“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
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10 June 2015

Jalan Malioboro: Day and night

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Malioboro | Day and Night

If there is any first place you should visit in Yogyakarta, it has to be Jalan Malioboro. It is the Yogyakarta's largest tourist district surrounded with hotels, restaurants, and various shops selling batik and souvenir items like shirts, keychains, refrigerator magnets and many other bric-a-bracs.

At night, open-air streetside restaurants, called lesehan, operate along the street. It is also a place where local artists converge showing off their talents in music, performance arts, and visual arts.

Malioboro | Day and Night

The popular landmarks in this street are Beringharjo market in the south and the largest, oldest Dutch era hotel, Hotel Garuda located on the street's northern end. If you are fond of walking, you can start from South to North, but once you get tired, you can actually enjoy riding the pedaled becac or the horse-drawn carriage called andong.

On two occasions, both day and night, I was able to visit Malioboro to dine, buy some souvenir items, and of course, my main purpose--photography. I am just glad sharing some of these photos through this short post and through the Flickr slideshow below.

Malioboro| Day and Night

Malioboro | Day and Night

Malioboro | Day and Night

Malioboro| Day and Night

More photos in MALIOBORO|NIGHT AND DAY FLICKR ALBUM or the slideshow below.




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09 June 2015

Jaro, Iloilo's National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles

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Jaro Cathedral

Recently, "Jaro Cathedral," rose to the limelight in the traditional and social media. The upcoming Philippine presidential elections in May 2016 is also hot news item. This is because of the fact that the rumored contender for presidency, Senator Grace Poe, has very strong ties with Jaro, Iloilo and most especially this church.

Jaro Cathedral

Formally known as Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral or the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles, it is the the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro. It is already a fact that Senator Poe was found in this church that led to some politicians questioning her nationality. More than the politicking, however, the senator is also in a quandary about her real lineage.

Jaro Cathedral

Be that as it may, Jaro Cathedral is not an ordinary church. From what I gathered from various internet articles, here are some facts about the church:

  • It is a national shrine and the National Historical Institute of the Philippines declared the Jaro Cathedral a historical landmark in 1976.
  • It possesses a reliquary of Saint Josemaria Escriva, Founder of the Opus Dei. 
  • The image of Our Lady of the Candles was also crowned by the late Pope John Paul II during his visit to Iloilo City on February 21, 1981. 
  • Philippine hero Graciano L√≥pez-Jaena was baptized in the Cathedral on December 20, 1856.
  • In this cathedral, Senator Grace Poe was found by the Militar family and baptized by a famous religious and historical personality in the name of Jaime Cardinal Sin (then Archbishop of Jaro).
With the issues confronting Senator Grace Poe and the country as a whole, it is my fervent prayer that the Our Lady of Candles may light up and show us the way, and that there may be solutions to all these problems. 

Jaro Cathedral




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06 June 2015

Witnessing a stress-free sunrise at Candi Borobudur

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sunrise at borobudur

Waking up at 4:00 AM to catch the call time at 4:30 was not easy. Feeling so tired after 10 days of lectures and study tour had taken its toll. I should have been staying in Yogyakarta the whole day and just enjoy the comforts of my hotel room and call it rest day but Indonesia's UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Candi Borobudur was beckoning. [Candi is a Javanese term for "temple' and is pronounced at "Chandi"].

Wherever and whatever I read about Borobudur Temple, everything points to sunrise as the best experience one should not miss. So weeks before my travel, I made sure I would have this experience. To get the advantage of experiencing sunrise in Borobudur, without having to wake up too early and travel from Yogyakarta, I booked at Manohara Hotel that stands right in the compound where Borobudur temple is located.

Borobudur Sunrise

On a chilly morning I found myself walking alone the dimly lit path amidst old trees dotting the way to the East gate of the temple. Upon reaching the plateau where the temple stands, I was again in awe. The stars that dotted the sky of the beautiful dawn, the bright moon and the floodlights that made the temple shine in the dark added to the drama that unfolded before my eyes, making this experience more sublime than I have ever imagined. Perhaps, it was the novelty of it all, and the fact that I am stepping on a famous heritage site, this sight was totally spellbinding.

The sun was yet to be seen rising from the East so I lingered a bit on the grounds to photograph the facade of the temple then I decided to climb up the steps leading to the top. Upon reaching the highest level, I realized there were already a lot of people, mostly Europeans, who had chosen their most comfortable and best spot.

Borobudur Sunrise

I found it hard to position myself to get the best view--trying not to obstruct people at my back. Between staying in one position to wait for the sunrise and moving about to get the best view from different angles and perspectives was a decision I had to make. Thanks to a rude tourist who told me while I was positioning my tripod on his left side that it was "his shot." Somewhat irked by his rudeness, I decided to move on and around until I stationed beside a lady who happens to be a professional photographer who would give way whenever I aim my camera.

Borobudur Sunrise

This encounter left me some lessons to live by:
  1. If you want YOUR shot, do not stick to one place. Move around and find out what other perspectives and points of view can give you. Because of that I was able to discover more interesting subjects on the other sides of the temple. I was not confined to the cliche, I must say.
  2. If you are a real photographer, respect and give way to others who want to have a shot at the scene [life]. You do not own the beautiful scene. You are merely a spectator. As my friend, Cecile of SnapHappy Foodie puts it: "Sometimes we need other people to push us towards better directions, though not necessarily in a way as rude as that guy."
Applying it to daily life, I think we can be better persons.

Borobudur Sunrise

Borobudur Sunrise

Borobudur Sunrise

Photography aside, seeing the run rise behind Mt. Merapi and the plains of Magelang brought with it not only a sense of wonder but also peace that comes from within my being. The mist rising from the plains was awe-inspiring and can easily cast a magic spell, while the warmth of the rising sun on your face was just assuring. One can only hear the stillness of the dawn and the murmurs from the tourists who were there to witness it as well. Glad that the people chose to be just silent spectators of the glorious rising of the sun. With this, all my stresses from the past weeks seem to have gone into oblivion. Sunrise has its own magical spell that revives your trodden spirit and awakens your senses. If I had another day to spend in Borobudur, I would just sit there and do nothing but wait for the sun rise unfold before my eyes.

Be that as it may, I wish to come and visit Borobudur again.

Borobudur Sunrise

Borobudur Sunrise

More photos at BOROBUDUR SUNRISE IN Flickr or the slideshow below.





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26 April 2015

Travel Digest: Watch the newly renovated Bancasi/Butuan City Airport

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Butuan Airport

It has been more or less two years since I have flown to Butuan City. Coming from Cebu I was surprised to see a lit up runway and airport terminal. The arrival area is more spacious now, and well-lighted. As you go outside the arrival area, you will be surprised that the restaurants on the right have been demolished and were relocated at the right (area facing the terminal building). The former location of restaurants have been transformed into a spacious carpark.

It is very rare that I feature an airport, but I was just impressed with the changes in Butuan Airport. The rest of the new features of the newly renovated Bancasi Airport is shown in this video.



Kudos to the new airport manager! 
Kudos to CAAp for making traveling a little better!

Also watch: FIELD WORK: Sunset in Tagbilaran


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24 April 2015

PALAWAN | Rediscover Sabang beach

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Discover Sabang Beach

Having been disappointed for not being able to swim in Marofinas because of the call of duty, add to it the tired and aching muscles, I thought that at 5PM I deserved a break, so I finally gave in--to Sabang. The beach was not as spectacular compared to Marofinas. However, the lure of the sea was calling me.

In no time, I plunged, and spent some time riding with the warm waves that was just right to ease my muscle pain.

Then sunset came. It was not a raree-show as well because of what was a looming rain that never happened. Great spectacle or not, I am grateful of what nature had to offer, and just make do with the pale hues the sunset could give.

Discover Sabang beach

Actually, I did not easily give in whether to photograph or just swim the sunset away. Later, just like in the many travels I have made, I did not know if I would come back to this place again soon. The next thing that happened was I found myself dashing to my rented hut for the night to get my camera, and began taking images of the sea, clouds and the setting sun soon after. I had some frames to my delight before the battery went kaput. I wanted to get the other camera but I thought I had to reserve it the next day.

Discover Sabang beach

Discover Sabang beach

It was a restful night, then morning came. The relaxing sound of the waves crashing on the shore was a new stimulus to senses that made me think I was on a holiday, but not. I had to get up and find out what the sunrise in Sabang had in store for me.

Mornings at any beach never fails to give me a different high. I had inexplicable thoughts and feelings that day. Perhaps it was a short break I needed for the longest time. Just a few days before this trip, I spent some 10 days in India, for yet another kind of work.

Discover Sabang beach

Discover Sabang beach

Discover Sabang beach

The tides rhythmically joined my heart's beating making me become one with nature. The salty morning air enveloped my whole being. The best part of it all was the mist rising from the sea and the mountains beyond. It was simply one spectacular morning taking me into a dreamworld. I wasted no time in capturing the images as they unfold before in my lenses.

I am blessed to have a work that takes me to places--both familiar and roads less traveled. This trip was special because I got to do what I wanted to do--accomplish work and the teeny-weeny pleasure that come with it.

No matter how pale the sunset was, how imperfect the beach was, how modest my room for the night was, and how little borrowed time I had, but this day was just awesome to not discover what makes you happy--it was the experience of drawing peace within that mattered after all.

Browse more images of Sabang in Flickr!



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20 April 2015

PALAWAN | Photogenic Marofinas Bay

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Marofinas Bay

Around 30-minute boat ride from Sabang, Puerto Princesa we headed to Marofinas for documenting the the harvesting of wild honey. From afar I could see the wide caramel-colored beach. Needless to say, I was easily captivated.

The beach was unpretentious with its emerald water and fine sand. Its rustic beauty beckons and never fails to awakens the senses that makes one want to hanker for forever.

However, there is one thing that makes this physical beauty more pleasing to the eyes--the Tagbanua people that reside in this modest barangay [village]. The Tagbanua live a very simple life. They may be living trying to make both ends meet but they always welcome visitors with open arms. Their incomparable hospitality makes it easy for us blend and accomplish our work.

Marofinas Bay

Marofinas Bay

It is regrettable though that no matter how I wanted to take a dip in the sea, I was not on a holiday. I came here for WORK. I had my time, too when we were done documenting the honey gathering. In fact I had my board shorts under my hiking pants. However, I was told there is a strong undertow. The sea is deep and has a drop not too far from the beach that also explains the strong current.

Be that as it may, I made myself contented with photographing the beautiful landscape, the people, and everything beautiful around it.

Not all Filipinos are blessed with bountiful and beautiful nature as this bay. We say the Tagbanuas are lucky to have this right in their backyard, but to them it seems ordinary. Indeed, one's notion of riches or poverty is always relative.

Marofinas Bay

Marofinas Bay

Marofinas Bay

Marofinas Bay

From the grapevine: Locals say there used to be a beach resort here but the couple who own this have already separated and their property is now for sale. They also told me that some Tagbanua families used to own a big parcel of the resort, but they sold it to the couple. The Tagbanuas now regret their past deed. The property is now worth much more than how much they have sold it for.

More photos in Marofinas Bay!





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18 April 2015

PALAWAN | Harvesting wild honey


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Palawan Wild Honey

Midway into the a dense growth of tall grass and shrubbery amidst towering trees we followed an unclear trail. But I trusted the two Tagbanua men who led the way. They knew exactly where they were going. In between huffing and puffing, I often found myself asking "Are we there yet?" It was seemingly annoying but I was not only the one asking. Loreta, who worked for Nagkakaisang Tribo ng Palawan (NATRIPAL) who also comes from the Tagbanua tribe asked the same question.

Palawan Wild Honey

"Malapit na. [We are near.]" was their usual answer. And we continued hiking uphill for nearly an hour. There was sweat all over. We were pricked and cut by the grass, bushes and thorns along the way. Save for the arm covers, hat and trekking pants, I was spared from more minor cuts and pricks.

Then the leader blurted out, "Nandito na tayo! [We're here!]". But "here" had a different definition after all. From uphill mode, we started descending. It was a bit dangerous because of the protruding sharp branches that fell from the trees. It was also slippery because it rained the day before we went to this place called Marofinas. We took careful steps. We slipped in some parts until finally we reached the marked place where they found the beehives. They had to put their markers to prevent others from collecting the hives. The one who finds the colony has the sole right to it that other members of the tribe must respect. There were two beehives in the area. One on the top of the tree surrounded by thorny rattan vines. One is just behind us, inside a hole in a fallen and rotting tree.

Palawan Wild Honey

Palawan Wild Honey

I was worried of bee stings. I made sure I brought with me antihistamines just in case I get stung. I also made sure I did not wear any fragrance (not even an alcohol) because sweet scent attract bees. Good heavens the species living in both hives were the kind ones.

Like any Tagbanua, the leader uttered some form of  prayer and asking permission from the gods they believe to be lording over and protecting the area. They believe that praying before they gather honey makes the bees kinder. If they come home without any sting, that means the gods and deities gave their blessings and permission to the ones who gather, including us. Included in the prayer is for the gods and deities to help the bees produce more honey.

Palawan Wild Honey

Palawan Wild Honey

It took the man only several minutes to climb and cut the beehive up the tree, and a few minutes on the fallen tree. However, as a sustainable practice, they only cut two-thirds of the hive. This will allow the bees to regenerate their hive and continue thriving in the area. Otherwise, the bees will move to another place.

Honey is abundant during dry season and flowering season. If it always rains, honeybee production is affected. The taste of honey depends on the flower of the trees around their colony.

Palawan Wild Honey

This was my first time to witness honey gathering. Indeed, this was one for the books. I did not regret just passing by the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) and see it disappear right before my very eyes--and proceeding to this place instead. I was just a five-minute boat ride away from the PPUR, but this once in a lifetime experience beckons. I could always go back to Palawan for the PPUR--in my own sweet time and outside work. Communing with the Tagbanuas and witnessing their way of life was far more important.

This thing was work.

More Photos in Flickr Album






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08 April 2015

SNAPSHOT | Strawberry Fields of La Trinidad

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It was a tiring 2 days of mentoring activity with LaTop cooperative right in the middle of the famous strawberry fields of La Trinidad, Benguet. At the end of two days, we were off to Atok for the mentoring of Arabica coffee growers.

Helping farmers help themselves, has a reward, after all--this sunset.

Yes, the there is no such thing as "Baguio Strawberries" as they are grown in la Trinidad and it is more politically correct to call the strawberries you buy from the Baguio market: "La Trinidad Strawberries."

Strawberry Fields, La Trinidad

Strawberry Fields, La Trinidad

More SNAPSHOT STORIES HERE.




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