Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - A Year Of Travels and Photos

It was a year of travel-photo journey that took me to amazing places of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and a couple of countries outside the Islands Philippines. Year 2009 allowed me to go deep into forests and mountains as well as lazed around some of the most scenic beaches I have ever seen. It was also about learning history first-hand and be accompanied by some of the most awesome bloggers of the land. And speaking of Blogging, 2009 will be fondly remembered because this humble blog was a first-time finalist in the Photo-Blog category of the Philippine Blog Awards. To recap, here are my monthly account of the places I have featured here in Lawstude's Journey:

The lush Sierra Madre Mountain Range was a prominent display in these JANUARY posts that covered the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Posts for this month included the quaint Saint Dominic Church in Bayombong, the foggy Dalton Pass, the beautiful mountainside of Laur, the calming Dupinga River in Gabaldon and the idyllic town of Dingalan.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Lady of Caysasay Church @ Taal, Batangas

Some of the best kept-secrets lie in a small package. That certainly holds true with Our Lady of Caysasay Church in Barrio Labac, Taal, Batangas. From the outside, the church is humble and plain looking but once you see the interiors, you will simply be mesmerized.

The present church is a rebuilt version of the one that housed the Nuestra Senora de Caysasay, a miraculous image of the virgin that has guided the town since the 1600s. Originally built in 1639, the church was damaged by the eruption of Taal Volcano and an earthquake. It was later restored and improved by Father Marcos Anton with the interiors painted by Cesar Aberoni.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving gifts are all the buzzwords in a Christmas setting. Make your Christmas a one to cherish for years!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Villavicencio Ancestral Home @ Taal, Batangas

The town of Taal in Batangas is a historic small town with a number of old Spanish colonial buildings. And Villavicencio Ancestral Home is one of them. It was the home of Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio who was one of the heroic women who have contributed great sums of money and energy for the Philippine revolution. A statue in her honor is located at the corner of the street where her house is located.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Taal's Basilica of St. Martin de Tours

The historic small town of Taal prides itself with the massive century-old Basilica of St. Martin de Tours that dominates the lawned Taal Park. Built in 1840s to 1860s, this well preserved church has one of the best facades of all the churches I have seen. And not to be outdone is the church's interiors showcasing intricately designed ceiling and a well-crafted altar.

The Church was said to be named after Martin de Goiti, a Spanish explorer and a patron saint to those who have lost their way. Travelers from nearby places also frequent this church to seek guidance and ask for safety in their journeys. This Church is also reputed to be the largest Catholic church in Asia. Its facade resembles that of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and its tabernacle is made of silver, the only one of its kind in the Philippines.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Slacken and Sleekin' in Bantayan Island

What is your favorite time of day?

Bantayan Island by day is truly a paradise. There is so much things to see and explore. Every place therein presents an opportunity for a worthy picture. You can't go wrong taking shots at every nooks and cranny of the many beaches and coves of the island. And finding your own space in this idyllic island is never a problem.

Choc Nut

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Alice Beach @ Bantayan Island

I rarely encounter a beach named after a woman. If I remembered it right, the only other beach I know which was named after a woman was Alona Beach in Panglao Island. Alona Beach was named after the actress Alona Alegre who was frequently seen shooting a movie there. For Alice Beach, I find it hard knowing the history behind the nomenclature so I could only guess.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sugar Beach @ Bantayan Island

A sand that glistens in the sand and an endless rows of Coconut Trees that will protect you from scorching heat of the sun are the main draw of the Sugar Beach.

Located at the southern part of the Bantayan Island in the Municipality of Sta. Fe and just adjacent to the Paradise Beach, Sugar Beach is among the popular beach in the island. It has a beach resort named after the beach (or is it the other way around?). The resort has one of the most affordable rates but not really of the best quality. But one thing I like about the lace is that they allow backpackers to pitch a tent for just a minimal fee.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Paradise Beach @ Bantayan Island

There are times in life that seem to stay with you. Moments in places that seem to have the power to make life stand still... to linger... and to remember. For me, Paradise Beach is that place on earth... from the fine, white sand that tickles the feet, to the crystal, clear water that seem endless as far as the eyes can see... from the rhythm of its tides to the feeling of serenity... this is the place where I want to be. If quiet enhances thought, this is the place to indulge in a little reflection.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bantayan's Hilantaga-an Island

Residents of the island call this Pouo Nga Daku or Hilantaga-an Daku, the bigger twin of Virgin Island or Hilantaga-an Diot/Pouo Nga Diot which I have featured in my last post. Both islands are part of the Municipality of Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bantayan's Virgin Island

It is an island destination within an island destination. Virgin Island is just about 20 twenty minutes boat ride from Bantayan Island. Although Bantayan Island is already a destination in itself and you can practically have its beaches all to yourself, still, if you want isolation and solace, then you may head to charming Virgin Island.

Virgin Island boasts of pure white sand beach in a cove-like surrounding so there ain't no strong winds. It is privately owned and they have strict laws about the cleanliness of the island. There are no restaurants or store there so you have to bring some for your consumption. There is an entrance fee, however of P300 per person to be paid to the care-taker of the island.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Madridejos, Bantayan Island

Travelers go to Bantayan Island to indulge in the White Beaches of Sta. Fe or celebrate Holy Week in Bantawan Town but if you head further north, you will discover that the town of Madridejos has several charms of its own.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Peter and Paul Church @ Bantayan Island

For 51 weeks of the year, this century old church is just like any other church that celebrates mass and serve its constituents. But come holy week, Peter and Paul Church of Bantayan Island is the focus of religious processions that attract the faithful from all over the Philippines.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We Mourn for Attorneys Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo

The lives of election lawyers will never be the same again after November 23. On that day, two lady lawyers were among the 57 souls (to date) who were mercilessly slaughtered on the lonely road of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. These lawyers were there to provide legal advice in observance of a democratic political process but sadly, they become victims of barbaric acts unimaginable in this present times.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manila : Reality Bites!!!

This has gotta be one of the most disturbing set of photos I will ever post. And to those of you who still do not believe that garbage is an enormous problem, you better see this. I used to think that Manila Bay is famous for its roll-breaking sunset. Don't get me wrong, I still do, but it has also gained notoriety because of its polluted waters.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Kapurpurawan and Beyond

The rock formations of Kapurpurawan is definitely its biggest draw. But before you reach the main prize, you will be rewarded with lots of consolation price because the trail and the landscape going to the Rock is just so splendidly beautiful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kapurpurawan Rocks

With more than seven thousand islands where the land descends the sea. And with world-re known pristine beaches, idyllic coves, amazing sunset on the pacific and the whitest of the white sand, the Philippines definitely has one of the best seascape in the world. And I thought I have seen everything... that is, until we visited Kapurpurawan Rock Formations in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Windmills of Bangui Bay - Reloaded

It was summer last year when I first visited the fifteen giant wind mills of Bangui Bay. Ironicially, the weather that time was gloomy and the overcast skies almost gray. This time, on my second visit to the same area, it was rainy season but ironically again, the sky was much clearer and bluer, an opportunity for a better shoot. What more? There are additional five windmills bringing the total to twenty wind mills all lined-up on the shores of Bangui Bay.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wandering Around Cebu City

The Queen City of the South is undoubtedly the busiest City outside Manila. Cebu to Visayas is what Manila is to Luzon. The growth and urbanization is non-stop. Tall buildings, malls and business centers abound. Traffic and fast-paced life is also evident.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mactan Island Seascape

Mactan Island is where you will actually land if you are flying from Cebu City. It is home to Mactan-Cebu International Airport which is the second busiest airport in the Philippines. Geographically located in Lapu-lapu City, it is connected to Cebu City via the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and the newer Marcelo Fernan Bridge.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Great Chief of Mactan

Ask any grade schooler "Who killed Magellan?" and almost everyone will answer you right. Probably the most famous Filipino hero next to Rizal, Rajah Lapu-lapu is the brave Mactan chieftain who was the first to resist Spanish colonizers. He is highly regarded by the people for his bravery and that is why the locals built a bronze statue of him in honor of his heroic deed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Under The Bridge @ Cebu

I have passed this bridge several times already going back-and-forth Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City. Everytime I wonder if it was possible to stop right there on the bridge 'coz I got a feeling that the place will offer a fantastic sunset view.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leavin' Blue Lagoon - Roadside View

You will never run-out of amazing landscapes in the Islands Philippines. And that 10-minute strip from Blue Lagoon to Pagudpud Highway exemplifies that. Wonderful seascape on the left - blue sky, glistening shorelines, hued island and mountain scape and lush greenery on the right made this ride truly a visual delight. With this roadside view, leavin' Blue Lagoon just got harder.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Return to Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon, a popular name for Maira-ira, is one place that I will never get tired of going. I was there last year on a summer where the sky was clearer and the sea calmer. This time around, the weather is gloomier and the sea much wavier but still, the place is perfect if you long for tranquility and serenity. So, despite the very long hours spent on just going there, a return to Blue Lagoon is very much worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maira-ira's Wandering Shots

This has got to be the longest and the restless road trip I had this year. It all started with a three-hour bus ride from Cabanatuan to Manila where I met with travel buddy Dong Ho, master photographer Lantaw, adventurer-blogger Scud and sweethearts Jonee and Feigh. We planned to depart at 11 pm but because it is the start of a long weekend, Partas Bus heading to Ilocos could not accommodate all the passengers lined-up for the trip. We have to wait six hours for our bus to depart. The next twelve hours after that was an adventure in itself which included busted bus, delay due to road constructions, undisciplined drivers and ride transfers. To make, a long story short, it took us almost a whole day just to arrive at our destination.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trekkin' and Ridin' in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a country close to Filipino hearts. And because of its proximity to the Philippines, this special autonomous region of China is a favorite destination of passport-bearing Filipinos. But once on its smoggy shores, it routinely becomes a shopping and dim sum gastronomical delights for most people.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sagada's Church - Friendship and Devotion

The first place I visited in Sagada will be the last one I will post in this series. Nothing really melancholy but this blog is no stranger to Churches. I always believe every church has its own history from its architecture to the people who visits them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sagada Food Trip

One of the best parts about traveling is that it exposes you not only to different cultures but to regional foods and other gastronomical delight that made the place famous. And when you say Sagada, what comes to mind are Home-made Yoghurts and the Pinikpikan. I definitely tried those two and have discovered more. So, here are some food I have tried and the restos/establishments who made them:



Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sagada's Marlboro Country

If you are looking for the best view on top of the world and wild horses, then Marlboro Country is the place to go. Located in Lamagan which is on the western part of Sagada, the place is one of the highest points of Sagada.

Like most of the attractions in Sagada, a trip to Marlboro Country required an accredited guide. So, the Tourist Information center provided us one. We rented a van that took us to the foot of the hill on a rough, stony path. We then trekked for about thirty minutes to reach the summit of the Lamagan.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sumaging Cave @ Sagada

It's dark, slippery and wet but still, no trip to Sagada is complete without experiencing its caves. There are at least two caves in Sagada that are offered for exploration to its tourists. The Lumiang Burial Cave and the Sumaging Burial Cave. You can explore each cave or you can do the cave-to-cave connection linking both caves and suitable only to the reasonably fit.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sagada's Underground River and Biak-Na-Bato

Talk about wonders of nature and Sagada seems to have it all. In fact, this mountainous town has its own smaller version of the Underground River and Biak-Na-Bato.

To get there, one must traverse the somewhat tricky trails of echo valley and trek your way amidst muddy paths and thorny plants. You even need to cross and wade thru mini-streams just to get to this really amazing spot. But unlike its bigger counterpart in Palawan, the Underground river here ain't navigable. And also, unlike its bigger counterpart in Bulacan, the Biak-Na-Bato here is just a big chunk of stone which is split in the middle. Both versions are ideal for having your photos taken. Although it is a muddy-trek, a visit to this place is well worth-it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Echo Valley and the Dead

Sweet...SWEET...SWEET!!! Spicy... SPICY...SPICY!!! Oooops, Sorry!!! Got carried away for awhile there. Just wanna test if my shout will echo back at me. But in case you wanna know, yes, it did echo. In fact you are allowed to shout there at your hearts content. But hey, Echo Valley is a sacred ground. It is a burial site for the dead, so you better think twice of ever shouting again for you may get a different response. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kiltipan Sunrise @ Sagada

I use to say that the best sunrise can be seen on a beach because of the magical reflections of the golden rays on the sea. But then, I have never been to Sagada before. Now, I am having a second-thought about my statement because sunrise in Kiltipan is somewhat a mesmerizing experience.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SAGADA - A Preview

I always wanted to go to Sagada. So, when the opportunity presented itself (thru an invitation from Benj), I readily grabbed it and off I go. Let me start this multi-post series with some photos of things and places that you will see and expect to be featured on this beautiful mountainous town.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dalton Pass on a Clear Day

I first featured a Foggy Dalton Pass early this year on my trip with Dong Ho and Orlan. This time around, with Ferdz, Oggie and Erick, Dalton Pass was a picture of clear blue sky and green mountain. Its typical foggy state which use to envelope the entire place was amusingly absent.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Malico Pine Forest

On our second day in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, we headed to Malico Pine Forest which is part of the Kalahan Reserve. Ferdz has gone there before on a photo-docu assignment about Carbon Trading and he has good reviews about the place.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Imugan Falls

One of Nueva Vizcaya's natural attractions is the Imugan Falls. Located in the western topmost part of the town of Sta. Fe, Imugan Falls is a thirtyfive-foot spring waterfalls flowing into a cool basin-like pool and cascading itself thru the Imugan River below. It is about seven kilometers of unpaved road from the national highway (about thirty minutes by jeepney), and about a kilometer hike from Imugan Proper (about thirty minutes hike).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Imugan River and Footbridge

It was definitely one of the fastest packing I had. It was the night before the trip that Ferdz invited me to a nature trip in Nueva Vizcaya. Although the invitation was so sudden, I could not miss this chance of spending this trip with the masters of travel/photo blogs.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Angel Island - Rough and Tough

The locals call this place Angel Island, and by the looks of this place, it seems like an Angel literally lives here. Fine off-white sand beaches, amazing rock formations and caves are what make this island well-known within the area.

The amazing rock formations really caught my fancy. These rocks are almost bluish-gray and most of them are really sharp. They spread over the sea forming small islets and some even form a cove that turns portions of the beach into mini-pools.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kabatian Island - A Wavy Welcome

It was rather peaceful in Labrador when we depart on a boat but halfway on our trip, the sea became uneasy and rowdy that a supposed 30-minute boat ride turned into more than an hour of wavy ride. And when we arrived at Kabatian Island in Sual, Pangasinan, the waves have become bigger that the first thing on my comrades mind were "How do we go back?".

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Somber Mood of Tobuan Beach

The province of Pangasinan being a coastal one is gifted with lots of easy to reach beaches. Tobuan Beach located in the barangay of the same name in Labrador is one of them. This beach is well known in the area because of its fine, dark-gray colored sand which span for about a kilometer. However, if swimming amidst dark sand is not your thing you can still chill around the area and watch the sunrise which is one of the trademarks of Pangasinan. Or better yet, after swimming in the sea, you can immense yourself at the pools of the nearby Covelandia du Labrador Family Beach Resort where we stayed overnight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Colonial-Era Manila Experience

Ever wondered how the rich and the famous lived in the colonial-era? I just had a sampling of that when I visited the Legarda Mansion in the patrician district of San Miguel, Manila. This well-preserved mansion is the ancestral home of Dr. Alejandro and Ramona Legarda and showcases age-old furniture and fixtures as well as priced paintings, vases and wares. This place is like a mini-museum where heirlooms of the family who used to live there were displayed... from the photography gadgets, medical equipments to the wedding dress of one of the mansion's daughter.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Once Mighty Intramuros

Behind these walls lies a golden past. A city of the elite - the premiere place of Asia once stood there almost three-quarters of a century ago. But then again, war took its toll on this place and turn it to ruins - it has never recovered since. Almost everything but the Walls were destroyed during the War. And walking in Intramuros now will remind you of the past, although almost every structures there were mere duplications of what they used to be. Still, this place represents the heart of Manila - chaotic, reviving and struggling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Walls of Intramuros

The City of Manila was once grand and Intramuros was the symbol of aristocracy. From its founding in 1571, it was the exclusive creation of the Spanish ruling class. Within its walls were important government buildings, first-class homes, churches, convents, hospitals, schools and plazas.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Backpacking West Bataan Part 3

On this last part of this backpacking trip, let me tell you how to go there and enjoy the experience.

The meeting place or jump-off point of the tour is Balanga City, the capital of Bataan. There are hourly aircon buses that depart from Cubao like Victory Liner and Bataan Transit. Then, you need to ride a non-aircon bus in the Balanga Terminal heading to Bagac. You may opt to unload at the Bagac town proper or in the Japanese Commemorative tower where tricycles await. You need to rent a tricycle that will lead you to a highway going to Sitio Looc. You need to trek for about 30 minutes amidst forests and mini-streams towards Sitio Looc here you cud rest for a while. Sitio Looc will be the last place there where electricity is available. Then you need another 30 minute uphill trek to Paitan Cove. This is a good place to pitch your tent because the beach here is fine and that there is a mini-falls where fresh-water is available. Since the weather ain't that fine, we decided to camp there before trekking any further. We then wade amidst stones and rocks going to Caragman. But if it is high-tide, trekking further up on the hillside is advisable.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Backpacking West Bataan Part 2

Bagac and Morong are both 4th class municipalities in the western part of Bataan. Bagac was made famous recently by a prime-time GMA show, Zorro, which was shot on location in Real de Acuzar. Morong, on the other hand is where the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is located. It is also a sanctuary of marine turtles or pawikan. Other than that, this part of Bataan has become a favorite trekking and camping place for adventurers out there. For one, the locals in the area are hospitable and welcoming. Second, the trail isn't that arduous that even novice trekkers and climbers can do it. And most of all, the place is a showcase of pristine coastal and marine marvels.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Backpacking West Bataan Part 1

This is the first of a three part-post of my backpacking adventure in West Bataan. Two of my friends who reside in Balanga City invited me and few others on a trek amidst the mountain and beach scape of the western part of Bataan that include Bagac and Morong. It was a two-day trek that include camping in one of Bagac's scenic coves. Although, it is already rainy season, the thought of spending another few day in nature is just too irresistable. So, with my backpack and tent in tow, I headed to Balanga City which is the meeting place for the trek.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Revisiting Children's Island

I always wonder why they name this island after the children. The best answer I got is that the beach of this island is so shallow that it serves as a safe playground for the children to swim. I do agree. In fact, one can even go by foot from this island to a small islet just in front of it. The sand here is so fine and the waters so clear even if you wade just a little too far from the island.