The Lake, The Restless Volcano, and The Heritage Town

A Photography Tour with Pinoy Photography Org’s 17th Year
Maricel Salao

Waking up during wee hours can be daunting for most people, but for photographers, it is something that we are somehow accustomed to. Although we had to drag ourselves out of bed to prepare for the trip, the thought of seeing the sunrise and imagining the masterpieces we will be able to create gives us that push that we need to wake up, get out of bed and get in the car to chase that sunrise.

We did that on our first on-the-spot (OTS) photography tour in Laguna Lake in February. This time around, we’re at another lake. The only difference is that we’re now in a grander, busier striking location.

On PiPho’s recent Taal tour held last March 20, 2022, we all had to get up at wee hours to leave Manila at 3am to catch the sunrise at 6am. Reaching the San Nicolas Baywalk at about 5:30 is our first victory for the day. Imagine waking up really early and overcoming all the challenges of leaving the house that early and missing the sunrise! That’s probably one of the worst fears of photographers everywhere.

“Sunrise over Mt. Maculot”

“Sunrise over Mt. Maculot” by Maricel Salao, as seen in San Nicolas Baywalk.
© Maricel Salao,2022

San Nicolas gave us a view of the Taal Volcano, Mt. Maculot and the Taal Lake. The area welcomed us with a colorful sunrise and a sunny weather, the red and purple hues of the sunrise is a treat for the landscape photographers. Well, it’s not just for landscape photographers, subjects for environmental portraits and bird photography also abound.

"Rays of Hope"

“Rays of Hope” by Malowe Sarabia, as seen in San Nicolas Baywalk.
© Marlowe Sarabia,2022


“Stop-Over” by Mayet Berdin, as seen from San Nicolas Baywalk
© Mayet Berdin, 2022

The Other Side

The Other Side” by Arvin Glen Alvarado,as seen in San Nicolas Baywalk.
© Arvin Glen Alvarado,2022

Our timing couldn’t be more perfect because days later, the alert level was raised to level 3. A good day turned great as Pinoy Photography Org was accompanied by a few friends from Urban Prose Manila, Henry’s Camera, and Canon Philippines during the entire photowalk.

Group Hug in San Nicolas, Batangas

Group Hug in San Nicolas, Batangas with Urban Prose Manila, Canon Philippines, and Henry’s Camera.

From San Nicolas Baywalk, the group traveled towards the Taal Heritage Town. Next stop was supposedly the Basilica de San Martin de Tours, an old church built in the 1800s and is said to be the biggest church in the Philippines and in Asia. But, since the church is now accommodating face-to-face masses and it’s a Sunday, there’s a lot of people in the area, so we decided to go to our next stop instead— Galleria Taal, the Philippines’ first camera museum, owned by Mr. Manny Inumerable, also a photographer.

Group hug at Galleria Taal

The new generation of PiPho Org with Mr Manny Inumerable, the owner of Galleria Taal.
Photo by Vidz Tria.

The Galleria Taal is a heritage home that was converted into a museum and a cafe and restaurant. It does not only provide visitors a view of antique cameras from the 1800s to 1900s but also showcases rare photos of old Manila. We had our brunch at the cafe and restaurant of the Galleria which offers a variety of Taal’s specialties like the Taal longganisa, Tapang Taal and special lomi. They also serve kapeng barako and hot tsokolate which is exactly what we needed to recharge.


Brunch with PiPho at the Galleria Taal
Photo by Jovi Ong

After brunch, we were privileged to be toured by none other than the owner himself, Mr. Manny Inumerable. He shared the stories of the pictures and the cameras he acquired over the years as well as the history of the house. The main highlights of the gallery tour are probably the golden Nikon FA, as well as the picture of Rizal’s execution.

Priceless gear from the Galleria Taal collection
Photo by Jovi Ong

After the tour, we had a model shoot with Lola Gloria. An 80+ year old lady who gave us a glimpse of how ironing and Taal’s embroidery were done in the old days. She has also been very gracious in indulging us with the poses we asked her to do.


“Waiting” by Mayet Berdin, with Lola Gloria
© Mayet Berdin, 2022

The warm summer heat and the weight of taking great pictures have taken the toll on some of us that we had to go back to the restaurant to eat and drink again after the shoot before heading to the church.


“Hopeful” by Marlowe Sarabia, with Lola Gloria
© Marlowe Sarabia,2022

We arrived at the Basilica de San Martin de Tours shortly before 3pm, so the place is not as crowded yet since there’s no mass scheduled at that time. Instead of taking pictures at once, we went to the vendors to buy more food before going to the public market to buy some other things that Taal is famous for. Visiting the market, you will see a lot of embroidered products made of pineapple fiber— from purses, to placemats and tablecloths to clothes. At the meat section, it seems all stalls are selling longanisa and tapa.

Group hug in front of Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours

Group hug in front of Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours

“Light & Love”

“Light & Love” by Mayet Berdin, captured inside the Taal Basilica
© Mayet Berdin, 2022

Some team members had to head back to Manila earlier and some plans had to be changed as we go along. From the initial plan to do sunset shot at the Basilica, we headed to Kapusod instead. We were supposed to take photos of those who make the local balisong along the way but we had to cross that out since there are no available balisong makerson a Sunday.

We headed to our final stop – Kapusod, an Inn and cafe that is nestled on the boundary of Mataas na Kahoy and Balete in Batangas. The property is about 1,500 sqm and is facing the shores of Taal Lake and Lipute River, a perfect spot for a sunset shoot.

We were blessed with amazing sunset colors and a serene body of water in front of us. Since it’s almost evening, we also decided to have dinner in the area but first, we ordered some halo-halo. Probably the best way to cap the evening— sunset shoot, a glass of halo-halo while viewing the final moments of the day’s sunset, and a sumptuous dinner afterwards.


“Balete” by Deric Kho, captured Kapusod
© Deric Kho,2022

Endlessly preparing gear ,and waking up early for the day ahead all bring rewards such as our day in the Heritage Town and the surrounding lakeshores. But not everything always goes as planned. The weather often goes sideways, and who knows, a volcano might even erupt at any moment without notice. Those times are probably a photographer’s nightmare. Or not. As a new member of PiPho Org, I’d probably know the answer in time. For now I, together fellow new members, just enjoy the moment and share the photos.

Most of the photos featured here were captured by rookies, by the way.

#PiPho17 Infinite Possibilities at Our Fingertips.

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