2011 in Retrospect

"I know now why I am always lost. It's not because I don't have a map, it's because I don't have a destination." --Takemoto, Honey and Clover

2011 has been a great year. I also consider it as the most memorable time of my life so far. There are ups and downs, side by side(?), milestones, first times, life-changing experiences, getting lost and finally getting back on track. It was also a time when I realized that I haven't enjoyed much of my previous year because of  being tied to academics. I should have enjoyed my college life more and it happened in the latter part of my senior year. Still, I am being positive in looking back to the year it was.

Inspector mills

Hi, as you can see, I'm still alive -- unlike my previous entry. Hahaha! haha.. ha.... ha.

It has been a very busy month, juggling chores at home, family commitments, church, friends. work,..., work, work... Uhm.. work? Kidding. I know I shouldn't be pushing myself too hard with my full time job, but time constraints are everywhere. Time is wasted in queue lines going up the overpass, waiting for a bus home, and other things. I rarely arrive home before 10pm, leaving my coconut shell dried to blog.

But it's fine. I'm trying to enjoy every minute of idleness, because it seems that it's the only me-time I can have, with those endless bus rides where I can catch up with sleep. (I'm not workaholic, okay)

So what have I been up to these past few weeks? The photos could tell.

This holiday season, I lost my little black book where I write random notes that enter my head, so I had to resort in typing it in my phone, in which I hate, but I find convenient. I am warning you, the following sentences could be really nonsense, random and unsightly due to overflowing cheessy+emo-ness, you might not read my blog anymore, and that's sad y'know.

Memento Mori: Post-Mortem Photography

Mourning is a strange thing, and different cultures deal with it in vastly different ways. But there’s a reason people associate the Victorians above all with morbidity and death, and one of them is memento mori.

During the Victorian Era, people honored and immortalized their dearly departed in a unique and rather eerie way--by photographing them moments after death. Take a look at some interesting post-mortem photographs that will make your hairs stand on end.

An apology to Manila (2 of 3)

I regarded Manila and its people as one. I forgot that underneath all the dirt and grime, Manila is asking for another chance. I forgot how much damage people can do to their habitat. Whatever shit is going down, the city reflects it. Manila now reflects how dirty the Filipinos can get just so they can live better than everyone, forgetting the place that gave them their identity.

But it's not too late for a change.

An apology to Manila (1 of 3)

I commute to my dormitory every week when I was a student. At times, I have two options: To take a bus from taft Avenue to Philcoa or take the MRT from EDSA-taft and go down at Quezon Ave. Either way, it's the same... the sight, the dirt and most especially the people. I've been a patron of public transport for 4 years and counting (as if I have a choice anyway). I’ve passed by these places, placing them with no regard anymore. I used to be so in love with Manila, thinking maybe someday, I would be able to walk freely with no fear.

Then, I just changed. I felt hatred at first, because of the traffic, the lack of buses going home, the unpleasant sight that passes by the train windows. Then, towards the end, I stopped caring. I started traveling again, and finding more and more things to nitpick about my city. I blamed Manila for everything. Why aren’t you like this, why aren’t you more like that, why can’t we have this, why can’t you do that.

Sagada: A mountain hamlet

Remember those days in the 90s when RPG games in Playstation1 or 2 were hip? The protagonist will wake up somewhere in a remote town, either in the mountains, fields, or forest? Somehow this trip reminds me of an adventure taken by those coming-of-age heroes that follow a storyline of exploration, battles and self-realization. (Seriously.... If it's possible to project yourself inside an RPG game, i've done it long before iPod was invented.)

The quaint town of Sagada: View from the Echo Valley Peak  

I have no idea where Sagada is until the time we actually set foot on the place. All I know is that it is located somewhere in the rugged mountains up north, much farther away from Baguio.

Habal-Habal: Two-wheeled Taxis in the Metro

Modes of commuting in the metro has evolved into a diverse set of ways that even vehicles which aren't meant for it are used. (Naks gumaganun.). Now that I am part of the working class, finding the most efficient way to get from point A to point B is quite a challenge... (pero mas nakaka-challenge gumising nang maaga.) Anyway, apart from Buses, trains, taxis and jeepneys, I recently found out a contingency plan if ever I am in the verge of being late for work. Usually I take the Fort Bus just a few steps away from the Ayala MRT station. During peak hours, around 8:15-8:45am, the queue lines spill to EDSA at a ridiculously fast pace, rendering my efforts of being early useless.

So, if ever you're up for an adventure and you don't mind bathing yourself first thing in the morning with the impurities of EDSA, an alternative way to get to your workplace especially around Bonifacio Global City is to take the Motorcycle for Hire (I call it Skylab or Habal-Habal, but the term usually refers to the one used in the mountains with two or more passengers.)

Reaching the limits of the Philippine Road System

After long hours of butt-numbing topload experience and the constant stench of what we call "amoy-ulap", the sun finally peeked through the fog and behold, the mountain unfolds with its green stairways. Alas, we are just a few kilometers away from the highest point of the country's highway system.

Toploading en route to Sagada

Long after we finished lunch, the team rented a van since there are no more Baguio-Sagada buses that can accommodate us. And because we wanted to still experience Toploading, the group decided to take turns in  challenging the laws of physics while taking in the good views on top of the vehicle.

One thing I learned doing here is to hold my camera tight while opposing inertia.

Sneak Peek: Sagada Mini-Adventure series

My first time to reach the rugged landscape of Mt. Province proved to be a worthwhile getaway last All Soul's Day weekend. Most of the plans were jeopardized due to the recent rage of the typhoon so we crossed out the Batad trip and decided to maximize our stay in Sagada.

Unfortunately, my supposed-to-be 5-day itinerary was cut short to 3 days because no trips to Baguio will push through on the 1st of November.

Nevertheless, anything spontaneous is fun, and I can say I really enjoyed my stay there. I was too lazy to start this entry that's why it got a little bit delayed. Probably after a few days the series will be complete. :D

Rat race

Two weeks ago, my sedentary life has ended. From the slow paced life of internet and afternoon naps, my world was shaken by the day-to-day waking hours before sunrise. To make things short, I started my first job. As expected, it will also be an everyday struggle to commute, because I am now one of the working class of this third world country, where people ride public transport like .zip or .rar files (I live in Bacoor by the way). Honestly, I can say that it won't be too much of an effort for me in squeezing my butt with strangers in a bus or a train because my student days were worse, riding a jampacked MRT with my "pangbakasyon travel bag" whenever I go to the dormitory.

Vapor nomads

I think being busy with something worthwhile pushes the lazy person in me to shoot and go out, unlike those days where I am in control of my own time. Two years ago, I regularly took my camera outside to shoot things until I found my love for clouds. I even started a tumblr site specifically for them, hence I was called cloudguy. :P

When I was still in school, I chased them while going to my class, having lunch, or even treading home, so most of the things you will see here are just backlogs, memories of the transient fluffy spirits that are hovering above us a year ago. I'm going to be busy again because of work, so I will try my best to take some time in capturing these sky deities and hoping it will also be my driving force to seek new horizons again.

15 images project: Chapter 1

Every end of the month, I review the photos I have taken since the acquisition of my interest in photography, so let me share with you my 15 images project, an effort to further sharpen my skills in capturing unique moments and things while setting foot on a place I've never been before or even to a place I frequent in. :) There will be 15 photographs that I will pick every end of the month, and all of them have my interesting story with it. Stay tuned! :)

Ivory giants of the north - Bangui Windmills

One of the main reasons why I wanted to reach Ilocos is to admire the beauty of these towering colossi which harness 40% of Ilocos Norte's electricity needs. A common misconception is that the windmills are located in Pagudpud, but during my trip here, I found out that they are located in the town of Bangui, a quaint, coastal town bordered by rivers that dry up during the summer season and the Bangui Bay, where the windmills are facing.

One of the picturesque views often seen in postcards


These scenes reminded me of Manuel Arguilla's "How my brother Leon brought home a wife." All photos were taken during our trip back from Kabigan Falls, Pagudpud. Heavy photo post ahead :)

The sun was in our eyes, for it was dipping into the bright sea. The sky was wide and deep and very blue above us: but along the saw-tooth rim of the Katayaghan hills to the southwest flamed huge masses of clouds. Before us the fields swam in a golden haze through which floated big purple and red and yellow bubbles when I looked at the sinking sun. Labang's white coat, which I had washed and brushed that morning with coconut husk, glistened like beaten cotton under the lamplight and his horns appeared tipped with fire.He faced the sun and from his mouth came a call so loud and vibrant that the earth seemed to tremble underfoot. And far away in the middle of the field a cow lowed softly in answer.

Further north Pagudpud - day 2

It was already 10 am when we left Laoag city and rode a bus to Pagudpud. It was a 2-hour ride coupled with scenic views along the way, We saw the windmills, open beaches of Burgos and the lighthouse. We thought we can conquer these places in one day but nooo. We arrived in Pagudpud town proper at exactly 12noon and asked the tricycle drivers-in-waiting on how to get  to Saud beach, and a kind Manong took us there. One of the things we learned is too befriend the locals so that they can help you with the trip, so manong offered us an existing tour package for 600 pesos. He gave us his number when he dropped in Saud beach and told us to just contact him if we're done so we can start the tour.

Bus ride from Laoag to Pagudpud. 60php each.

Ilocandia - day 1 in Laoag

I have heard a lot of great things from up North -- the pristine beaches, massive churches which hold great historical value, bizarre landforms and interesting stories. That's why last summer I did not hold back to grab the opportunity in exploring Ilocos Norte. [FILM for this roll: Fujicolor 100]

Hello world!

Let me grace my blog's birthday with a fresh post about myself. I am Byron, a 20-year old guy who takes delight on extemporaneous trips with my analog camera. This blog is made to document my eclectic interests be it food, travel, analog photography and traditional art.