Oh My Gulay!
Oh My Gulay! is a vegetarian restaurant in Session Road. It is located on the 5th floor of an old building. From the outside, the restaurant (with its curved roof) looks like it could be a gymnasium or a warehouse. There is no elevator in the building so it’s stairs, stairs, stairs (but I guess Baguio residents are used to walking inclines).
A view of rows of buildings in Session Road * Stairs going up to OMG.
When you get inside the restaurant for the first time, you’ll be blown away – it’s surreal! Most of the floors are uneven, the posts are leaning in different directions. There is a mosque-church facade close to a wooden ship, a stage, veranda etc. It’s like a place you’ll see only on your dreams.
Even the comfort room is very different. The area was not made to maximize the number of tables and chairs where people can eat but was made to show the customers different works of art and to give them a new experience.
There are various art stuff around – those that caught my eyes is a carving of an Igorot woman giving birth (near our table) and a stylized fish (also near our table).
There is also a small room for exhibiting artwork but the whole place is actually a big art exhibition center. When we got there, there was preparation for an art exhibit titled “Igorotak” which is supposed to show the culture of the Igorots in our modern times.
And the food… delicious! The onion rings we ordered was the tastiest I’ve ever tried. The OMG rice I tried was also good and I didn’t miss the meat!
Oh My Gulay Rice.
Tired and asleep.
After getting a little nap, it was time for us to go (past 3pm). Eman got his dream birthday cake (a very heavy chocolate caramel cake from Don Henrico’s) and we rode a bus to Eman’s home in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan where we were to have dinner and spend the night.
The next day we’ll be going to Manaoag, Dagupan and then back to Manila… (continued in another post).
Group shot (by Eman).
Chocolate de Batirol
Chocolate de Batirol is a quaint chocolate shop/cafe in Camp John Hay. It is surrounded by gardens and golf course and is very near (walking distance) from The Manor, a hotel/retreat house.
Batirol is a small brass/copper vessel used to prepare the chocolate drink. We used to have one back when I was a child but I think it’s already lost.
The hot chocolate tastes good taken in the cool climes of Baguio, particularly of Camp John Hay. But, I prefer the ones we used to prepare at home as it tastes more pure and the shell of the cocoa bean is not included when the tablea was made. By the time we arrived in Batirol, I was very tired and fell asleep for a few minutes.
Group shot (by Eman) * Batirol (vessel for preparing hot chocolate) (shot by Oyet).
Grounded while others are jumping (shot by Eman) * The shop’s menu (shot by Oyet).
Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay was formerly an American military camp. It was converted to an economic zone and is managed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. Inside the camp is a golf course, the Manor, some shops, an adventure camp, and lots and lots of picnic area (but the tables are for rent for Php100).
It was nice walking around the camp but since Baguio is on a mountain range, you have to walk up and down stairs, hills, etc.
The tiring walk around Camp John Hay was enough to make us a little hungry so we went back to Session Road to have lunch in Oh My Gulay!… (continued in Part 5).
After having our fill of Burnham Park, we took a cab to Mines View Park which is just outside of the city proper.
Mines View Park
Mines View Park is a small observation place where you can see the mountains. In the past it may have been beautiful but the houses and other buildings encroaching on the surrounding mountains lessened the beauty of the mountains. Now, the park is just home to many stalls selling souvenir items.
To have fun, we just hired some costumes from an old lady and did our fun photoshoot.
Jason and Oyet modelling * Our bags.
What were we afraid of?
Group shot (by Eman)
The Mansion and Wright Park
From Mines View Park, we rode a jeepney down to the Mansion.
The Mansion is what gave Baguio its title of Summer Capital of the Philippines. In early period of American colonization, the Mansion was built to serve as the summer residence of the American Governor General. Every year, from March to June, the Governor General and all of the members of the colonial government would go up to Baguio to escape the hot summer temperature of Manila.
Today, the Mansion is just a reminder of this past though the President sometimes still go up here.
Right in front of the gate of the Mansion is Wright Park (named after an American Governor General). The Park has a lagoon and on its end, a stair taking you to an area where horses can be rented and you can ride the horse around (or to some trail like the Crystal Cave).
A white horse with mane colored pink. Women selling lanzones and longgan.
After Wright Park, we again rode a taxi to Camp John Hay to have hot chocolate and rest… (continued in Part 4).
October 6, 2012
Burnham Park sits at the center of Baguio City. It was named after Daniel Burnham, the architect and urban planner of Baguio City. The park includes a man-made lake where boats of various shapes and sizes can be rented, a parade ground where most of the city’s important festivities (including the famous Flower Festival) is held, area for exercising and riding bicycles, etc.
The artificial lake in Burnham with the various boats for rent
The Baguio City Hall is located beside the Burnham Park. Other important structures (like Session Road, schools and the SM Mall) in the city are also located within walking distance of the park.
The park is an ideal place for exercise and there are many joggers, walkers and people who do aerobics/dances (led by an old guy).
When we visited Baguio, there was a dog walk to raise awareness about rabies prevention. There are also some people who walk or jog around the park with their dogs.
Of course, being visitors in Baguio, photo ops are de rigueur.
After Burnham Park, we took a taxi to Mines View Park… (continued in Part 3).
October 6, 2012
Eman’s birthday is October 7 (Sunday) but our trip started midnight on Friday. We arrived in Baguio City before 6am. Baguio City is a city in the mountains with an elevation of approximately 1500 meters above sea level. It is known as the City of Pines, City of Flowers, etc. Because of its elevation, it is a popular summer destination and it is also popular on Christmas for those who wish to experience a colder temperature than most of the country.
On arriving in Baguio, we went straight to the Baguio Cathedral.
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral (better known as Baguio Cathedral) is a catholic church sitting atop an elevated portion of the city near Session Road (and near the monstrosity that is the SM Mall). Construction started in 1920s and was completed in 1936.
We arrived very early in the morning (before 6am) but there are already people inside the church as there was going to be an early mass (or just early congregation prayers). As such, we were not able to get close to the altar (and since I was using a fisheye, no closeup of the altar and famous stained glass).
Volante and Session Road
After visiting the Baguio Cathedral, we went down to Session Road (accessible from the cathedral via concrete steps). Volante is a 24-hour restaurant (serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails). There we met Eman’s friend Giselle.
For my breakfast, I had so-called “Hanna sausage.” For those planning to have breakfast here, I discourage you to order this. It tastes like a not-so-good chorizo de bilbao. There are other breakfast meals that seem tastier like ham, bacon, etc.
After breakfast, we went down Session Road to go to Burnham Park. Session Road is probably Baguio’s most famous street due to the bars and restaurants on it. There is also a place for ukay-ukay (flea market for second hand items) near the bottom (near Burnham Park) where various items – mostly clothes but can also include household items and Christmas decorations.
Pedestrians in Session Road * Christmas items on sale at ukay-ukay.
At the end of Session Road is Burnham Park at the city center… (continued in part 2).
My first climb for the year is for Jason’s big 3-0 birthday. (Still can’t believe he’s 30, he looks like someone in his early 20s).
We met in StarMall Shaw. The attendees include Jason (the birthday boy), Kyt, Jekk, Jem and Badz, and two of Jason’s officemate – Bogs and Tiny.
From StarMall, we rode a jeep bound for Tanay, Rizal, then another jeepney to the town of Siniloan where we bought food and supplies and ate lunch in Jollibee (wasn’t really expecting Jollibee, the purpose of travelling other than to see places is to eat different).
From the town of Siniloan, we rode tricycle to the next town (Panguil, Laguna) to get to the jump off.
By all internet accounts and posts, Buntot Palos is an easy and minor climb. However, due to the rains of the continual rains, the trail is very muddy. This is compounded by the hoof tracks of the horses used by the locals to bring down firewood. It is indeed a very very muddy climb.
Due to delays in meetups, lunch, etc, we started climbing at around 1pm when the itinerary stated that we should be on the campsite at 1130am. It took us 4 hours going up due to the mud. We also met a group of guys who climbed to photograph the falls. They were obviously not mountaineers and came very ill-prepared, one was wearing flipflops. I think one had an injury so he was riding the horse of one of the locals. The guys said that the falls was very foggy and wet that they couldn’t take good pictures.
After four hours of climbing, we finally reached the campsite. It is not near the falls but we could hear the sound of water crashing down nearby. Well, the campsite should have been a welcome sight but it was not. The ground was really wet and that meant pitching tent in muddy ground.
After pitching tent, we decided to go to the falls. Jekk decided not to go to the falls to look after our things (the mountains around Rizal and Laguna have gained a reputation for having thieves).
Buntot Palos literally means “eel’s tail” and it’s probably named because of its shape (can’t see the resemblance though). The falls is located some 30 minutes away from the campsite and involves going down a steep slope. Since it has been raining hard for a few days, the volume of water coming down the falls is really high and current on the rocks and boulders is strong. We had to take extra care not to be swept by the current.
It was getting dark when we went back to the campsite and brought water from the falls for cooking.
Back at camp, dinner was cooked and eaten, hard drink and wine (I brought a cheap Bourdeaux) was consumed and there were lots of chatter. The talks was of a different kind, probably because there were two new persons with us – Bogs and Tiny. 🙂 After all this, we had a very wet night though we slept safe and sound inside our tents.
In the morning, another group of climbers whom Kyt knows arrived. They got lost during the night and camped in another area.
We had breakfast and it was time to break camp and descend. Our tents are wet and muddy that we had a hard time packing them.
On our way down, we stopped by a stream and washed our muddy tents, tarps, etc. They became more wet but at least got cleaned from all the mud.
If going up a muddy trail is difficult, going down is probably as difficult or more difficult. Instead of just letting gravity do most of the work on descent, we had to fight it in order not to slip. Kyt slipped several times, Tiny (with her sandals) slipped a couple while the rest of us also had our moments.
On reaching the jumpoff, we cooked spaghetti for lunch before going back to Manila. In arriving in Metro Manila, we didn’t go straight home but had some drinks in a bar near Shaw (except for Jem, Badz and Bogs). Then finally home for a well-deserved rest.
For this climb, I brought 3 lenses (1 lens was unused), a tripod (unused), a wired remote (unused), 24gb of storage (in 2 SD cards) but only came home with 116 pictures and very few decent ones. The lens got stuck on the camera and it got so foggy in the end that I couldn’t use it until the fog evaporated much much later. My phone (a Samsung SII) got wet inside the tent and broken.
Buntot Pulos is a nice waterfalls but our timing was so wrong (well, it is expected that it will rain since it was the celebration of someone’s birthday). There will be a return but not in the near future, and definitely not during the rainy season.
After our visit to Paco Park, we got hungry and went to Binondo (Chinatown) for lunch. We ate at a Chinese fastfood Wai Ying (didn’t know that they have more than one location).
After that we went to Divisoria and bought some folding spoon, fork and knife (for outdoors). It was really really hot. We decided to go to Fort Santiago (in Intramuros).
On the Fort Santiago tram (shot by Felix).
I’ve been to Fort Santiago before (on my first photowalk with Felix). I think I’ve shot most of the details in Fort Santiago so this time, I shot fewer of them.
Jose Rizal in prison, the gate and detail of the cornerstone.
The Pasig River as seen from side of the wall.
One of my favorite subjects – plants and flowers. The lilies are below the bridge on the way to the gate. The wild grass flowers are located on the wall and they are backlit by the low-angled sun.
Rizal’s sculptures on display in the museum.
Rizal is a true Renaissance man, good in many disciplines. I realize however that good as he was, he’s not as good as those who are truly dedicated to one discipline (his sculptures are not as good as Rodin, for instance).
Rizal’s “cookset” * a representation of him writing in prison * his lantern (the one in which he slipped the copy of his “Mi Ultimo Adios”.
Other photo opportunities are provided by the people working in or visiting the place.
Tiny reaching for the stars * Jason photographing some fallen flowers/leaves
Me kneeling before Father Stone (shot by Felix) * Jason being chummy with Father Stone.
Angry-looking Oyet * Resting after a full day.
A couple of photos that became my Facebook cover photo for a while:
Tingloy is one of the islands I found using wikimapia. It is an island-town in Batangas, formerly called Maricaban Island. After finding Tingloy, I searched online for a place to visit and camp in the island and read about Masasa Beach, a public beach. People who’ve been to Tingloy (through reading blogs) were fascinated by its beauty so I resolved to go there.
It was more than a month since I found the island online before we were finally able to go there.
For this trip, there only four of us (Oyet, Jason, Felix and myself) and we dubbed ourselves the “Fantastic Four”.
Going to Tingloy
Going to Tingloy involves riding a bus from Manila (in our case, Buendia) to the terminal in Balagtas. From there, a long jeepney ride to either Anilao Port or Talaga Port (Php35). We initially wanted to ride a boat from Anilao Port but the locals said that the waves maybe too strong so the boats docked in Talaga Port. Fortunately for us, the jeepney is going to Talaga Port so we did not have to ride another vehicle.
The last boat trip to Tingloy leaves the port at 1030am and we arrived there around 930am so that gave us enough time to buy food from the nearby market.
The boat trip from Talaga Port to the port in Tingloy (Php70 each) takes about 45 minutes (in good sunny weather). We arrived in Tingloy and rode a tricycle from the port to Masasa Beach (which is on the other side of the island, Php60). From the point where we had to alight the tricycle it is around 10 minutes walk down to the beach through a ricefield.
There are several plots of ricefield between the road the beach itself. When we visited Tingloy, it was planting season and the rice seedlings are either ready for replanting or being replanted.
There were some birds on the area (I think mostly crows) and one would have been a perfect picture -a blackbird carrying food (I think a frog) in its mouth while flying low. Unfortunately, both of my hands were occupied by water containers – a missed opportunity.
If I am to summarize what I think of Masasa Beach, it would be “very nice water, not-so-good beach.”
The water on the beach is very very clear (like the one in Calaguas). The sand on the sea is white and fine. In fact, it is a very good beach for swimming.
But for me, being a photography enthusiast, the beach is as or more important than the sea (for swimming). Eversince I’ve gotten a DSLR and looked at various landscape photos and studied composition techniques and obtained an ultrawide lens, I’m always looking for a good foreground. Alas, the beach offers none (or very limited).
Masasa Beach is a public beach. There are no entrance fees, no caretakers. A large part of the beach is taken over (probably had the land titled) by a family who erected and semi-abandoned a resort (thus, ruining the view). Beside this wall is where we erected our tents (four of us, four tents).
Our campsite with our tents.
The whitish sand beach is littered with corals, small rocks and shells but these are overwhelmed by the large quantity of garbage and coconut shells and husks. There are some nipa huts near the beach, houses of fishermen and their boats are docked on the beach. Three boats (ferrying passengers from Tingloy to mainland Luzon) also docks near Masasa Beach as the waves here are not as strong as on the other side of the island where the port is located.
Despite this, we’ve had a nice time swimming in the beach (the weather was nice and hot and the water temperature, even at night, is just right). However, I spent most of my time sleeping (having had no sleep the previous night).
Lunch was the caldereta cooked and brought by Oyet (delicious by the way). It was really nice sleeping there because of the wind coming in from the sea (though the weather was really hot).
A fishing boat docked near one of the houses (shot late afternoon).
As I said, I slept most of the time, due to lack of sleep and probably due to frustration at the lack of good foreground element (my ultrawide lens was not used for the whole trip). However, I did manage to get some relatively ok landscape pictures, mostly around sunset and sunrise.
I took a few shots at sunset and used a tripod, mirror lockup, low ISO (200 I think) and shutter delay, all to ensure good and sharp pictures (not satisfied much with the outcome though.
Dinner was the leftover caldereta and Bagnet (which I bought from Vigan the previous week), and pinakbet. Of course, liquor will always be present (Emperador Light this time). It was also nice swimming at night though it is dark since the moon is not bright.
In the morning, I opened the door of my tent and looked out to see the sunrise. Since I didn’t find the sunrise spectacular, I just shot some pictures while lying on my belly inside the tent.
See also Random Photo: Three Boats of Tingloy.
The boats leave Masasa Beach early in the morning (taking some passengers), go to the main port (where most of the passengers board) and then off to Batangas. We decided not to go back on these trips (last regular trip to Batangas leaves at 9am) and instead hire a small boat for Php700 and will leave at 3pm.
We spent most of Sunday swimming, sleeping (me), taking pictures (the three of them) and preparing to go back. We cleaned ourselves in the irrigation well in the ricefield and then it was time to leave Tingloy.
We asked the tricycle driver (the one that brought us from the port to Masasa) to fetch us in the waiting but he forgot. We waited for more than 30 minutes before deciding to hire another tricycle. The tricycle driver brought us to the person we talked with the previous day regarding the boat. He brought us to the house near the sea of the boat owner but the boat owner told us to go to the port because he’s buying gasoline. Hence, exercise walking under the intense heat of the sun.
We waited on the port for our boat and when it arrived, we got anxious, it’s a small boat with no cover for a roof.
Clothes drying * Our ride back to mainland Batangas.
It docked (or rather was held by someone) near the port and we had to go down a slippery stone stair. Oyet broke the board on the front of the boat and my bag almost fell to the sea while boarding it.
On the way back: Me (left), Oyet (Jason behind her) (center) and Felix (right).
The waves were not that strong but since the boat was small, we could not go fast. A relatively big wave came, drenched Oyet, made it inside the boat (the boatman had to scoop water out). The ride back was ok though it was very hot and I had no covering.
We reached Talaga Port safely, rode a jeepney to Balagtas (diversion road), a jeepney to the bus station and finally a bus home.
It was quite an adventure. When we returned to Manila (and until Monday), my face was very red; Tuesday, my face began exfoliating and now, the skin on my left forearm (the one facing the sun on our way back) is flaking. A nice adventure but until such time that the beach is cleaned, I probably won’t go back to Tingloy yet.
It’s been a week since we went to Calaguas and I still am not finished editing and uploading the pictures, much more write a complete blog entry on this. I decided to just post pictures of us (7 in all) who braved the more than 24 hours travel and waiting time to get to and from Calaguas.
April 22, 2012
Last Sunday, we went on a Manila daytrip. The original plan only includes Paco Park (a place I’ve wanted to visit for quite sometime) then lunch at Binondo. We met in Jollibee Times Plaza in UN Ave. cor. Taft [though one doesn’t know how to follow directions 🙂 ].
Tiny behind the circular chapel (left).
Tiny, Jason and Oyet in front of the gate to the inner circle (right).
Tiny, pretty woman walking down the cemetery (left).
Friends who attended the Sunday mass inside the small chapel (right).
Paco Park is an old municipal cemetery during the Spanish colonial period. It consists of two circular walls and two or three adjoining smaller circles/half-circles. The dead were buried inside the walls (niches) one on top of another. However, all remains were removed from their tombs and placed somewhere. Jose Rizal, Philippines national hero, was briefly and secretly buried here before being moved to another location. Padre Burgos, Gomez and Zamora (three Filipino priests martyred during the Spanish times) were also buried here. There is also a small circular fountain in the middle (probably a later addition to the place).
Right now, the cemetery is now a park that is popular venue for weddings. (When we went there, there were preparations for a wedding that afternoon).
White leaves on a tree with a caterpillar (right).
In terms of photographic subject, there aren’t many except for the place, some plants and white doves (probably from weddings). I guess the place will be an ideal place for a prenuptial photoshoot (if the couple wouldn’t mind the slightly morbid theme).
This is the first time I tried to capture several shots of bird in motion and upclose. Though my camera body can keep up with autofocus (I think 7D will do), the lens attached (18-135mm kit lens) cannot keep with birds in flight, hence, most of flight shots were blurry.
After we got tired of Paco Park, we then rode a taxi to Binondo to eat lunch.
(to be continued in part 2).