If you’ve ever wondered how the shapes of the islands, the elevation of peaks, and the depths of seas are measured and translated into easily readable maps that common people can understand, it’s all about the science of geodesy and datums. Even before Google Maps ever existed, surveyors and scientists used datums or geodetic reference points to collectively gather information on the lay of the land and sea in longitude and latitudes. That is why I had much appreciation to finally visit the Luzon Datum of 1911 site in Marinduque. A pivotal reference point used to triangulate networks of different datums in the country. It is, literally the center of the Philippines in a geodetic sense.
It’s easy to get lost in reverie when on the beach. The infinite swells and crashing waves has that hypnotic hook once gazed for merely seconds. This same trance-like state lingered for a moment as sundown sets upon the famed San Juan Beach of La Union. San Juan beach is a playground for both novice and veteran surfers. But for non surfers, it’s an ideal stretch to lounge or simply walk around.
The American Dream, as the Filipinos fondly call it. There was a time when a lot of Filipinos dream of a better life by migrating to the USA. I remember teens getting into college were coerced to enter nursing or get a course on caregiving just to have a better chance of getting into America. Our family was supposed to migrate to USA when I was still in grade school but the plan fell through due to an obstacle. I never bothered to think about it growing up, thinking it will still be a dream. The closest I got to USA was Guam. By a twist of fortunate events, August 2015, I found myself standing on of the longest wooden pier in America, the Oceanside Pier. Finally, I could feel the cool crisp air, see the surfing culture with my own eyes, walk the steps of the pier where some Hollywood movie actors walked (cue in Top Gun, Iwo Jima and American Sniper) and have a taste of the local eats. Yes, I’m in California and its just the beginning of my journey in the land of dollars. Fulfilling my own American Dream.
Bantayan in northern Cebu is also the northern tip of Tañon Strait protected area. Other than Sta Fe and the Virgin island, we visited Madridejos found north of Bantayan Island facing the Visayan seas. A town formerly known as Lawis, it was the first settlement north of the island. In 1917, the town was renamed Madridejos in honor of Benito Romero de Madridejos the former Archbishop of Cebu. Prior to World War II, Madridejos enjoyed being the “Little Alaska of the Philippines” because of its rich fishing ground. The first canning factory in the country was also here until it was bombed during the war. Our visit with Oceana Philippines seeks to observe and capture the communal richness of Tañon Strait with the people of Madridejos.
There’s a certain excitement on visiting far-flung locations. Maybe the idea of finding authenticity in a remote location drives us to go further beyond the tourist trail. Often times we discover gems in seclusion but that is not always the case. Sumnanga Village, the farthest of the Sabtang island villages found at the west side probably has the least tourist footprint on the island. It even took me at least eight years to return to this village despite having been to the island several times already. But sadly it’s another case of tainting my good memories of the place but thankfully there’s redemption in its natural beauty.
Distance won’t stop tourist from visiting these natural gems of the north in El Nido, Palawan. The Nacpan Calitang Twin Beach has grown in popularity that tourist would rent motorbikes, hire tricycles and join van tours just to reach this set of beach 17.5km up north from El Nido town. I can’t blame them, as I have been here several times and the beaches are always mesmerizing to see. Playful waves, soft golden sands, scenic hills and still unspoilt by mass development. Visitors frequent the beach daily, usually as day trips, but staying overnight at these beaches yields a much richer rural experience.
“A day is not always bright, and nights are not always dark. All that matters is what’s inside, because day and night are a reflection of you.” -Avantika
Tacloban was my last work assignment and it was a time when Typhoon Ruby was coming. Glad there were no major damages though this time. This was shot a few days before that storm. A small pier by Balyuan where people hang out in the afternoon. The breeze was pleasant, the waters still. Some students enjoy having a splash while the others take time to be still waiting for a fish to bite. Yes there are still edible fish there. Me, I just enjoyed people watching. Just sitting by the locals even if I don’t understand most of their conversations. This was shot with a Nikon D750.