Bag of snips

20 04 2009

On travel:

Anawangin has lost most of its charms. The place has become dirty and crowded. On our last visit on April last year, there were less than 15 tents (and that was on the most crowded week of the summer). That number has multiplied by at least three times.  It is now  just a notch better than the stretch of beach in Pundaquit and is approximating the feel of a campers’ version of Galera (minus the loud nightlife). The best thing about our trip were the scrabble games. Scrabble on the beach by the candlelight under the stars while dipping corn chips in hot salsa is geeky paradise. Despite all this, Anawangin remains quite photogenic.

April 2008 (very few people)


April 2009 (flags, trash, campers under every available tree on the beach)


On health:

Drinking more than every other day for the past two weeks now for no reason. Bad for the liver and the abs.

On work:

Writing continues to escape me. It’s been more than three months!

On drama:

Love is gross. I want nothing to do with it and yet it follows me everywhere. Please be rid of me!


Apo Reef

13 04 2009

Jellyfish sting marks and sandfly bites all over the skin of my limbs are a small price to pay for the loveliness that is Sablayan. Getting there is half the fun: a short bus trip to Batangas Port followed by a three-hour ferry across the Verde Island Passage before disembarking in Abra de Ilog for a scenic (and often rough) 3-hour drive across the northern half of Occidental Mindoro. Sablayan is a pleasant, quiet town and is the jump off point to Pandan Island and Apo Reef. A bridge over the Sablayan River:

Apo Reef, Asia’s largest atoll-like reef, is three hours southeast of Sablayan town. It is breathtaking above and below water,. Wildlife spotted: diving sea turtles, crawling baby sea turtles, escaping mantas, soaring raptors and various other sea creatures. No sharks and dolphins however. At night, sandflies swarm and they bite on any exposed skin and they are probably one of the most horrible creatures to have ever existed in the universe. A shadow of a lighthouse falls on the island’s white beach and clear waters:

Pandan Island, 20 minutes from Sablayan, has nice, white sand beaches, good snorkeling and plenty of foreigners. Nice place to relax. Spotted wildlife: lionfish or parrotfish (couldn’t tell!), sting ray, clam and many many colorful fishes. Pandan Island beach:

Damage: less than 4k for 4 days. Super worth it.

Next stops for me: Polilio/Jomalig, Caramoan (again!) and Calaguas. Crossed fingers.


31 03 2009

This is Cagbalete Island in Lamon Bay, Mauban, Quezon:

Along with Anawangin/Capones, it is the best weekend destination: really really low low tides, interesting birds and marine creatures, unexpected geologic features, deserted beaches, accommodating people. It’s hard to imagine that this place is very inexpensive (if you commute and camp) and so accessible from Manila. Just make sure you bring a good cook with you.


3 03 2009

And I know I have been driven like the snow
But this is cooling faster than I can
This is cooling faster than I…

-Tori Amos, Cooling

Ilocos is nothing short of breathtaking. Clear skies, blue seas, crashing waves, lush fields, clean towns, good food, grand churches, rich history – a photographer’s wet dream. Attempts at giving justice to this beautiful part of Luzon.

Bangui wind farm

Paoay church

Five thoughts:

1. Saud Beach is lovely. I want to stay in Pagudpud for the rest of the summer and be gloriously unproductive.

2. Bumabata. I may probably possess some possible potential at being maybe good at billiards. Finally, a ‘sport’ other than scrabble that loves me.

3. Sausage fest. I ate pork for the first time in three months (yes, this is important, breaking news that everyone needs to know). But not even Vigan longganisa dipped in Ilocos vinegar can convince me to eat pig or cow again.

4. Watermelons. Recently saw Tsai’s 2005 film The Wayward Cloud where, among other things, characters suddenly burst into campy musical numbers, and where watermelons are used in ingenous ways to make a porn shoot more interesting. Pinkish, watery fruit will never be the same.

5. Cooling. Although this has been cooling faster than I can, I am in no hurry to let go of this absurdity and move forward. This type of silliness doesn’t come too often. The last time that approximates this magnitude happened about a decade ago (and even then it was too complicated to be any fun). I’m set to face the most taxing four years of my life in a few months, so why waste time stressing now? I need to parteh! Governor Vi, come on tell me please, where’s the parteh?

Here comes the sun

23 02 2009

Since ‘summer’ is almost here, some beach recommendations! Seven best destinations within 4 hours of Manila.

7. Botolan, Zambales. Deserted, quiet beaches if you know where to look. (3.5-hour drive)


6. Nasugbu, Batangas. Nothing but fond memories here, although it’s been 5 years since my last trip. (3-hour drive)

5. Subic Bay, Zambales. Accessible, if a bit crowded, white sand beaches. (2.5-hour drive)


4. Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. Peace and quiet is still present here if you stay away from White Beach. (2-hour drive and 1-hour boat ride)


3. Anilao, Batangas. Best diving in Luzon. (3-hour drive)


2. Laiya, Batangas. Laid-back beaches and some good snorkeling. (4-hour drive)


1. Anawangin Cove and Capones Island, Zambales. Stunning describes Anawangin, a place where the mountains meet the sea and where pine trees grow on white-sand beaches. Capones, meanwhile, is a rocky island with serene white sands, grassy hills, and a picturesque lighthouse. (3-hour drive and 30-minute boat ride)



In less relevant matters, summer haiku!

Let’s (#51)

sunsets melt on sand
where simian eyes stare back.
brown hills are pretty


Laiya (#53)

silent westward drift
I watch deep blueness pass by.
a boy dreams awake

Captivating Caramoan…

15 10 2008

…On the Cusp of Commercial Development

Instead of turning to Boracay or Palawan as a model for tourism development, I suggest Caramoan look toward Sagada, a success story of community tourism management with a notable absence of Manila and foreign capitalists. And I guess the best way to do this is to keep it inaccessible from mass tourists. Construct an airport and things will go downhill. Considering that an airport is planned in 2010, we have a year and a half more before that happens at least.

Caramoan’s charms lie not really on its wonderful karst landscapes nor on its powder-fine beaches nor on its clear, emerald waters, but on its unique marriage of nature, people, food and culture. A town deeply steeped in Catholicism (we saw several processions venerating the Virgin Mary) and rurality, Caramoan has a laid-back atmosphere where people go about with their everyday lives as they have for decades, and where you still become the object of curious stares from locals. When we hopped from one island to the next, we found ourselves totally alone (and this was on a weekend), except maybe for a solitary, persistent cat in Sabitang Laya (the island’s own Isadora). All these are bound to change with the town’s inevitable transition from its nascent version of tourism. If this happens, there will always be Casiguran.

More photos here.


29 02 2008

Caught sight of the infamous former First Lady a few hours ago prior to dinner at the Bahay ng Alumni. Her face was powdered white and she wore her green dress with regal poise and grace. I was totally starstruck.

Journeyed to northwestern Luzon over the weekend. First stop: surfing at San Juan, La Union. Here is me in various attempts at not embarrassing myself.

I think I did moderately well and I would’ve enjoyed it more had I not been too eager to please my Manny-look-alike instructor. Even in surfing, I can be such a nerd. But oy, another possibly expensive hobby. Also, I was told my surfing skills was featured on a photo in the Feb 24 Sunday edition of the Inquirer. Someone send me a copy!

Climbed Baguio for the festival with flowers in the afternoon and the city was in total chaos. I was never a fan of Baguio, maybe because of the disillusionment that comes with its claim as a relaxing City of Pines with cool, fresh air (none of these is true, except maybe for the term ‘City’). During the trip, I saw Baguio as kind of a cooler, hipper Quiapo with good places to eat, and this actually gave me a renewed appreciation for the sprawling mountain city of half a million people.

Showbiz people:

Kimerald (She waved at me!!)

Barbara Sta. Maria-Lacson and Jomari of Pops

Melanie Marquez was here. No kidding.

In possibly less happy matters, I finally received a first comment regarding my thesis and it was a mixture of mostly positive and strangely negative news. It was supposedly a ‘solid’ research, but it was apparently ‘bloodless’. How do you fix a ‘bloodless’ thesis??? Wrist-slitting over the title page? Transfusion? Rosa Rosal?