Tried Street Photography Today

It was a draggy Saturday morning with a handful of notes on cardiology piling up beside my hot chocolate from Bo’s, Atria, Iloilo City. Because I was freezing to death due to the air conditioning on full “North Pole” setting, I needed a little breather. What better way to do it than go out for a walk… and take pictures. 

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It was getting late and my patience to understand “Heart Failure” was wearing off. My friend and I walked to Plazuela and swatched a few lip tints and found cool emoji power banks. 

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We were hungry so we ventured to South Point SM City. The little potted trees in front of the stores were drying up too.

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Did I mention it was Chinese New Year? Oh well. Happy Chinese New Year! 

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-Gen Buenafe

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Davao in 8 Days | Part 2

The following day we woke up, packed our bags and sent off to another journey to the mountains. Three hours later, we arrived at Alice Log House just in time for lunch and karaoke. And, we know how important lunch and karaoke is.

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This log house has three floors. We came in to the house and went in a state of awe in the living room. It was cozy, rustic, and pretty much authentic. A stairway down led to the dining area and kitchen. And, another set of stairs opened up into a vast activity room.

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My skill in the pool table got a little better after a crash course in Billiards. But thank the heavens Karaoke was allowed until 10 pm. Our throats may not like it (the neighbours may or may not like it) but oh well, at least our souls did.

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We had Monggo and Dried Fish for dinner and we ate a lot. Then again, it was an evening of cards and slapping games. My friends got so creative, even made a game using flat puzzle pieces, made “slapping puzzle devices” and went slapping each other with it. The winner with the most painful slapping “tool” won (Hi, Jeline, Josh & Demi).

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It was a chilly night and we had to wear our socks with our PJs. With a bottle of Mojito and a plate of tequila soaked salt, we knew more things about each other. We cried a bit, laughed a lot and had drunk conversations, the topic of which, I obviously can’t remember.

We woke up passed 10 am the following morning and within an hour we had to pack our things and head back to Davao City to visit  People’s Park.

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The following day was the last day in Davao for some of us, so we decided to go on a food venture. And, it started with Dim Sum at Caitlyn’s.

The orders were pretty cheap for the quality of the food. My personal favorite was the chocolate buchi. We finished it in less than 30 minutes and unanimously agreed to get some cake so we went to Lachi’s.

Food coma hit us hard by noon so we looked for coffee. Just across the street is The Green Coffee Bean. Besides the attitude of the staff, the cafe was perfect.

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And, yes. We drank beer that night.

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It was the last night in Davao City with the eight of us complete and we just needed more than one glass of drink. We went to a club, danced and got sweaty. We laughed all night and got wasted by four in the morning.

I couldn’t really put to words the freedom I felt in a span of days with my closest friends around me. The eight days with eight amazing people in Davao City somehow liberated me from the stigma of med school.

That med students don’t party, med students don’t have time to drink, med students have no time for fun. 

Well, with good friends, good food, good conversations, a bottle of tequila and some NSS (Hi Demi!), we can be med students most of the time and be who ever we want to be in between.

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Davao in 8 Days | Part 1

Straight off the plane after landing in Davao City, here I was with seven of my amazing friends in med school crossing the city to Samal Island. Basically, that explains my entire trip. We were one place one moment and we’re here the next. It’s like around the world in freaking 80 days. Only we were in the amazing Davao City. And we had 8 days. And, the story goes.

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Just as I arrived, we headed off to Island Garden City of Samal. The people with me are my brothers and sisters in the Order of Asclepius; Doms, Ricky, Roger, Jeline, Demi, Chelo and Josh (our amazing host, who made sure we’re always full and drunk having fun). All of these people by the way are my schoolmates in med school. Med students get pretty adventurous in summer.

Summer is pretty much the time we can be anything we want except being zombies. *laughs*

It was a good 3o minutes drive from the city, a ride in the “Warf” and another drive on the island to Maxima Aqua Fun. It’s a place with a cliff right beside the ocean (very-deep-dark-water-ocean). You get what I mean. And they also have a giant slide. And, I slid on that giant slide. *the thug life*

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(c) Dominick Diño

The resort is positioned right beside the ocean. There was no beach just pure blue dark salt water. We had our Life Belts so it was all good. We also got to chill in this little floating raft with a net on it.

And this blob.

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It was almost evening so we drove to Kaputian Beach and started to grill dinner. By the time I was munching on grilled pork, I was sitting on the sand watching sunset.

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We woke up 6am under a very beautiful pink sky. However, we needed to fix our things and leave the pretty white beach. After a breakfast, we drove to Hagimit Falls.

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(c) Dominick Diño

 

The water was so cool, a dip early in the morning can be so refreshing. It was the first day of class for schools in Davao City and we had the falls all to ourselves. *yey*

We drove back to Davao and spent the day with a little bit of R&R. We worked up an appetite by dinner. It was fortunate we chose the right place to eat that night.

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What can be better than Unlimied BBQ? (Answer: Unli Rice, Unli Iced Tea which we also had). The feast in the Grillery was hand full and I have not felt this alive eating grilled food before. And, Ladies and Gentlemen, it was unlimited everything for only 230 pesos. 

There was fish, chicken liver (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE), churiso (My second personal favorite), pork belly, pork skin, kebab, chicken, beef and even fruits and veggies. They also had sauces of every kind – unlimited of course.

This feast,somehow, can restore your soul so you can face the harsh world in one piece again. It was THAT good. In our case we needed it as we went out for a movie: Conjuring 2.

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The movie was awesome in my opinion. It wasn’t boring and wasn’t draggy at all. But it was scary so we went out for a drink and a little time to chill. There was a lot of laughing and sleeping that night.

It’s what we needed for another road trip the following day.

to be continued…

The Gathering

Some type of hobbies start with a sleepless night of obsessing about it. In my case, on a December of 2015, I knew I desperately needed a nib, a holder and some ink. A few months later (when life happened), I grew in a hobby of doing calligraphy and so did many people like me who, so abruptly, embraced the art.

In one special day, we all decided to meet up in a little gathering over coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches for the main purpose of dolling up with all things calligraphy. 

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All seven of us; me, Denise, Michelle, Camel, Elvz, Shar Maine, and Maethone, dived into a mini discussion of issues with calligraphy, nibs, brush pens, love life and topics of artsy sorts.

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For the next few hours we, learned to be a critique to each other’s styles. Sure, it can be intimidating knowing you’re being watched by one of the best calligraphers in Iloilo. But that pressing feeling didn’t last, though.

We soon learned how to take in each other’s comments and willingly applied it. This allowed each one of us to see our growth from the moment we started until that very evening. It was like seeing your style through other people’s eyes and it was astoundingly refreshing. And, I really hope more aspiring calligraphers could have come to witness such experience.

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As we sipped the last our of our coffee and milk tea, the conversations weren’t anymore technical and confined to only calligraphy. In a short amount of time with bottles of ink, dip pens and paper, we became friends.

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After that one amazing evening of discovering what a “flat lay” meant, we made a pact of supporting each and everyone’s crafty pursuits despite our diverse styles and ways of going about with our passion.

True.

We all have different strokes, different letter “m”s and “o”s but we knew how to honor each other’s pace and most importantly we learned how to honor our own.

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Iloilo’s First Marian Procession | Camera Roll

It was a gloomy after noon of May 31st when my family and I walked to Immaculate Conception Parish of Oton, Iloilo. It was bound to rain. I knew it the moment we placed our statue of Mater Dolorosa on the line up. The dust rose as the wind blew stronger. The clouds grew darker. 

Rain was indeed a recipe for disaster in any event. And for the First Marian Procession in the province, I thought otherwise. Rain was all it needed.

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The children flocked the roads facing the church as much as the parents did in their cameras. It drizzled a bit. And I thought to myself, it was about time. 

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There’s a custom of Filipino culture to wait for the first rain of May because it’s considered a blessing from the sky. And, it was the third week of May that it started to drizzle from where I was. It was hardly enough though. The ground wasn’t even drenched. 

DSC_0261And as the short procession, rain started to pour. Just like a child, I looked up to the sky and smiled.

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We arrived home, soaking wet with a bowl of Sotanghon in one hand and a dry towel in the other.

I just can’t help but think if the rain were tears of a mother delighted to see the extravagant gathering of her children, or it could just have been the seasonal rain bound to come in June.  Either way, I’ve never seen such a sweet display of love for a mother until that 31st day of May.

It’s Mararison

Here are some of the things I didn’t expect to happen in this trip.

One. We were the only guests from our side of the island. Two. There’s such thing as the other side of the island. Three. The best spot to watch a sunset-slash-sunrise is on the highest mountain peak. Four. Dogs can be great tour guides- clingy too. Five. Pitcher Plants are real. Six. When in doubt, take a Balsa.

So, it was a trip I didn’t expect loving as much as I did. And, here’s why.

  • In transit
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It was a good five hours from Molo Terminal to Culasi. There was a National Geographic documentary in the bus that kept me awake – most of the time.

Me and four good friends took a short tricycle ride to Unidos, a resort in the mainland. The stop served as lounge area for travelers to the island.

The five of us where already snuggled in the boat when a heavy rainfall trailed right behind us.

The sky split in rays of sunshine in front and heaps of raindrops behind. Being chased by rain clouds in the middle of the ocean was a bad-ass prologue for this trip. And I had no choice but to hang in there and enjoy it.

We passed the busy cottages and the famous sand bar on the side of the island facing Culasi and further headed out to Luyo Beach. (red bubble via Google Maps marks the spot)

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  • Meeting Sir Enrique

It drizzled when we made our first steps on beach towards Enrique de Mararison. It was on the side facing away from the mainland. And it was so quiet that the waves gave only a little hum. The sound of our feet on the pebbly sand echoed as we tread closer to little hideaway.

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As we got off the boat, Sir Enrique came to welcome us to our little cottage. Currently the resort has two family rooms for five to eight people (or even more) in each room. There are also options for groups less than five depending on the number of guests their accepting in a day.

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For the five of us, a fee of 600 pesos each covered the fare for the boat, breakfast the next morning, this spacious room (the picture basically shows a quarter of the space inside), Luyo Beach, Gui-ob beach and Nablag Island all to ourselves,  and a walk atop the hills just beside our cottage.

The cottages also have screened windows to prevent mosquitoes from kissing you in your sleep.

What’s even more rewarding of staying here is thought that all electrical appliances are wired to a renewable source of energy. Everything inside is solar powered including the fans and lights.

Tip: Bring a good power bank to charge your gadgets because there’s no outlet sockets. Look at the bright side, you’d get to help your side of the island to conserve energy.
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  • When in doubt, take the Balsa 

The beach had a carpet of sea grass around Nablag Island. The water was so clear we only realized how deep it was until after we took a dip. We wanted to go farther out the open sea so Sir Enrique untied the little balsa from it’s anchor and gave us a little balsa ride.

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It was sweet of Sir Enrique to give that little kick in our trip. He rowed the balsa himself, even pulled it at some point so we could get to take pictures on the rocks beside the shore.

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White corals slash pebbles in Nablag Island.

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  • How I almost died conquered my fear of heights

Right beside our cottage is a trail up to the rocky hills. I could already feel my stomach clench as we started to head up.

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My arms were trembling when the photo above was taken. I just can’t let this chance pass. The edge was a sharp angle down and there was the sea right at the foot of the hill. Waves tossed on the rocks as the wind caught my hair so I looked up. And, being afraid ceased to bother me.

Fear never left. But with this view, I just didn’t mind anymore.

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  • Pitcher Plants and Sunsets

On the way up, a small bush caught my attention. I took a closer look at the curious find. I remembered swearing several times when I realized what it was. Some people can pass this little gem by and I however, had to take several photos of this photogenic Pitcher Plant.

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Tired and out of breath, we unpacked our bag full of snacks on the highest peak of the island and waited for the sunset.

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We walked back down just in time for dinner to this view. The coals were burning in embers of orange when we prepared our food. The people in the resort were even kind enough to help us in the process and we ended up sharing what we had with them.

It was an indeed the most serene place I’ve been. And so far, my favorite this summer.

  • Day 2

I missed the sunrise for a bad case of allergies in the morning but a friend was kind enough to show it to me in a photo.

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Now, to Gui-ob Beach. A little walk about five minutes or less lead us there. On the way there, we met our Tour Dog. He was very friendly, he walked with us all the way to the beach and even guarded our things.

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Here he was leading us inside a cave just beside the shore.

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We had the chance to snorkel around the rocks to see several schools of fish. There were see urchins, blue starfishes, brain corals, angel fish and a couple rainbow, white, black and yellow colored ones.

It was starting to reach lunch time and it was finally time to leave.

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On the trip back to Culasi, I remembered reading an article in facebook about Malalison Island. It had a poster with the letter “L”s on Malalison scratched out. It was supposed to be “R” as written by the author: Mararison. And at first it didn’t made sense to me why it was so. I mean, what’s the difference? And only then when I get to visit the island that I understood.

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It’s for people willing to experience authentic simple Antiquenio island living.  It doesn’t really matter how we call it as long as we keep in mind that the island is not ours alone. It is shared, so one traveler from another can experience it as well.  It’s also small island home of colorful birds, diverse aquatic animals and many pitcher plants up for a little love and care.

It was an honor to witness it in it’s raw beautiful form as well as ensuring that it lasts. It’s still young and is screaming for it to be protected at the same time experienced the best way we can.

After all it’s not some kind of island turned Resort EmpireIt’s Mararison.

 


*Budget summary

600 php/ person – Boat fare, cottage, breakfast

360 php/ person – Bus fare, back and forth

150-170/ person – additional snacks, drinks, dinner on day 1 and drinking water

 

La Boracay 2016: a Survival Guide for Introverts

Have you been thinking of leaving the comfort of your house, the book you’ve been dying to finish reading, your “automatic connecting” wifi, pets, your unlimited supply of free snacks?  All that for La Boracay.

Well at some point of my introvert life I believed that I could. So, I did. And here are the most vital lessons that I have learned:

 

 

ONE: Find a comfortable place to stay in

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I was lucky  blessed to go with my friend who has an amazing place in the island. It was had air conditioning even in the common room, free drinking water, and THIS bedroom.

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Although, you’ll be mostly outside it’s good to know that you’ll have a comfortable place to go back to and be your old introvert self. 

 

TWO: Explore Boracay on land

There are certain options of exploring the island via Island Hopping which I might admit is very tempting however time consuming and EXPENSIVE. So, traveling via Tricycle is a good way to go.

This way we had the chance to go to Spider House for seventy five pesos.

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IMG_0483The Spider House had a cafe over looking the beach and we ordered Calamansi Juice for ninety pesos. And that ninety pesos got us a few minutes of soaking in that calm side of Boracay.

 

We also got to Puka Beach.

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We were lucky to find a vacant recliners that time of day. It was about one in the afternoon and I don’t need to describe how hot it is. These little cottages were free as long as you buy a Mango Shake in stores nearby.

Ladies and gentlemen, the drink costs 200 pesos (let’s give that a moment of silence).

Okay, although the 200 peso mango shake is a bit overwhelming, it can be shared with a friend and it’s GOOD really GOOD. And for a spot on the beach to lie down with ample shade, I in a frugal sense can say that it is worth it.

 

THREE: Invest in Experiences

Let’s just say you’re in a certain budget and you’re wondering where to spend it in. In most websites I’ve searched Helmet Diving is number one go to experience. However, further research told us that it was bad idea. Some of our friends said the pressure under water makes your ears pop which is very painful and I don’t want to spend on something painful unless it’s for a tattoo or something health-medical-related-and-necessary. Ooh too much info. Hi parents.

So this is what my friend and I went for. And it was AMAZING.

  • Para-sailing (1,200/person)
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We had our little panic moment while we’re on top but we took that time to pray. Our theory was that we were closer to the sky so our prayers would be louder when God hear them. And boy, we prayed hard.

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Did you know that I have this fear with dark water?

Well, now you do and how lucky we were to be the clients that get pranked by the Para-sailing people who were equally sweet and mischievous.

It was so sweet and nice of them to take our photos while we were submerged in the depths of the sea (where potential life threatening creatures could have eaten us). But nevertheless, it was an experience worth every peso.

We also got to meet friends from Taiwan who went Parasailing with us. Before we were strapped in to our respective parachutes I recalled not even looking them in the eye. After their turn, they were nice enough to cheer for us that we can do it.

A classic example how life threatening instances can bridge nations.

  • Paddle Boarding (250/ hour)
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It was a challenge balancing yourself as the waves grew stronger when you get closer to the shore. But it was even more challenging when your KIND friends sit their selves atop the board  while you paddle for dear life.

 

FOUR: Find a place with good coffee

Coffee is every introvert’s super food. And finding a place to have the best one is yours and yours to venture. In my quest I found Real Coffee.

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IMG_0503The coffee is DELICIOUS and more so the Calamansi Muffins that go perfectly with it.

Finding a good coffee place for me, is like finding an oasis. When you get too tired to do anything and you start to become your groggy, paranoid, introvert self.

A good cup of coffee will send you out on to your feet in minutes.

I bought an iced coffee for 85 pesos and a  muffin for 45 pesos.

 

 

FIVE: Go with party animals-slash-friends. And go in packs.

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Technically, they’re people – people you trust e.g. friends, relatives, crazy classmates in med school. But you get what I mean.

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It is important to be with people who know what they’re doing. Well, I have never been in a foam party in my life so it’s good to know that when you accidentally inhale these micro bubbles they’re gonna give you one hell of a cough. Learned that by myself.

And, keep your friends close to you at all times. It’s a useful tip.

Your friends know where to stand in a massive crowd of potentially intoxicated people. They know where free drinks are. They – seldom – tell you what’s in them. They just tell you, “It’s good. Tastes nothing like alcohol.” Somehow, I think that’s good for you because it loosens up your gears enough to have fun. Don’t take too much, though. And, they also know parties with free admission such as Foam Party (free for girls) and Sunkissed. Plus, you’ll have MANY photo opportunities. One friend equals to one camera.

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IMG_0371With them around, you won’t have that spare time to over think how you look, how far you are from home, how many episodes of your fav TV series you left behind, who’s staring at you or how nasty people’s sweat smell. You just automatically become happy because you’ll feel safe and overjoyed.

And in that once in a lifetime experience of risking your beliefs and trying something extraordinary with amazing people is all it takes to be an introvert and be in La Boracay all at the same time.

And sometimes, that alone makes the experience worth while. Well, it was for mine.

 

To Nagsasa Cove

Slippers packed. Shirts folded. Sunblock restocked. Random phone paraphernalia mercilessly stuffed in small pocket. Thus, concludes the prep night for the first trip of summer of 2016.

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I could say that I was rushing things a bit. It was the evening of the next day when our plane would leave for Iloilo to Manila. I didn’t get that much sleep though despite being spent the entire day.

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Arrived with heavy eyes and an empty stomach, my fingers were basically trembling a bit when we arrived NAIA. I was in the mood for some “tossing around” on soft sheets and chicken at the same time. But it was all good. We got to break airport rules here and there. Not a dull moment was allowed to survive thanks to amazing company.

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Behold, the map. Three hours and fourteen minutes of the following day was consumed mainly in sleeping. The rest was looking out the window. After a few knock outs in favor of sleep, we finally arrived at the port.

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The trip on sea was long on enough for salt to almost cover a layer on the skin. We landed on Nagsasa Cove around lunch time and I was licking powders of salt on the side of my cheeks.

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It was amazing to see mountains this close to the ocean. Well, I have seen some usually in books and post cards and the sort but never like this. The sea was not blue it was indigo and the farther we went out the closer I was to feeling a bit sick. Dark water can kill all the positivity in me but it was too late to panic now.  The South China Sea was not far and I secretly hoped our destination was nearer.

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We arrived alive, well and hungry. And, I have never tasted Sinigang that good before.

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The desserts on this place is not bad! It’s a bit on the pricey side though but sipping melted ice beside that view really made up for it. I learned a few card games too (including how to properly play them without a table in the area).

Sunset came and we found the best spot to witness it.

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The sunset held us frozen with our toes sinking on the sand. Despite the glorious moment, I had to take a snap of it – a bit blurry. I blame the stunning view. It’s like I want to waste no time in bothering with opening my cam and take a shot. I was content in just seeing it, memorizing how many shades of pink and orange were there exactly.

But I knew, I had to blog about it for  you guys (winks) so I gave in.

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It got a bit humid by sundown, (thanks to about twenty six bonfires or so which was clearly unnecessary).  We ended up taking a nap beside the shore where the moon would occasionally peek from behind the rain clouds.

To top it off I had amazing people bring me here which left my heart brimming with gratefulness. Thus, concludes the first summer trip of 2016.

 

A bit of an obsession

It’s only been a few months since I got devoted into brush lettering and at the moment, I can safely say that I have been obsessed with it. I can’t. ugh. I can’t- just- not think about it. And here comes another amazing thing I learned to love: Modern Calligraphy. I’m not saying I’m AMAZING at it though. (It’s only been a couple of weeks since I grown accustomed to the so called nib.)

Being a green horn at the craft, I can only say that I love it. And, why on Earth anyone wouldn’t?

  • Obsession 1: Modern Calligraphy
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Well, for someone who decided they want to learn Calligraphy over night (like me), I have to say that the first thing to do is Find tools. 

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The moment I wanted to pursue learning this new hobby was last December of 2015 when I didn’t know what to do with all the time I had. Then, I searched for places where I can purchase nibs, holders and inks. And, unfortunately most of the shops that supplies them were closed for the holidays. I even asked a friend/sister (who is really good at this), for help. Here’s her website that everyone must check out.

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Then, I found these amazing online shops all dedicated to nurse that creative cub in everyone:

  1. Tigbato.ph – Iloilo based. Love their pads and inks.
  2. The Craft Central – bought my fav waterbrushes here.
  3. Love Letters by Mayee – source of my commonly used nib (picture on oblique h0lder above)
  4. Pens galore – brush pens!

Here is one of the scribbles I have done.

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(Photos taked using Nikon FM10 + Fujifilm Superia 200)

 

  • Obsession 2: Brush Lettering + Watercolor
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I have started this as early as beginning of January 2016 right on my birthday when I got my water brushes. It started off with a couple of words and then turned into an appreciation of watercolor.

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I haven’t really had any formal training though. Still, I can’t say that I’m “self taught” either. A lot of people (some even are not aware they have helped me 😀) contributed to what I have learned now. And I’m so so greatful.

 

 

Molo / In Film

It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. I still had expired film. And a new camera for my birthday (conceals excitement). She is a Holga 135bc using 35mm film. And I call her Adeline.

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She is actually given by a very close friend (waves) who kinda gets my obsession with film and old modeled cameras. That friend saw me checking out this cool website where people can order film cameras, films (BW / Colored), and also film processing. It’s based in the Philippines and basically is a hobby saver for those who are interested in film photography.

Anyway, I love how unpredictable Holga cameras are. I struggled. Yes, I did. But I after two rolls of 24-shot film. I kinda got the hang of it.

So, these were taken in Molo’s core where the Parish of St. Anne: Molo Church is. Across it is the Yusay-Consing Mansion : Molo Mansion were all good lemonade and cool souvenirs are. . . And the best “Dinuguan” and the best “puto”.

Here are my favorite shots.

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Pardon me for lots of blurry pictures but I like the softness it gives to the shot (and I’m not really familiar with the focusing too. But I kinda figured it out.) I also took a few attempts in multiple exposure which ended up okay as seen above. Nice day out with a film camera nevertheless.

If some of you guys have tips and tricks with Holga cam feel free to comment below.

Shooting a town thirty minutes from home was such a joy with the Holga 135. From the off framed shots to the multiple exposed ones, handling this classic camera felt good. Oh yes, it did.

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