Surprises in Manila


I’ve been living in Metro Manila for almost 12 years now yet I realize there is still a lot I do not know about it especially its capital, Manila. It actually took an invite from a friend from Cebu to go out of my apartment on a rainy day and realize that…

…San Agustin Church has a very dramatic altar. I’ve passed this church several times but it was only yesterday that I sat inside the church for awhile and absorbed its altar’s beauty.

 

Continue reading “Surprises in Manila”

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New Year and Philippine Waterfalls


It might be too late to greet everyone a “Happy New Year”, but hey a happy new year to you! 🙂 How was your new year? Mine was pretty uneventful. I spent it in my hometown in Bicol, waited for the clock to strike 12 on the the 31st of December, then I slept. Even my blog was uneventful. For the first time, I did not write a year-end post.

Anyway, to start this blog’s year and to lessen my travel diary backlogs, I thought of sharing some of the waterfalls I’ve been to in the Philippines. The Philippines is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but with bodies of freshwater such as lakes, waterfalls and rivers. It’s a good  idea to check these out and include them in your must-visit list this 2016:

  1. Hagimit Falls 
Gentle slopes
Hagimit Falls

Hagitmit Falls is found in the island of Samal in Davao del Norte. One interesting feature of this body of water is that it actually a series of falls. The falls above is just one of the more gently sloping falls. The one below is more “rugged”.

Continue reading “New Year and Philippine Waterfalls”

Thoughts and Singapore


As an ASEAN country, it can’t be helped that the Philippines is often compared to Singapore. After all, Singapore is an epitome of a success story from its efficient government, transportation system, sustainable development strategies, etc. Considering it is such a young nation (at 50 years old), one can’t help but be amazed at how fast they have progressed.

Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.
Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.

I had the opportunity to visit the country last September for a training on the co-benefits of climate change and health. It was my first time to go there and it was great because part of my training was on the policy process of Singapore for environmental protection and air pollution management. I had nothing but admiration for how they do things in the country. At least from the training alone, I got the impression that the local leadership is strong and has good vision. Policies were evidence-based, and properly implemented and monitored. Pride is imminent not just in the manner our speakers, who were government officials, talked about their work but even in the way ordinary Singaporeans whom I had a chance to interact with speak of their government.

SG: Cultural melting pot
SG: Cultural melting pot

One does not even need to be in a formal training to learn a lot about the country. I realized from my daily encounters that the citizens are highly aware of their history particularly of the reforms Lee Kuan Yew carried out. They are also very knowledgeable on laws from housing, waste management, energy efficiency to air pollution and of the heavy repercussions for violating the law.

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Door


It’s so hard to blog these days. I don’t  know if it’s a matter of my busy schedule or simply because I don’t have the drive. Anyway, for some “I am alive” post, here are some “historical” doors I want to share with your guys. Most of these are doors in old Spanish houses across the Philippines.

Tested by time.

A post shared by Melissa Bulao (@milaiski) on

I like lines, symmetry, history and contrast.

A post shared by Melissa Bulao (@milaiski) on

Take time to realize… The unknown.

A post shared by Melissa Bulao (@milaiski) on

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

See a variety of doors at Daily Post.

Enveloped


Hi everyone! How’s your summer (if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere) so far? Mine has been hectic and arid! I’ve been in delulu the past few weeks which pretty much explains my absence in the blogosphere. I turned a year older (yes, I’m now 26!), entertained a bunch of foreigners for a week due to an international conference our office is arranging, and completed my requirements for my post graduate diploma degree. Hurray! I am now graduating! Next semester, if I still have the drive, I will now enroll as a Masters Degree-proper student. One more year till that coveted XX X. XXX, MIH.

Anyway, for this week’s theme “enveloped”, I am sharing this interesting rock structure which I came across in one of the islands of El Nido:

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Seems like I’m inside a fossil, enveloped by hollow structures of bones right? 🙂 Check out more entries at Daily Post.

Photo Essay: Baler (Part 2)


If photos and travel stories were food, mine were probably moldy already. Thankfully, travel stories never grow old! I talked about my Baler trip earlier last year. Allow me to finish my photo essay before my memories go down the drain.

Day 2 in Baler

My friend agreed to wake up early to catch the sunrises. Unfortunately, it was raining so bad in the morning so just went back to sleep. At around 9 AM, the tricycle driver who toured us around the town fetched us again for our visit to the Ditumabo falls. The falls is about a 3o-45 minuted drive from Sabang beach. From the tricycle stop, we had to trek again for another 30-40 minutes.

Waiting ares of drivers.
Waiting ares of drivers.

It was one of the most difficult treks I experienced. We literally had to cross very rocky streams. I didn’t get much photo because  I requested our driver to secure my cam. As we got closer the the falls, thankfully the trek became easier and there were fewer streams and rocks to conquer.

Hello, rocks and streams.
Hello, rocks and streams.
Easier trek.
Easier trek.

Continue reading “Photo Essay: Baler (Part 2)”

That Place Called El Nido


El Nido is probably in the travel bucket list of every Filipino, if not at least on the list of hardcore travelers. And it is for a variety of reasons: it’s the Philippine’s last frontier, it’s gorgeous, it’s untouched by urbanity, etc. etc. Despite these, El Nido remains an elusive destination for most us due to rumors that it’s an expensive destination, it’s very hard to reach and so on. Is El Nido too good to be true then?

El Nido: too good to be true?
El Nido: too good to be true?

I had the chance to test how true these rumors are when  my friends and I booked a ticket to Palawan during the Cebu Pacific Independence seat sale last year. With sufficient time to save and plan, I realized El Nido is a very manageable destination for a budget traveler like me. Two weeks ago, the dream travel finally came true, and my friends and I saw ourselves in the fine white sands of El Nido.

Never say no!
Never say no!

Continue reading “That Place Called El Nido”

Palawan and the Rule of Thirds


Of the basic photography techniques, the “rule of thirds” is my favorite. It’s one, if not, the only technique I bother to familiarize, practice, and painstakingly try to polish. If perfectly executed, it can bring a photo into a whole new dimension.

For this week’s photo challenge, I did not take new photos (when did I, anyway?) but instead share some of my old shots where I tried to employ “rule of thirds”. These photos were taken during a travel to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last December.

One of my stops in the city was a butterfly garden but it was not the butterflies that caught my attention but a dragonfly. I rarely saw dragonflies now in Metro Manila. 😦

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Rarity.

Puerto Prinsesa is known as well for its beaches. I had a chance visit the islands around Honda Bay, one of which is Starfish Island where I took these:

Waiting is the name of the game.
Waiting is the name of the game.
Freed.
Freed.

The “rule of thirds” is a such a joy to practice right? I could probably post tons and tons of practice portfolio. Hah! But for more astounding photos employing the technique, check out Daily Post.

(Dumaguete Diaries) Where Bad Food and Interiors are Non-Existent


Forbes has recently listed Dumaguete City as one of the best places to retire around the world. My first reaction was, “Why?”. The city does not have the urbanity of Iloilo or Cebu. It’s not even in the level of Bacolod City yet. Apart from Silliman University, it does not  have major attractions. But then I realized, Dumaguete City is a great jump off point for so many other great places like Siquijor, the Twin Lakes of Balinsasayaw, the Manjuyod Sandbar, and so on.  And come to think it, when one retires, one may not exactly wish for a very busy city but rather for a more laid back one that is still in close proximity to relaxing places. Dumaguete fits that bill.

Rizal Boulevard: I would love to see this every morning!
Rizal Boulevard: I would love to see this every morning!

When I asked myself the big “WHY”, I also overlooked that the greatest asset of Dumaguete is its food. I can’t recall eating a bad dish in the city! In fact, I and my friend didn’t do anything but eat when we were there last September. Restaurant owners also invest in interiors.  I couldn’t find a restaurant, even small ones, with ugly interiors! I even joked that perhaps it’s one of the city government’s requirement for the renewal of business permit. Here were my case studies:

Case Study 1: Lab-as Restaurant

Situated the outer skirts of the city, Lab-as offers a variety of seafood dishes at surprisingly affordable prices! My personal favorite would have to be the baked scallops.

Out of focus shot. :(
Out of focus shot. 😦

Lovely food aside, the restaurant had a very homey feel.  There’s something about the wooden interiors that made me feel so relaxed. The staff was very accommodating goo!

Lovely!
Lovely!

Continue reading “(Dumaguete Diaries) Where Bad Food and Interiors are Non-Existent”

Photo Essay: Baler (Part 1)


I am trying to catch up with my travel diaries  but since my work and graduate school activities also involve a lot of writing, I barely have time to write for this blog. My backlog has now totaled to four travels and this does not even include my  unfinished Ilocos travel series. So, I thought of a roundabout solution about my dilemma and I realized photo essay is the way to go!

First stop is Baler, a town in the Aurora province of the Philippines. It can be reached through five-six hour bus trip from Manila. I went there around the end of January this year. It was an unplanned trip. A friend called me  up to ask if I want to go to Baler on a long weekend. Being the wanderer that I am, I accepted her invitation.

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Rocky cliffs of Baler.

 

It was very cold  and a bit rainy when we went there. It was the peak of the northeast monsoon int he Philippines so temperatures were around 12-18 degrees Celsius.

A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!
A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!

Continue reading “Photo Essay: Baler (Part 1)”

Dreamy


Siquijor is a quaint small island in the Central Visayas, Philippines. The island is perhaps best known for its tales of mambabarangs or sorcerers.  I visited Siquijor last month and I was quite surprised that its beauty goes far beyond the mysteries that people have associated it to. Its beaches are untouched by urbanity and its waters are one of the most turquoise I’ve seen in the Philippines. The picture in my previous post was in fact taken in Salagdoong Beach, in the town of Maria, Siquijor.

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What caught my attention the most; however, were not the beaches but the Tupalos Marine Sanctuary and Tree Houses. The locals built a walkway and tree houses among the mature mangrove trees. The tree houses were even for rent! My favorite was the walkway that extends beyond the mangrove forest to a cottage in the open sea. The view was outstanding and I thought how nice it would be to live in such place and wake-up to the peaceful view. So dreamy!

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Check out more dreamy places at Daily Post .

(Travel Diary) The Ilocos Adventure Part 3: Burgos and Bangui


August 10 of 2013 ( I know, so late!) which was a Saturday was spent travelling to the northernmost towns of Ilocos Norte. These places are among the most popular tourists destinations and you will see later why. These three towns have some of the most beautiful natural attractions I’ve seen in the Philippines!

We started the day the very early. Before going to Ilocos, I already contacted a tour operator, Kuya Bhoy, to pick us at La Eliana at around 6 AM. We were already up as early as 4:30 AM which allowed us to witness this very beautiful sunrise from our hotel room:

Laoag sunrise.
Laoag sunrise.

Kuya Bhoy arrived late at around 6:30 AM because he had to drive all the way from Pagudpud which was about two (2) hours away! We were already very hungry by the time he arrived so we dropped by a Jollibee drive thru before embarking  on a road trip. Just a little after a hour on the road, we already reached our first destination the Cape Borjeador lighthouse in the town of Burgos.

Cape Borjeador Lighthouse

Forgive the sun.
Forgive the sun.

Continue reading “(Travel Diary) The Ilocos Adventure Part 3: Burgos and Bangui”

Playing with Silhouettes


I love silhouette shots. I love them more especially if they are taken during the golden hours (sunrise or sunset). At such circumstances, one need not be professional photographers to create beautiful shots. I hope I did the silhouette theme some justice. I have accumulated  them (again) from my various trips  in the Philippines.

Somewhere in the roads of Bohol.
Somewhere in the roads of Bohol.
Playing in the islands of Caramoan.
Playing in the islands of Caramoan.
Sunset by the Iloilo river esplanade.
Sunset by the Iloilo river esplanade.

More Silhouette shots at Daily Post.

Philippines: In Textures


The Philippines is such a good subject for photography. One can get every imaginable texture because we have every landscape imaginable…volcanoes, waterfalls, limestone cliffs, etc. Who knows there is also a distinct advantage in being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and in being in the path of typhoons? The only thing we probably don’t have is glaciers because obviously we are a tropical country. Here are some interesting “textures” I have come across for the past 2.5 years since I have started exploring the Philippines:

(Clockwise from L: (1) The rocky beach in Diguisit, Baler, (2) rocky cliff in Caramoan, Camrines Sur, (3) smooth limestone structure in Kapurpurawan, Ilocos Norte, and (4) punctured cliffs in Talicud Island, Samal.

 

More take on Texture at Daily Post.

Post Summer Lovin’


The summer is over in the Philippines. In fact, it’s been rainy for two months now! We even had a very strong typhoon last week. 😦 BUT in honor of this week’s theme, here’s some summer lovin’ photographs which I took last May when I went to a vacation in the provinces of Iloilo, Bacolod and Guimaras:

My friend, Cez, and our turtle friend.
My friend, Cez, and our turtle friend.
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In front of Jaro Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.
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Braving the heat just to take advantage of this beautiful cemetery.

 

Is still sunny in you part of the world? More “summer lovin” pics at Daily Post.