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.
Puddles of water left by low tide at sunrise in Dampalitan Beach.
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.
Tiny and Oyet on the beach.
February 25-26, 2012
This is my long overdue post on the wonderful time we had in Tondol Beach Pangasinan.
Tondol Beach is in Anda, Pangasinan. Anda is called the mother of the Hundred Islands in Alaminos since it is an big island separated from mainland Luzon by a River and is only a few kilometers west of the famed islets. It is probably bigger than all the hundred islands combined.
I’ve read in some blogs that Anda offers the best beach that the province of Pangasinan has to offer. I’ve initially set on a trip to Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan but after seeing how Tondol Beach looks in google maps (kilometers of exposed white sand), I decided to plan the trip to Anda instead.
With my trusty and ever kaladkarin companions, we set out to Anda, Pangasinan. Joining us for this trip is Ellidel (Eman’s friend) and her companions. We did several research on how to get to Anda as it is not a famous town and information on the web is rather paltry.
Another sunset shot.
Going to Tondol entails riding a bus to Alaminos, Pangasinan (which took us about 4 hours due to traffic), a jeepney ride to the town of Anda (about an hour) and hiring a tricycle to Anda Beach (30 minutes or so). On our arrival in Alaminos, we had lunch and bought food and other supplies in CSI Warehouse Supermarket.
Instead of riding the public jeepney to Anda, we just hired one to take us to the town of Anda and bring us directly to Tondol Beach. (There were tricycle drivers asking us to hire them to bring us to Tondol but it is too far for a tricycle).
Our color coordinated tents.
On arriving in Tondol Beach, there is a minimal entrance fee (P10 or P20 per person). Ellidel and her companions looked for a room to rent while the six of us pitched our tents (we like roughing it). Oyet and I have the same model of tent (Apexus tadpole) while Jem and Badz have just bought an Apexus Halcon tent of the same but darker hue.
My first intentionally skewed landscape shot (sunset).
Similar to previous trips, Jem and Badz are our cooks with Jason, Oyet and Tiny helping out while I bum around. They cooked afritada and some other dish I can’t remember.
Mardi Gras vodka schnapps (left) and our shot glass (right).
Jason and I are supposed to share a tent but since it was hot and humid, he decided to sleep on the cottage while I snore my way into the morning inside the tent.
While they are cooking breakfast, I decided to go to the other side of the beach (the side opposite the rising sun) and take my photos there.
What wonderful light!
Early Morning Calm.
My picture taken by Tiny. I won’t let her forget this since the horizon is not level!
Breakfast includes fried rice, scrambled eggs (one with tomato and another without), tinapa (smoked fish), Mah-Ling (chinese meat loaf) and salted eggs.
After our breakfast, we decided to hire a boat to go to Tanduyong Island and Cory Island.
Canon 60D with 18-135mm lens.
Lazy and busy today. Here is a photo of the sunrise in Dampalitan Beach, Padre Burgos, Quezon. Parts of the shore is lined with fishpens. I like mornings at the sea with the sea just calm and reflective of the light.
December 17-19, 2011
Oyet and Kyt.
After the fun time we had in Polilio Island, I planned a trip to Cagbalete Island – one of the first islands I saw while looking at wikimapia. Cagbalete Island is found on Lamon Bay (Pacific side) off the coast of Mauban, Quezon. Based on pictures on the internet, Cagbalete Island has a beachfront extends a kilometer or more during low tide.
I planned the trip and had my friend Kyt arrange the lodging in Pansacola Resort where we got a small discount.
There were supposed to be 9 of us going to the island. Josh had a nightout on Friday night and was drunk so he overslept and was not able to come. We met in JAC Liner bus station in Kamias, which is the only bus to have a direct trip to Mauban, Quezon (530am). The bus trip takes 3-4 hours in the morning (no traffic) and still passes by Lucena Grand Central Terminal.
We arrived at Mauban and had to take a tricycle from the Mauban bus terminal to the port. Some of us also went to the public market to buy food and other stuff for cooking.
The boat is supposed to leave the port at 9am but it left at around 1030 or later. Due to the limited schedule of boats to Cagbalete, the boat owner just wants to have as many passengers as he can fit in the boat. The boat is filled to capacity (probably more than capacity) with people and merchandise (sacks of rice, blocks of ice, groceries, etc.).
The boat ride is supposed to be just 45 minutes but due to the strong waves (Typhoon Sendong is wrecking havoc in Mindanao but some of the effects can be felt in Luzon), it took us 1.5 hours of dizzying boat trip (many of the kid passenger actually vomited).
At the time we arrived there, it was still high tide and the beach was filled with seaweeds. Jem and Badz cooked lunch while Jason, Kyt and I took photographs and Eman and Nido just rested.
The sands of Cagbalete.
When the tide is finally low, we beheld the beauty of the beach. It was finally time for us to have some fun!
Oyet just being Oyet.
Jem and Badz photoshoot.
Eman buried in the sand (photo by Badz).
During low tide, the water is so shallow that even if you’ve walked a kilometer, the water level will still be just up to your knees. Getting wet then means rolling in the sand and getting wet by the wind. Thus, the snorkels brought by Jem and Oyet and the goggles that Jason and I brought went unused.
Jason and Kyt.
Jem cooked one kilo of spaghetti and they roasted (over charcoal) a kilo or more of pork. Jem and Badz also cooked sinigang na baboy (my favorite).
That night, we had our socials which involved using the liquor we brought The Bar and another liquor (probably Emperador Light). And finally time to sleep and rest our tired bodies.
Mattresses provided by the resort (middle), my tent (left) and Jason’s tent (right).
There is enough space for all of us to sleep in the cottage and the resort provided mattresses and mosquito nets. However, Jason and I decided to sleep inside the tents we brought (we set up the tents inside the cottage).
Kyt, with hair flying in the wind.
In the morning, we all prepared to pack and go home on the 1pm boat trip back to Mauban. However, it seems that Sendong had other plans. The effect of the typhoon went up north and caused strong waves. All boat trips to and from Cagbalete were cancelled. All of us called or texted our officemates to inform them that we cannot go to work Monday as we’re stranded in the island. We thus had an extra day in the island. In the morning, we just lazed around and I just did some pictures of shells, plants and flowers.
We also decided to see the east side of the island (the port is facing west towards Mauban, Pansacola is at the southern tip and Villa Cleofas is at the eastern side).
The east side of the island features the bonsai island, a rocky island submerged during hightide and exposed during low tide. It has century old mangrove trees (so they say).
At that time (afternoon), the tide is at its lowest and we were able to walk from Villa Cleofas to bonsai island without any problem (the islet is just in front of Villa Cleofas).
The low afternoon sun as seen on bonsai island (left) and the mangrove tree on bonsai island (right).
Nido, Eman and I swam beside the island (though the waves are strong and crashes to the rocks of the island). Of course we took photos (what else is there to do) and looked at some of the creatures trapped in the shallow pools of the rocks (there are some black starfish-like creatures with long spiny tentacles).
The clouds lifted momentarily and we hurried back to our cottage to photograph the setting sun. Alas we were too late. From bonsai island back to Pansacola is about an hour walk at a leisurely pace of 30 minutes at a fast pace. It was already dark when we arrived at our cottage.
Dinner that time was canned goods bought from a sari-sari store. Oyet and Jason also bought Boracay Rhum (cappuccino flavor) and lambanog na sasa. Boracay Rhum doesn’t taste so good but it’s nectar compared to lambanog na sasa. The lambanog smells like spoiled food and tastes like feet (not that I’d tasted feet but it’s what I imagined feet would taste like). Sufficient to say that I’d never drink lambanog na sasa again.
Sunrise the following day.
The following day, we had to hurry in the morning so we can catch the 7am boat back to Mauban. We sneaked a few minutes shooting the rising sun (more like streaks of light showing through heavy clouds). We almost missed the first boat trip back. Thankfully, the boat owner returned for us. It was a full boat! (Locals and tourists who were not able to get off the island the previous day plus those who are really scheduled to leave the island Monday).
The boat trip back to Mauban was only 45 minutes as the storm has passed and the sea was calm. In Mauban, we met the owner of Pansacola Resort and then we boarded a van for Lucena, ate at ChowKing in the Grand Central Terminal and then boarded the bus back to Manila.
Getting stranded on an island is not that bad if you’re with good and fun company
Our Lost/Survivor/Next Top Model picture in Bonsai Island (Jason, Nido, Eman, Oyet, Kyt, Jem, Badz and me).
April 17-18, 2011
Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak and the third highest in the Philippines. Probably one of the most climbed mountain in the Philippines.
When I started mountain climbing, I’ve read a lot about mountains in the Philippines (mostly through Pinoy Mountaineer website). One of the most visited page on that site is for Mt. Pulag. I decided to climb it soon.
Lucky for me, DPM (the group I joined for my first climb in Arayat) was scheduled to climb that mountain in April. I invited Felix to join me in this climb (hence, the training climb in Mt. Maculot in my previous post).
The famed Pulag grasslands.
We were supposed to climb it on April 16-17 (Saturday-Sunday) but due to the scheduled Climb Against Cancer, DPM moved the climb to Sunday-Monday as the DENR advised that the mountain will be full (200 or 300 carrying capacity).
The road to Pulag is a long one: a bus ride to Baguio (we left on the 11pm bus trip), a “monster” jeep from Baguio to the DENR office in Kabayan (which takes around 3-4 hours including some break in a resto and a stop to view Ambuklao dam), 30 minute video presentation + pep talk by Ma’am Mering (DENR officer in the Pulag National Park) and another 2 hours or more of road trip through rough roads (very dusty when we visited).
The official jumpoff is the Badabak Ranger Station. On arriving there, we saw the many (and I mean many) participants of the Climb Against Cancer (including Jeffrey Santos and Rocky Salumbides). A quick lunch at the ranger station then off we go up, up, up!
The trail through Ambangeg is not that difficult (many Luzon mountains, including Batulao, Maculot and Pico are much harder) but the combination of the cold climate, the thin air and high elevation, not to mention the time and expense it takes to get to Pulag from Manila makes this a “major climb”. The trail begins through a dirt road passing through plots of lots converted to vegetable plantations, then through a mossy forest (not that thick on the trail), then through the famed grasslands of Pulag (which contains dwarf bamboo grass). It took us a few hours (3-4 hours from the ranger station to Camp 2, grassland camp).
The grassland camp (picture above and below – right side of the picture).
When we arrived at the campsite, we rested for a while, set up our tent and rested some more. Rain (on a summer day) began to fall and I and Felix got drenched inside my cheap dome tent as water got inside and I had to poke a hole in the sack flooring so that water could go outside. Thankfully, the rain only lasted less than an hour.
The rain was soon replaced by fog and the temperature went to 14 degrees Celsius (in summer!). I was wearing a shirt, a sweater, a jacket, a bonnet, sock, pants, and still I felt cold. I did not join the socials as I had a headache or was too tired but I kept waking up due to the cold.
We woke up early the following day as we had to trek to go to the summit before sunrise (an additional 1.5 hours of walking through the grasslands). Three of our companions – Joel, Aisa (his wife) and Blezh (Aisa’s friend) – chose to stay behind in the camp to sleep.
Sunrise at the summit is beautiful and I get to see the so-called “sea of clouds”. Pictures here, pictures there, yosi here, yosi there until the sun rises and time to go down.
Mt. Pulag’s summit.
On getting back to camp, they cooked breakfast (cooking is not my thing) and after we ate, it was time to break camp and descend. We passed by the DENR office again to get the t-shirts we bought (which says “I survived Mt. Pulag”) and then finally a dinner at 50’s Diner in Baguio before we rode a bus home back to Manila.
It was on this climb that I first met Blezh (when I first saw her, I just thought that this girl is all about makeup – retouching when we arrived in Baguio, in the DENR office, in the ranger station, at the campsite, on return to the ranger station) who became a good friend of mine and a climb buddy through some memorable climbs; James (what can I say, he is fast, barely a month after he first met Blezh in Pulag, they became a couple); Edel (unforgettable line: “Gaano pa ba katagal hanggang camp” “1 hour” “Pahinga na lang tayo dito ng 30 minutes para 30 minutes na lang lalakarin natin”); and the sweethearts Ochock and Lirio (sweet but not cheesy).
James, me, Allan, Aisa, Blezh, Bong and Ochock.
Dyumar, James, Edel, Alan, Ochock, Lirio, me and Felix.
* * * * *
On this climb, I get to see the beauty of Mt. Pulag. I would eventually return and face it’s harshness giving true meaning to the t-shirt print “I Survived Mt. Pulag” but that would be for another post.
(All pictures taken with my Samsung point-and-shoot camera, except as indicated).
I love my Fuji X10. It’s a small camera but the quality of its pictures can rival that of my Canon DSLR shot using a kit lens. I love its pictures and I love the colors!
What I also love about this camera is that it’s small enough and can be relatively simple enough so that I can concentrate on framing and composition rather than technical stuff like aperture, shutter speed, etc.
However, as many have noted, there is an issue with white orbs (or discs) appearing at some pictures. I’ve taken perhaps hundreds of pictures with this cam and have only seen these white discs only once.
The picture below is of a sunset in Anda, Pangasinan and it shows the white discs on the sun peering through some foliage and branches.
Despite the white orbs, many of my friends still like the picture.
Other than the white orbs, the Fuji X10 is a perfect little camera. Here are some additional pictures taken (the same morning) with Fjona.
The above pic has been post-processed in lightroom (split-toning) and some additional sharpness.
Another pic (also from Tondol Beach):
I’ve also used this camera exclusively on our Hot Air Balloon Fest in Clark but that is for another post.