A Photography Tour with Pinoy Photography Org’s 17th Year
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1st Place – Erick Dantoc
2nd Place – John Ronquillo
3rd Place – Gello Esguerra
4th Place – Ariel Gitana
5th Place – Jom Jayo
By John Ronquillo and Nix Ramirez
There will always be a few trivial nuisances backpackers & amateur travel photographers like us may encounter upon choosing a relatively infant travel destination. This is especially true on destinations that are susceptible to unpredictable weather disturbances. Delayed flights happen. Restaurants, transportation, and service staff can be overwhelmed by the sudden & unanticipated surge of tourists encroaching the place. The weather fluctuates too abruptly when you least expect it. Epic golden-hour photography plans may turn into epic-fails within a few minutes.
All these are petty concerns, as a travel destination in its infancy has one big charm: its beautiful terrain that isn’t inundated with the deluge of tourists. Suddenly, your epic failure turns itself inside out to become a great opportunity. But you have to have the right mindset to see its unique allure.
We are referring to the eastern island-province in the Bicol Region.
Welcome to a road less travelled. Most of us have only heard about Catanduanes as the entry point for brewing storms. In a place that was once known as “The Land of the Howling Winds,” where all weather predictions go out the window, one would be forgiven to think this might be the dullest PiPho travel ever.
Of course NOT, on both counts: both on the photographers’ enthusiasm and the backpacker’s sense of exploration for the exotic. All these inopportune moments are a blessing in disguise, my friend!
Truth be told: Catanduanes is a “sleeper” gem! Although travelling within the island is a little prohibitive due to its mountainous terrain, limited public transportation and narrow roads, most of its awe-inspiring, beautiful landscapes are uncharted. It’s only a matter of time before it gets under the radar of modern commercialism. It’s even often compared to Batanes for its backdrop’s grandeur, which we have barely scratched.
Case in point: a halo-halo break in Barangay Balite along the south-western coast of Virac has turned into a brilliant photo opportunity as the hidden beach a few steps away from the halo-halo cart had a view of Mayon Volcano in the distance. Albeit it was too cloudy to take photos of Mayon, the white sand’s texture against the ebb was too good to be overlooked.
So what’s good about the rains? On a photographer’s perspective, its aftermath always brings intense drama to any photograph. An after-storm sunset furnishes the skies with multiple colors, filtered on what were previously storm-clouds, and fierier than any other day’s sunset. The aftermath also delivers the ever-elusive effect of moving clouds.
Opposite the rains is the scorching sun at midday, which most photographers avoid as it’s nefarious for producing bland colors. Yet with PiPho, the show goes on.
PiPho has only been to the southern-most tip of the island, but perhaps what makes this On-The-Spot (OTS) travel special is the place itself. Virac, the capital city, looks like any other Philippine capital city but you’ll notice the subtleties early on. Garbage seem to be picked-up on time, with the whole place squeaky clean before it wakes up in the morning and after it closes down for the night. Sure, there are tricycles but where’s the grid lock? Virac must be one of the cleanest places in the country.
Or perhaps what makes the travel special is meeting its people. Where would you find smiling tambays while asking help to push your vehicle that has just broken down, while we watched annoyingly thinking about how we haven’t gotten any decent photo for the day. Thinking back, we wouldn’t have been to a very pleasant abaca farm (and take photos of it) and met the locals had the vehicle ran smoothly. These locals are the very front-liners of the typhoons entering the country before they even hit our homes.
Perhaps it’s only incidental that this is Pinoy Photography’s 13th year that we got lucky with our shots? Maybe for us amateurs. And only if you’re superstitious. But producing awesome compositions become intrinsic in most old-timers, that each shot is effortlessly good.
Or perhaps the best part of this travel spree was that we went beyond the one-liner jokes we often hear on the Monthly Photo Contest (MPC) meetings: all 14 of us PiPho travelers earned rapport.
After-shoot nights and the seemingly barren times of heavy rains are story-telling and pusoy-dos times. Some shared their own versions of ghost stories. We’ve learned what our peers do for métiers, where they have been in the past, what music they listen (and sing) to, what’s on their Spotify playlist, the movies they like; we met their spouses, knew some of their strengths, and perhaps learned a thing or two about some of their vulnerabilities.
Those who braved the non-stop rains in Sakahon Beach still managed to take photos. Where else would you find dramatic shots of kids boogie-board surfing in the rain? While some still managed to play pusoy-dos despite forgetting to bring cards. And some sang the rains away on a 5-peso karaoke TV, but found the rains getting heavier as we seem to get more confident on the microphone.
Despair not when you miss the epic Virac sunrise. PiPho always finds a way. The team manages to run the show and shoot Virac Sunrise even at midnight:
What it all boils down to is that what started out as a hobby has gained us not only decent portfolio-worthy photos; it has brought us good friends as well.
The one-liner jokes would always be in the MPC meetings, but they may as well have found new heights and new meanings this time around.
And man, do the winds howl big time!
PiPho Catanduanes OTS
April 6-9, 2018
You need not be a professional or a gadget expert to have fun with us! Neither would you need top-of-the-line.gears. All you need is something that captures images. An entry-level camera would.do, with your enthusiasm to learn and explore new things. If you’ve endured reading this far, that means it’s safe to assume you fit both those criteria. Just fill-up the application form on our webpage https://www.pipho.org/pipho-application-form/ to join!
1st Place – Russ Dela Cruz
2nd Place – Russ Dela Cruz
3rd Place – John Ronquillo
4th Place – Gello Esguerra
5th Place – Zer Cabatuan
Monthly Photo Contest Results:
1st Place – Zer Cabatuan
2nd Place – Edwin Karganilla, Jr.
3rd Place – Edwin Karganilla, Jr.
4th Place – Zer Cabatuan
5th Place – Rizza Singun
OTS Photo Contest Results:
1st Place – Zer Cabatuan
2nd Place – Ralph Licerio
3rd Place – Jom Jayo
4th Place – Rizza Nicca Singun
5th Place – Zer Cabatuan
PiPhol’s Choice – Rizza Nicca Singun
OTS Photo Contest Results:
1st Place – Rocel Dantoc
2nd Place – Faith Ngo
3rd Place – Jeff Dytuco
4th Place – Norman Cunanan
5th Place – Rocel Dantoc
PiPhol’s Choice – Rocel Dantoc