Play of lights

Going home after tons of workloads is the best moment everyone has been all waiting for.

Daydreaming. Planning. Craving.

What to eat? Where to go? How to go?

These are the things that run in everybody’s mind once they think of going out of the office and walk their way home. Well, who can blame them?

Tower of one of the biggest TV stations in the Philippines

‘I’ notes:

I fantasize a lot when I am in the middle of doing something; when I am stuck in the middle of meetings for five to ten long hours; when everybody thinks that working too much is just fine.

When it’s about to go home, my camera is always with me, walking with me. It’s a kind of relaxation which is soothing to the soul, really refreshing and cannot be replaced. I love going home because this is the only time I can be as creative as I can and can do things without restrictions- freedom.

Here are two of the pictures I took when I was about to go home. I took some clicks and had some play of lights.

Starry, starry night, it’s time for me to go home and take some rest


Flower power: ‘…can never be ugly’

Remembering my Photography professor’s remark about flowers as our subject.

He said, when we presented our works in one of our photo exhibits, that flowers can never be ugly and has always been a good subject for photography. It’s undeniably beautiful and its mystical form gives every frame a unique yet elegant finish.

I tried to compile some of my flora photo snapshots from different photo walks that I did in the past. And yes, he’s right, amazingly beautiful!

Vivid colors, lively, charming and really enchanting.

Pictures were taken from different locations in the Philippines: Sagada, Mountain Province, Banio Kreek Resort, Silang Cavite, Chateau Royale, Batangas, Calamba, Laguna

The pain, struggle and the life and death experience: A mother’s day tribute

“One, two, three, push! One, two, three, push!”


… “It’s a healthy baby boy!”

That was the time I came out from my mom’s womb and cried out loud for the first time. Well I assume it’s not that easy to go out through that narrow opening. You are being squeezed out through a tiny hole, shoved like a waste with a high level of force, a life-and-death experience indeed.

I can’t remember the pain and the struggle of going out from that passage; well I’m glad because I know I couldn’t bear it. For sure the pain was intolerable. However, there’s one person who can clearly remember the pain, the struggle – that life-and-death experience.

The bravest person on earth, salute!

She can clearly recall how her womb felt damn crazy when it’s about time to release the life inside her. She can testify objectively with how much pain she bore when the doctor tried to massaged her stomach (for so many times) for her to discharge the creature who had been kept within her for nine long months. She can narrate her experience, her insane experience, when she saw the knife that was used to cut some parts of the passage; it was as if death was cradling her during that incomparable moment.

The pain, struggle and the life and death experience didn’t end there; actually that was the start of her hell-like life here on earth. (just an exaggeration)

She’s my mom. Your mom. Our mothers.

–God sent them to take good care of the human race. They are made to take all the pain,struggles and the life and death experience.– 

Being a mother is not an easy task to do. It’s not like a course in college that you have to take for you to be ready and be prepared. It’s not a profession that you can quit on when the time comes that you’re not happy and already wasted with what has been happening. And it’s not a throne that you can just relinquish to others when you’re time is up.

There’s no constant equation. No matter how prepared the person is (because of books, advises from other people, etc) there will always have moments of unpreparedness when unexpected situations happen. She will only learn to handle these (shortcomings, problems) after she address it, right in that same moment.

Selfless, loving, caring, brave and genuine- she’s the one

Motherhood is forever. It has no ‘time’s up!’ nor ‘I quit”. So imagine how wonderful these creatures are- our mothers. God sent them to take good care of the human race. They are made to take all the pain, struggles and the life and death experience. They are one-of-a-kind.

Imagine the love that they are giving to each one of us, selfless. Imagine all the sacrifices that they are trying to overcome in all the days of their lives, extraordinary.

Life may be perceived as hell-like, but these people see it in a damn different way. They are mothers and they will always have the innate quality of being selfless, loving, caring, brave and genuine.

To my mom and to all the mothers in the world, Happy Mother’s day!

Thank you for being so brave and for always being there when no one seems to care. Thank you for the time, for those times that you scold us because we did something foolish, we (will) learn(ed), promise! Thank you so much!

You are the best and will always be!

Photo credits:

The best of Sagada

These pictures will only tell you how wonderful Sagada is. The nature at its best, the culture, the tradition, perfect.

These make me want to go back to, again,  experience the same feelings of perfection and serenity.  No regrets, just love.

The Sagada weaving shop

The Philippine wonder

St. Mary’s church- Sagada

Kankana-ey: Ethnic tribe of Sagada, Mt. Province

Green field of Sagada

Sagada hanging coffins

Sumaging cave

Tribal symbol for prosperity

Sagada’s Bomod-ok falls

Inside the cave: ‘The queen’

Inside the cave: ‘The king’

Inside the cave: ‘The prince’

Inside the cave: ‘The birthday cake’

The human ladder challenge

The Kiltepan view deck- The highest point

To read the article about our Sagada summer getaway click here.

Photo credits:

Star Alcorcon, Laurence Marbella, Alex Santillan

Drastic change: Our Sagada summer getaway

A personal experience: ‘I’ notes

We’ve been planning a grand vacation this 2012. It’s already our group’s tradition to spend a vacation to some good places that we’ve never been before.

This is the time of the year where we are all (temporarily) free from our responsibilities (well I guess most of us), professionally and/or academically; the season to take a short break from all the exhaustion brought by tons of workloads, to breathe some fresh air; and the best opportunity to be together, enjoy each other’s company and have fun.

We tried looking for the best resort in town. We considered Palawan, Pagudpod and Boracay, however our thirst to experience something new made this vacation a lot better and intensely incomparable!

Nature + Culture = Sagada, Mt. Province

We decided to take away resorts and/or beaches from the list of options. We’ve done a lot of it, so why not explore other ways to enjoy the summer vacation? Until we saw a tour package in the internet which was, I think, tempting and a bit affordable- a Sagada trip.

Sagada was introduced to me by my history and (Philippine) culture teachers. Most of them reiterated how wonderful Sagada is and how fantastic the hanging coffins are. More than that, I’ve read lots of stories and watched some television specials where Sagada was highlighted and being used as a story location. With these, I dreamed of setting my feet in this culturally-rich and mountainous placeof Luzon.

The 5th class municipality in the province of Mountain Province


Facts about Sagada:

     Sagada is a 5th class municipality in the province of Mountain Province, Philippines. According to the latest census,it has a population of 10,930 people in 2,158 households.

     It is located 275 km. north of Manila, 140 km. from Baguio, and it is adjacent to Bontoc, the provincial capital.

     Sagada is famous for its “hanging coffins”. This is a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized.

     Popular activities include trekking, exploring both caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rappelling, visiting historical    sites, nature hikes, and participating in tribal celebrations.


Enchanting scenery of Sagada

We decided to take the tour package to take our summer getaway in a higher level of adventure. After we saw the itinerary, we couldn’t help but to be amazed and be more excited. It was full-packed from day one up the last day.

Ipod: Fully-charged; camera: fully-charged; water container: full. Ready for long hours of road trip.

The departure

Our group left Alabang at around nine in the evening after we talked to the trip coordinator and made sure that the vehicle was fine. The first few hours were smooth and all right, we’re all in the midst of thinking what to see and experience in that well-reviewed Sagada.

We chatted, threw jokes to each one of us and then slept when we got tired of laughing. Some of us stayed awake.

Banawe Rice Terraces up close and personal

We took the Bulacan route instead of taking the expressway. On our way to Sagada, we passed through series of mountains which was a good subject for photography. Though I am used to seeing those (because I grew up going back and forth to my mom’s native place Abra), I still enjoyed the sceneries with my friends, took a lot of pictures and made lots of crazy memories.

We reached our transient house after approximately 20-hour drive. Though were a bit disappointed, we still looked on a brighter side, were safe and no one got harmed.

Our Itinerary and the epic three days

With what happened, we weren’t able to follow the schedule that was given to us but fortunately we found a remedy to be able to have/do everything in the list of activities. A little adjustment and modification and we’re on the right track again.

Here’s a copy of our supposed itinerary.

Day 0
2000 Departure from Manila

Day 1
0600 ETA Sagada.
0700 Breakfast at Sagada town proper
0800 St. Mary’s church, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, Sagada Weaving
1100 Check in at hotel; freshen up
1200 Lunch
1400 Caving adventure
1900 Dinner
2000 Return to hotel. Rest

Day 2
0700 Breakfast. Buy packed lunch for the trek
0830 Trek Aguid Rice Terraces. Swimming at Bomod-ok Falls (aka Big Falls)
1200 Picnic lunch at the falls. Free time
1300 Return to Sagada proper. Visit the Ganduyan museum.
1400 Free time (souvenir hunting,, food tripping)
1900 Dinner
2000 Return to hotel. Rest

Day 3
0500 Sunrise at kiltepan view deck
0700 Breakfast
0830 Departure to Banaue. Check out from the hotel.
0900 Photo stop at Bontoc Rice Terraces
1100 Photo stop at Banaue Rice Terraces
1200 Lunch at Nueva Vizcaya
1300 Departure to Manila
2200 ETA Manila.

After we had lunch in Banawe proper and witnessed their amazing rice terraces (though it’s not as good as those seen in many postcards), we visited the Sagada weaving and shop. We saw the weaving process using a structure made out of wood.

Our co-adventurer trying out the weaving equipment

Being resourceful and creative was seen in the way they produced every cloth that was then turned into some ethnic bags, purses and clothes. And it took (i’m sure) a lot of patience to finish a yard of weave cloth, not that easy and definitely time-consuming. All praise to our native weavers!

–The feeling is exquisite; it was like as if I reached the clear blue sky while experiencing the scorching heat of the sun and a mild cold breeze brought by mountains and pine trees around, perfect combination.–

Next stop, the Echo valley. We took a 20-minute hike to get into the site. You might think of crazy things when you are about to go to the area. Why? Because you will be passing into a small cemetery with some huge cows at the middle of it and there’s no way you can avoid it. I think the tradition says that while passing through a cemetery you should at least say a prayer to those dead people, that’s what I did.

The scariest part of the route going to the valley, scary!!

On our way down, our guide told us to shout at the top of our lungs. We heard clear echoes of our voices that made us amazed. We realized that the site’s name was nothing but the literal meaning of what can be very prominent in the place, Echo valley because of the clear and loud echoes it can produce.

Down in the area, we found some coffins hanged in a big rock (or maybe a small  part of the mountain). During that time, our guide warned us about the sacredness of those coffins and, traditionally they (the coffins) demand enough courtesy from those people who are just visiting the area.

Sagada’s hanging coffin, i remembered my teachers 🙂

“Those rich and prominent people during the old times where the only people who can be hanged with their coffins. They are given reverence through offerings, like those you are seeing right now, chairs, cloth, etc.” said Tig-aw, our native tour guide.

After the Echo valley trek, we went back to our house to prepare some food for dinner. Day one was over.

      Second day, rise and shine!

Our second day was marked with a lot of intense adventures: trekking, hiking, rock climbing, spelunking (caving) and (super) cold water falls.

AKA ‘The big falls’

We went first to the Bomod-ok falls or the Big falls to take a bath. It took us two hours to reach the falls area- a two-hour trek in Aquid rice terraces.

On our way down to the falls, we saw big land areas that were turned into a rice fields. It was like staircases holding millions of golden grains that were arranged perfectly in a linear form. That could be a great place for those who want to achieve serenity even just for a while. The feeling is exquisite; it was like as if I reached the clear blue sky while experiencing the scorching heat of the sun and a mild cold breeze brought by mountains and pine trees around, perfect combination.

The golden grains of Sagada

It was a long walk and it really tried my stamina, but at the end of it was a fascinating scene that I never saw before, the big falls. It was fulfilling.

The falls was as high as the building that can be seen in the metropolis. Surrounded with shrubs and rocks, the place was astonishing. The water from the falls was so cold and clear.

The rocks that surround the falls were another thing that we enjoyed. We climbed up the rock walls (though it’s a bit dangerous) to explore the other side of it. It was beautiful. Rocks are arranged as if it was man-made, plants of different kinds covered lots of its surface and a pond was like made for those creatures that couldn’t distracted, everything was at peace.

We went up (to our vehicle) after we ate our lunch beside the falls. It was another two hours of epic climb and for me, going up was more exhausting than going down.

After that tiring trek and climb, we finally reach the highest point of the trip, the highlight, the climax.

Our trip’s climax- Lumiang cave’s entrance

If you are to read the reviews in the internet, you will be seeing a lot about the caves of Sagada. Well, it’s no different with the other caves that we can find in other places; there are rock formations, bat caves and lots of bat poops (unfortunately). I think the best part of the Sagada caving adventure that made it outstanding among the others was the way the tour inside was executed by the guides, especially ours.

Rules were strictly monitored to avoid accidents. The formations inside were creatively and wittingly presented. We were helped all throughout the caving adventure and some of us were even carried at some point inside the cave. They even took our pictures for us not to be harmed.

Sumaging cave adventure

We took the biggest cave which they called Sumaging cave instead of taking the three-hour cave connection or the Lumiang cave. We wanted to try first the easiest one before going to a more complicated route.

Sumaging is home to thousands of bats. Closer to the cave opening, we came upon the already familiar bat-dung section that draped the rocky cave-scape. While navigating, you’ll be introduced to its slippery texture and ammonia-like odor. It’s all part of the Sumaging experience.

Inside the cave we encountered underground streams and natural pools. The stalactite (from the ceiling) and the stalagmite (growing from the floor) formations made us imagine that we are walking inside a primitive palace. Some of the formations are golden and some are silvery.

The human ladder- it’s different!

The first parts were slippery however, when we reach the middle part of the cave where the underground stream and natural pools were located, the surface became more ideal for walking. The adventure intensely went up when we finally went through a human ladder (your personal tour guides) and after we passed through some narrow areas of the cave that need some rope to be able to go down or up.

We were able to finish the cave adventure, though one of us wasn’t able to go down because of phobia of heights.

The caving adventure actually concluded our Sagada trip. After all the activities that we did, we all want to scream: “We survived Sagada!!!!”

   The last day, road trip- again!

The third and last day became like a town tour and souvenir hunting time. We went to the highest point at Kiltepan view deck and in Baguio’s Strawberry farm (bonus for us!). It was the best way to end that three-day trip.

They survived Sagada!!!!

This year’s summer trip was really the best and memorable. Now, I can’t wait for another grand vacation to discover and explore the hidden treasures of our country.

I did!

Enjoy and live life to the fullest!

Want to see more of Sagada? click here

Source: Sagada facts


Photo credits:

Star Alcorcon, Laurence Marbella, Alex Santillan

The International Labor day parade

In Manila, about 8,000 members of a huge labor alliance, many clad in red shirts and waving red streamers, marched for four kilometers (2.5 miles) to the heavily barricaded Mendiola bridge near the Malacanang presidential palace.

P125 across the board-- panawagan para sa dagdag na sahod

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III rejected their calls for a $3 daily pay hike, which he warned could worsen inflation, spark layoffs and turn away foreign investors.

May 1 mobilization

May 1 mobilization

Kilusang Mayo Uno together with Rep. Teddy Casino

Screaming for good governance

Aside from pay hikes, protest leader Josua Mata from the Alliance of Progressive Labor urged Aquino to back proposed legislation against the widespread practices by businesses of contracting out certain operations to other companies to save on costs and preventing workers from organizing trade unions.

President Noynoy's effigy-  'Noynoy tuta'

President Noynoy's effigy- dubbed as 'Noynoy tuta'

Burning at around 3PM, Meniola, Manila

Militant workers demanding a P125 across the board wage hike burn an effigy of President Aquino during a Labor Day protest rally on Mendiola in Manila on Tuesday.

The workers dispersed peacefully after a street dialogue with three Cabinet officials. Thousands of members of another left-wing labor group, the May One Movement, were to hold a protest and burn Aquino’s effigy later Tuesday at the historic Mendiola bridge, a popular venue for anti-government protests.

News report from:

Associated Press writers through

I survived!

‘I’ notes:

I realized something essential when I was on my way to submit an entry for a writing-literary contest.

It started with an ask-because-your-not- familiar-with-the-place thing; I went out of my way to ask the people around, for me to be able to reach the place immediately because of another appointment in a nearby area in Makati. When I reached a corner of seems-like motorcycle riders having their afternoon rest/siesta, I tried my luck and asked them, luckily they knew where i wanted to go.

“Pwede ka naming ihatid do’n, pag nag-antay ka pa ng bus o jeep matatagalan ka (We can take you there, waiting for a bus or a jeep might take too much of your time)”

At first I was wondrin’ how they could take me to the place, the only thing I saw in the area were some old motorcycles, until they offered me a motorcycle back-ride for only P40, I thought a bit before grabbing it.

I reached the office faster than I expected. Though the experience was really intense and too dangerous (literally a roller coaster ride!) I’m proud to say that i survived the ride! Thanks to those manongs who have the most creative means of transportation and took an extra care to assure the safety of their passenger.  With that, setting aside my personal fear and excitement, I realized the capacity of every person to think for his survival, by any means.

–The thirst for survival really goes hand in hand with perseverance and determination.–

I remembered my professor told us that every human being has an innate ability to think for his survival. Whatever happens, there will always this driving force that will make each one of us cope with the everyday struggles and shortcomings of life, successful in everything that we do and satisfied with the craft that we chose to do.

Because surviving is living a limitless life.

Like our fellow workers, from the construction industry up to the academe and those manongs with their motorcycle-back-ride service. Being in the work force arena is one concrete proof that people tend to exhaust all possible ways just to survive.

People don’t mind (well most of them, and those who do not have any choice) what job to take for as long as they are getting foods for their tummies and for as long as they are living a descent life, again like the manongs who created a way to produce some income. The thirst for survival really goes hand in hand with perseverance and determination. Without these, life will not be easy (unfortunately).

I salute those drivers, teachers, factory workers, farmers, fishermen, fishball vendors, taho and balut vendors and the whole work force who continue to fight their survival and/or continue to think of ways to survive. Without them things will never be the same again.

Mapagpalayang Araw ng mga Manggagawa!

Photo credits: