Category: plying the islands

memories written and captured around the islands of my home, the Philippines

plying the islands: surfing the waves of baler

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The tumbling waves echo the wind shouting its advances. As if warning everyone of the power it has to crash anything on its path.  Yet, its height and breath signify the feebleness of any man, making him realize that he indeed is but a small creature but blessed with a heart to love God and others like him.

Beyond the horizon, facing the ocean, I see the perspective of man being so puny compared to the awesome reality of the massive waves.  The surfers, in tandem or alone in their fortitude, await the rambling waters to take them to heights of passion and conquest.  Many may ride the monstrosity back to shore while others may fail only to strive and await their turn again and again.

I may never be given that chance to feel the power beneath my feet and surf the blasting waves. But as i see the smile on my children’s faces as they stand in command of their chosen wave, I feel the pride of a mother blessed in the love of God whose gift of awesome kids able to hurdle life’s challenges as blessings beyond compare.

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plying the islands: on my own … in victorias city, bacolod

Victorias City was at least thirty minutes by bus from Silay, Bacolod on a well-paved provincial road that made the transit quite comfortable.  Outside, the scenery was one expanse of sugar cane and rice plantations.  The greenery was unruffled and calmed my nerves working with a steady rhythm of uncertainty and excitement.

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When I hailed the bus to a halt, I walked a few steps to ride a tricycle (a motorbike with a passenger’s sidecar) and requested the driver to bring me to the sugar mill.  I decided against venturing inside the mill, so I just took shots of this old sugar cane train that was a relic but an impressive reminder of the golden era of sugar refinery in this part of the islands.

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Farther on, I remembered having read about a chapel that had an “angry Christ” as mural on its altar.  I mentioned it to the driver and immediately, he knew where to go.  The Chapel of Saint Joseph the Worker was inside the compound of the Victorias Milling which was erected in 1950.  Considering the conservative outlook of the Catholic Church at that time, the painting that was beyond any devotee’s imagination of how Christ looked, probably brought different reactions among the congregation and worse, disappointment or even fear.

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The fiery and vibrant colors, the intense and angry eyes, the wide-stretched arms with big open palms are not iconic representations of how Jesus’ kindness is all about.  I was distracted by the overall effect of the mural … I dreaded it more than enjoyed the quaintness of the painting.  Yet, this attempt at portraying Christ on Judgment Day in a stern and enraged disposition has attracted many travelers from all over.

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Heading back to where my diminutive ride was parked, I noticed a disheartening sight.  Not far from where I was, I saw a smoke-stack from one of the mills emitting harmful substance into the air.  I wondered how long this had been going on and how much particles of pollutants had mixed with the provincial air. Reliving the experience brings the same trepidation in my heart; yet, I know it continues on.

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It was a quiet afternoon by myself, conquered my fear of being alone in a strange locale and seeing places I heard about and encountered in my readings. I am thankful to God for the opportunities He blesses me with, allowing me my freedom to enjoy moments of discovery and living the realities that have been mere dreams in the niche of His protection and faithfulness.

Victorias City, Bacolod Coordinates:  10°54′N 123°05′E

plying the islands: one May day in silay, bacolod

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The sun’s rays felt like piercing daggers, it was yielding its solar heat threatening sunburn and sweat bath.  The skies were blue and empty of white puffs, it was a perfect May day for a photographic quest.

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Monday was not a good day to visit Silay, Bacolod (an hour’s plane ride south of Manila) because the main historical home which was the Balay Negrense was not open to visit.  Thus, I had to contend myself with the house facade, played around with the vantage points of the beautifully brick-laden fence enhanced by the well-crafted floral topiary.

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This was not my first trip to Bacolod, so from memory, I went through the ancestral homes Bob and I initially visited .  Although, I was left on my own because Bob had to tend to work, I took every possible image that caught my eye.

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Some young kids who were curiously fascinated by me, became captivating subjects releasing my random need to digitally compose.  Even details of forlorn old wooden appliques glued on posts and walls were captured as mementos of that hot day in Silay.

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Leveling up my adventure, I remembered from my readings that I could hop on a bus northbound and head to the town of Victoria, to take in the culture of sugar planting and refinery.  Armed with curiosity and a sweet smile, I nervously took on the chance with misgivings amidst adrenalin overload.  The locals were generous at giving a stranger their attention providing directions and unsolicited advise and that pacified my raging demeanor.

Finally, with my heart on my throat, I hailed a bus to a halt and rode the public transport farther from where Bob was as I attempted to go on an adventure purely on my own.

Silay, Bacolod coordinates:  10°48′N 122°58′E

plying the islands: “love” at first sight

I knew about the Mayon Volcano since my grade school days when I was told that it was one of our island’s most beautiful countryside enchantments; thus, it had been a dream to see it up close and personal.

The pilot just stated that we were off to Bicol, southwest of Manila, and in a few, announced that we arrived at our destination.  If on a road trip, it would have been at least eight hours of grueling driving, but flying is always a pleasure … any time.

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The excitement at seeing this infamous (at least to us islanders) volcano defined in the dictionary as a rupture or opening in the planet’s surface throbbed in my heart ready to explode!  When I finally set my eyes on its lovely cone-shaped summit, I knew it was “love” at first sight.

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I am a nature lover because it speaks to me about how almighty our Creator is.  How HIS glorious creation evokes HIS love to be enjoyed and shared.  Thus, I have chosen a few of what I captured of this beautiful volcano that spoke God’s love to me which I pray will do to your heart as well.

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Mayon Volcano in Legazpi, Albay coordinates:  13.2567° N, 123.6850° E

plying the islands: cape bojeador lighthouse in burgos, ilocos norte

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The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is 160 meters atop the Vigia de Nagparitan hill in Burgos, Ilocos Norte almost 400 kilometers north of Manila. It is a splendid reminder of an engineering feat of a bygone era that spoke of Filipino pride. It sits majestic on a summit overlooking the Philippine Sea.

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We traversed the spiral staircase that was rusty yet sturdy, and reached the pinnacle where the lantern room was located. However, there is now a modern lamp that is powered by solar panels which amazingly is still the powerful beacon that lights the safe travel of contemporary seafarers.

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The view outside was breathtaking and the wind howled like it was shouting its greetings to us who seemingly disturbed the quiet of the summit.

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The masonry spoke shabby but the rustic bricks added visual grace to the edifice and pavilion that was charmingly resplendent even in its obvious disrepair.

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I have a penchant for lighthouses because of what it stands for. The beacon that lights a path is like a guiding hand, leading the lost to a beautiful hope. It can be a paltry metaphor for who God is in our lives, because HE is the only true power that lights our path into righteousness, giving HIM the glory HE alone deserves.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Burgos iNorte:  Coordinates: 18°10′N 120°45′E / 18.167°N 120.75°E

plying the islands: baguio basics

baguio1This is the welcome sign that banters the tired body from the long haul of road travel implying the last leg of the journey up the mountains of the Cordilleras. It hails travelers a warning to be more alert at the approaching steep climb through the infamous Kennon Road zigzag.

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After an hour of ascent, one sees the zigzag view from this point hinting an accomplished driving feat!

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The Camp John Hay Manor is our favorite Baguio address that spells H-E-A-V-E-N. We are always pampered with much lavishness that going home becomes a dreaded reality.

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In the years that we have visited the haven in the skies, we have gone to most of the interesting sights to see. On our way to a food locale, an old tribal lady caught our eye and we just had to get down the car to take her photograph. We were amazed that she asked us to pay her $.50 (Php20) for the portrait. In frustration, we yielded to her demand because she was indeed an interesting subject. Although I hope that this practice does not get passed on to her descendants.

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The Baguio Cathedral is one recognized landmark in the central area of the city.  That one glorious morning when we were out early to take photos, I was blessed with azure skies and beautiful lighting; thus, a delightful capture was such a gift.

Baguio Coordinates:  16.417°N 120.6°E