Tatlong bituin at isang araw. Pula na sumisimbulo ng Katapangan ng lahing malaya, Bughaw na nagpapakita ng karangyaan at kadakilaan ng lipi, Dilaw na nagbibigay liwanag sa kinabukasang darating, at Puti, ang kalinisan ng budhi. Hindi puwedeng sa larawan lamang o kaya naman sa mga kuwento lang makita ang ganda at kinang ng bansang Pilipinas. Suotin ang iyong tsinelas kahit luma, isukbit ang iyong kamera kahit film o umpisahang tahakin ang landas tungo sa PAGLALAKBAY NI JUAN KALAYAAN

Friday, April 24, 2009

2009 - 2010 I Must-Travel Places in the PINAS!!!

Many blog entries has been made showing the various and must-see places in the Pinas. Frequently mentioned were Batanes, Boracay, Puerto Galera, Palawan, Camarines Norte, and the well revered Anawangin in Zambales.

I must say PILIPINAS is the most beautiful place in the world (Bias!). Not only that I'm a PROUD PINOY but I was blessed enough to have the chance to visit and travel some of the most treasured places of our country. I thought I already had enough but to my surprise, there still more and there will be more.

Let me share to you the I-Must-Travel places in Pinas for 2009-2010...Why not only 2009? If my schedule will allow me then who am I to say no to these beautiful and enchanting places. Since I'm working full-time and my chosen vocation does not permit me to do this occasionally then, I will extend my plan to visit these places until maybe March 2010. To see these places is not only my reason to travel, photography and food exploration comes in handy as well.

1. Baler Eco-Travel (Baler, Aurora Province)

Baler is a province blessed with an abundance of travel locations. It has its share of historical sights such as the home and resthouse of former Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon. The province also has a beautiful Catholic church and several historical markers. Its natural attractions include picturesque waterfalls, lush greenery on mountainsides, and panoramic beaches. Surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, mountain climbing and trekking are only some of the activities a tourist can enjoy in Aurora.

This month of May 2009, my travel Dabarkads will be conquering Baler as we dubbed it as "Project Jericho". We will visit Dicasalarin Bay in San Luis, Sabang Beach, the Borlongan Beach in Dipaculao, and the historical Baler Church and Ermita Hill.

Shutter Subjects: Shore lines, mountain ranges, historical markers, beach fronts
Best Eaten: Fresh catch seafoods from the beach
Travel Date: May 23-25, 2009
2. Sagada Trek (Sagada, Mountain Province 1,500 MASL)

It was back in 2004 when I first visited Sagada. Well, all I know of Sagada then are mountains, rice terraces, Echo Valley, and the cave. But when I had that chance, it was something that I truly treasured up to this date.

Sagada is filled with eye-refreshing sights. At least, a breather from the usual sea and sand. You can find nature and culture ventured into a community with mutual respect to the two. On the way to Sagada is the breathtaking Mt. Data mountain range where I experienced travelling at dawn time and it was like I am on top of the world with massive cloud formations sitting atop the Ifugao mountain ranges.

Sagada boasts a handful of nature's treasure. The Sumaguing Cave, the Bomod-ok and Bokong Falls, the Kiltepan Rice Terraces, Echo valley cliffs, and Lake Danum. Preservation of Igorot culture is also evident around the place with the Hanging Coffins and Burial Caves.

As fellow photographer and blogger Ferdz Decena said " Sagada is a place that is truly worth coming back". I will surely be back.

Shutter Subjects: caves, falls, rice terraces, hanging coffins, rock formations, landscaped valleys and mountains
Best Eaten: Yogurt, Fresh Veggies, Homemade sausages, Mountain-grown fruits, Pinikpikan, Eetag, Food toppings (Panalo to!)
Travel Date: July 2009
3. Tondol Beach (Anda, Pangasinan)

Tondol Beach is definitely the best beach in Pangasinan and perfect when the tide is low. It's a five to six hour drive from Manila to Anda, Pangasinan. Go through Camiling and pass by Lingayen and through Alaminos (stopover at the Hundred Islands anyone?). It's on the way to Bolinao, right after the town of Bani.

Tondol possess powder ivory white sand in fact, there is an island one kilometer from the shore which you could walk or wade to. And it's powder white sand all the way. When the tide is low, you can pick a spot in the middle of the water and just sit down there the whole day. So if there is any beach that can claim to be the Boracay of the North, it's Tondol! But why even claim such a thing? Why are we always content with being a copy of the original when each beach is unique!

Tondol is actually a public beach and entrance fee is only PHP5. You can rent large huts for PHP200. For now, there aren't any good resorts to stay in so the best option when visiting Tondol is to stay overnight in neighboring Bolinao which is about 45 minutes away.

Shutter Subject: White beach shore line, long stretch of white sand
Best Eaten: Bangus, Bangus, Bangus....
Travel Date: September 2009
4. Mt. Pulag (Ambangeg, Kabayan, Benguet 2,922 MASL)

Majestic Mt. Pulag is highest peak in Luzon and the dream destination of every Filipino outdoorsman. Its fabled views, of winding slopes of dwarf bamboo, and distant peaks surging like islets in the ocean of lofty clouds, comprise perhaps the most beautiful photo-op in Philippine mountaineering. The native tribes say that Mt. Pulag is the "playground of the gods". In Luzon, it is literally the closest to heaven that mountaineers can get!

The enchantment of Pulag, however, is much greater than just the clouds and dwarf bamboo. The entire experience is a great treat that makes the long travel time (10 hours from Manila to Baguio then Baguio to the jump-off) worth it. Whichever trail you choose - the easy Ambangeg, the challenging Akiki, the arduous Vizcaya trail, or the various traverse climbs - Pulag is a great adventure. Of course, many would opt to do different trails in one climb, the most common of which is the Akiki-Ambangeg combination.

Shutter Subjects: Pulag Sunrise, lush forests, mountain ranges and trails
Best Eaten: Mountain fruits and vegetables
Travel Date: November 2009

5. Mt. Pinatubo Crater Trekking (Mt. Pinatubo, Capas, Tarlac 960 MASL)

After trekking the crater of Mt. Pinatubo, everything will be in awe. No exaggeration to this but imagine a glacier-like brown peaks with white smoke rising up and in the background, a crater lake that was so enchanting. What a sight to behold!

It is safe to swim in the crater of Mt. Pinatubo , but not in the middle, guides warn that currents might pull you underneath. Kayaks may be rented at the crater lake. Climb Pinatubo at any time of the year, but pay attention to weather conditions especially during the wet season months of May to September. Heavy rains, especially those of typhoons, cause lahar floods that have stranded tourists in the past. Not recommended attempting climbs to Mt. Pinatubo if there is any storm within Luzon, even if there is no storm warning for Zambales and Tarlac.

Shutter Subjects: Mt. Pinatubo crater and summit, Crater lake, Surrounding mountains and rock formations
Best Eaten: Since the location of Mt. Pinatubo is near Pampanga, it is very common in the area to have dishes likely the same as in Pampanga specially the local favorite Sisig.
Travel Date: February - March 2010

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Memoriam...The Master's Homecoming...

" Let the sun shine let the rivers run away coz its a beautiful day now to play now as I close my eyes and pray, Lord have mercy on me, coz I'm feeling kinda lonely would you be, could you be my one and only..."

If this song sounds familiar to you, well most likely we were born and raised on the same genre. It's a cut from the song "Girl Be Mine" out of the album Happy Battle by the late great Sir Francis Magalona. Tomorrow, April 15, 2009 will be the 40th day since the Master Rapper passed away due to leaukemia complications on March 7, 2009. It has been a tradition for Filipino Catholics to observe the 40th day since a relative passed away because of the belief that it is the time that the spirit of the person will enter the heavens. As my ode to the icon of my generation, I come up with this blog entry.

Many has been said and told about the Master Rapper. He is the one responsible for putting the Pilipinas on the map of the Rap Game. In his concerts, he bolstered iconic fashion styles from the Aguinaldo hairstyle, the sarong and malong trousers, and sporting a blazer made by the Ifugao. Truly a proud Filipino artist.

After his demise, accolades came in left and right. On December, he will be given his eternal place on the Philippines' version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame, this time it will be in placed on the walkways of Eastwood City in Libis. GMA gave him the Presidential Medal of Merit for promoting Nationalism and Patriotism through music and arts. Another one is the proposition of elevating him to the ranks of Maestro Lucio San Pedro, Botong Francisco, Cecil Licad, and Fernando Poe Jr. as National Artist for Music and Arts by the National Commission for the Culture and Arts. But for him to be elevated he must pass the screenings and must observe the three-year rule.

I don't know Kiko personally but my younger days were influenced by his socially-relevant songs such as "Mga Kababayan Ko", "Mga Praning", "Nilamon ng Sistema", and "Three Stars and a Sun". His melodious rendition of "Cold Summer Nights", Girl Be Mine, and the ultrafamous "Kaleidoscope World". Most of the songs in my cellphone are Kiko's MP3 songs.

As a personal honor to his legacy, since September 2008, I have been acquiring Three Stars and a Sun Shirts, created and designed by the Master Rapper himself. I already have in my possession the famous Pride white, the rare Filipino Since Birth white and silver, the black Mic Gold Bling, the bold red I REP Pinas, the rare Black Defender, and his last designed, posthumously released Black One Love. I will continue to buy FMCC shirts in support to his cause of promoting patriotism.

Seeing him fighting for his borrowed time is as painful as with what I have experienced with the passing of my tatay and nanay in 2002. That's when I realized that death is insurmountable, immeasureable, and inevitable.
And as the Master Rapper has returned to His master, we can only say that he has lived a short but very meaningful life. Life is really less ordinary, and in our hands lies the true meaning of our journey.

And to the Master Rapper, the Icon of my genre, the epitome of a Filipino...You have fought a Happy Battle and we will continue fighting for our Race.

Mabuhay ka Francis Durango Magalona (1964-2009)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Project Horshoe: The Anawangin Chronicles - 14-15 March 2009

Doing the same thing almost everyday tires me more than lifting weights in the gym. Imagine, I have to sit in front of the computer for 35 hours every week to check if my team is doing the right thing on their stations every single moment. Well, that's is how we are getting the job done in our field, so to escape boredom and burnt out, I took photography as a hobby.

One cold January day, I searched Google for nice pictures of landscapes in the Pilipinas. I bumped into of Ferdz Decena, a travel photographer who was humble enough to share his knowledge to other aspiring travel photographers. Among his numerous entries to his blog, one photostory that captured my attention is his entry about the Anawangin Cove.

I've been to Zambales so many times and in fact, I own a small piece of beachfront property in the outskirts of Iba. But hearing Anawangin and it is located in Zambales, it was something new. What struck me most is the pictures. Yes, white sand, pine trees, mountains, and rivers all packed into an island...Am I dreaming?

So to end all the brouhaha about the place, I proposed the place to a selected few. Individuals who are daring and bold enough to go against the flow...Non-conformist indeed. Planning and coordination were made accordingly and date was scheduled, March 14-15, 2009. We will try conquering and realizing a dream.

After our Friday shift, the so-called "Project Horseshoe" members gathered in the Victory Liner, Cubao terminal to catch the 04:20am trip. Originally, we are fourteen that planned and pushed for this Project. But due to various circumstances, only seven managed to hit the road (Brian, Camz, Connie, Cyrus, Sandie, Pabu and me). By the way, if your curious what is Project Horseshoe, it is the secret term we used whiel we were planning our Anawangin adventure. The cove was described on a blog entry as a "horseshoe-shaped cove".

After the almost four-hour bus travel, we finally reached San Antonio, Zambales and we were welcomed by our escort tricycle man. We bought our supplies at the nearby market and hit the road again riding a tricycle en route to Barangay Pundaquit.

This is the first stop of Team Project Horseshoe. We supposed to meet Mang Randy, the ever-helpful skipper from Pundaquit. But he is not available when we arrive so his wife, Ate Liza welcomed us in their humble place.

We had our lunch in a nearby carinderia and feasted on native dishes such as pork adobo, dinuguan, igado (Ilocano version of stripped pork steak), and chopsuey. Since most us did not have enough rest and butt-numbed because of the long drive from Manila to San Antonio, Zambales and the tricycle trip from the Poblacion to Pundaquit, we consumed around 10 orders of rice.

The shores of Pundaquit greeted us with damp air coming from the South China Sea and upon seeing the boat and the waves, excitement filled our souls. I have been travelling since 2002 to various places in the country and I could say that I am not a newbie to small boats and big waves. To some like Pabu, Sandie, Connie, Brian, and Camz they have experienced riding outrigger boats like this but for Cyrus, this is his time to be devirginized, at least on riding a boat.

After a chilling ride boarded an outrigger boat while the rain drenching our face, a sharp curve passing by a small island, everything turned into a complete desolate moment. White sand, tall pine trees, mocha brown mountains, and we finally realized...We are now in Anawangin Cove.

The picturesque scenery made me teary-eyed as I finally realised my dream. To set foot and touch the water of Anawangin in which I only see in the web and reviews from different photography and travelogues. We took our first picture as a group and I could say, the only decent picture we had during our stay.

Pabu, Sandie, Cyrus helped each other in pitching their tent while Brian and myself pitched ours as well. Camz and Connie prepare the food supply atop the bamboo table reserved for us by Kuya Bernie, the caretaker of the island.

After taking our afternoon meal of wood cooked rice and grilled tilapia and talong courtesy of Brian and myself, Connie sauteed bagoong to match the fish and talong, we're off the sight seeing and light trek mode. We traversed the one kilometer east side of the dry river bed and do some photo ops. Pabu and myself fulfilled our passion for photography taking macro shots of insects, flowers, trees, and wild berries. In this picture, we are heading to the south part of the river where water is still flowing.

It is beginning to dark and most of the Team doze off in the tents, Pabu and myself decided to check on the rock formations on the leftmost part of the cove. We took some good pictures here including the dramatic sunset of Anawangin Cove.

We spend the night with our old reliable petromax provided by Kuya Bernie. We feed on grilled tilapia, liempo, hotdogs and cheesedogs, and Cyrus's ever favorite from home...Pork and Beans...Brian, Pabu, and myself had some GSM Blue to booze ourselves to sleep and take a late night shower courtesy of the island's old school posong de bomba!

Morning greeted us with hot cup of coffee from our reliable kaldero and a hearty breakfast of Nel's Palaboy onion and tomato omelette, Brian's Hand-mashed fried rice, Connie's Kinamay na hotdog, and Cyrus' homegrown sardines ala 555. It was the best breakfast I've had for years!

As we pack our things for our return bout to reality, we trekked the right side of the cove. Connie and Sandie dipped to the cold river water and Pabu, Cyrus, and myself tried rock climbing atop Mt. Anawangin. We took pictures while were on top and the river serving as backdrop.

We bid our farewell to the cove with joy and fulfillment in our hearts. Though we were deprived of modern technology for a day, I can say that going back to where we started is a very humbling experience. We are very thankful to the Lord for giving us Filipinos this gift of nature. As a covenant, the Team Project Horseshoe will continue to promote environmental conservation and advocate for the promotion of this gift's.

We thanked the good people of Pundaquit: JL Acosta, Kuya Randy, Ate Liza, and Kuya Bernie for their warm welcome and help to us. We will definitely see Anawangin again.