Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Celebration

Welcoming the New Year involves a frenzy of activities; there's the preparation, family and friends gathering, midnight mass, fireworks/firecracker activities, and "media noche" (midnight meal). The "media noche" has become a tradition in our family. Together as a family we countdown the last few minutes until midnight strikes to 2011. I always miss this family gathering whenever I'm out of the country. Nothing beats celebrating the New Year with your loved ones.


As the New Year strikes, many have already plotted down their resolutions for the coming year. The New Year is a symbol of hope as we start a clean slate. The use of symbolism to bring goodluck is a common tradition in our country. We have a lot of traditions to ensure that the upcoming year is a good one. For kids, parents would tell them to jump up and down so as to become taller . There's also the blowing of a hand-made trumpet, the banging of anything made of metal as long as it creates a lot of noise, or the full-blast music so as to drive away the evil spirits. The preparation of 12 kinds of circular fruits or the wearing of polka-dot so as to bring abundance and wealth. Although these traditions may really have nothing to do with the outcome of the coming year, but it's something fun and an affirmation to everyone's most common hopes, dreams, and resolutions for 2011.

Hope everyone had a safe New Years Eve!

Reflections


Don't you feel that 2010 has passed by so swiftly or is it just me? Today is the last day of the year, many have been reflecting their ups and downs in 2010 while looking forward and setting goals for the coming year, 2011. 

Looking back on the year that is about to say goodbye is a good way to assess what has been achieved, what needs to be improved, or what must be avoided. There's an old adage in my country, "ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggagalingan ay walang patutunguhan" (a person who does not look back where he comes from will have no where to go). This saying also applies to looking back into the past. But as 2010 is already about to pass, let all the past be bygones after a thorough reflection so you can fully embrace the new year with all your heart and mind.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shine

Do you ever have a last song syndrome? I sometimes do and it usually depends on the mood I am in. My most recent last song syndrome is Fireworks by Katy Perry. I love the lyrics and the message that the song imparts. I call it a pick-me-up song on days that do not go well. It's my go-to-song in my Ipod when I am down, when I am unmotivated, and when all I need is a push to just go on and keep on believing on my skills, dreams, goals, and ambitions. I am sharing some of the the lyrics from the song for all who need inspiration. 
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
Cause there's a spark in you


You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July


Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road

Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know


The above photo is my submission for Mortal Muses: 9 Muses Musing for their SHINY photo assignment. Do check out Mortal Muses, there are so many inspiring photos there. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Deck the Tree

"Christmas time is here again" so goes The Beatles song. The advent of Christmas is welcomed by preparations days ahead; sometimes it begins mid or late November. Shopping malls will start to featurethe Christmas decorations as their main display. Neighborhoods will light up their shimmering series bulbs. Churches will prepare advent candles and wreaths. Homes will deck their halls with traditional and memorable ornaments. 


All of these ornaments which adorn family homes, streets, and buildings add festivity to the joyous occasion. The Christmas balls, the ribbons, the candles, the tree topper, etc. each hold memories and are most likely part of a family tradition. Ours has been the Christmas tree. We have a (not real) tree for three years now ever since our old one is damaged from a flood that hit our neighborhood. The first year, it is adorned in gold; it is silver and gold on the second year; then, this year it's purple, gold, and silver. I don't know what color I'll fancy next year , but one thing is certain - our Christmas tree is a yearly work in progress. Every time I put up the tree, I have memories of our Christmas past. I have fond memories of my sister helping me at one point or another to put up the tree, gathering around the Christmas tree for photo taking, piling gifts under the Christmas tree, and many many more. I don't tire of putting up and taking down the Christmas tree and the ornaments. I find joy decking up our humble tree for the season. 

On a side note, Mortal Muses is musing about Ornaments today, head on over there for wonderful stories. 

It's His Birthday Too

My family is a dog lover. In fact, we had two dogs for 10 years who died four years ago; they died a year apart from each other. It was not easy to deal with the death of our dogs (Dax - a Shitzu mutt and Rodeo - a Pomeranian mutt). We had to put Dax to sleep because she had mammary tumor and the veterinarian declared that she was too old to deal with a surgical operation. It was best to just let her go and had her rest. My sister who was there all through out the ordeal watched the procedures and all until Dax closed her eyes. She cried for days; in fact everyone in the family were saddened with the loss. Our only consolation, to put our minds and hearts at rest was, we think it was the best for Dax and I bet she would be happy now. Rodeo died a year after that; it was a sudden death. The day before his death, he was in his usual self; he did not show any signs of illness or bodily discomfort. He was a brave scout till his last breath. The following morning my father found him dead. We had to bury him on a nearby ground where Dax was also laid.

Two years ago, a girl (my sister) cried for empathy from my parents so she would be allowed to pet another dog. My parents were very stern into not having any dog in the family. It was a pain to deal with the death of our dogs. My parents; especially my father, did not want us to go through it again. After much coercion using tears by my sister, my parents had to give in. It was a perfect timing because a co-worker of mine had a litter of pups. We visited the litter and were dead-set to have a boy, but all the boys were promised. We chose a girl and arranged to pick her up a few days after. On the day that we picked up the promised pup, my sister was still hoping that one of the boys would be available. Fortunately, a healthy and chubby ball of white fur passed by my sister's feet; the mom of my co-worker saw the pup and announced that the pup was available for taking. My sister scooped him up and had never let him out of her sight since that night. 

And so now we have Bok. He was born on a Christmas morning and such is all the more reason for us to celebrate Christmas. Bok is the youngest in our family. Everybody adores him and who will not?; especially when he looks into you with his big black eyes. 


Happy Birthday to our button-eyes, Bok. 
Thank you for bringing such joy to our family.
Thank you for teaching us unconditional love.
Thank you for making us laugh.
Thank you for taking away any pains, misery, angst, and tiredness 
that we bring home each and every day.
Thank you for simply being adorable!
We love you and happy birthday! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

A few hours from now it's gonna be Christmas Day in my side of the world. Gifts are already wrapped and the "Noche Buena" (Christmas Eve meal) is ready for partaking. We are just waiting for the clock to strike 2 hours before midnight so we can attend the Christmas Eve mass. The air is already full of anticipation where everyone from all walks of life come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. 


May each one of you be in the company of your loved ones or dear friends. 
May it be a joyous occasion full of love and happiness. 
A warm embrace to all wherever you maybe. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let There Be Light

"Then God commanded, let there be light - and light appeared." from the Book of Genesis Chapter 1 verse 3. 

I am like a moth drawn to LIGHT and it is one of the many reasons why I set up our Christmas tree every time I am home for the holidays. I like the glitters and the shimmering lights. I like how it adds festivity and helps boost the holiday spirit. 

I arrived home earlier this evening to a pitch black neighborhood. It was not a welcome sight and it made me all the more appreciate the wonderful gift of LIGHT. Thank goodness the black out didn't last all through out the night and when there was light, it sure made me one happy camper. 

You will also find many inspiring blogs and photo submissions about LIGHT in Mortal Muses: 9 Muses Musing. There's a daily word prompt for the photo assignment and there are lots of giveaways. Visit Mortal Muses now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guest Musing at Mortal Muses

I am ecstatic to finally see my hometown being featured at Mortal Muses: Where I Live Musing. I appreciate and still remain in awe to the beauty of the places I have visited outside Cebu and in foreign countries; however, I am proud of my hometown. The place has helped mold me to be who I am today, and wherever I may be, Cebu will always be in my heart. I love Cebu. 

Please visit Mortal Muses and see the beautiful places from all over the world. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

LifeStyle Shoot: Just Because - Kris

A couple of weeks ago, I had a fun shoot opportunity for one fine teenager, Kris. She was very shy at first but had eventually warmed up in front the camera. When she smiles, her eyes glows and makes her so pretty. I wanted to capture not just her pretty smile, but everything about her. She's still young; on her early teens and she's into books, backpacks, sneakers, and shorts. The photo shoot was all about her: vibrant, full of energy, fresh, and  youthful. I had a great time getting to know this pretty and intelligent girl as she revealed her wacky self and serious moods.

Enjoy the photos Kris, till then on your senior year!



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grateful

It's Thanksgiving Day in the US; what a wonderful holiday and celebration. It's a great reminder to each one of us. There are so many things to be grateful around us and sometimes we just take things for granted. Well today and in the future, I hope I'll never forget to count my blessings. 
Let me start with this one...I am thankful for the beauty that surrounds me, to the grandeur of the place that I have known for most of my life - my hometown.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Different Perspective

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is a world of it's own. Once you stepped into the gated garden, you won't know that you are in America and not in Japan. The only giveaway are the too many tourists. I bet that a real Japanese Tea Garden will have a zen like atmosphere at it. Nevertheless, it's the closest thing that we can be to experience Japanese zen.

What I like in a Japanese garden is that there are many small gardens that are clustered into one section, but all of these nooks and crannies go together making the garden into one unit. There are so many things that you can see in the garden: the willowy bamboo trees, shrubs, beautiful and vibrant flowers, a Koi pond, cherry blossoms, and Japanese temple replicas. 
I've been to the Japanese Tea Garden for more than a couple of times and I want to take a shot of the temple on a different perspective. I think I'm getting a hype now on a worm's eye view. It totally gives the structure a different perspective.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shot from Above

I came across a post from Web Design Ledger about 20 Stunning Examples of Aerial Photography. See here for the post, Web Design Ledger. The photos are indeed amazing. Awesome!

I wish I can capture photos like those, but until when I have the chance to ride a helicopter or an air balloon, I will have to content myself taking shots from a plane window.  

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Circle of Life

Babies are so cute and adorable with their teeny weeny toes, fingers, eyes, etc. Upon seeing babies, can't you just think that you were once a baby with itsy bitsy body parts too? It's amazing how each one of us becomes; we turn into adults, start a family, then the cycle starts again.

Photos are a must and perfect to capture each moment from birth, baby moments, first steps, etc. It's nice to look back and reminisce especially when you have all grown up. 


Ten fingers, 
Ten toes
She's laughter and teardrops
So small and brand new 
And amazingly angelic
She's sent to bless you
She's one special baby
The best of life's treasure 
And will grant and bless you 
Many hours of great pleasure
-Anonymous-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where I Live

I am a true-blooded Cebuana and a proud one at that. I was born and raised in Cebu, one of the 7,000++ islands in the Philippine archipelago. I live in a tropical country where the sun shines brightly in most days and where it rains every now and then. 

The weather may be unpredictable at times, but I love it here because life is not as fast paced as Manila (the nation's capital), but neither is it too laid back. It's a great combination of a modern and an islander lifestyle. My hometown is already a bustling metropolis where IT industries, manufacturing companies, and export processing zones are continually emerging. But after a day's work, my hometown offers a place to relax and enjoy life. 

When I was growing up, I tend to neglect the beauty of the place I live. I always dream of visiting foreign countries where the place is beautiful and full of life as depicted in several postcards. Now that I had traveled to other places here and abroad, I realized that it's about time to rediscover my hometown. I shouldn't be a stranger in my own place, right?

Armed with my gears, I had my own photo walk and saw the place from the eyes of a tourist. I am proud to say that my hometown boasts of pristine beaches, hand-crafted souvenirs/products made of indigenous materials, colorful festivals, and beautiful sunsets/sunrises. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wine Tour in Northern California

I know of quite a number of people who are passionate about wines. I am not one of them though, but there's something about wineries and vineyards that attract me. I'm probably influenced by the movies I've seen where some scenes are shot in a vineyard. A Walk in the Clouds and Letters to Juliet are just a few of those movies that make me fall in love with the vineyard scenery. 

I'm so lucky to be staying in the US at a place just a few miles drive to the central wineries in Northern California. Napa, St. Helena, and Sonoma are the counties who grow grapes and manufacture world-class wines. I am not interested in wine tasting obviously because I don't care much about wines (I only prefer champagne and a desert wine), but I do appreciate the scenery. Hence, I didn't pass the opportunity for a road trip to these counties, my own version of the winery tour.

I suggest a tour during spring where it's sunny, but not too humid; and where it's breezy, but not frigid. They say that harvest time during fall is also a great season because you can witness the grape harvest and I bet the fall colors is also lovely. The next time I'll have a chance to visit the place and if it's fall, I definitely would not want to miss the grape harvest.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Love the Light

I love early mornings especially just a few minutes after sunrise. I love the light and the sun rays; early morning is not too warm and the effect of light to the surroundings is just lovely. I love early mornings too because it just gives me this feeling of peace. I just want to catch a few hours or minutes of quite and silence before everyone else wake up, before the streets become too busy with all the transportation noise, and before everyone rush off for the day.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pier 39

For a first-time visitor in San Francisco, California, Pier 39/Embarcadero/Fisherman's Wharf is one of the must see places. A word of warning, the place is really crowded with tourists. I believe the crowd makes the place unique and jolly; and for that I think that's one of the reasons why many visit this place. Of course there a lot of other reasons why Pier 39 is most visited by tourists...there are just so many things that you can feast your eyes and palate. 
Pier 39 is situated right along San Francisco Bay. It offers a very good view to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. In Pier 39, here you can also find ferry or boat services for a day tour to Alcatraz. Souvenir shopping is not a problem as there are a lot of shops that carry knick knacks, shirts, caps, and mini replicas of famous San Francisco attractions. Food is not a concern as well; fast food and fine dining restaurants are abundant. There are also several shops that sell feel-good food from churros, chocolates, ice cream, etc. Clam chowder is a must try and don't pass the opportunity to visit Ghirardelli Square, there you will find the yummiest Ghirardelli chocolates. You don't also have to look far for entertainment; there are street performers, an Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussuad's wax museum, a magic/comedy show, carousel for kids, a caricaturist, and one of the must-see are the sun-bathing seals/sea lions.
Spend a day at Pier 39 to make the most out of it, plan out your activities and logistics. Free parking is difficult to get by and paid parking are quite expensive. If you are from Marin and other Northern counties, it's better to take a ferry from San Rafael or Larkspur. If you are a tourist lodging at any of the hotels in San Francisco, it's better to take a MUNI or any of the cable cars.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Withered

There are days that you just feel like this flower...withered and wilted. There may be so many things going on at one point: decisions to make, social obligations to attend, or deadlines to meet. No worries, these too will pass. Not for long, it will be another day and as each dawn breaks, it will be a chance for another "bloom-filled" day. 


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

If everyone hears no evils, sees no evil, and speaks no evil...it's utopia, right? 
But I wonder if it is as much fun and challenging as the world we live in now. 
One thing is certain though, it doesn't have to be Thomas Moore's Utopia,
we need this world to be a "good place" for everyone 
so we can all live harmoniously and in peace.
click here for more

Darn, this post sounds like a beauty pageant question and answer portion. :-( Anyways, i do mean what I said sans the pageant-like tone of it.

Weeds

I received a message from a cousin that goes, 

"Certain things may catch your eyes..."


"but pursue only those that capture your heart."

The land and seascape in the background is one of the famous spots in Southern Cebu. The place evokes a serene and calm atmosphere, very provincial, and the scenery is just beautiful. This place is most often photographed by town visitors or tourists passing by on their way to other famous attractions in the South. In fact, a couple of years ago, I took a picture of the same spot, but this time around I want it to be different because I know that there is something else about the place that adds to its mystic. Then, I find these weeds flourishing by the cliff (yes, just a step away from where I took the shot is already a cliff and it's a hundred or more yards down below). The weeds' resilient glory and an all day vantage point to a wonderful view, which made me jealous, captured my heart and propelled me to take the image.
 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flowers from Heaven

It had been a very busy schedule for the past several weeks. It was a whirlwind of activities every weekend. The body could just take in as much before it would break; it's about time to answer the call to BE STILL

One should from time to time pause from all the frenzied activities, you'll be amaze at the beauty in your surroundings. You don't have to go far by traveling to different places, learn to embrace and see the beauty which is staring right back at you. 
Beauty...
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
-The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Still

After a long day of catching the sunrise, shooting water/coastal/sea/landscapes, and chasing the sunset...it's about time to be still and be quite.

I am grateful for the safe trip and wonderful experience with other photo enthusiasts. I learn a couple of things from fellow photographers and from my own mistakes as well. I realize that capturing images is a constant learning experience or perhaps from my standpoint as a newbie. There are still many things to learn and develop. I look forward to more photo shoots with pepper.

*pepper is my camera's name. I'm just weird like that, I sometimes name my stuff.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Enchanting Kawasan

The discovery of nature's beautiful phenomena, the waterfalls, has given us nature lovers the pleasure to enjoy its beauty. The soothing sound and cool cascading waters, lure us to take a dip, swim, and get as close as we can with what it can offer. 

Trekking to Cebu's waterfalls, the Kawasan and Mantayupan falls, is a welcome escape from the sweltering heat in the city. In my opinion the waterfalls offers a much better reprieve from a hot day than the beach. Of course, it's less sunburn and far more relaxing just by listening to the melody of the running water, the chirping birds, and the hushing breeze. 


The image is of the Kawasan Falls at Badian, Cebu. It's approximately 2 to 4 hours away from Cebu City. A private vehicle or for hire is suggested especially if you are from an out of town. It takes 30 minutes trek from the highway to the first level, but no worries because once you get to the spot, your tired feet will certainly be soothed by the ice cool waters. It's best to go there early morning so you'll have enough time to trek the upper two levels. Be sure to be ready with your camera and be aware of your surroundings during the walk because there's just so much more to be awed on the way to the waterfalls. The river, the path, the wild chickens and flowers, the canopy of trees, the vibrant foliage, all form part of the Kawasan Falls charm. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Weaving a Story

I admire the men and women behind the lenses who can portray the images that they want others to see or evoke emotions from the viewer. I can spend hours and hours of scanning photo images. Images amaze and mesmerize me. Landscape, seascape, and cityscape photos transport me to places I have never been anywhere in the world. Portraits, real people, real life, random street photos illicit within me the emotions of pity, sadness, happiness, and more. Food photos make me hungry and make my palate wanting to try them all. Most of all, I love images that tell a story. 





I am no master story-teller and since I can relate with beautiful images, I hope to convey what I see using photos. After a long walk from the ferry building to Ghirardelli square, a vast expanse of green sloping meadows that overlook the bay was very enticing for a sit down. While relaxing my tired feet on the meadow, a child with a traditional Asian umbrella caught my eye. She looked so cute twirling and playing with the umbrella. It was a good thing that I had the camera out from my bag and ready for a shot. She was oblivious to her surroundings while she got busy with her umbrella. I could tell she was having fun. 

Of course, since I love images, I love cameras too and a giveaway from Twisted Halo is something that I covet. Check out her blog at Eternal Sunshine

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cityscape from the Eyes of a Visitor

The San Francisco skyline is famous for its downtown buildings or the Financial district. In all my travels at SFO, my only viewpoint of the SFO skyline is at the Golden Gate Bridge Marin vista points. It has been a puzzle on my part how to capture the SFO skyline at a closer distance. Now, I realize that taking a ferry from Marin to SFO is the best way to appreciate the SFO skyline up close. 



Taking the ferry already offers a lot of beautiful views, such as the sailing boats; a view of the Coit Tower, TransAmerica, and the Financial District. Furthermore, when you reach the Ferry Building, you will be welcomed by a buzzing activity of visitors, ferry passengers, shopkeepers, and more. There's just so much going on at SFO; a boring day is definitely out of the question.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rides, Candies, Games, Prizes: Carnival Galore

Oh to be a kid again...full of innocence and happiness. No worries and just all play.
But who says adults can't be just like a child?
That's what me and a colleague just did! 

It was a bright late afternoon, we headed towards the Sonoma-Marin fair and were set to have fun. 
Fun it was indeed. 



Fairs were the age-old and traditional entertainment before the now famous park themes of Disneyland, Six Flags, Universal Studios and many others came about. Most counties (as far as I know) in Northern California held fairs every summer. The fairs were enjoyed by the young and the young at hearts. There were many shows; from dog shows to the fastest piglet race. They were awesome and cute by the way. Fair games were abundant too, although you could not always win or bragged the ultimate prize, but what matters most was the fun and it was already the greatest prize. 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Beautiful Morning


The sun had just risen and the garden was abuzz with activity. It was a beautiful morning; fresh from the late night shower and nature was up and about. It smelled of fresh air. The flowers were a bloom as if to bathe in the morning dew. Insects were busy hopping from one flowering plant to another.

An early morning walk and paying attention to nature is a great alternative to meditation or prayers. Appreciating nature's beauty is a great way to start a day. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Going Downtown at San Francisco

In continuation of that adventurous day in San Francisco, aside from exploring Chinatown, a colleague and I visited other parts of the town. Why not, right? We are already in San Francisco, better explore all the places as much as we can. 

Our trusty map brought us next to Lombard, the famous crookedest street* in SFO. It's actually not the crookedest street in SFO, Lombard is just famous for it because it offers a beautiful view of the bay and added to it are the picture perfect houses and street. I missed the chance to take a picture of a cable car in the middle of the street. I was so busy and concerned with catching a ride to Lombard that I had to set aside the desire to take a photo. The cable car was full of tourists and I barely enjoyed the scenery along the way. Nevertheless, an old cable car ride is a must try in SFO. 
I had to check out Japantown. Every time I visited SFO, Japantown was always not on the itinerary. Now I know why, there aren't a lot of attractive landmarks to take photos. Japantown is also smaller than Chinatown. It is not as festive as Chinatown, it is very simple. You can skip it from the list unless you are looking for authentic Japanese food.

Our last stop for that day was Union Square. It was so full of life, there were a lot of yuppies and there was an event going on. There were so many things to see and explore at Union Square especially the boutiques. It felt strange to be in the heart of San Francisco, amidst the hustle and bustle of the people who flocked the town. It was a good feeling though. If given more time, I would have wanted to explore a little bit more of Union Square. We ran out of time. We had to hurry our steps towards the ferry building to catch the last trip back to Marin County. 
It was an adventure-filled day and not even an ill-mannered red-neck could put a downer on my memory during that day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chinatown a Place on Its Own


It was my second trip to Chinatown, SFO; it was almost 9 years since the last time I had been there. This time around, I didn't bring a car, but I took a public transport from the Embarcadero area. It was the first pit-stop of an adventurous day in SFO. The funny thing was, Chinatown was not very far from where we embarked the MUNI (an SFO public transport); it was just a couple of blocks away.


The place had not changed a lot. It was still the same familiar streets and corners. It was a sight-seeing haven with many shops that offered window-shopping opportunities. Each shop in Chinatown except for specialty shops almost carried the same items as it's next door shop. Some of the items sold in Chinatown made me think of home since there are a lot of "made in China" products too in the Philippines. 

There were a number of buildings that were renovated or probably just repainted. It was a good thing that they made sure to preserve the look and feel of the area. There were a lot of whimsical Oriental lanterns, the prominence of the color red, the very distinct Chinese roofs on its buildings, and the inexpensive souvenir items were but only a few of what the place can offer. Chinatown is a place in the middle of SFO that definitely feels like you are in another zone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crocolandia - Starring the Crocs and its Neighbors


I remember that my hometown once boasted a zoo. It was situated atop the hilltops of Cebu, but when I had a chance to visit the zoo years ago, it was a sad plight of animals and a not so well taken-cared of zoo. It was not the zoo I imagined it should be. 

Years had passed and now a new place for animals, Crocolandia, opened its doors to the public for educational purposes. It is not a zoo, but it's a home for a number of crocodiles. The biggest crocodile is named Lapu-lapu. If I remember this right, it may be 15 yrs old or more. Crocolandia also houses an ostrich, who likes the crowd a lot; she doesn't run away if a crowd gathers near her fence, rather she cackles and makes a lot of happy sounds. You will also find a few birds like the native "kalaw", an owl, a parrot, a Philippine eagle, and many other small birds. Other exotic reptiles also live there such as iguanas and phythons. There are also some animals that can only be found in a foreign land, such as a deer. 

TIPS: 
  • It's best to go there very early around 8am on weekends if you want to take photos of some animals and if you want some quite. The place attracts a lot of educational trips for students. 
  • You can bring your own food and use the picnic area, but if bringing food is a hassle, they have a small canteen. Soon to open is a Cheaverz resto. 
  • Entrance fee is around Php80.00 per person. 
Crocolandia 
Biasong, Talisay (6332-2731842)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Touring Northern California: A Mini Guide - Part I

Work sometimes requires travels to our US head office for mostly half of the year. Being away from family and friends in a foreign land makes me home sick. To get by each day and especially on weekends, I think of the travel as an opportunity to explore cultures and new places. 

If I'm in the US, I reside in Petaluma, one of the cities in Sonoma County. It's a 45 minute drive from San Francisco passing by the Marin County and not far from Sonoma is Napa. Northern California is a playground of beautiful landscapes, architecture, history, and culture.

Going out to places is most often costly due to entrance fees, fares, parking, etc. I know that there are many ways to explore a county and its neighboring destinations without spending too much. Here's a PART 1 compilation of some Things To Do (without the aid of tour agents) from the "road less traveled" spots (so to speak) to popular tourist destinations in Northern California.


Here are some Tips and Places to explore if you happen or plan to be in San Francisco and Sonoma. 

It's located along the Marina Avenue in San Francisco. The place has a vast expanse of green fields where you can enjoy picnics, watch locals and tourists, fly kites, enjoy the San Francisco bay, play ball, and admire the million-dollar homes along the avenue. The Marina boasts a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and The Alcatraz

Golden Gate Bridge Vista Points
There are many spots in SFO and Marin counties to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of the hanging bridge known as Golden Gate. This is a must see attraction if you happen to be in Northern California.
Guide links: Some Known Vista Points

Palace of Fine Arts 
This place makes me appreciate nature and makes me realize that man made structures can harmoniously co-exist with nature. It's a wonderful experience to just sit back and relax at the park benches or on the grasses. Enjoy the birds, the calmness of the pond, the cool trees, the people, and the massive pillars of the Palace of Fine Arts structure.
Guide links: Fine Art Details, National Park Service, Only in San Francisco
The park is a wonderful surprise to me. I could not believe it that just a few minutes from downtown is a park with many trails that provide various overlooks and vantage points. Spring is the perfect time of the year to discover the trails especially if you love the verdant scenery of the mountain slopes.
Guide links: Flickr landscapes, Sonoma County Parks, Visit Petaluma

Petaluma is the first city in Sonoma County if you come from San Francisco. It is a quaint town with many historic architectures. The downtown gives a glimpse of dated architectures from the past.
Guide links: Visit Petaluma

Related Post:
Touring Northern California: A Mini Guide - Part II



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bodega Bay, Not Your Usual Beach Scene

In all my travels to California, I had never been to Bodega Bay. Every time I took the exit from the freeway in East Washington, Petaluma, I always saw the sign "This way to Bodega Bay". I thought that it's just another beach and why would I even bother going to beaches in the US when in my country, Philippines, boasts a lot of beautiful beaches. 



One weekend, a colleague and I went to explore the Bodega Bay. It was a nice and warm day and the drive to the bay offered a variety of views: verdant mountains and the vast expanse of the ocean. When we arrived at the bay, it was so windy and chilly, but we could not pass the opportunity to discover the place. 
 
We drove up to the Goats Rock beach and explored the mesmerizing views offered by each beaches along the coast, such as Rock Point, SchoolHouse Beach, Portuguese Beach, etc. The splashing of the big waves is a welcome break from city life. I never realized that less than an hour from our place was a breathtaking view of the Pacific ocean and natural rock formations carved by mother nature herself. Now that is art in its grandest exhibit. 


Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Ducks at Lucchesi

"A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky." 




"The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own." 

The above poetic stanzas are lifted from Maya Angelou's Caged Bird poem. The photos are of the ducks at the Lucchesi Park in Petaluma, California. It was a warm spring afternoon; a beautiful day for bird watching and a walk around the park. There were a lot of ducks enjoying the sun and the cool lake; hence, a great opportunity to appreciate nature in its glory and action.

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