Lesson Learned

Check a cheap trip, food, gadgets, etc. Vacation won't be an expensive anymore. Live like kings and queens but spend thriftily. Avail discounts, freebies and rewards. Get some tips and tricks of travels and leisures. Know your destinations well. Travel, though a first-timer, but like an expert.

Experience cultures, taste delicacies, respect beliefs and embrace humankind.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Many Islands Are There in Hundred Islands Pangasinan?

YOU PROBABLY answer 100. But you are definitely wrong. Or if you have a high IQ, your answer would have been like the Miss Universe Philippines 1994 who was once asked "How many islands in the Philippines?", and answered with a bouncy question "High Tide or Low Tide?" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42jvCFRdBiM). To be exact, there are 124 islands when low tide and 123 when high tide. People just call it so because Filipinos thought they are just 100 in number until it is named to 100 Islands.

Those islands welcomed me on All Souls Day. We planned on this date to maximize our vacation leave of our work.

Guess who were there? No one but us alone, five in all.

There are only three major islands that are developed for tourist stopover. These are Governor Island, Quezon Island and Children's Island. We chose the Quezon Island since it is the farthest among the others. From this island you can oversee the other small islands.

There are also pathways to connect two islands.

We put up tents for our night rest. The whole place seemed so peaceful. Stars and moon gave dim light for us. The only problem I encountered is that, if you are going to deposit your bowel, you have to hike a little distance in a very dark part of the island that you don't know if there are monsters waiting for you there or when during your strong action someone from below will touch yours. Whoa! Of course, you can't ask from your team a help to take you to the bathroom.

We woke up early for the island hopping. That's the reason we were there. First on the list is the cave island.

We also visited the other house of Pinoy Big Brother in Governor Island.

What amazed us more was when we want an island to sunbathe, then our favor was granted. We chose this island here because our attentions were caught by the soft and white sands.

Hands up!

The waters are so crystal clear that you can actually see underneath of it.

The footsteps to tap even one of the islands are so worthy. We feel we own the islands. It is another adventure that I consider memorable. 

Follow Me In Palawan

UNDERGROUND RIVER of Puerto Princesa, Palawan is the pride of Philippines as it is the only country's nominee for the new seven wonders of world nature. Have you casted your vote yet at http://www.new7wonders.com/?

As summer had started, two of my officemates and I planned to explore the whole island of Palawan. There's a lot of destinations you can go when your feet get landed. Puerto Princesa's Subterranean Underground river and El Nido's white-soft sandy beaches are the famous attractions.

If you are just given three days to discover the wonders, will you be able maximize your time embracing the fullness of it? This is what exactly we had.

From Davao City, we stopped over in Cebu then flied for another an hour to reach Puerto Princesa City.

We arrived during lunch time and we headed our way to Balinsasayaw Restaurant, as this was featured on a TV show. This is their special dessert called Balinsasayaw cream. I was wondering if the cream is made up of the bird's nest. It is a must-try to a new visitor like me. 

After we had fixed our baggage in our rented hotel, we started wandering the city. We went to Crocodile Sanctuary, Butterfly Garden, Mitra Ranch and Bakers Hill. These are the top landmarks in Puerto Princesa. Don't miss to visit these places.

More or less thousands of crocodiles are fed and bred in Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.

Angry crocodiles are ready to swallow me whole.

Another destination that a traveler shouldn't miss is the Mitra Ranch. It is an overlooking ranch where the whole city and seas are seen.

During the afternoon, we snacked at Baker's Hill. Literally, it is a bakery that's on the hill!

We demanded to our driver to drop us by in their City Hall. We had fun taking photos at their City Hall.

Beside of this church is the historical Plaza Cuartel, a hideout tunnel. There was nothing good vistas there but, the notable heroism of Filipinos and American who were burned alive by Japanese after their captivity.

At night, my officemates and my cousin spent some hours roaming their baywalk. The colorful lights and no. of people made us pleased. 

My cousin's officemate invited us for a night swimming at one of the city's hot springs. We took the privilege to get to know with these new friends and to give time into relaxation from the whole day exhaustion.  

It was around 2am in the morning and we were still on the road waiting to commute. The highways were not busy compared to Davao City as the public vehicle operation is 24/7. In their city, after 10pm in the evening, the streets turned calm. We had difficulty of hiring a motorcycle to transport us back to their downtown. At last, we negotiated a driver and arrived at the hotel at around 3am in the morning. We just had 2 hours of sleep since we have to catch the first trip bus going to El Nido. El Nido is an 8-hour trip. The bus fare is PHP600.00.

After 8 hours of sleeping inside the bus in order to get the sleep hours we passed up, we arrived El Nido, Palawan. The scenic scenery of El Nido gives us strength from a long tiring trip. 

We immediately had our island hopping before the night came in. We hired a boat. The cost was just only PHP500 because my cousin got favor from the owner.

I received a power hug from my lovely cousin.

This island looks like a helicopter. Yes, they call it helicopter island. And there are many islands can be found there that look like turtle, snake, woman's breast, etc.

We jumped down in one of the islands where many foreigners bathed. So that, we can experience also how it felt to be like a foreigner. Whoa!

I met some lovely ladies too. Hmmm!

My attention was caught to this water-floating rock.

El Nido is a beautiful town having beautiful seascapes and breathtaking sunsets. We lingered on the seashore to catch the awaited sunset. 

El Nido does not have electrical power lines. So the people get their power source through solar energy. All lights turned off after 8pm in the evening. The evening turns quiet and at rest. 

We woke up early again to catch the first trip going back to Puerto Princesa. The last destination to visit is the Subterranean Underground River. We traveled 6 hours to arrive Sabang where the river is situated. The bus fare from El Nido to Sabang is at PHP500.00. From Sabang we took another two hours to get to the park. We arrived at around 2pm in the afternoon.

We purchased a ticket which cost at around PHP200.00, boat fare is included.

Here comes Lee indulging the mysterious river.

We were all 8 passengers and 1 rower on this very small boat.

Rey and I seated on the last row of the boat.

Inside of this river are stalagmites and stalactites. The difference of the two is that, the former rises from the floor while the latter hangs from the ceiling. All has its different shapes and forms. The tranquility of the water reminds me to be just still even if you don't see the future ahead of you because for sure the end of your journey, a new hope of bright lights awaits.

We went back safely to Puerto Princesa downtown. We made the most of our remaining hours of our last night by spending our dinner at Kinabuchs, a known restaurant in the city.

Three days of vacation  may seem not enough to embrace the Palawan's fullness. It was like an amazing race of fun-filled travel and discovery. I'd love to visit once more but I will include Coron in my list. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Every Shutter-Count Counts

CANON PHILIPPINES offers a 2-day workshop for photography and videography. It was a fun-filled event of learning basic and advance camera functionality. What's more fun is that, the workshop was totally free. Also, a lot of freebies were raffled throughout the activity!

The basic photography seemed so basic to me. Right adjustment and combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. But I learned to accompany as well the White Balance settings. It is important not only to correct right amount of light but it adds emotions to the subject. So next time when shooting, don't set the White Balance to "Auto" mode. Everything should be in "manual" mode.

The model, on the first day, was on her Chinese attire together with sword. The model acts professional on her poses. Whatever expression she looks, whatever angle she poses, turn around 360 degrees, she is always beautiful in my eyes. Perfect to be captured through the lenses of my camera and of my eyes. 

I like this picture when she attempted to release the shining shimmering sword. The background is not good, though.

Little dramatic emotion adds story to her pose that she misses me. Char!

I demanded this pose to add a little bit sexiness. But it turned out she hardly got it what my mind wanted her to do.

All photographers were all set, ready to fire their flashes. Some of them tried to lie down on the floor in order to get nice angles.

I like this picture, she is naughty.

She rocks the stage.

I like this picture too when her legs were slanted together with the microphone pod.

I demanded another pose, to emphasize naughty facial expression. This is the result.

Another pose of mine, to expose her underarm by raising up the camera. Lol!

But one thing that keeps me to thinking is that, every shutter-count of your click counts. Your camera has its limit to how many clicks it can have. It is called shutter actuation. Most likely, an SLR camera can have 100,000 to 250,000 no. of clicks depending on its brand and model. To know your current actuation, you may visit http://www.myshuttercount.com/. Upload your current photo taken and they tell you the number. It is indeed to know your camera status before its shutter locks.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Heart Hostage in HK

HOSTAGE DRAMA incident of Hong Kong Nationals in Manila brought a bad record of Philippines to Hong Kong. The latter could generalize it from one policeman's imperfection to the whole Filipino citizens. 

Hong Kong is my first international trip, which happened after a week of hostage crisis. What would you do if someone tells you that you are the hostage-taker who killed my countrymen? How would you face vengeance from them? I thought of hiding my identify since I have a Chinese look as they say. 

I was too much late checking in at the airport but was considered though since the plane had not yet taken off. I seated beside a Phil-Chi woman who gave me tips and tricks because Hong Kong was her home country. 

After checking all documents from the immigration, I was told by her to purchase Octopus Card for HK$150.00. This card is their means of paying all transactions like travel fare, store purchases and all   public payments. Brochures with maps are available inside the airport. So don't miss to grab as many as you can. We exited the Hong Kong International Airport at around 7:00pm, I took the chance to capture our moments with Ma'am Phil-Chi with a double-decker bus at our back. 

We rode a bus going to their downtown. So guess what was my first use my octopus card; swiping if off to pay bus fare, it was HK$20.00. I got off the bus in one of their towns and started my night wandering. I roamed until midnight and ended up 2:00am in the morning. Whoa! My feet got tired! Where had I been on those long walks? It was my plan to locate the Philippine Embassy but so sad I had not found it.

I strolled the whole city. I channeled the train subways. I ate street foods. But I didn't have the chance to meet new faces because I was defenseless of such accusations. My camera was not used as well to conceal me from being a tourist. Until such a time, a guy approached me at the bus station and asked me where to go. I was hesitant to respond. I abruptly replied, "to the airport". I knew that backpackers used to sleep at the airport to save money. The guy accompanied me since he had the same route as mine. I first introduced myself to him as a Filipino with confidence! If this person would act violently, I rather run as fast as I can until I will reach my Embassy. However, I never thought to hear a respectable answer, "Every person may do such unmoral bloodshed even my countrymen. It just happened that my countrymen were the victims. I do not generalize the incidents." I felt relieved after hearing it.

I arrived at the airport safely and slept among with the other foreigners.

I woke up early and prepared myself. I visited the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. It was a foggy morning. Views from the other island seemed hazy.

Avenue of Stars is one of the tourist attractions of Hong Kong to give tribute to their film industry. Hand prints of Jackie Chan and other famous artists were carved on the street avenue.

Lights, cameras and Lee is in action! Char!

Afterwards, I hurried myself to arrive to their spectacular, incomparable and country's proud theme park, the Hong Kong Disneyland. I purchased the ticket at their entrance booth for HK$350.00. I maximized the whole afternoon, amazed by the stunning shows, heartfelt plays, extreme rides and many more.

Everything is reminiscing my childhood days. The childlike attitude within me wakes up. It was more fun. Every minute of experience was getting exciting!

Who's person do you know can carry the planet Saturn? Not only Superman could do, but also SuperLee!

I'd love to ride again on Space Mountain extreme ride. It is a high-speed roller coaster that travels the darkest outer space. It starts with the attraction of billions of stars. It is so amazing how these billion of stars are orchestrated. Then it follows by the bursting comets. Your self can't control when one of them almost hits your face. But you let your involuntary muscles do all the escapes just not to punch you. Then at the end of the tunnel, your spaceship gets blown by a large asteroid. White flashes were seen by us. Whoa! I cried after all, why we got crashed. 

I was also fascinated by the play of "The Festival of the Lion King". I cruised the river voyage adventure of "Jungle River Cruise". I watched at the 4D Disney-film cinema where wearing of 3D glasses was required and splashing of water and blowing of air from the front seat and dancing of lights were all real. Waters were splashing when Little Mermaid wiggled her shimmering tail, airs blowing when Aladdin rode the flying carpet, lights dancing when Beauty and her Beast danced at the wedding party. 

I tried also climbing man-made Tarzan's tree house. But where was my Jane at the time?

I therefore realized that my heart left in Hong Kong. The country is clean, literally. No messy billboards everywhere, all were electronics displayed on their sky-rocketing towers. No electric posts and tangled wires, all were built underground. Public umbrellas were available in the waiting sheds. People know how to return it to the coffers. Free newspapers given everyday. If you neglect to get it, they force you to have it. I got a copy though but the headline was our country and our President. 

How could our country start to have a country like Hong Kong? Maybe the question must start to ourselves, How could my life contribute to my country Philippines?
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