Our trip to Hundred Islands was motivated by our desire to go underwater. Luckily, Hundred Islands has a place for snorkeling and with giant clams as bonus!
I didn’t even think I’d even see giant clams. I once read a book about a boy whose leg was caught by a taklobo (giant clam). That was my first “encounter” with a giant clam and that was about 15 to 20 years ago. It was quite unreal seeing these magnificent (who are slow to close and the adult of which cannot fully close). They are of different colors, some blue, some purple and some green. Their lips are peppered with luminiscent spots. Good thing that there are many (probably hundreds) of them in the national park and that they are protected by the local government.
It seems that everytime I dive now, I can see Moorish Idols (so-called because Moors of Africa once considered them good luck). They are beautiful and graceful creatures that are very conspicuous in reefs.
Triggerfish are notorious for being very protective of their territory. In fact, another species of triggerfish bit my neck as I was diving down to look at some fish. It was a black triggerfish that hides under a rock/coral and went out to bite me. Fortunately, there was no skin break. Also, it is not this guy.
This one, I had trouble finding the identification on the internet. I first thought it was either an angelfish or a butterfly fish (based on its body). After combing through several sites, I found out that butterfly fishes generally have small mouth (such as this guy) and the color palette is limited to white, black, yellow and orange. This made it easier to narrow down the search to butterflyfishes and found the species name.
This fish I still couldn’t identify. From the body type, I assume it is a type of goby. The thing with gobies is that it is a very large family (or some other classification) of fishes that narrowing it down is difficult. So for now, I’ll just let this fish be unidentified.
Clownfish! Made very popular by Finding Nemo. I guess almost all people know this fish as Nemo. They are easy to spot due to their bright colors (though some are darker than the others). Once you find their anemone home, they are quite easy to photography as they will guard it very well. They will resort to intimidation tactics to try and scare you off. If you do not go, they may go inside their home and just peak and then go out to try and scare you again. Such bravado!
Other than fishes, snorkeling sites are often full of corals. Braincorals are the easiest to identify since they look like… brains.
Snorkeling and freediving for fishes is a fun activity. Another fun thing to do is trying to identify the fish species at home. For sure there’ll be more dives for me (just wish there is a better underwater camera for me though).
Hundred Islands is a national park located in Alaminos, Pangasinan (about 4-6 hours away from Metro Manila). It is composed of about 127 separate islands. Of these islands, only 3 or 4 are developed. The other islands are either too small, have no beach or both. There are undeveloped islands which are interesting – two of them are Monkey Island and Snake Islands, so named because of the inhabitants of these islands. Most of the islands are made of limestone and packed with vegetation, so dense are these vegetation that even if you manage to get on one of these islands, you’ll have a hard time squeezing through them.
The following two pictures were taken from Governor’s Island , one of the developed islands. Governor’s Island has the highest point (elevation) among the islands and these two pictures were taken from that point (using Olympus OMD EM5 and 12-50 lens). This highest elevation isn’t really that high as it takes only 125 steps up (through a cemented stairs). From this point, you can see most of the other islands but you’ll be hard pressed from distinguishing one from the other (other than they’re so alike, the hill is low so that in the distance, some islands looks like they’re merged).
The next picture (taken with Olympus TG2) shows Crocodile Island and Turtle Island, so named because they look like these animals. For the Crocodile Island, I can see the resemblance. For the Turtle Island, there is also resemblance to that animal but so does tens of the other islets near the area.
There is also another island called Marcos Island (named after former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos). According to our boatman, this island was named that because locals then believed that this is where Marcos hid some of his treasures. The island has a small beach and a small cave near the beach. There is also a path going towards the middle of the island.
The following two pictures (again taken with Olympus TG2) were taken at Quezon Island, named after then president, Manuel L. Quezon. This island is one of the biggest and the most developed of the islets. The island has two low rocky hills connected by a short sandbar. It is also one of the closest islands to the snorkeling area and to the giant clam sanctuary.
Quezon Island is probably the most popular among these hundred islands. There is a group of people who maintain the islands. There are two pavilions (with tables and chairs), some restrooms (which aren’t that clean and which use seawater, a couple of concrete cottages and a cute cottage on top of one of the rocks. There is also a small store that sells some food and essential at high prices. Other than our group, there were several groups camped in the island for the night but come Sunday morning, the island suddenly filled with people (who are there on daytour). We went to the snorkeling area for a few hours and when we returned, the island was dotted with people swimming, eating, etc.
For those planning to get there, it isn’t too expensive.
- Boat (can seat 10 people) – P2200 (P550 each)
- Overnight fee for all the islands – P80 each
- Tent pitch fee – P200 per tent (P100 each)
- Bus fare from Cubao to Alaminos – P395 one way (P790 both ways each)
- Shower (in one of the resorts in Alaminos) – P30 each
- Tricycle from town center to the wharf – P60 for one tricycle one way
- Food – you can bring your own food and cooking stuff
All in all, each of us probably spent less than P2000 for an overnight stay. Not so bad considering that this is the first time we say this National Park and the giant clams. Giant Clams!!!
This is my very first time to post a video here!
This was taken last weekend on our trip to Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan. There is a sanctuary for giant clams (known in Tagalog as taklobo) there are probably hundreds of them.
Please forgive the jerky motion and lack of resolution, clarity, etc. of the video. This was taken using Olympus TG2, with correction in exposure, contrast and vibrance in Lightroom and then spliced together using Windows Movie Maker.
I remember with fondness our trip to Tondol Beach. It was a long travel from Manila to Tondol but it was worth it.
Since at the time, I did not have a DSLR yet (the 60D was broken due to seawater), it was the Fuji X10 that I used. This is the first release of X10 with the sensor blooming but it took wonderful pictures (loooove the lens on that camera).
This is also the first time I learned about highlight-shadow toning and graduated filters in Lightroom so every shot was made colorful.
My Fuji X10 continues to take pictures (now with my sister) but the viewfinder is broken (no longer focuses/zooms) but it was and still is a great camera.
This is one of my favorite black and white photos. Taken in Patar Beach, Bolinao, Pangasinan, I just like the tones in the picture.
This was taken in Patar Beach, early morning. I had to clone out some of the people swimming in the beach (Lightroom’s clone stamp is great for this work). I just couldn’t get the people behind the boat’s rigger out.
It looks so much better on my screen before uploading to Facebook. Probably due to Facebook’s compression, the clarity of the picture is lost.
Patar Beach is located in Bolinao, Pangasinan. I’ve come across the name and pictures of this beach several times in the internet. Last weekend, our group planned to go there.
We were supposed to meet up in Victory Liner Cubao at 7am and ride the 730 bus. Due to the fact that this is early (for me), I overslept and arrived there at past 730am. They have gone ahead and all I could do was take the bus to Alaminos and then take another bus from there to Bolinao. Eman met me in Alaminos with the cooler (as I brought with me fish and meat which might spoil). After travelling almost a whole day, I finally arrived in Patar Beach at around 4pm!
(7am is early for me. It’s not too early that I could just skip sleeping and not late enough for me to have my normal sleep).
I was surprised when we arrived in Patar Beach. I had images in my mind of a quite beachfront where it would just be us and some other groups) camping on the beach. But lo and behold! There are many people in the beach! There are even permanent stalls selling souvenirs. This means that Patar Beach is a famous beach in the area. I should have been tipped off by the numerous resorts around the area that this will not be a place for solitude.
Anyway, the beach is really nice. The water’s saltier and the waves stronger than in our beaches. Fortunately, the water’s also very clear and there are small fishes very near the beach (I saw a black and yellow clownfish!). The weather’s nice and hot so we had a good stay there. To take tranquil photos, we had to walk further away from the public beach to photograph rock formations and waves.
The good thing about travelling with a group of photographers is that we get to visit several places that look good when photographed. The minor bad thing is that we’re basically photographing the same things. This was in my mind this weekend when we visited Bolinao, Pangasinan, particularly when we went to the Bolinao Lighthouse.
With this in mind, I tried to take shots of the lighthouse from different angles to get a shot that would be different from the others. Here they are:
Bolinao lighthouse, like many other lighthouses around the country, has fallen into disuse. With the use of GPS in larger ships and good weather and visibility in the area, the lighthouse has started to become more of a curiosity than a necessity.
The lighthouse is located on an elevated area that can be seen from the sea (and from the base of the lighthouse, you can also see the sea). I’m not sure if it is still functioning as the buildings surrounding the lighthouse is in ruins and nobody seems to be around to take care of it. Surely, someone is looking after the lighthouse but not necessarily to make it function but to provide tourists with a place to visit. Indeed, there is even a small makeshift store outside the lighthouse’s fence that sells souvenirs.
The lighthouse structure is still in good condition (unlike the surrounding buildings that were probably once used by the caretakers). It adds another area of interest in a town that has a nice beach and three or more fresh water caves.
I’m pretty sure my friends also got wonderful pics of the structure that I yet to see (not posted yet in facebook).