Sunday, December 20, 2009

UP Diliman: Lantern Parade 2009

Every December, to mark the culmination of the year (and the beginning of the holiday vacation), UP hosts a parade of sorts featuring colorfully lit floats created by various members of the UP community. Some of these floats have lanterns on them, some are the laterns themselves. Then, of course, there're the costumed folks who decorate the streets in all pomp and pageantry. All make for a festive Christmas event.

UP Lantern Parade 2009

I make it a point to attend the parade every year, if only for the fireworks. Now, it will be obvious to those who attended this year that all the pictures here feature only lanterns and floats created by the College of Fine Arts. One, I arrived late and two, they're the only college worth watching. (I kid! Haha.) Enjoy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Siquijor: Lazi Church and Convent

When we were in Siquijor last August, weather was still predictable to some degree. On our second day there, things were just perfect for an inland tour. One of the our stops was the San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent in the town of Lazi.

Lazi Church & Convent

The church and the convent date back to the late 1800's, built after Lazi was made a parish in the name of San Isidro Labrador under the auspices of the Augustinian Recollects. The whole complex had the church on one side of the street, the convent on the other.

I'll stop with the history lesson here. I won't pretend I know more than these things, nor do I have the diligence to do a little bit of research. I just knew that it was a great day to take pictures and that day, these structures were just the perfect subjects anyone could ask for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

UP: Blooms in Diliman & Los Baños

Blooms from the two UP's, Diliman and Los Baños. I haven't had time to write my about travel photos. For the moment, these will do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Siquijor: Salagdoong Beach

While we stayed at the Coco Grove beach resort, we never actually bathed in their beach. I guess we found their pools more inviting. And it really was. We, however, were bent on finding a really good beach in the island. Thus, we asked the resort staff what Siquijor's best beach was. Their automatic response was, naturally, Coco Grove. A little more prodding and you'll get them to say Salagdoong Beach.

Salagdoong Beach

The day before, we asked our trike driver, the same one that took us from the port to the resort, if he could hook us up with land transport for our inland tour. So he did. We didn't use his trike, though. We boarded the back of some sort of a mini-pick-up truck. The ride in and around the island was great. We got to see the real Siquijorenses. The coastal views were amazing, too. Real amazing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Siquijor: Coco Grove

Do not let common belief scare you. While Siquijor is surrounded by stories of mangkukulams and arbolarios, it should not stop you from exploring the island. In fact, it should encourage you to visit it. Folklore as rich and as widely believed says a lot about the place.

Macky the Macaw, Coco Grove, Siquijor

But we did not come to Siquijor for that. I guess we were too scared to go looking for it. Besides, we figured the little island in the southern part of the Visayan archipelago has something more to offer. And it has.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lakbayan Update: Dumaguete-Siquijor

Time for a Lakbayan map update.

My Lakbayan grade is C minus.

Yes, that's right. I just went to small-town-but-with-a-lot-of-personality Dumaguete and the mystical little island of Siquijor. I plan to conquer more Visayan islands in the future. ;)

Photos to come.

(Again, to get your own Lakbayan grade and map, please visit this website, created by one Eugene Villar.)

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Laguna: UP Los Baños

I have been to Los Baños a number of times as a kid. Sadly, we never got past the hot springs. I say it's sad because beyond the pools, the town has so much more to offer. Thanks to a friend, a local there (see? it pays to know the locals), I discovered a weekend getaway just a couple hours drive from Manila.

UP Los Baños

One great place to see in this neck of the woods is the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UP LB) campus. To get here, continue driving the Los Baños highway, past the hot springs, and you'll reach a very busy intersection. Take the right and drive further, until you reach the UP LB gates.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

UP Diliman: Fallen Fire Trees

I went to UP Diliman last Friday to enroll myself as a special student once again. I knew I had to bring my camera with me because I had been wanting to photograph the campus' brilliantly red fire trees. I think it's the closest thing we have to Japan's cherry blossoms.

I found the fire trees, yes. But due to the strong winds during the past couple of days, the blooms of the trees had already fallen to the ground. Still, I clicked away. And here be the results.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cebu: Fort San Pedro

The third destination in what turned out to be our historical tour of Cebu City is Fort San Pedro. The fort is in an area now known as Plaza Independencia, just walking distance from the Basilica de Sto. Niño and Magellan's Cross. Facing the front entrance of the basilica, walk down the street to your left. After about three blocks, you'll find the plaza and the fort's walls.

Fort San Pedro, Cebu

There is an entrace fee of 21 pesos. Well worth it, I think. The place is well-maintained (too maintained, if you ask me). They've developed the interiors into some sort of a park. Good thing the structures are still there. One old-looking building has been turned into a museum. Pity it was closed when we visited.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cebu: the Cross and the Basilica

After visiting Bantayan Island in northern Cebu province, we made sure we also visited some of the more touristy sites of Cebu City proper. Hey, it has to be done. My goal was to find as much old Spanish Cebu as I can get. It is a very historical city this one. In fact, Cebu was for a time the capital of the Spanish colony here. Luckily, it did not disappoint.

Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu

First on our list, is, of course, Magellan's Cross. The first time I saw this landmark was in grade school, in a history textbook. So, walking into the small stone kiosk that houses it was actually the first time I was beholding it. Well, I expected something taller, but hey, it's tall enough.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bantayan: The Spanish-Era Town Plaza

After visiting Kota Park, in Bantayan Island, Cebu, we headed straight to the heartland of this small little island: the town plaza. This town plaza is very much what you'd expect of a Spanish-era town plaza. Around it, you'll find big colonial houses, the market and, of course, the iglesia.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

The iglesia, now called the St. Paul and Peter Parish, was founded by Augustinian priests in 1580. Construction of the actual structure, however, started more than two centuries later in 1839, finished in 1863. It is said to be one of the oldest churches in the country. A magazine show even claimed it to be the oldest in the Visayas.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bantayan: Blooms in May

No words. Just colors. :)

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bantayan: The Historical Kota Park

On our second day in Bantayan Island, Cebu, we arranged for an inland trip. We hired a motorcycle taxi (like a Thai tuk-tuk) for the whole afternoon. There were four of us and we paid 200 pesos each. The taxi picked us up after lunch at a restaurant close to the resort and then, we were off.

Kota Park, Bantayan Island, Cebu

Our first destination was Kota Park, located north of the island in the town of Madridejos, a small fishing village there. Our resort was located south of the island, so it was quite a drive to get there. It was pleasant, though. You will pass by Bantayan Island's rural landscapes, tree-lined roads and the island's commercial center.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bantayan: Brilliant Blue Beach

Bantayan Island is a relatively large island located north of Cebu mainland. It's a good getaway place for Cebu-City dwellers because it's just a four-hour bus and boat ride away from this southern capital. We came here on a really small budget. Thanks in part to Cebu Pacific's 450-peso roundtrip Manila to Cebu fares, we were only set back 5,000 pesos all-in. Good, no?

Bantayan Island, Cebu

While in the island, we stayed at Kota Beach. It is one of the resorts found in the southern part of the island. The beach is pretty decent. Admittedly, it isn't really the best beach I have ever been in. But I am sure that you will still find this beach serving you well on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cebu: From the City to the Island

Before the summer ended (well, it technically already ended), I knew I had one more trip to do. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did not know much about our destination--Bantayan Island in Cebu province. I was not the organizer, too. So me getting there would not be possible without my travel companions.

On the Way to Hagnaya Port, Cebu

We woke up early that Saturday in Cebu City and took a taxi to the North Terminal where we would ride the bus that would take us to Hagnaya Port. Even at 5 in the morning, expect the bus terminal to be bustling with barkers. They will badger you, ask you about your destination, point you--even push you--to their buses. It was wise that we already knew to get on the Ceres bus to get to the port.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Travel Log: Gearing up for Cebu

I haven't posted any pictures for a while. I know. But that's because it has been a while since I went on a "photo assignment" (I shall call them that, yes).

That should change in a couple of days. I am going on a photo assignment to Cebu tomorrow. Our flight arrives around 8 p.m. at Cebu City. We will be spending the night there before we head up north to Bantayan Island, where we will be spending the weekend. After that, on Monday, we head back to Cebu City for some city exploring.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Coron: Sights and Sunsets at Kayangan

One of the last places we visited in Coron, Palawan is Kayangan Lake. Said to be one of the cleanest lakes in the Philippines, Kayangan, as with most lakes in the area, is actually part salt water and part fresh water. The fresh water, we were told, comes from the hills and the tall limestone cliffs that enclose the lakes.

Sights at Kayangan Lake

The lake is on the other side of a steep mountain. So, to get to the actual lake, you had to climb up this mountain. They have built a staircase there, so it's very accessible. The downside is, it's very accessible. This means a whole lot of tourists. I do think, however, that the lake is spacious enough for many people. So the swim there is still very much enjoyable.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coron: Boulders at Banol Beach

On our third day in Coron, Palawan, we visited an amazing white-sand beach. On our way there, I asked our local guide/slash/tour arranger/slash/lunch provider if it was a private beach. He answered yes. Bummer. He then continued that it was owned by indigenous Mangyan tribes. I was relieved.

Banol Beach

We arrived at Banol Beach (that's its name) just in time for lunch. We settled on a hut and had our hearty lunch there. We were lucky we had arrived before a number of other boats and tourists got there. We were able to have the beach to ourselves for at least an hour.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coron: Waddling at CYC Beach

The Coron Youth Club (CYC) beach can be found in a very small islet, still a part of the larger Coron Island. We went here on our second day in Coron. It was our first stop and it did not disappoint.

CYC Beach

As we approached the island, it surprised me that there was this woman already far from the beach, and yet, the water reached only up to her waist. I realized, as we got nearer, that most of the beach is actually under shallow water. Which was amazing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baguio: The Secret Garden

It was only the second time I went to Baguio. The first time I went I was still in high school. Literally, my high school sent me to Baguio to participate in some inter-school event. No, we were not able to explore much that first time. We did explore but as expected, we followed the tourist trail. This time was different. We had a local among us.

One of the places she took us to was the Secret Garden. It's a small garden adjacent to the Bell Amphitheater, just behind the Bell House, in Camp John Hay. Two trails on either side of the house will lead you to the garden. The entrace to the trails are hidden and nondescript enough that on a good day, you'll have the garden all to yourself, like we did.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coron: Lusong and Sangat

We were in Coron, Palawan for four days and three nights. As I mentioned in my previous post, the town has a bay, not a beach. You have to arrange for an island-hopping tour of the whole archipelago to get to these beaches, and to all other snorkel sites, lakes, etc. that Coron island also offers tourists.

Lusong Reef

On our second day, we went to Lusong. There they have a coral garden and a wreck of a WWII Japanese vessel. It's underwater, of course. It was the first time I or any of my travel companions ever saw a shipwreck. It was scary and creepy, yet exciting. Unfortunately, nobody had an underwater camera. So boo to us. I, though, was able to take a photo of the coral garden, from above the water, of course. It still amazes me how crystal clear the waters are there. Amazing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coron: Exploring the Town

Coron is a municipality located in an island north of Palawan. I first heard of it when I was working for (would you believe it) the town's congressman who was based in Manila. I didn't know much about it then. I just knew it was a popular tourist spot, mostly to foreigners, which to me meant big bucks for you to get there. I was wrong.

Coron Church

From the airport at Busuanga, an adjacent municipality, we took a van transfer to get there. It's a 40-minute ride through unfinished roads from the airport to the town, costing 100 to 150 PHP, depending on how good you bargain. There are many vans waiting for tourists right outside the small airport. If you've arranged to be picked up by your resort/hotel/lodge/tour agency, however, then this won't be a problem.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Traveler?

And I call myself a traveler. Blech. See below my Lakbayan grade. It. Is. Pathetic!

My Lakbayan grade is C-!

Cutting myself some slack, though, I think my map would've been more pathetic two or three years ago.