Every Season Is Travel Season

At the beginning of 2014, I tried to convince myself that I would do less traveling this year, that I would try and stay put and quell my wanderlust with something a bit more regular and mundane, maybe put my travel budget to a more local use.

I tried, and for a whole month, I was sucessful. Yet here I find myself at the start of February, staring down at least three international trips already booked for the year, and the threat of more to come. I start the year off with Malaysia this week, having scored a free trip from Air Asia a couple of months back (Thanks, Air Asia!).


Sometimes we get so used to a place, that we somehow overlook the beauty it holds.

I took this shot of an old Catholic woman making the sign of the cross after dipping her hands in holy water while on a shoot for World Mission Magazine. Having grown up in Christianity this is not an uncommon sight for me, and so I initially took one glance and turned my attention onto another portion of the church we were in. At the end, I'm glad I was able to capture this solemn moment of introspection. We live in a beautiful world, we just need to keep ourselves constantly sensitive to what it shows us.


(Warning: artistic nudity)

Animator Rino Tagliafierro made a short film, bringing classical paintings magically to life with Beauty. Every time I've spent some time gazing at a painting, I've always envisioned the scene playing out in my head, and imagining what it would be like to live in the world of that particular piece.

Today, I got a bit closer to having that come true.

Taken from Gizmodo

Brief Pagudpud Memoirs: The Rock

I'm back in Pagudpud once more. Since I first stepped foot into its sandy beaches, there has always been a sense of familiarity about this small town, as far from it as I've grown up. I had been aching for a break from the numbing grimy stench of city life and consequently grabbed the next opportunity to pack up and look north. This time around, I found myself exploring the more known sites of the province.

A Very Brief Sojourn in Kalinga

It was the first time in my life that I had seen fireflies on my ceiling. When you live in an overcrowded and extremely polluted city, you grow accustomed to reading about certain things in nature, yet never really seeing them. Save the ubiquitous stray cat, dog, sparrow, or cockroach, I would dare say that one could have lived in Manila not seeing any other type of animal for years. Except rats.

But I wasn’t in Manila, no. The serenade for the senses that was unravelling before my eyes was taking place in a small valley in the province of Kalinga. Fireflies were aglow on my bedroom ceiling while the constant rush of the river soothed my wandering mind better than crickets could have. Not that there weren’t any crickets - what must have been hundreds of the soprano-like maestros were singing in the darkness, perfectly complementing the midtones of the water to form a harmonious night lullaby, one that would rival the best nightingale from stories old.

Lighting Up Samar

Half-seated and half-crouched I rode, inside a van making the four-hour journey to Borongan, Samar; a city on the eastern coast of the Philippines. We were about to drive onto the San Juanico Bridge, longest in the Philippines and in itself an impressive sight. I looked out the window. The glistening blue-green hue of the clear Pacific waters greeted me like a passer-by waving to a float on a parade. The familiar scent of the salty sea-breeze made its way through my being and gave me that sense of home-away-from-home. Random little islands littered the landscape like green polka dots on a blue dress, isolated groves of trees with their own mini beaches, sandwiched in the strait between two larger islands.

A Short Break From Travels

I'm currently typing this from the proverbial eye of the storm of the consecutive provincial shoots I'm having. I have just gotten back in Manila from Samar, a province on the eastern coast of the Philippines that has had more than its fair share of typhoons and other natural disasters, and tomorrow I leave once more - for Surigao, a province that is only one island away from Samar.

It's been a busy past four days, albeit quite fulfilling. I've been shooting for One Million Lights, an NGO about which I have previously written. It's been a novel experience for me. Since most of my vacations around the Philippines have been in and around the island of Luzon, where I live, it seemed a bit surreal to be in an area where not everyone understood my language, almost as if it were in another country.

Nevertheless, endless interesting moments and curiosities abounded. One of these was Father Tito Abuda, in the photo above. He is a Catholic priest, doing God's work in the city of Borongan in Samar. We caught him wielding a shiny new saxophone just as we were leaving the cathedral after meeting with the bishop of that diocese. He explained that he initially took it up to pass the time. Since then, it has turned into a wondrous way of sharing the beauty of music as well as worshiping through song, as evidenced by the entrancing refrain he graced us with. I felt a tinge of jealousy at his skill on an instrument I have long wanted to master, but all that soon gave way to my sense of awe at finding such a man in such a remote area.

Tomorrow I leave for Surigao on a shoot of a somewhat different flavor than this previous one. I hope to have cellular signal there, as it will be even more rural and remote than wherever I went in Samar. This summer has definitely been more interesting than I hoped it would be - a good end to April, and certainly something to look forward to in May. May the light be with me.

Pangasinan - Fishing for Bangus Part 1

I excitedly hopped around the sturdy workboat as it steadily made its way out of the cove just off Pangasinan towards the collection of fish cages about twenty minutes from the coast. Anton, my guide and host for the next couple of days, was explaining to me the ins and outs of bangus (Chanos chanos) farming. The fish farm we would be seeing grew ocean-bred bangus, as opposed to the freshwater bangus industry in other locales. This, plus other practices that they had incorporated, translated into fatter fish with a superior taste (a claim which I made sure I verified that night at dinner). I could barely contain my excitement as I imagined thousands of fish thrashing around in chaos as a sturdy net slowly pulled them in for harvest.

One Million Lights - Rizal

Sharing a couple of portraits I made from the recent distribution of One Million Lights in Montalban, Rizal. While hearing about their cause is heartwarming in itself, it is a totally different experience just being there, while they do their work. The excitement and buzz that ensued among the crowd as we stepped out of the vans, the small outbursts of joy as the villagers tightly clutched their precious lanterns, the instant lightening of gait as they walked around the gymnasium, all were sights best had up close and personal.

A Proud Cousin

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the 26th anniversary of the first EDSA Revolution. For those who aren't Filipino or have somehow managed not to listen in history class, this happened in 1986 when the people rose up against then dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless revolution. He fled the country and Corazon Aquino, wife of his political rival and martyr Benigno Aquino Jr, was installed president.

Normally, I don't particularly observe these holidays and leave the celebrations to the ample hands of the politicians and other government employees, but this time I had a better reason than patriotic feelings tugging at my heartstrings - my cousin was to be awarded at the ceremony.

Meet my cousin Mark Lozano. He's the guy on the left in the above photo. He's a master debater (competes internationally), football player (varsity throughout elementary and high school), wicked guitarist (plays the meanest Satriani), sacristan (yeah, he's a good guy), and he has his own NGO. He's also not of legal drinking age yet, with all of seventeen years behind him.