It’s not often we get an international Photo Tour to come here in the Philippines unlike our competing South East Asian neighbours, that’s why it’s a welcome development that the Jim Cline Photo Tours and Workshops decided to test the waters here in the Philippines where no other Photo Tour Groups have tried. On the helm is Humanitarian Photojournalist Karl Grobl where he took the group on key places around the country for a Photographic journey for two weeks. I assisted Karl on the photo mentorship and was their local guide for their Baguio-Sagada-Vigan leg of the tour which lasted for 5 days. Here’s a rundown of that very interesting segment.
It was three days and 2 nights at the cool highlands of Ifugao. It was a mini Photo Adventure with the small number but we did give out what we promised which is adventure, immersion and tons of photographic opportunities. This was our first Backpack Photography for the year and we’re cooking something up for the last quarter of the year. In the meantime here’s our itinerary for the Banaue Photo Adventure last May and I’ve also added some Ifugao posts from previous weeks.
We all deserved that long rest after that full day of driving from Vigan to Sagada via Besang Pass National Park. The group arrived in Vigan a little past 6pm and stayed at the elegant old-Spanish style accommodation of Hotel Salcedo de Vigan. With enough time to recharge the photo tour group starts to explore what makes Vigan so special. I’ve been to this UNESCO World Heritage City a few times already but I still like it, especially the photo opportunities it offered.
Much has been written about Sagada already so I won’t go repeating much than to update some of the old photos I took of the place. For those who have endured the hours of travel to get to this fascinating mountain town, I found it rare that people won’t be enamored with its old-world feel, lush surroundings, cool clime, great food and especially interesting people. I’m actually grateful Karl Grobl decided to include Sagada in their itinerary since the Cordilleras really shows how rich and unique our culture is beyond the beaches we are known for.
I was amused when I saw this dog from Rock Inn, the place where we were staying, running in front of our jeep as we rode up the dirt road towards the Kiltepan Viewpoint. He was panting heavily with his tongue ridiculously hanging from his wide open mouth when we got there but I thought it was really nice to have a dog as a personal escort. It was already bright when reached the viewpoint and I saw the dog continue on to the cliff-side of the peak where a few people were already waiting for the sunrise. He soon sandwiched himself in between a couple as they waited for the sun to reveal itself behind the mountains.
The Halsema Highway is one of the Philippine’s engineering feats. Its 130kms road stretching from La Trinidad Benguet to the Bontoc Mountain Province has an elevation of up to 7400 feet. It is the highest highway in the Philippines and is one of the most scenic drives you can experience in the country. Whenever I embark on a 6 hour journey from Baguio to Sagada via public transportation, I’ve always wished I could somehow stop for a while on some points of the road. That came into a realization when I became the local guide and assistant photography mentor for Jim Cline’s first Philippine’s Photo Tour led by Humanitarian Photojournalist Karl Grobl. With our own mini-bus at our disposal, the group made a few interesting stops along the Halsema Highway.