The reception area of Las Casas is Casa Mexico (from Mexico, Pampanga). The house is built from house materials bought from a scrap yard and recreated using the most probable configuration of the house based on old pictures of houses in the area. The fountain on its side is probably new and is probably made by one of the property’s in-house artists.
White Island is a sandbar in Camiguin Island. It really is just a sandbar with nothing but sand (no trees, boulders, etc.). It is quite near the shore but you still need to ride a P450 boat o shuttle you back and forth from the main island to the sandbar. The boat is only good for 6, only 6 persons. There were 7 of us so we had to take two boats. The water’s clear and the sand is really white. There are some fish but I didn’t swim but just slept.
Katibawasan Falls is another falls we saw on our last trip. It is located on the island province of Camiguin and I believe is the most easily accessible falls on the island. After seeing the big and power Maria Cristina Falls, this one’s quite a small one.
Maria Cristina Falls is the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines. It may not look very grand compared to Niagara Falls or other big falls but it is big (see how small the man is on the lower right side of the picture). It powers several hydroelectric plants along the river’s path (before and after the falls).
One of the close but a little inaccessible islands that I finally got to last month was Fortune Island. It is a smallish island located off the coast of Nasugbu, Batangas. It is famous for having greek columns on a cliff.
The thing about this columns is that they are obviously a replica and a little pretentious. If you know anything about Greek architecture or even just simple architecture, you’d know that the columns are supposed to support a roof of the building, hence, the columns should be around a square or rectangular space that enclose something. In the case of Fortune Island, there are two columns of on a narrow cliff. They’re just there for decoration (which is a great place for photoshoots but with no semblance of being authentic. Also,, they are obviously modern made replicas. The rebars on the cement columns are showing, rusting, and running down the concrete sides.
There are other Greek/Roman replica stuff on that cliff, such as these broken statues (where you can see a rebar poking out of the top). Also, I’m not so sure if there were lion statues in Greece/Rome (there could be).
Fortune Island was an exclusive resort. And by exclusive, I mean exclusive. The rich and famous of the country used to go here. It is/was owned by ex-Gov. Leviste of Batangas. I don’t know what happened and why the resort closed and came to such a state of disrepair. We stayed near the previous restaurant. It is a huge circular structure with the roof falling (particularly since the time we were there it was raining hard). We pitched our tents at the side of the structure and cooked our food and ate in one of the tables in the structure.
During the resort’s heyday, this could have been a beautiful and believable shipwreck. However, in its current state, it is obviously a replica. As you can see from the picture, the boards coming off the side shows probably insulation. On the inside are concrete slabs as floor.
Despite the state of disrepair and obviously fake replicas, the island is still a wonderful destination, especially for snorkelers and divers. The front of the island has a coral garden with lots of fishes. I saw a white-spotted boxfish (first time to see this), a big cornetfish, some batfish and a school of Moorish idol. The pictures of our freedive will be covered in another post. Around the island are other dive sites but we really didn’t have much time in the island as we arrived in Nasugbu around 2pm and the boat ride (a very choppy ride) takes almost an hour. We had to leave by around 11am the following day to avoid the huge waves. (The waves were so choppy that two of our companions were very nervous that the moment we left the port in Nasugbu, they already wanted to turn back).
To go to Fortune Island, you have to take a bus or travel by car to Nasugbu. Once there, you will take a motorized boat to the island. The boat can accomodate around 17 guests and you should maximize it as it is insanely expensive (compared to other boat rentals in other places we’ve been to) at P8500-P9000 for the whole trip. Since there were 11 or 13 of us, we were able to go there for less than P2,000 each (more like P1,800 including bus fare).
I went there with Oyet and her current and previous officemates. My usual gang did not go with us but we’re sure we’re coming back there sometime after October when habagat (westerly monsoon) is over so that the waves will be less choppy and it will be easier to dive.
Last weekend and up to Tuesday, we went again to Palawan! This time, in El Nido. El Nido is one of the three tourism areas of Palawan (the others being Coron, where we’ve been before, and Puerto Princesa, the capital city).
Anyway, I’d like to show you photos of a good friend and the the one who introduced us all to the joy of freediving, Elaine.
While we were all clinging to lifevest (several months back), Elaine was already enjoying the freedom of not using them and being able to go to depths and look at fishes and corals from a closer view. She was then an applicant for ISDA (probably an acronym for International Skin Divers Association or something and is also the Tagalog/Filipino term for fish). Now that we are on a level that she was several months ago, she’s levelled up to deeper depths, diving in stronger currents and breathholding for longer.
The next few pictures were taken in Small Lagoon, a stop on tour A in El Nido (tours being coded as A, B, C or D). As a snorkeling/freediving site, it really isn’t much. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs cutting out most of the light from reaching the bottom, hence, the lack of visibility down under compared to the other (probably deeper) sites. However, one good thing about this location is the rays of the sun filtering through the cliffs and the vegetation provides beautiful rays of light in the water. We went there first in the morning (arrived there around 10am) and the light streaking through the water was just awesome for taking these photographs.
This first picture was for me, the most beautiful of the lot. The light was wonderful, no distracting people in the background, just Elaine, her happy yellow fins and the water. Unfortunately though, her head is not seen as she arched her back to look down below.
Second one, more about her happy yellow fins (the one the camera chose to focus). She’s on her descent here.
Third one is where she’s making a turn from going down to ascending. Her body position seems awkward but I like the effect of here centered in all the blueness of the sea.
And this is her on her ascent. As taught by freedivers (and I guess for scuba as well), you need to raise one of your arms when ascending so that when you accidentally hit a boat (or worse a propeller), you’ll just hurt (or cut) your hand, not your head.
And finally, we see her face!
On our second to last dive site for the day (another area), I loaned her my long fins. Since my feet are much bigger than hers, she wore it with her booties and with the fin grip to prevent accidental slippage of the fins.
Yes freediving long fins are reeeeaaallly long. Probably as long as her leg and thighs…
These final two pictures aren’t the strongest of the lot (they are in fact, the least best pics of her) but they show the true joys of recreational freediving.
Being able to see sea creatures up close (this one’s a hawksbill turtle).
And enjoying freedom from heavy scuba gear and the joy and relaxation of moving effortlessly (more or less) through water.
That’s it for now, I’ll be posting more pictures from our El Nido trip (including the wonderful sea creatures underneath the surface of the water). In case you’re wondering how she looks when out of water, here’s her picture.
Last weekend, my parents, my sister and I went to Boracay. This is our second time this year in Boracay. There were only 4 of us, however, compared to our first time there where the whole family (including my brother and his family).
As my parents are already old (my father’s already 78 and my mother 63), we can no longer do most of the water activities there. Instead, we rented a boat and went around the island. We just stopped in one area, the snorkeling site and had our fill of the wonderful fishes there.
With me of course is my Olympus TG2 camera. An underwater camera I’ve been using for about a year now (after I lost the charger of my Panasonic TS5 and couldn’t find a replacement). I’m quite ok with this camera. It has a wide view lens (25mm equivalent) which is wonderful for taking pictures underwater. It also has a nice 2.0 aperture (at the wide end) resulting in pictures taken at lower ISO. However, I dislike that it doesn’t record raw files (limiting the post processing that can be done). This lack of raw recording makes it very difficult to correct white balance should I or the camera get it wrong.
Anyway, onto the pictures of fishes, fishes, fishes.
And lastly, me! This year has been an amazing year for me as I finally learned how to be in the sea without a lifevest. I just need to have a snorkel, mask and fins and I can spend time in the sea, even in deeper waters (though without them, I’d surely drown). I’m also just learning to freedive (albeit at the very beginning stage still).
This picture of a kid was taken in Jomalig, Quezon using my Canon 7D and Tamron 70-300mm VC at 300mm. I kinda like the expression on the child’s face.
This was shot in Vigan when my family and I took a trip there. There are lots of old houses and buildings in that city and some have been partially converted to modern houses or commercial establishments while some (like this) have been integrated with more modern structures. This was shot with Olympus OM-D EM5 and the 12-50 kit lens.
These are photos taken of the four boys in Paracale. We arrived in Paracale (from Calaguas) at around 1pm and our bus trip is 7pm so we had a lot of time to kill. I was resting in the seawall and these boys wanted their photos to be taken. I shot several shots of them. They were very jolly and rambunctious and was climbing all over me (to see the photos). Great days and their smiles are genuine (though sometimes their eyes tell a different story).