Last month, two friends of ours got married in a small and intimate wedding. We were invited as photographers and this was my first time to shoot a wedding this way. Having several camera systems (Canon, m4/3 and Fuji), I made a decision which camera to use based on only 1 criterion, flash. My Olympus EM5 and Fuji XE1 both have flash but they are small and not powerful. I also have three external speedlights but two are manual and the other only has TTL with Canon. Hence, it was Canon 7D + 15-85mm, 50mm 1.4 and the EOS with 22mm as additional camera.
For most of the events, I used the 15-85mm with the Nissin flash (with mini softbox/flash diffuser) mounted on the camera. I could use the 50mm for better image quality (especially in low light) but I’ll have to be changing lenses for wider shots and in fast-paced events, I’m not comfortable doing this. Eman was also there shooting but since he’s using the Samyang 85mm, there are some shots that he cannot take. Oyet also took some pictures using the Pentax K01.
The wedding was done in a resort in Batangas (beautiful place). It was on a garden near the pool (good thing since there was still light from the afternoon sun compared to a dimly lit church).
Anyway, the pictures of the ceremony and wedding preparations turned out well (well enough that I believe they came out much better than some people I know who’ve hired totally amateur photographers with a consumer DSLR + kit lens to cover their weddings).
The bride with their baby daughter (such an angel, didn’t cry the whole time we were there) * The bride and groom on the stairs of one of the villas before the wedding.
The bride and groom.
The wedding ceremony being presided by a Justice of Peace
Family and close friends.
After our trip to Mt. Pinatubo, we went to a famous restaurant in the north, Isdaan. Isdaan (Floating Resto and Funpark) is a located in Gerona, Tarlac (two towns north of Capas). We were only able to board a full bus so we had to stand inside the bus for quite sometime.
Lucky for us, our Pinatubo trip finished earlier than expected and we were able to arrive in Isdaan while there is still light enough to take pictures.
Isdaan is more famous for its giant sculptures than for its food. The attraction of the place is that you can rest and take pictures while waiting for your food. And this is not a place to eat when you’re in a hurry. During peak season and peak hours, you may have to wait for 30 minutes or more just to get a table and probably an hour more for your food to be served.
The Buddhas were one of the first sculptures inside the place. Giant buddhas in various poses reflecting serenity (several holding fish). Take a picture in one of the giant Buddhas and you brag to your friends that you’ve been to Thailand. 🙂
Just some photo ops.
Isdaan seems to be always in a state of repair and expansion. I first visited this place sometime in 2008 when I first worked for Thunderbird. Since then, several sculptures, floating huts and tables have been added. Right now, several more are being added. It’s a good thing that the place is located just outside of town and surrounded by ricefields (which can be bought at much lower prices compared to commercial land).
The earlier sculptures were huge and made of cement. Now, glass fiber and smaller ones are being added (and for me personally, some doesn’t add much to the place and distract from the other good ones). These are made in Pampanga I think and can be had cheaper compared to the huge cement sculptures.
We had a good time eating the food – different kinds of fried fish, tinupig na manok (barbequed chicken in coconut milk), sinigang na baboy (pork in tamarind soup), and some others. We were all full for Php305 each.
All shots were taken using Olympus OM-D and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 lens.
My take on Eggleston’s Tricycle. Except this is not a tricycle but a pullcart AND more importantly, probably no one would pay me big bucks to have a print of this.
This was taken in Calaguas with Badz goading the floating lantern to go higher and not fall in the sea.
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.
March 25, 2012
On my 31st birthday, I decided to celebrate it on a mountain (the first time I’ll be celebrating it this way). We climbed Mt. Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas.
For this climb, several of my mountaineering friends were able to join me – Ella, Oyet, Mumai, Marc, Jem, Badz, Eman, Erickson, Felix and Ni Hao (aka Jann Cris).
Me and my cake.
Most of us met in Baclaran and rode a bus bound for Nasugbu. Ni Hao joined us in Cavite while Felix, Marc and Mumai joined us in the jumpoff.
Felix arrived first in the jumpoff, then most of us. We waited in the baranggay waiting area for Mumai and Marc.
While waiting, we ate the chocolate Oyet brought. When Mumai and Marc arrived, we started on our way up the mountain. I was playing my “Sunday Special” playlist (old Tagalog songs) and one of the locals commented that the song doesn’t suit us (us, being young or young-looking). We were stopped by someone who introduced himself as the leader of the caretaker of the mountain and he said we are required to have a guide, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.
We secured a guide and commenced climbing. It was hot, very hot. And since this was my first time climbing after quite sometime (my last climb before this was February), I was not in a very good condition for climbing. Same thing with my companions, lots of rest and a slow pace in an otherwise easy mountain.
Ella, resting her body and her lungs.
Cows grazing, waiting for their time before becoming beef.
We came to an open area that is part farm (and grazing area for cows) and part reforestation area. There, dark clouds ominously formed but the didn’t dissipate the heat. Several minutes rest before pushing forward.
Clouds forming (of course this was edited to bring out the clouds’ details).
The original plan was to have lunch in the summit but due to our slow pace, we were much delayed and decided to have lunch on an open space before the final push for the summit. I brought three crispy pata (fried pork legs) and everyone had a hearty meal. We also ate the cake that my good friend Felix brought for me.
While waiting for lunch * Reheating our lunch.
After lunch and rest, we continued our push for the summit. And if began to rain! Having lunch before pushing for the summit was a good and fortunate call for us. Otherwise, we would be reheating the food in the rain.
The rain continued pouring down but we have to continue going up. Seems like all birthday climbs I’ve been to are rained upon. I just look on this as blessings from above.
We were all very very wet but we all manage to get to the summit. The rain was still pouring but we were still smiling. The feeling of being drenched in the rain is refreshing, a feeling I haven’t felt for a very long time. I think the last time it happened was when I was still in school, probably elementary school.
Mac and Mumai on our final push for the summit.
Our group at the summit – wet and cold but all smiles.
Badz and Jem, after the rain.
When the rain let up a little, we decided to start descending and the sky opened up. The wind blew the clouds away and the summit became free from clouds and fog. We could see the mountain, farmlands and the nearby Mt. Batulao, such a sight!
.Our ascent was very very hot and humid but the trail was good. On our descent, the temperature was quite good but trail became very muddy. On reaching the end of the farm/reforestation area, some of us (including me) got a little lost and descended via different trail which still led to the jumpoff but on a longer route.
On reaching the jumpoff, we looked for a place to clean ourselves. We also had some buko (young coconut) while resting. While waiting for everyone to finish (there was only two area for showering and the water had to be brought in from another house), Ella had a conversation with a storekeeper she just met where here marriage life was the topic. As a result of such openness to the storekeeper, she was able to have her dress (yes a dress!) ironed for free.
Eman, fresh and clean after all the dust and mud of the mountain.
Resting while Bro. Something (forgot his name) was talking.
It was dark when we left the area to go to Tagaytay for dinner. Tagaytay is famous for bulalo so we went to a place overlooking the Taal lake to have dinner (the overlooking place of course is wasted since it was already dark and what can be seen is just darkness).
We had bulalo in three forms – original, sinigang and bulalo steak plus crispy tawilis and perhaps other food. Everyone was full with the food and with the cholesterol from lunch and dinner.
Dinner time (Me, Eman and Jem). * Dinner conversation.
We were all supposed to wear something formal for dinner but only Ella, Mumai and Oyet brought their dress while the rest of us had casual clothes on.
Lovely ladies (Oyet, Ella and Mumai).
All of us were tired and sleepy after a full day and we also needed time to digest the cholesterol from the crispy pata and bulalo.
It was around 8 or so when we finally rode a bus home (with Eman immediately falling asleep and snoring loudly on sitting in the bus).
Such a wonderful birthday celebration but probably next year, I’ll have my celebration on the beach for a change.
Me and mini-me (shot by Felix).