Tag: photography

Batad Rice Terraces: No Words to Describe

Majestic, magnanimous and magnificent are not enough descriptions for me to illustrate the beauty and splendor of Batad Rice Terraces located in Ifugao Province here in the Philippines. I have been to quite a number of beautiful places and I can confidently say that Batad Rice Terraces ranks very high for being one of the most breathtaking places on earth.

Elementary school lectures about its location, its structure and how the rice terraces were created eons of years ago by my Filipino forefathers were my only personal encounter in the past. And most of what was lectured during my childhood days was about the Banaue Rice Terraces, which is a totally different place.

i was close to crawling! hahaha!

Let me clarify though that Batad Rice Terraces is different and is not the more famous Banaue Rice Terraces. The latter is near downtown Banaue with more modern buildings and structures. Actually, a couple of tourists from Banaue Rice Terraces who just side tripped to Batad (whom some of us got to talk to) has attested that Batad was indeed more beautiful!

the batad team!
someone’s posing at the back!

So let me brag that I was actually at a more stunning version! I could not believe that I was no longer just seeing photos and hearing it from lectures. I have upgraded because my physical being stepped on it and my very own eyes got to see the beauty, brilliance and grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Getting to Batad actually is already half the adventure. I have been to quite a lot of places but Batad seem to be the most remote place that I have been to. After a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Banaue, me and my colleagues then had to travel for another 1 and a half hour via rickety and un-air-conditioned jeepney. And after alighting the jeepney, we then hiked by foot for another forty minutes (some say it was only twenty minutes but since I walk so sluggishly, it took me 40) for us to reach the tiny and secluded village of Batad. But all intense exhaustion, buckets of sweat and excruciating body aches were all be gone once I sawthe massive splendor of the amphitheater-like rice terraces and remarkable landscape of the mountains.

Some world attractions would not allow tourists to enter or step into their renowned site. Others would charge for an entrance fee otherwise you would just have to satisfy yourself by seeing it from afar. But for Batad Rice Terraces, tourists are allowed to step in, can mingle with the farmers and get through the muddy catwalks of the terraces for free! This made Batad Rice Terraces even more admirable compared to other sites in the world.

For those planning to get to gorgeous 2,000-year old Batad Rice Terraces, here are seven tips to ponder before getting there:

  1. Bring lots of cash. No ATM around and no credit card payments accepted
  2. There is no such thing as five star accommodation in Batad. Actually, all accommodations seem to look like half a star or no star at all. But the view and the people more than compensates for it. It’s more than 10 stars!
  3. If you are the type who sweat buckets (like me), bring lots of shirts. Or if you are the type who would not mind smelling like a pig, then just bring 1 shirt per day of stay.
  4. Batad is the best place to get away and take a short rest from the internet world. There literally is no signal in the area. No choice but to get off-line during the duration of your stay.
  5. Bring Alaxan. Ibuprofen pain-relieving medicine was the most important piece of tablet that I popped as soon as I woke up after a dreamy night in Batad.
  6. Do it while you’re young. Batad Rice Terraces is not for physically challenged nor the fainthearted. I actually still could not believe that I survived and was able to accomplish walking through those dizzying slim and slender catwalk portions of the terraces.
  7. Pray! Pray that it won’t rain! Our tour guide told us that we were pretty lucky because the day before we arrived, it was raining all day. The terrain of course would be easier when it’s a bit dry compared to the muddy and slippery slopes of the mountain.

Prawd! Ay Surbayb Batad!

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Villa Escudero Waterfalls Was All Mine!

It’s been several times that I have been to Villa Escudero and with all those repeated moments that I have been there I always fail to have my photo right at its famous waterfalls.  Maybe it’s because in my previous visits, I feel discouraged because this prominent spot at Villa Escudero is always full of people trying to have their selfies or pictures taken.  There is always a frustrating photo bomber lurking within your camera frame.

But with my recent revisit, I made sure that I not only be taken a picture with, I also made sure that the whole waterfalls is all mine!

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magic!

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Here’s a great tip for those who are planning to visit Villa Escudero and have the waterfalls all by yourself.  All you need to have is your mobile phone, a gorilla pod (a camera tripod) and an alarm clock.  First thing you need to do is to set the alarm clock the night before you plan to have your awesome photos taken.  Set it at 6:00 AM and make sure to wake up at 6:00 AM.

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don’t go chasin’ waterfalls…
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i love this shot!

Then early in the morning bring your camera and tripod to the waterfalls.  Set it up and have awesome photos and videos taken!  Be there while everyone are having their breakfast.  Be there before all tourists flock the site.

Ang Bongga! Mag-effort sa ‘ngalan ng pikchur!

Interpreting Cupid’s Span at the Embarcadero

I am a big fan of art that are commonly found in museums.  The forms of art I often marvel about outdoors would be magnificent architectures and massive infrastructures.  But while having a walk along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, one massive piece of sculpture struck me.  It’s the humongous bow and arrow monument in the middle of Rincon Park.

Upon google search, I learned that the title of this masterpiece is Cupid’s Span built in 2002.  The artists who created this gigantic piece made reference to Eros, the Greek God also known to the Roman’s as Cupid who shoots arrows into its would-be-victims.

Unexpectedly discovering this cool piece of art was great!  Perceiving and understanding the statement that Cupid’s Span makes – like any other piece of art – can be very subjective.  It is open to the personal interpretation of the individual.  You either like it or you don’t.  I happen to love it!  It blends well and stands out pretty impressive with the surrounding location.  You can actually view Cupid’s Span from different angles, backgrounds and perspectives at different times.  And this unique attribute of this masterpiece gives you different opinion and feeling every time.

It is one unique landmark in SF which I guess celebrates love and how an SF visitor’s heart can actually get stuck and held immovable by the beauty of the sights and culture of San Francisco.  For me, it is an unflinching representation of the famous line, “I left my heart in San Francisco”.

And while taking photos of this massive masterpiece, I was gleefully unashamed singing Rachel Alejandro’s song, Mister Kupido! (click the LINK to that song) Hahaha!

Ba’t hindi panain, ang kanyang damdamin ng ako ay mapansin…

The Unpopular Other Bridge in SF

If bridges have emotions, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge would be suffering from the saddest form of depression.  It is because it lives in the shadow of its gorgeous cousin, one of the most iconic landmarks in USA, the Golden Gate Bridge.

shot this at pier 14
nice…

It must be experiencing the lowest form of inferiority complex! Can you just imagine though you are standing mighty and majestic, it is your closest neighbor that singers would sing about and painters would paint on their canvass.  Can you just imagine being the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and your sister (named Golden Gate) is the one chosen by photographers every time there is a photo shoot?  It would definitely feel like being the ugly step sister of a famous super model.

San Francisco-Oakland is so unpopular even those who plans to commit suicide living in Oakland would have to drive and cross it and then proceed to its megalomaniac neighbor, the Golden Gate Bridge where they would execute their plans of killing themselves.  Suicide committers I guess finds jumping at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to be prosaic and un-poetic.  Unlike jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge the suicide act, of course, would be more dramatic!

awesome…
selfie galore…

A lot of tourists even snob it and call this bridge un-sexy.  Though it has one of the longest spans in the US, visitors deemed it as the poor ugly cousin of the Golden Gate.  While for the locals who cross it every day, due to heavy traffic and congestion especially during rush hours, they would consider this pathway a daily disaster.

But despite all these collective discouraging image and reputation that Bay Bridge has been attached with, I nevertheless marveled at the beauty strength and majesty of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  It’s actually beautiful if you got to take a good look at this equally magnificent engineering master piece. I was actually at awe by its enormity!  No matter if people like it or not,  and thank goodness it does not have feelings at all, this engineering marvel and the commerce that it brings to the city keeps the SF metro alive.

Maganda din naman!

A Visit to the Palace of Fine Arts

Sometimes we grow up with images of a place thinking we’ll never see them in real life.  But when you finally get there, those images are just as magnificent as you expected.  The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco CA is one of those places.

i love this shot
majestic!
overwhelming!

There has been voluminous magazines, journals and publications in my younger years that this popular tourist attraction has been featured.  There are even lots of foreign movies wherein this place is the location shoot.  One in particular is a 1995 Filipino movie starring Lea Salonga and Aga Mulach entitled Sana Maulit Muli.  (Hahaha! Of course I remember that!)

And when I finally and personally got to see and feel the whole majestic beauty of the Palace of Fine Arts, the feeling is just but surreal.  I can’t actually remember how many times I sat on various locations of benches scattered around the park.  I even sat under a tree!  Maybe it is because I was too overwhelmed by the experience, I had to stop and breathe so as to sink all the prodigious feelings in.

smile!
pikchur muna

A visit to this gorgeous piece of architecture is one memorable highlight of my SF adventure.

Akalain mong makaraing ako dun?!

Sights of the Ruins of Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Park

The only thing I know about the prominent destinations in San Francisco prior to my arrival here in San Francisco are the Union Square and the Golden Gate Bridge.  I never knew that the amazing Ruins of Sutro Baths and the scenic Sutro Heights Park exists.

on my way to sutro baths…
awesome!
beautiful
if you swim that ocean, you will end up in baler quezon! hahaha!

Sutro Baths according to google is the largest public saltwater swimming pool complex that opened in 1896.  The baths struggled for years due to high maintenance costs.  It caught fire in 1966 and was never rebuilt.  All that remains are the concrete walls and passageways.  Sutro Heights Park on the other hand (meters away from Sutro Baths) is a park that offers the best scenic view of the Ocean Beach.

ocean beach!
amazing…

Though the ruins aren’t really old, but the sight and feel it offers is something sentimental to the point of being romantic.  Both location offers a little history on what it was like to be in majestic San Francisco decades ago.  Thanks to the front desk staff who pointed me to this amazing location.

Super nays…

Still Majestic & Magical in Bagac, Bataan

It’s been 5 long years after my return to Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar.  Five years ago the resort located at the edge of the Philippines radiates a feeling of how majestic and magical Filipino culture is.  And with my recent visit, five years later, the beautiful resort in Bagac Bataan has massively expanded offering more Filipino architectural wonders of the past.

In my second visit (this time with Beth, Wlillie and JB), I was again at awe on the richness and beauty of the Filipino culture and architecture.

beautiful
the building where we were billeted
my personal favorite… casa la drillo
the bagac gang selfie
still majestic… the former hotel where i and travel buddy karen was billeted 5 years ago
serene…

There has been some arguments on whether Filipinos are Pacific Islanders or South East Asians, but when one visits Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, one would realize that Philippines has a different character that is unique and of its own.  The architectural wonders along with the culture and customs linked to it as featured in Las Casas Filipinas are uniquely Filipino and could not be found anywhere in the Pacific Islands neither in the neighboring countries of south east Asia.

The best thing I like about Las Casas De Acuzar is that there is no ugly photo that we have shot.  One need not be a professional photographer to obtain an excellent photo.  Because of the beauty and stylishness of the place, every photo is Instagram worthy!

sunset… one of my instagram entries
a new thing near the lobby
strike a pose muna
magical! (with beth and willie)
will be back…

I don’t know if Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar is a popular foreign tourist destination.  I have yet to realize that because when we were there, all I could see are domestic tourists or Filipinos living abroad doing a short vacay in the Philippines.  This place has yet to be tapped by the foreigners.  And in case I would have a foreign visitor, Las Casas De Acuzar would be one awesome option for a destination!

Grabe! Ang ganda!