April 29, 2013


i have been traveling since 2007 but i haven't documented most of them. if i did, it was in multiply or in my personal blogspot which was dormant for years now. given the chance, i could go back to those places and write stuff about them. but then, the world is big enough to go back to the past. 

since the experiences and photos are still valuable, i am posting them as "regressions". i have created tags specifically for posts of the old and you can find them sorted by year at the right side of this page. the bad thing though is posts far back 2007 have budget information which is not updated. what i can assure you that's updated are the travels i had since 2011 because i still have the contacts. 

April 22, 2013

boracay trip

note: the aklanons say, boracay not bora. respect.

my divemaster, yannick webber, and his blue fins

herein below are the blog entries i've written about my boracay stay.

everything was arranged by lynette of new wave divers and i commend her for my happy boracay experience. if you plan on diving at boracay, i highly recommend new wave divers because of their rates and their friendly and professional staff (more info later). please be advised that the diving rates posted below are set for licensed divers. if you do not have a license yet, you can avail of new wave's scuba experiences packages to test if scuba diving is for you, or go straight to taking either a scuba diver or an openwater diver licensure course. you may contact the new wave divers team for more information about their packages.

for workshop rates, you may contact rachel lobangcomj suayan, and nenita ramos. each of them organizes open shoots and classes every month. 

950.00   = round trip tours to and from the airport
1900.00 = round trip tickets to and from boracay via airphil express (now pal express) including naia 3 terminal fee
20.00     = kalibo terminal fee
1600.00 = per dive w/ air including equipment rental
2200.00 = per dive w/ 30% nitrox including equipment rental
1000.00 = underwater camera rental 
8.00       = ordinary trike ride to d'mall
30.00     = special trike ride to anywhere in malay
300.00   = average meal cost at station 1

my dive in boracay is actually my "come back dive" because it's been a while since i last dove. my last dive was in panglao island, bohol in 2010. i stopped because of work and an adventure race i joined.

it is highly advisable to book a flight to kalibo than to caticlan. caticlan has a smaller airport that most flights are getting cancelled or delayed. the only disadvantage of getting a kalibo plane ride is the 2-hour long commute which is a large chunk off your vacation itinerary. nonetheless, it is a sure win you're going to boracay. transportation from kalibo airport to boracay can be pre-arranged. you may inquire at the bus desks upon arrival at the kalibo airport or you may contact your preferred hotel or diving operator to arrange everything for you.

at boracay, there are tricycles which could bring you to different places in boracay for a special (you are the only customer) or public fees.

signal for globe is fairly ok as i was able to send text messages to people but 3g is quite lagging. it was hard for me to send imessages and call via facetime, tango, or kakao.

should you need to inquire anything about my boracay experience, you may post a comment or you can shoot me a message via email at selfdisplacement [at] gmail.com. i am willing to assist anyone who wishes to go there in the future.

the "noobie" diver

located at station 1 boracay

at new wave divers, i was greeted by glennie, the shop attendant. i greeted her back saying, "can i dive now, as in now?" they should not be expecting me today since i scheduled for a dive on monday. i just told her we're on break but only out for the travel photography portion of the seminar. "ok," she said with a smile. "yannick's going to assist you. what's your certification again?" she asked. "openwater" i  lied. as i was digging my backpack for my pouch containing all my id's, my diving license was not there! i hurriedly went back to my hotel room to search for it in my other stuff, still no luck. went back again to the shop and asked if i can use a laptop to access my license. jon, one of the dive masters of new wave and a lannister bastard look-a-like (game of thrones geekery alert), lend me his laptop. i went to tdi/sdi website, to their diver services page, typed my name, then typed "openwater". to my shock there came a text box, "you name is not in our new database!" and my mouth slowly released a very faint, "fcuk!" i refreshed the page again. same thing happened but realized i wasn't really fully reading the entire message in the text box which said further, "would you like to import your data to the new database?" i sighed of relief, i clicked "ok", then the website betrayed me by revealing all my certifications, "you said you only had openwater" jon said and laughed. i didn't know that all the while he was just watching all the things i've been doing from behind. i hurriedly covered the rest of the certifications with my left hand and said, "there's my openwater license. don't mind the rest, ok? remember, i'm a newbie."

boracay from new wave diver's pov
if i'm not diving at my home-base dive resort, dive and trek, were the staff knows who i am, i lie about my certifications and always tell people i only had openwater. unlike mountaineering where people's basis of bragging are the photos of summit jump shots (feetish photography as for my case) and equipment, divers brag about their licenses. as far as equipment costs are concerned, both mountaineering and diving are equal. the reason why people think diving is more expensive because of the very few expensive items you need to invest on such buoyancy compensator devices, dive computers, and regulators. in mountaineering, there are many things you need to buy if you want to be self-contained that if you sum it all up, it would level the cost of a standard full diving gear. the tie-breaker for the two are the cost of diving licenses. in some shops, a discover scuba license costs 10,000 php inclusive of equipment and a certification that you can go until 40-ft deep. certifications become more expensive as you certify for deeper dives such as advanced openwater for a 100-ft deep certification, and for specialty training such as twin tank diving and mixed air, which allows you to go deeper than 100-ft. 

so why do i lie about my certification? in all areas, there's always competition. people who brag about their equipment, the places they've been to, the lowest depth they've dove. almost the same thing about mountaineering. other than that, as a customer, you would know how the dive operator treats you if you pretend you're a newbie. i dove with insensitive dive masters who don't care if you're catching up, i dove with herculean dive masters who would shock you with his leaking bcd but still signals an "ok" (seriously, he won't abort the dive), i dove with newbie dive masters who suck at navigation and got lost in the deep blue. i dove with people who never give you a prep on where he's taking you (too bad if you didn't research about the dive site). at new wave, i was treated as if i was really a newbie. i was given a prep to where i am diving: the starting depth and the maximum depth, what to expect, how we'll enter the water; my tank was checked for nitrox percentage, they helped me pick my preferred equipment, and helped me set-up my stuff. for this, i give them an a+! 

the only trouble i had was the bcd. it's been long since i used a jacket-type bcd. what i am used to are backplates and wings, which i own. and since i am using a different kind of bcd, i need to wear a weight belt again which i haven't done for the longest time. my back plate is 8 lbs which i balance by adding or dumping air using my wings. at that time i needed to calculate again the weights i would be using with the jacket bcd. to be safe, i got myself 8 lbs of weight similar to my backplate. after a few minutes of setting up our equipment, yannick, myself, and another new wave staff (i forget his name... sorry), who brought our stuff together with boat fuel (no, he isn't an arson) using a metal cart, walked to station 2 where we we boarded the boat with bong, the boat operator.

boracay dive sites. i only visited angol point and friday's rock due to a very tight schedule

first dive: angol point
start depth: 5m
maximum depth: 15m

since i would be taking pictures, yannick brought me to angol point. initially he thought of taking me to coral garden where the helmet divers are but i told him to take me to more corals and fishes with less humans underwater. so there, angol point. yannick told me that this is the place where they take most first-timers to discover diving so they would be more encouraged to get serious in diving. at a very shallow depth of 5 meters, i already saw a lot of stuff most newbies in diving would would enjoy: a bunch of corals, anemones, clown fishes, lion fishes,  sea stars, sea cucumbers (lots of them actually), and an octopus. our dive was 45 minutes but normally it takes 20 because the site is just small. since i needed to take photos for the photography workshop, and myself struggling with buoyancy in a jacket-type bcd, i needed more time.

lionfish and a sea urchin at the top-most left of the photo
giant clam but not as big as those i've seen in bauan
this is the photo i sent and i won! nyahahaha

boracay blue... no sea slimes
the only full body photo of me you'll ever see here
after some time, yannick already signified to ascend. he knew i should be back by 16:00 for the workshop and was quite conscious about the time. 

the photos are quite hazy because of the moist from our underwater dive. 

the huge outrigger where we tied our boat
heading back to station 2. it's 16:30 and i'm late for our next layout

yannick, my divemaster

bong, who farts sea water!

yannick, towing his gear
back at the new wave divers' shop, i hurriedly changed clothes, got my backpack and camera, told glennie and jon that i need the photos by 08:00 tomorrow for the workshop, and dashed to friday's where we had our last layout for our photoshoot (fire dance!). 

since the photoshoot covered the entire day the next day, i went back to new wave divers to tell them that i'll have 2 more dives on monday. however, i was told by bong about the pump boat trip schedules that won't fit my logistics. i had to leave for caticlan in the afternoon and stay at kalibo instead to catch my very early tuesday flight. good thing i did not pay yet for my monday accommodation. glennie told me not to worry as she'll arrange my transportation and my accommodation at kalibo hostel on monday.

at lunch time, i checked out of my hotel and went to new wave divers for my *sob* last dive *sob sob* my dive master was guanyi (who is now pregnant! yey! no dive for 2 years! joke) and she was my first female dive master! guanyi came from china just to learn how to dive. she said, she loves the weather here so she stayed. at 13:00 after all our gear were set-up, we both headed to friday's rock. it was a bumpy ride because of the impending bad weather. the waves were rocking the boat really hard i thought it would throw us out. bong, our trusty boatman, anchored himself to another huge outrigger so we could put on our equipment properly despite the huge waves.

second dive: friday's rock
start depth: 7m
maximum depth: 18m 

i did not rent a camera for this dive (which i regret) since i need to be quick. my transportation will arrive at 15:00 so i should not be late.

going back, if there are huge waves, obviously, there's current. yey! on our descent, we were battling a so-so current. guanyi wanted us to hold the rope for safety on the first few meters. when the current died out at 15m, we let go of the rope and continued to descend. the sea bed was quite barren with a few trash and some dead corrals :( after we passed by the huge brown mounds (perhaps these were implanted as alternative house reefs), a wall of coral reef surprised me. the barren sandy bottom was still there but i focused my vison at the wall. at friday's rock, i saw 2 nudi branches (damn i don't have a cam!), 3 lobsters, 2 triggerfishes (damn again!), and a stonefish (oh fcukit!) divers may smite me but there was too much to see there. 

conscious about the time, i tapped guanyi and she signified to ascend. our safety stop was quite tricky since the current was becoming stronger. it was a bad choice to hold the rope as it waved us frequently as if we're the national flag on a school morning assembly. i thought getting into the boat would give me relief but it was worse as the waves were rocking us. as soon as the boat reached the shore, i added more bacteria into the slime pool by donating my lunch of sizzling bulalo and avocado-banana shake (there goes my 250-peso lunch). diving got me all excited that i have forgotten about my sea sickness (i fed the fishes at batangas during habagat season some time 2009 :) the fishes loved me for it).

upon arrival, glennie told me that we have been diving too long that my transpo just left! that was 60 minutes bottom time for me and guanyi! so there goes me again, i took a bath, packed quickly, settled my bills, and waited for the next van to pick me up. still sick, jon came and said to guanyi, "she lied to us. she's not an openwater diver! she had advance, she had nitrox, and she had rescue!" nice one, jon. all we did was laugh. "shut up, jon!" i said seemingly jokingly mad at him. "you lied, kat! let;s dive the technical ones next time." i replied, "ok, i'll come back on november... with my stuff."

bleh boracay?

as for boracay diving, i wouldn't say it's bad. i am a frequenter of anilao, and i have also dove in subic and in panglao, seeing the best of both diving worlds in the country as far as wreck and underwater biodiversity is concerned. having dove in these places previously would give boracay injustice if i say the dive sites are bad. it's already a beautiful entry-level dive if you're going to ask me as i've seen a lot of things underwater any noobie would love to find (like some food the restaurants serve in our plates). i would still recommend diving in boracay to starters instead of helmet diving wherein one's motion is limited :P if you're going to take helmet diving, get a discover scuba package instead.  

April 16, 2013

cast away: a manny librodo photography workshop

note: if there's a "manny librodo" watermark or if i type, "by manny librodo" it means the photo is his and not mine :) all other photos which are not mine but used in this blog post gets tagged to their respective owners.

for workshop rates, you may contact rachel lobangcomj suayan, and nenita ramos. each of them organizes their open shoots and classes every month.

a valid reason to go to boracay

before, i really had no plans of going to boracay as it is the least of my concerns in my philippine travel map. i have always told myself that i will only go to boracay if i will be emigrating soon, someone gives me a boracay vacation package for free, it's a friend's wedding, or it's really that important (whatever it is). the latter manifested itself as a manny librodo photography workshop, which was produced by mj suayan, nenita ramos, and rachel lobangco. since it's manny librodo, the main model is rachel lobangco herself, and the venue is boracay, i booked my tickets without a second thought.

"a portrait is a landscape of emotions" - manny librodo

when i was resting for the last 6 months of 2012, photography kept me sane. i joined various photo shoots organized by various studios and got to meet a lot of photographers. in their small chats, i often hear the name, "manny librodo". out of curiosity i googled his works and i was stunned by what i saw. 

mist 1
by manny librodo
toothless smile
by manny librodo
by manny librodo
rosalina 1
by manny librodo
lovingly kharu
by manny librodo
great talent screams aloud in cyberspace. with all the photos i have posted above, there is no doubt he was chosen by scott kelby as one of his top 5 photographers in his my “best of 2009” picks. his fame led to many invites to lecture on photography workshops within the philippines and across the globe that he dropped his school teaching career to focus more on teaching photography.

my facebook friends who catch my yearly "best shots" know well my progressions as a photography hobbyist. each year i had a goal. from solely focusing on landscape way back 2007 when i started mountaineering, i transitioned to nature, to macro, to landscape with people, to people, to portraits. sometimes learning from the photographers i meet in my travels but most of the time learning all by myself. in a psychology forum i am a member of, some of the readings stated that the introverts and the thinkers photos are with less humans. but then again, i don't want to be nailed to that scientific generalization. i made it a goal in 2013 to study more portraiture, which is my waterloo. having said that, knowing the name "manny librodo" in my personal goals in this hobby this year is very timely. 

admittedly, i was nervous prior to the seminar. almost all of the participants are pros, semi-pros, or librodo frequenters. not only that i was the only person using an olympus camera. almost everyone was holding a nikon or a canon with their huge lenses, which god knows how much they cost. when manny arrived holding 2 sony cameras, the inner me said, "hell, yeah! i am not an odd dork!" before, he was a brand endorser for nikon. prior to our boracay workshop, he switched to sony because of a good offer. 

photos from sony. i got this from manny librodo's page
from manny librodo's page. photos are by from sony
when sony first released its alpha series way back 2009, a diver friend of mine, neil, bought it bundled with an ikelite underwater housing. at that time, sony was bundling their cameras with underwater housings as a summer promotion. after his dive in dakak, the pictures were so intense and the colors were vivid! i asked him if there were alterations done in photoshop and if he used strobes. he answered, "no. just an underwater flashlight." i already bought my camera at that time. if i haven't, i would've bought a sony too! unfortunately, multiply already shut down their social media site so i do not have any evidence of his breath taking dakak photos (if only i was able to save some of his photos!) having said that, i hope sony would sponsor an underwater photographer because their cameras work spectacularly underwater!

going back, it really doesn't matter what camera you use. manny has used 2 brands already yet his luster as a photographer is still there. and that's the reason why people go to his seminar -- to catch his eye.

manny, the teacher

the organizers grouped each photographers into 3 to get their turns to shoot and direct the models. after everyone gets their turn, it's manny's time to shoot. photographers are still welcome to shoot with him. when teaching,  he goes by the socratic method -- everyone gets to have his/her freedom to shoot. being the experienced teacher that he is, he guides and he doesn't spoon feed his students. this allows everyone to release his/her own creativity.  

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

we had 5 layouts which were collaboratively styled by rachel and nenita: the hawaian babes, the cast aways, the mud people, the pool of mud, and the fire dance. during our 3-hour break, we had our travel photography portion with our choice to join him or wander off somewhere else. 

for me, the highlight of the event was how rachel delivered herself in each shoot. she is not just a model. she i definitely an artist! aside from acting for everyone, she did the styling, and, as a photographer herself, she also suggested ways on how we're going to shoot her. she is the concept of the photo and not just some model whose photo is to be taken. all photographers who'd like to get serious into the photography business should work with her some day to know what i am babbling about.

what surprised me more about this workshop was knowing that most of the models were pulled out from their comfortable normal lives. in short, it was their first time to model! nonetheless, they still did well in the workshop.

we were 25 photographers in the workshop and each is battling for a good angle at the models. while most flock at a particular group of models, i pulled out a few from time to time to pose for me. good thing that one of the models, lynn, and i have a common friend so we shot most together using a fishnet i got from some fisherman at station 1. 

altered. fishnet sponsored by manong mangingisda
the bad thing was while i was enjoying my dive, i forgot to charge my camera's battery. while walking to our venue for the fire dance, i was also shooting photos at some kids building sand castles that, when i arrived, i got red batt'ed!

the last set we had for the day was fire dancing. however, rachel wasn't able to dance with all the kids running at the beach line. she can't help it if the kids were amazed by her fire swords and bow. instead, she just posed for us with her fire stuff. but since i kept on deleting and turning off my cam to get a bar of battery life, i was only able to shoot a few in the last set.

i really never learned from that same mistake of not bringing extra batteries and memory card. before my battery could even die out, i already ran out of memory making me delete some photos which i could have still used. well, i'll charge that again to experience for being stubborn. 

to photoshop or not to photoshop?

what also makes most go gaga over a librodo workshop is his skills in post-processing in adobe photoshop. his lecture in post-processing was on the 2nd day of our workshop at asya. there, he taught us his workflow and shown us how he manipulated all the photos he took on the 1st day. right after he finished a photo, he assigned us to get one of ours and processed it with his workflow as a guide. while we were working on our photos, he was roaming around to check on us and help. although the workflow is his, the colors, the texture, and the drama are still on us. 

here are some of mine using his workflow. i can't say they are top notch but at least i am getting better as far as portaits are concerned.

but here's the big question: to photoshop or not to photoshop? being the best photographer doesn't mean you are perfect. of course, you can't please everyone. manny also has his own set of detractors who didn't like his digital manipulation of photos saying it's not photography anymore. according to some, as long as you alter colors, it is not photography anymore but graphic design. but then again, graphic designers would contest saying that graphic designing has illustration so which is which? 

to be honest, i don't give a flying fcuk.

my fiance once said to me that he didn't care about the photographer-art-graphics debate because an artist is entitled to his/her own works and has the last say of the outcome. whatever the outcome may be, it depends on the people if they are going to like it or not. as an artist, you don't create your works to please people as that would be the job of the designer. a designer, on the other hand, creates based on need as a design is a solution to a problem, i.e. marketing ads, a hammer, etc. the design solely relies on the "user" for it to be appreciated. 

with these definition, my fiance didn't call himself an artist or a designer. he calls himself a "visualizer" for the simple reason that he creates what he wants people to see and to hell if people get inspired by it or not. in short, he didn't really care. lol. 

going back to the question. for me, it depends. there are photos i love to see as they are which are mostly landscapes. there are photos which are badly taken by my camera due to technical limitations but i still want to salvage. then there are times i just want to create my own world and use people, objects, and places as my tools. manny librodo is also a visualizer - an uncontented artist who doesn't settle for "what you see is what you get" but "through my eyes." as what they say, "if you want to lead a symphony, turn your back against the crowd."

April 12, 2013

boracay from the eyes of a noobie

photos c/o french living in boracay in the author's post "remember... the old boracay"

yes, i was informed

my chemistry teacher in high school used to tell me stories about aklan. she told us that she worked before at denr as a chemist at boracay before she became a teacher. 20 years ago from when she told us the story, she said boracay was a virgin island. wild monkeys trek down from the forests to the beachline to take a bath or just play. forests were still thick and it was cooler especially at night. when she came back to bring her family for a vacation, she was surprised to see the "devastation" brought by tourism. boracay was not the pristine virgin island she once knew. in her own words, "it was a different set of monkeys i saw at the beach!" since then, she never came back.

i do feel her somehow but with my experience at anawangin. before anawangin was advertised to the public, i've been there once. when we arrived, there were only 7 tents: 4 from our group and 3 from a different group. no latrines, no mini stores, no massage services, no henna tattoo people, no music, no police, no tent fee, no entrance fee. just the sand, the beach, and a few strangers, and friends. everything was free except for the outrigger ride which only costed 500 pesos per 4 people. you can sleep there anywhere with all your valuables even holding your mobile phone. the next day, you'll wake up on the same spot with all your stuff. anawangin back then was a haven for people who craved for peace and solitude. when we came back, it was agoo during faux prophet judiel's time. many people camped out at all places, the noise was overpowered the sea waves, there were fees for almost everything, one of my friends phone was stolen, in short, the old anawangin was gone and we don't want to come back again.

a very old photo of boracay c/o wikipedia
it was not only from my chemistry teacher in highschool i heard bad experiences about boracay. there were a lot of people who wanted me to scrape off the place in my list. a close buddy of mine even once said, "kung gusto mong pumuntang boracay, pumunta ka na lang ng malate. tapos isipin mo na lang na may malawak na buhangin tapos tubig alat. yun, boracay na!" (if you want to go to boracay, go to malate instead. just imagine there's vast sand and saltwater. there you go, boracay!) 

in online diving communities, boracay was even abhorred to an extent that when some people write their reports, they're almost banning everyone to go to the place. there's even a diving trip report at scubaboards entitled, "bleh boracay," which one of my buddies, jag, posted. the report reflected his sick sense of humor (which i also have) that i even bookmarked his thread in safari so i have something to read whenever i need a good laugh. kidding aside, his article gave me doubts about boracay below sea level that i almost cancelled my diving activities.  

there have been a lot of chances for me to go to boracay in the past but i refused because of what people told me and of the reviews i have read. instead, i went to subic, potipot, daraitan, panglao, baybay (chocolate brown sand ftw!), samal island, and anilao, which are gaining high reviews from the tourists who went there. i told myself that i'll only go to boracay if there's a need to, like friends' weddings, or if someone's going to pay for my stay. my reason for going to boracay was a manny librodo seminar on 23rd and 24th of february. when i told my friends that i am going to boracay, they only told me i'm going to enjoy the seminar.

the first-timer

i woke up very early that saturday to attend a photography workshop. at 07:00, new wave was still closed. back at station 1, our models for the photography seminar haven't arrived yet so i roamed around. fearing i'd lose a large chunk of space from my memory card, i did not take too many photos of boracay in the early morn.

view of boracay from the beach
good morning boracay
for me, boracay is like panglao -- only an overdeveloped version. at 06:30, you would already see a lot of people bathing, jogging, or getting a good tan. majority of the people i've seen there were foreigners and only a few filipinos. at boracay, at night, you'll hear music bars with pumped up bass empowered by subwoofers. if i am not mistaken, i heard the "harlem shake" four times a day from different bars i passed by. at boracay, the music didn't stop. you can still hear party music during breakfast. in other beaches i have visited, the first ones to wake up early were the fishermen. resorts were still closed and music only starts at around 09:00. if you wake up early, either you're  going out for jogging or you were drunk somewhere else the previous night. boracay is manila because of the number of people you could see (of course, less the high-rise buildings and the beach). my friend, jonathan, at new wave told me that there's more people during summer. i only said, "wtf, really?" i can't imagine myself moshing with a lot of people at the beach. i am used to retreating to bohol, my mom's province, to stay away from people and find peace and solitude.

the "swarm of photographers". bts photo by nenita ramos
unaltered photo shot by myself. yes, our main model is ms rachel lobangco, who is also the organizer of the photography seminar. she is ageless! 
at noon, before we had our lunch at tbraz, the facilitators said that there will be a travel photography contest in the afternoon. we were given a choice to stroll around with manny or wander off somewhere else if we're not that confident in winning. after seeing my co-participants in their bazooka lenses and all thingamajigs they have; after knowing who my co-participants, who are mostly professional photographers; after knowing i'm the only olympus camera user with a very old and battered camera while the rest have the latest canon or nikon models, of course, i am not confident! my choice was easy: wander off... into the deep ;) lynette, again being the very helpful person that she is, informed the rest of the new wave team to refer me a place where i can shoot for an hour after i spammed her inbox with a lot of emails (thanks to 3g).

while walking from station 2 to station 1, where the new wave divers shop is, the diving trip report at scubaboards, "bleh boracay," gave me doubts, "will i take a good photo there?" and since i will be diving, "will i even enjoy the dive?" in fact, i did. not only because it's my come back dive but because i've seen the stuff i also wanted to see when i was a newbie diver on my first descent to openwater. check the "noobie" diver post to read more about my diving experience in boracay.

yannick webber, my dive master
after my dive, i walked from new wave to friday's. the sand castle builders caught my attention as they were all children. all the while, i thought it was the adults who built them. here's one kid who showed me how to build castles.



out of curiosity and disregarding the fact that i would be late for the next shoot, i talked to some of them. it was sad to know that most of the kids here aren't going to school f and had to earn extra by building castles. it was february but the kids say they'll just go to summer classes instead since they can't make it to 4th quarter.

unaltered photos
unaltered photos
unaltered photos

so far, i haven't read or seen any child prostitution in boracay. perhaps because of the many people who would easily report who are taking advantage of minors. i guess that's a good thing but then again, someone has to send them to school with all the profit generated by the place from tourism!

day 2 of our seminar was held at the asya resort. the resort is located in a different side of boracay: no noise, no drunk people, no bars, just a few umbrellas, and a few people. with beautiful architecture and a peaceful ambiance, asya is definitely a perfect place for honeymooners and for people who loves posh living and can afford 15,000 php a night's stay. and the best thing about this place is, there are no slimes.
view of boracay from asya

i was also told of another side of boracay, near carabao island, where there are a few people because of the strong sea current. the side where most tourists go does not get the wind's full impact. i was told that there are fewer resorts there and even some places where pitching of tents are allowed. 

night life in boracay is, indeed as told by my friends, like malate. if you went to boracay alone or you haven't met a few good people to talk to, you wouldn't enjoy the night. instead, you'll be disappointed because of the overlapping music coming from the different bars which eventually became noise, drunk people walking in the sand, a few hookers trying to get laid, and swimming at night not knowing whether you've swallowed slime. 

i spent my last night with manny, nenita, mj, kester, dada, rachel, and a few photographers whose names i have already forgotten. of course, the topic is photography. like any other bar, you would call it a wonderful evening if you had good conversations with good people. the difference is, boracay is a beach and there is no work to return to the next morning (unless you work in aklan or you have a very early flight).

from the eyes of a newbie

all was surreal. i did not have enough time to say good bye to everyone at the shop. the pump boat ride to caticlan and the van ride to the airport hostel was all too quick. i settled at the hostel at 20:00-ish where i repacked for my flight the next day. 

at 05:00 i woke up, logged out, and took a ticycle ride to the airport for 30 php. as we were all lining up to check in, the lady at my back was irate at her husband for losing their itinerary. i told them there's no need to worry. they only needed to show their valid id's to airphil to get a ticket printed. i don't have an itinerary too which led them to believe me. after all, i went first. if the airphil guy won't let me in because of a piece of paper, the couple won't too. "for how long have you stayed in boaracy" the lady asked. "4 days, 3 nights with my 4th night here in kalibo," i said. "wow, quite long! we were only there for 3 days! you must have enjoyed your stay," she said. "not really," i replied. "i was there for a seminar for 2 days." 

i'm not saying that the seminar was a hindrance to my boracay vacation. i am actually thankful for it. if not for the seminar, i would not see beautiful boracay because of all the bad things i've read. definitely, boracay is one of a kind (except the sea slimes) and is different from the ones i have visited before. it deserves another visit from me. there's too much to experience in the place not just white beach. i have not hiked yet at mt luho, which was supposed to be part of my itinerary if not for my very early flight, i only dove twice, i haven't done island tours, i haven't done a full rural trek. it would be unfair to say a place is bad if i haven't fully experienced it. 

but then again, despite the beauty, boracay is a dying haven. aetas, who once roamed the shores were pushed farther form the shore as merely squatters roaming the streets of malay. cyanobacteria are infesting the shores, perhaps due bad drainage system caused by too many people visiting the place. kids building castles for school because their families could not afford their tuition fees. if the older generations were depressed of what boracay became out of tourism now, how would later generations experience boracay?