Pulag is the highest peak in the Luzon island. On whether Mt. Pulag is the second highest in the Philippines or third, there’s still a deliberation since Mt. Dulang-Dulang in Mindanao also stands tall next to Mt. Apo. You will overhear a lot of encounters by mountaineers that they experience temperature near zero degree Celsius. But what attracts a lot of peak climbers most is its famous sea of clouds phenomenon. And not all hikers will see the phenomenon on their first hike or even on their fifth try.

This particular shot is taken while descending from the summit. And yes, there are a queue of mountain climbers. It’s like exodus.

How To Get There:
Here’s a do-it-yourself guide by Pinoy Mountaineer. Take a bus from Manila to Baguio. Head to the bus terminal at Old Slaughterhouse and take A-Liner bus bound for Kabayan. Attend the orientation at the Visitor’s Center. Take a habal-habal to the Ranger Station. Start trekking to Camp 2. Trek early morning to the summit for sunrise.

How Did I Get There:
I joined Travel Factor‘s open trip to the executive trail of Mt. Pulag. I paid for the convenience instead of worrying too many details when doing it by myself. It was my first (and major) climb ever. The story of my first climb will be up soon.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

It was only during days before the trip to Sagada that I learned Cordillera has a number of rice terraces. This particular spot in Banaue Rice Terraces is the most popular one for two reasons. This is where the old one-thousand Philippine peso bill derives its sketch. This is also the exact location of the controversial wakeskating video beautifully shot on top of one of the rice terraces in Banaue. That particular video was released (or at least became viral) three days before our intended sidetrip.

How To Get There:
You can take the Ohayami Transit bus that goes to Banaue from its terminal in Sampaloc, Manila. The bus leaves around 10pm and you will spend at least 9 hours in the bus. So prepare your sleeping stuff with you.

How Did I Get There:
It was a sidetrip during the Sagada weekend trip organized by Travel Factor to catch the Panag-apoy Festival. We visited the Banaue Rice Terraces twice, before and after Sagada, and in two different overlooking spots. The last visit is the most exciting because we trekked the pathways of the terraces to shot better photographs and selfies. It is one of the bravest decisions that I made in my life. It is terrifying to follow the narrow and slippery path of mud. One stupid slip and you fall in a terrace 10 to 12 feet below.

Fihalhohi Island Resort

Fihalhohi Island Resort

The heron is one of the species roaming freely around the beaches of Fihalhohi Island Resort. These birds were part of the welcoming committee of the island resort while we’re docking at the entrance. I knew upon seeing them that Fihalhohi Island promises more – a diverse marine life below sea level.

This snapshot was taken while I was beach bumming in the island one more round for the last time.

How to Get There:
You can arrange your visit to Fihalhohi Island Resort (i.e. transfers to and from Male International Airport) when you book from their site or after the confirmation has been sent by Agoda or Booking.com. Male and Fihalhohi are separated by an hour of speedboat trip. Interesting to note that Fihalhohi is using a different time zone, an hour ahead of Male.

How Did I Get There:
Joining a group of 12 delegates from the Philippines (and Australia), LOL, who got lucky to score “free” tickets to Maldives, we arranged a speedboat ride from Maafushi Island to the Fihalhohi Island Resort. We need at least to experience the luxurious side of Maldives before we get back to Male. While it seems I enjoyed bird and fish watching in the resort, seeing couples in their honeymoon or in their retirement gave a different feeling. I wished that you were there too.

Tandem Paragliding in Carmona

Tandem Paragliding in Carmona

Have you ever wondered the feeling of defying the gravity while gliding in the air through the help of the power of the wind? Go to Carmona, Cavite and try paragliding. Cavite is aiming to be the sports capital of the Philippines. While the province is also offering sport activities through Nuvali, paragliding is one of the, if not the most extreme sports you’ll have in Cavite.

How To Get There:
The paragliding take off site is at the Carmona Ridge. It is better to communicate and to arrange the tandem paragliding session directly with Sir Buko Raymundo, an airsport specialist (highest ranked Filipino in the Paragliding Accuracy) and president of Philippine Paragliding and Hang Gliding Association through his number +63917 8167820. Since the sport is relying on winds, Carmona, Cavite offers paragliding from February to April only.

How Did I Get There:
I previously contacted Sir Buko for our session but I wasn’t able to go to Carmona Ridge via public transportation. That’s why, when PH First offered their first paragliding trip, I grabbed the second chance. The published rate of PPHGA is PhP 3,500. PHFirst offers a transportation inclusive tour package for PhP 3,600. Well, it’s like I just paid extra for a taxi from Metro Manila to Cavite roundtrip. Plus, the owners of the agency are also cool.

The experience is so much fun and fulfilling. (Video upload is up next.) The glide is pure luck because the wind controls the fun of the tandem. I am fortunate enough to stay in the air for at least seven minutes. Some participants would go higher and stay longer than that. But there are also cases, that the tandem won’t get as high as the first jump and end up taking an emergency landing in less than a minute or two.