Posts in Category: photo safari

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.

SLEEPER: Editorial on Pinoy Photography Org’s Catanduanes OTS

April 6, 2018. PiPho group hug at Balite Coast, San Andres, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
Photo courtesy of Zer Cabatuan.

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.

“Lone Island Blossom” by PiPho member Eric Laqueo Villenas. Shot along a cliff in Binurong Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines
©2018 Eric Laqueo Villenas


“Maribina” by PiPho member Aljames Villamil Dacanay. Shot in Maribina Falls, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
©2018 Aljames Villamil Dacanay


“Cascade” by PiPho member Jom Jayo. Maribina Falls shot in a different perspective, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
©2018 Jom Jayo

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.

April 7, 2018. Group hug at a bridge near Bato Church, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines. Photo courtesy of Eric Laqueo Villenas.

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!

April 10, 2018. PiPho “Team Naiwan” at Viga, Catanduanes, Philippines.
Photo courtesy of Ralph Capulong Licerio.

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.

“The Blooming Edge” by PiPho member Erick Dantoc. Shot along a cliff in Binurong Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines
©2018 Erick Dantoc

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.

“Earth” An aerial photo by PiPho member Zer Cabatuan. Shot along Balite Coast, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Zer Cabatuan

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.

“Last Light” by PiPho member Jom Jayo. Shot in the rain’s aftermath in Batag, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Jom Jayo


“After-Storm Clouds Above Bato Church” by PiPho member John C. Ronquillo, Shot in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 John C. Ronquillo


“All in a Day’s Work” by PiPho member Jom Jayo. Shot after the rains in Batag, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Jom Jayo


“Glimpse of Colors” by PiPho member Ralph Capulong Licerio. Shot in the rain’s aftermath in Batag, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Ralph Capulong Licerio

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.

“Planet Earth” by PiPho member Ariel Gitana. Shot at midday in Balacay Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Ariel Gitana


“Balacay Point” by PiPho member Nix Ramirez. A view of Agban shot at midday in Balacay Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Nix Ramirez

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.

“Potential Passengers” by PiPho member John C. Ronquillo. Shot along a typical street in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 John C. Ronquillo

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.

“Manong” by PiPho member Nix Ramirez, shot in Binurong Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Nix Ramirez


“Ngiti ng Pag-Asa (Hope’s Smile)” by PiPho member Ralph Capulong Licerio. Shot in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Ralph Capulong Licerio


“Bend the Knee” by 2018 PiPho president Gello Esguerra. Shot in Twin Rock Beach Resort, Igang, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Gello Esguerra

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.

“PiPhoTrese” an aerial shot of us 14 Catanduanes travellers in celebration of PiPho’s 13th year by PiPho member Ralph Licerio. Balacay Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines. © 2018 Ralph Licerio.

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.

April 9, 2018. Pusoy-Dos in Sakahon Beach, Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines
Photo courtesy of Erick Dantoc.

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.

“Kids of Sakahon” by PiPho member Ralph Licerio. Shot with light rains in Sakahon Beach, Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Ralph Capulong Licerio

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:

“Virac Sunrise at Midnight” courtesy of PiPho member Erick Dantoc. The PiPho team lead by Gello Esguerra manages to shoot an epic Virac Sunrise even at midnight. Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
© 2018 Erick Dantoc

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.

April 8, 2018. Exhausted and sunburned, but not in spirit. The PiPho team’s after-shoot dinner at Virac Town Center, Catanduanes, Philippines

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!

April 7, 2018. Group hug in Balacay Point, Baras, Catanduanes, Philippines. Photo courtesy of Zer Cabatuan (also in the photo).

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, 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 to join!

PiPho Org Goes Milky Way Hunting (Corregidor Island)

Text by Atty. Larry Marbella

PiPho conducted its first Milky Way photo shoot at Corregidor Island last May 7-8.

The historic island was chosen because it was one of the few places closest to Manila where light pollution from the metropolis would not interfere with the observation of the Milky Way. Also, the island’s ruins and existing structures made for unique and compelling foreground elements to the Milky Way.

Even with the right location, organizing the shoot still required a bit of planning. According to Lonely, the Milky Way is best viewed in the northern hemisphere from March to October. However, shooting is actually limited to March until mid-May because of the rainy season that starts in June. The actual dates of the shoot were chosen because it was the period of the new moon, which allowed for the optimal viewing of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way shoot was coordinated with Sun Cruises, Inc., which operates the ferry services from Manila to the island and back, the Corregidor Island Tours, and the Corregidor Inn. PiPho availed of Sun Cruises’ special photographer’s package, which included an overnight stay at the Corregidor Inn, with lunch and breakfast. Sun Cruises arranged for one of its “tranvias” to take the group from the Corregidor Inn to Topside, where most of the historic structures and fortifications are located.

The PiPho group left Manila on May 7 on the first ferry trip to the island at the Esplanade Seaside Terminal, Seaside Blvd, SM MOA Complex. The morning was spent doing an ocular inspection of Topside for possible locations for the shoot, and to take some infrared photos. After lunch and a quick nap, the group returned to Topside to shoot the sunset.

Ocular at the old Spanish Lighthouse.

Ocular at the old Spanish Lighthouse.

The actual Milky Way shoot started around 11:30 p.m. on May 7, and lasted until 2 a.m. on May 8. The initial location was the Old Spanish lighthouse, looking east. The Milky Way rose from the southeast behind the lighthouse. As the Milky Way continued its way across the clear night sky, the group moved to Mile Long Barracks, and used its ruins as a haunting foreground element.

While most of the group returned to Corregidor Inn past 2 a.m., others stayed up to shoot the Milky Way at the camping grounds and the San Jose Chapel.

There are other places in Corregidor that PiPho can explore for future Milky Way shoots, such as Battery Hearns (where the Japanese Imperial Army had their infamous victory photo taken after the surrender of the island in 1942), the Filipinos Heroes Memorial, and the Japanese Garden of Peace.

PiPho 10: Siquijor

On its 10th year, Pinoy Photography Organization (PiPho Org) travels to Siquijor via Dumaguete. This is part of the club’s yearly local photo trips.

Day 1

The group of seven, headed by the club’s president, Jovi Ong, arrived at the Dumaguete Airport at 8AM on August 13. It’s just less than an hour plane trip from Manila to Dumaguete. The side trip to Dumaguete since the group needed to catch the next trip to Siquijor.

Siquijor is an island province that can be reached via a ferry ride at the Dumaguete New Passenger Terminal. So, from the airport, the group took a van to get to the ferry terminal. It was just a 10-minute ride. There are several vans for rent waiting just outside the airport’s arrival area. If you’re a big group, it’s recommended that you hire one. If not, you can either walk your way to the main road and take a tricycle or jeepney.

The next ferry for Siquijor was the GL Express 2 Fast Ferry. It was scheduled to leave at 10 AM. Enough time for the group to have breakfast at the terminal.

Boarding the 10 AM ferry to Siquijor.

Boarding the 10 AM ferry to Siquijor.

It was smooth sailing going to Siquijor. By 11 AM, the group arrived at the Siquijor Port at the municipality of Siquijor. The group’s local tour guide, Joam Camingao, was already waiting with his multi-cab, a smaller version of the jeepney.

Upon exiting the port, the group was welcomed by one of the century old churches of the island, the St. Francis de Assisi Parish also called Siquijor Church. Built in 1781, tourists will surely not miss this due to its proximity from the port.

Welcome to Siquijor! Photo by Jovi Ong.

Welcome to Siquijor! Photo by Jovi Ong.

The century old St. Francis de Assisi Parish (Siquijor Church). Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

The century old St. Francis de Assisi Parish (Siquijor Church). Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

The group then headed 12km south via the Circumferential Road to the town of San Juan, where the Capilay Spring Park is located. It is a free to use public park with a huge pool that has water coming from the nearby mountain.

Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Besides swimming, there were also locals busy catching freshwater shrimps, locally called Olang. It’s fascinating to see such creature. What’s more fascinating is that they just use a piece of tingting, a dried midrib of a palm leaf, to catch it.

Freshly caught Olang at Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Freshly caught Olang at Capilay Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

At the back of the park are steps leading to St. Agustine Parish (Macapilay Chruch), also a century old church in Siquijor, constructed in 1863.

It was already noon and the group decided to head back to Siquijor town and have lunch there. Lunch was at Cebu’s Best Boneless Lechon (Siquijor Town). Guess what their specialty. Yes! Boneless lechon belly! The lechon served was tasty and affordable.

After lunch, the group picked up Homer and Lannie at the port. The two took a later flight The group then proceeded 6.4 km Northeast of Siquijor town to Guiwanon Spring Park. The park, which is located just along the main road, is a mangrove farming area with interconnecting bamboo bridges and treehouses. A minimal amount of PHP10 was collected as entrance fee. The park’s pathways and treehouses were interesting to shoot together with the mangroves, seagrass, and the sea.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Cynthia Pedrosa.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Cynthia Pedrosa.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Guiwanon Spring Park. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

The group then proceeded 9.3 km north to Larena where they checked in at Casa Dela Playa Resort. It was just a short rest period at the resort as the group needed to catch the sunset at Dumalaay Boulevard.

It was low tide that time. Patches of shallow puddles became visible and so are the corals and seagrass. Those were good signs for a good sunset shoot. However, it was still a bit cloudy and that became a challenge.

While waiting for the sun to set, the group stayed at one of the several street vendors at Dumalaay Boulevard. The vendors sell street food like barbecue (e.g. pork, betamax, and tenga), siomai, fishball, and refreshments including beer. The street vendors usually start late in the afternoon until the evening.

Dinner after the shoot was at Jo’s Chicken Inato located at Larena’s town proper. Then we went back to the resort for some much deserved sleep.

Day 2

It was an early start for Day 2 as the group went to catch the sunrise at Bino-ongan, Enrique Villanueva. It was another challenging shoot since it was mostly cloudy the whole shoot. Nevertheless, the group was still thankful that it didn’t rain.

Siquijor Sunrise. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Siquijor Sunrise

Breakfast was at a small local panaderia (bakery) near the shooting location. The various types of pastries/breads were interesting since most are not available in Metro Manila.

Bread and Pasteries at a local panaderia. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Bread and Pasteries at a local panaderia. Photo by Jovi Ong.

After breakfast, the group went to Lazi Town at the southern part of the island. It was a long 20 km ride from the panaderia.

First stop was the cascading Cambugahay Falls, less than 2 km from the town proper. It’s surprisingly accessible from the road. Just 135 steps down from the road. And that’s even a paved pathway.

Cambugahay Falls. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Cambugahay Falls. Photo by Jovi Ong.

There are three falls in the area. Each are just a short distance from one another. The first falls to welcome the visitor is the highest among the three. This is also where most of the tourists take a dip to the clear and clean waters of Cambughay falls.

After the refreshing and relaxing dip at Cambughay falls, the group headed back to Lazi’s town proper to shoot the Lazi Church and Convent or formally known as the St. Isidore Labradore Church and Convent. Built in 1884, an interesting feature of the church is its original wooden flooring.

Lazi Church. Photo by Ralph Licerio.

Lazi Church. Photo by Ralph Licerio.

The group then took a quick look at the Old Enchanted Balete Tree, still in Lazi town. There’s a fish spa underneath the big tree that’s free to use. Donation is highly (donations only). The century old tree is located 8 km east of Lazi’s town proper.

Lunch was at Noy-Noy’s Eatery in Poblacion, Lazi. It’s a carenderia that serves affordable and delicious meals.

The itinerary continued after lunch to two locations in Maria Town. First was at Kagusuan Beach where the water was very clear and the rock formations are just awesome to take photos of.

Kagusuan Beach. Photo by Cynthia Pedrosa.

Kagusuan Beach. Photo by Cynthia Pedrosa.

Kagusuan Rock Formations. Photo by Jovi Ong.

Kagusuan Rock Formations. Photo by Jovi Ong.

The second location was at Our Lady of Divine Providence Church where the so called black magic Mary statue is found. Actually it’s a statue of Saint Rita of Cascia.

St. Rita of Casia in Maria, Siquijor. Photo by Jovi Ong.

St. Rita of Casia in Maria, Siquijor. Photo by Jovi Ong.

The group then went to in Enrique Villanueva Town. There were many interesting things to shoot there. The marine life, fisherfolks, and fishing boats, just to name a few.

Tulapos Marin Sanctuary. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Tulapos Marin Sanctuary. Photo by Zer Cabatuan.

Since the marine sanctuary is not perfect for shooting sunsets, the group decided to take a second try to shoot sunset at Dumalaay Boulevard. By that time, the boulevard is just a few kilometers away.

Sunset at Dumalaay Boulevard. Photo by Eric Villenas.

Sunset at Dumalaay Boulevard. Photo by Eric Villenas.

Dinner was the fresh fish from the fishermen at Tulapos and meat from the nearby market. Dinner was prepared by the very hospitable relatives of our tour guide Joam.

Day 3

PiPho group hug before leaving Siquijor. Photo by Ralph Licerio.

PiPho group hug before leaving Siquijor. Photo by Ralph Licerio. L-R: Zer, Homer, Honie, Vernes, Ralph, Cynthia, Jovi, Merly, and Eric V.

The next morning was just spent packing up for the RORO (Roll On/Roll Off) boat trip back to Dumaguete City. The fast ferry service is not available on Saturdays.

Siquijor Island is a magnificent place and a true hidden gem. PiPho encourages people to go visit and help share to the world the beauty of the island.

St. Francis de Asis Church (Siquijor Town)
Capilay Spring Park (San Juan Town)
Guwainon Spring Park (Siquijor Town)
Dumalaay Boulevard Sunset (Larena Town)
Bino-ongan Sunrise (Enrique Villanueva Town)
Cambugahay Falls (Lazi Town)
St. Isidore Labradore Church and Convent (Lazi Town)
The Old Enchanted Balete Tree (Lazi Town)
Kagusuan Beach (Maria Town)
Our Lady of Divine Providence Church (Maria Town)
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary (Enrique Villanueva Town)

PiPho 10: Marinduque!

Pipho 10: Marinduque!

April 9-11, 2015

Marinduque and Maniwaya Island, Philippines

by Jovi Ong


The Pinoy Photography Organization Camera Club (PiPho Org) on it’s 10th year

travels to Marinduque for a photo trip and also for one of our yearly OTS (On- The-Spot) contests. As per usual, the schedule is tightly packed, starting quite early (or late) with a meetup at 11PM to drive to Dalahican Port in Lucena to catch the 4AM RORO (Roll-On/Roll-off) Ship (Montenegro Lines) going to Marinduque Island. We brought along 4 cars with us on our trip to get around in Marinduque; the cars “rolled” onto the ship via “drawbridge style” ramp.’

The RORO experience was the first for me (and for most of us). We were supposed to rest during the trip but with quite uncomfortable plastic benches, most of us just took photos of the ship and the sunrise instead. We arrived at Balanacan Port in Marinduque at around 7AM; most still without sleep, but all ready to go!



Our first task was getting to Luzon Datum located on Mt. Mataas in Barangay Hinanggayon, Mogpog. It is the primary geodetic reference or origin of all geological surveys in the Philippines which means all maps and surveys made in the country use the Luzon Datum as the reference point. The rough roads towards the starting point of the hike were too difficult for our cars to navigate.

We eventually decided to hire a jeepney with higher suspension (and no shock absorbers and other parts underneath it to worry about) to get us there!


What was supposed to be a 30min hike to the top became more than an hour! Clearly our itinerary maker, mountaineer and club member EdwinK did a number on us! The trek was worth it and I’m kind of glad EdwinK “fooled” us. However, I’m never going to believe guides when they say things like “it’s very near already” and “it’s just around that corner” ever again.


Luzon Datum was marked on a rock originally found on site. A nice monument was built around it. The view from the top was astounding! We could see the cove where our RORO ship docked (northwest) and over to the other side (northeast) you can see two beautiful white sand beach islands beside each other!

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After the grueling trek (without sleep or breakfast), we found our way to Boac town were we had lunch (our first meal for the day) and checked into Boac Hotel. We scheduled some time for a powernap then off we went to Laylay Fishing Port for sunset!


The next morning, we shot some portrait photos of a Morion who we scheduled and discussed with the day prior. Ryan is one of 200+ Morions who march around town during the Moriones Festival on Holy Week. Ryan is truly dedicated to his calling and his role as one of the Morions. He refused to act comically while in costume (as it should be) and also did not want to carry a shield (his brother’s) because he said his character really did not carry a shield! It’s great to see and meet people like Ryan who is really involved in their own local traditions and practices.


We then shot the Boac Cathedral which was perfectly lighted by the morning sun before heading off for our road trip around Marinduque Island.



We were running late on our tight schedule so we had to prioritize our options. In Gasan we stopped by the Gasan Municipal Hall and then the Beautiful St. Joseph the Worker Church. Along the scenic but less zigzag route from Buenavista to Torrijos, we stopped along the road to shoot from afar the now closed Bella Rocca Resort (a posh resort that closed down probably because of the closure of the airport on the island). We also stopped to shoot kids jumping into the water along the coast.


Marinduque Island is a very hilly and mountainous island. The roads were built onto the mountainsides making them prone to landslides. The major thoroughfare is along the edges of the island most likely due to it being difficult to make roads cut across mountains. At Torrijos, we had lunch then went to Gabisan Pottery and the Poctoy Torrijos Livelihood Association both in Barangay Poctoy. We unfortunately had to skip going to Pulang Lupa Historical Park due to time constraints. We got back on the road towards Buyabod Port in Sta Cruz for our 4PM appointment with the boat going to Maniwaya Island.



30 minutes from Marinduque is the beautiful white sand beach island of Maniwaya. We stayed at the Residencia De Palo Maria along the beach. The resort had a heated pool and had affordable food prices and room rates! We shot our sunset photos along the beach then had socials after dinner (what we call drinking time!). The next morning, we went island hopping; first to this super awesome sandbar! A thin strip of sand in the middle of nowhere! The waves near the sandbar were a tad dizzying due to them coming from different sides! We then passed by the Ungab Rock Formation on Mongpong Island before heading back to the resort to pack up.

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We headed back to Marinduque to have some lunch and go to the port to catch our RORO back home. We had much difficulty but eventually found our target for lunch: Lola Ambo’s Crispy Pata (palomares corner burgos street) in Sta Cruz! Lola Ambo’s is actually just a takeout place (actually just a normal residential house). We took the crispy pata to a nearby restaurant (restau d’ rusti) where we were served the crispy pata together with other food.


We reached Balanaca Port at around 2:30PM for ample allowance time so as not to miss the Montenegro lines RORO ship leaving at 4:00PM. Upon reaching there, we were rushed through the RORO process (by the port staff) to be able to get on an earlier 2:30PM trip (starhorse shipping lines)! We were happy we made it despite all the dazed rushing (me being the last to get on the ship) as it saved us a good hour and a half! This ship however was smaller and the cars were parked on an open deck, exposed to the corrosive salt water. The seats in this ship though were plastic lounge chairs, definitely much more comfortable than the plastic benches in the Montenegro Lines ship.


We reached Dalahican Port in Lucena at 6PM and drove our way back to Metro Manila (having some kaldereta goat stew for dinner along the way). I got home at exactly 11PM, a full 72 hours from the start of our photo trip! Talk about maximzing time; a full 3 days and 2 nights! Truly a tiring but fun, tight scheduled and jam-packed Pinoy Photography Organization Camera Club signature trip! Until next time! More power to PiPho Org on its 10th year! #pipho10

PiPho goes to Hanoi

Sept 21 to 25, 2013
Hanoi and Ha Long Bay

From the airport. On our way to our hotel.

From the airport. On our way to Charming Hotel. Photo by Regie Fernando.

Group hug in front of our hotel in Hanoi.

Group hug in front of our hotel in Hanoi. Photo taken by our guide, Mr. Nam.

Exploring the streets of Hanoi

Exploring the streets of Hanoi. Photo by Regie Fernando.

Ha Long Bay viewing deck. Photo by Regie Fernando.

Ha Long Bay viewing deck at Ti Top Island. Photo by Regie Fernando.

Group hug at Ha Long Bay with the junk.

Group hug at Ha Long Bay with the junk. Photo by Regie Fernando.

PiPho Bataan Photo Trip

Abandoned Mining Facility, Sisiman Bay by jovijovijovi

2013 PiPho Bataan Photo Trip

Bataan, Philippines
April 20-21, 2013
by Jovi Ong
Pinoy Photography Organization (PiPho Club) traveled back to Bataan in April 2013 for some much needed rest and photography. Our first stop is the Iconic Mount Samat National Shrine; a must visit in every trip to this area of Bataan.
Mount Samat National Shrine
We found out that there is actually a museum at the basement of the Collonade (the marble clad structure, not the Memorial Cross). No photography was allowed but we took our time looking through the displays especially photos of Manila during World War 2.
We head backed down to the main road for late lunch and there was clearly just one target: BOSS MIKO’S BULALOHAN! The best Bulalo we have all tasted! The meat was surprisingly tender for beef and the soup was just invigorating despite the summer heat.
Boss Miko’s Bulaluhan: The best bulalo we have all tasted!
After resting and settling our things at the resort, we headed off for sunset to one of the most visited place in Bataan (for photographers at least); Sisiman Bay! On our way down to the bay, we stopped by the road to shoot some overlooking photos of the bay. From that angle, we saw some interesting old machinery near the bay at the bottom and went off to investigate. These machinery have been abandoned for more than 10 years and is guarded only by a care taker. The machinery was a great contrast to the natural view around us and gave our photo trip an interesting twist from the normal landscape shots of Sisiman Bay. 
Sisiman Bay overlooking view
Miniaturized Sisiman Bay
Abandoned Mining Facility (see main photo as well)
We then moved to the rocky coastal area near where the lighthouse was before (it was taken down after it was damaged) just in time for sunset. We had some kids playing in the area model for us for some silhouette shots as well. 
Silhouette of our models
Sunset at Sisiman Bay
After some dinner, we headed back to the resort for some drinks and relax time. The drinks led to a truly interesting group hug shot which is definitely a first and probably the last trip we do it on. The photos unfortunately are too silly for public viewing :P. Gwiyomi!
The next day, we took some photos of the Chapel of Maria Ai Monti found inside the resort we stayed at (Sinagtala Farm Resort and Retreat Park). The chapel was beautifully made using bamboo as the main interior design. A great place for a quaint out of town wedding.
Chapel of Maria Ai Monti
Chapel of Maria Ai Monti
We then headed of to one of our member’s friend’s private farm in Pilar Town, Bataan. The farm was awesome! I’ve been to many other farms but this one is really top class. The owner is a true enthusiast and has built the farm slowly but surely to be one of the best places I have been to. The farm is located beside two rivers merging together (very lucky according to my chinese friend) which adds a very big added feature to the farm. Swimming in a river is the best place to swim, IMHO. Flowing water, greens around you keeping you cool and the water is fresh! (unlike beaches and swimming pools)
Noon time yet cool as ever! Flowing fresh water, greens around, under the shade of the trees = perfect!
The farm has two levels, one is river level and the other is a plateau around 10 stories up (rough estimate). Vines that have crawled on frames serve as protection against the sun on walkways and even driveways. There is also an awesome infinity pool that gets water from the river (fresh water!) and passes through a natural filtering system using plants as the filters. 
Infinity Pool Filtering System
Fresh River Water Infinity Pool: plastic chairs bolted with steel to keep it below water
Vines serve as protection against the sun inside the farm
There were plenty of structures around the area for housing and lounging around but the most impressive one is a circular building that houses a bar (located on the plateau part of the farm). The circular nature is impressive in itself but what’s awesome is that a big part of the wall opens up and acts like a giant window or door showing the beautiful view (big screen style)! 
After the farm visit, we went off to have lunch at… of course where else but back at Miko’s Bulalohan! The cooks recognized us and we found out that they are Kapampangan (people from Pampanga), a big reason why their food is great (Kapampangan’s are known to be great cooks)! 
One order of Bulalo each! Plus take-away!
Overall a short photo trip, but a fruitful one. More important than the photos is the bonding and the fun time that we had shooting together. Go PiPho Org! 
For more photos of Bataan on my flickr click here
For more photos of Sisiman Bay on my flickr click here
Originally posted at