Patar Beach
The Milky Way

Countless times have I tried to take a picture of the stars and finally I have my own set to be proud of, and I'm not surprised that I was able to take the photos in one of my favorite places, Patar beach in Bolinao. After almost a year. I was finally able to make it back to this place, and was lucky enough to have clear skies during the trip.

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Hide Away Resort, Surip, Bani, Pangasinan

It was a scene straight out of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. We’ve been driving for what seem like an eternity through a rough path surrounded by thick bamboo trees on both sides. We had no idea where we’re supposed to go or what we were looking for to know that we’re there. We checked our phones – no signals. Our colleagues told us earlier that it was a resort, but failed to mention the name. So naturally we thought there would be lots of lights to guide our way, but no. The forest-like trail was jet black except for the small areas that the beam of lights from the car’s headlamps shone through. The sound of crickets filling the air did not help to calm us down either. By then our imagination just started to ran wild. We kept thinking that a ‘white lady’ would appear in front of the car to stop us and the next thing we know she’ll be sitting beside us hitching a ride and holding our hands. As we continued to drive along holding back emotions of fear, we passed by a spotted dog - kinda like a local Dalmatian, o sige askal na - with his eyes glowing brightly reflecting the beams from the car’s headlamps, natural right? Then all of a sudden a huge – when I say huge I meant tall and thick - Acacia Tree appeared blocking our path creating a fork on the road, my eardrums busted as my seat mate shriek in fear as the tree appeared out of nowhere. We tried moving on, but things just kept on getting weirder and weirder. For instance, we passed by the same exact dog twice after our first encounter, and every time we see it, a huge Acacia Tree appears either in front or on the side of the road. For a moment we thought of taking off our shirts and putting it back inside and out, thinking that a super-natural being decided to play with us and we have to counter its curse. And as we were about to expose each other’s body, a sign caught our attention, a sign that sent chills down my spine personally, the hair at the back of my neck stood up as I still try to grasp what I have just read, still thinking that this can’t be true, my knees by now started to tremble, ladies inside the car started crying and yelling.
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Despite the modernization of present times and the majority of the Filipinos adapting to Western culture, I was dumbfounded to find out that there are still places in the country that practices true Filipino family culture and values.  I mean, I should have not been shock, the Philippines, after all, is one of the most diverse countries in the world. We still even have a lot of different native tribes scattered all over the region, still preserving their culture, living their way of life as their elders has lived before them, not succumbing to the changing times, though able to adapt but still holding on to their identity and tradition.
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Launched way back 2004, Kicaco Caffe is one of the very first establishment to introduce gourmet coffee to the Dagupenos. Owned and managed by Ms. Katherine Kiat, an accounting management graduate of UP without any formal training in the field of culinary arts yet armed with a passion to cook, she started Kicaco Caffe on October 2004 along Tapuac District and later on transferred to its present location along Perez Blvd. corner Rizal Street conveniently situated at the very heart of Dagupan City.

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The third instalment for my Bolinao series, I’ll be featuring one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, The Bolinao church or historically called St. James Parish, The Great Fortress. Located in the town’s center just beside the public market, this grand century-old stone structure has served as a fortress against pirates, Americans, Japanese and the English in the past, and has become a major tourist attraction for the town in its own right over the years.

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Continuing my Bolinao series, you can read the first part here, one of the main reasons I go to Bolinao is to relax and unwind on the white sand beach of Patar. This long stretch of white sand along the coast of cape Bolinao is slowly gaining popularity particularly because of the classy resorts situated along its shore and the numerous rock formations scattered the area which has become a favourite by photography enthusiast.
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Bolinao, as a coastal town, is mostly known for its white sand beach, yet there are a number of things to see, do or try in this humble coastal town located about two to three drive west of Dagupan City. I myself have been in and out of Bolinao for numerous time the previous year, and would like to share some of the interesting things that you may want to consider when visiting here, through a series of post that I shall aptly name... the Bolinao Series and to start you off, this is the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
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Since last year I’ve wanted to step foot in the sands of Palawan, but due to time and budget constraints that wish stayed in my bucket list unscratched and and carried over to this year’s list. Fortunately my cousin called me early January and asked if I wanted to go, I guess wishes do come true, I didn’t think twice and said yes ofcourse.

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It was Halloween 2011 when my group of travelling buddies went to Sagada, Mountain Province primarily to witness the ‘Panag-apoy’, a ritual to coincide with the observance of the All Souls day and All Saints day where locals would literally lit the whole cemetery on fire, a ritual that is steadily gaining a wide audience from curious souls like us year by year.

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Sagada Cemetery :  Going to lit this place on fire for the Panag-apoy

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Dear Japan,
     I’ve been thinking about you a lot for too long. I don’t know if you’ll believe me but it seems that I just can’t get you out of my mind since the first time I saw you 12 years ago. You might think that I’m being cheesy about saying stuff like these, cause I know a lot of people are also into you that you might think I’m just like everybody else, they may even be writing the same love letter as of this very moment, but still, here I am, hoping, hoping that this simple note maybe enough for you to notice me.
     You know what, I can still remember it clearly up to this day, it was during the days when my passion for travel and adventure was nil. Back then, I never thought of exploring different places and experience different culture or even thought that I’ll have the interest in doing so. Then one evening, I just happen to catch a documentary about you, your people, and your culture airing on the now defunct ‘RPN 9’. The show was very simply made, very plain and boring actually, and the monotonous commentary was just uninspiring, yet your natural beauty shone through. Your unique and rich culture was enthusing and your proud and highly disciplined people, admirable. These were enough to stimulate my imagination without the need of any special effects. And then guess what, from that very moment, I started to love everything about you, and my love for you just grew and grew, and until now has never faded. I’m writing you this letter to let the world know why I do. To let them know the things I found so attractive about you, these will serve as my inspiration and I’m hoping you’ll hear it too.
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Gilon-Gilon Street Dancing
Just in time for the start of Bangus Festival 2012, I'm reposting some of my shots of the Gilon-Gilon Street Dancing last year.

Gilon-Gilon, which literally means as rich fish harvest, is one of the highlights of the month-long Bangus Festival. This features contestant from the 31 different barangays of Dagupan City dancing around its streets in colorful costumes centered on the city's main attraction, the Bangus (Milkfish).

Check out some of my photos last year. Hoping this year I'll have another free pass to shoot more close-ups =)

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The SEDCO Complex
For the duration of my stay in Kota Kinabalu, I observed that almost all people there were either slim or lean, and the few others that I thought were overweight were tourists but very rarely nor I have seen a local. Then it struck me, I was in a Muslim country where meat is prohibited, and where 'fat mama jokes' don't really sell. For the meat-lovers though, Kota Kinabalu still offers meat along the Chinese restaurants in Jalan Gaya but for the rest of the people there, it’s all about the seafoods.

With the sea located just at the very edge west-side of the city, Kota Kinabalu is a seafood paradise and as it is blessed with abundant of marine life. The city serves the most unusual of sea creatures through its numerous seafood restaurants scattered around the city. From high end restos to budget eateries, this is where you can find some of the best seafoods in the world.  As a budget traveller, I always try to look for the cheapest place to eat yet still provides almost the same experience as eating out in a pricier resto, so during my first night in Kota Kinabalu along with a fellow traveller, Marky of Nomadic Experiences, we walked around the city and discovered this place almost right in the middle of KK City.
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The road to Pinatubo
The Road to Pinatubo
They say that there’s always a rainbow after the rain. And true to that, the mighty Mount Pinatubo in Zambales is a living testament to that adage. Once the site of one of the most devastative natural catastrophe to ever happen in the Philippine history, the 1991 eruption of this mighty volcano has literally buried the town of Capas, Tarlac and nearby environs with tons and tons of volcanic ashes or more known as ‘Lahar’. As I recall my mom’s story, we were still living in Manila during the eruption of Pinatubo, I was still a toddler then and she told me she still felt the ground shook all the way to our house. The ash cloud was still visible in Manila all the way from Tarlac and Zambales. And our car back then was also covered with ashes. That’s how she described how powerful the blast of the mighty Pinatubo was. Now, fast forward to 2012, who would have thought that the same site that took hundreds of people lives and left many more without shelter is now a tourist spot and has seen a steady increase in its visitor every year. Well with its history alone, people would flock this place just to see the actual site, but find out more why this once feared Mountain has been drawing lots and lots of interest from travellers.
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The Lady of Atocha Parish in Isabela

I was fortunate enough to still be assigned for field work in Isabela province even in my last month of my corporate job. Me, not wanting to miss an opportunity to see something new and explore a place while in there even for work, took the time to walk around the quiet town of Alicia, Isabela while waiting for documents to be released in the LGU office and guess what I’ve stumble upon, one of the centuries-old Spanish churches located in the Isabela-Cagayan area, The Lady of Atocha Parish of Alicia.
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I know its a bit late for a year end post so I'll just try to recap my wish list for 2011 if indeed I accomplished the things that I wanted to accomplish last year. It all started way back late 2010 with a trip with fellow bloggers in November. That trip changed my life after meeting people my age doing the things I thought only rich people can afford. It opened my eyes on budget travelling and got bitten by the travel bug. So by the start of 2011, I made a promise to myself that I'll travel more, see the world, challenge myself more, and live my life. and then I got this idea of writing down a wish list from one of the blogs I follow, much like a bucket list, but with a touch of magic, :) so just read on and see how far the magic went.
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Finding a good spot to see the floats at the Panagbenga Festival during the day is one thing and yet finding a good accommodation during the night in Baguio City with the hundreds to thousands of people who went up to witness the highlight of the flower festival is another. So imagine my luck when I found out that I was invited to write about the Azalea Residences Baguio situated at the heart of the City during this classic flower festival.
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