Panagbenga Festival 2013

While I was organizing my photos, I realized that I have not developed some of these which were taken when I went back to the Philippines for a short vacation. I could not remember what was the occasion, it could be that I got bored here in KL.

I asked my mother if she could come with me to Baguio since the plan to drive north to Baguio with Armel was not happening. She mentioned that we could stay in her friend’s house and it all went hell that I had to immediately find a room for two as soon as we arrive in Engineer’s Hill in Baguio.

Nevertheless, this is the first Philippine festival that I captured on camera. There were some that I have witnessed but I still didn’t have my camera with me.

As you could see, that the Ifugao culture is very rich. It roots down to their ancestors. I would want to go to the mountains and see the Ifugao Rice Terraces first hand – maybe soon.

The intricate of design hand-woven or hand-painted were designed on their clothes and costumes struck me the most. Although I didn’t have the time to take pictures of the flower gazebos and floats because it was already full of mob as the local celebrities presented themselves along the famous street of Session Road, much to my surprise after going to the market that morning with my mother, the people were already taking their places to witness the procession of Panagbenga.

You could read of why they celebrate this festive occasion somewhere but I’d like to show you how colorful they are.

Baguio Revisited

I didn’t many pictures when I visited Baguio again because I have been to the popular places. It is just that I was carrying my camera with me and along the way, I wanted to test what would it look like in HDR. After seeing such beautiful scenery, I thought of coming back to take more vibrant photos.

On the other hand, I took some shots from the street procession during the Panagbenga Festival.

Penang

Cultural Overload At Penang

As my leaves pile up every month of service and to replace the legal holidays whenever I come to work, it was the time to burn some of these last month. The first time I was in Penang was when I was in transit from Thailand way back May. I didn’t have the time to enjoy its scenery because I just slept the whole night after I arrived at the main city and prepped myself to the airport the following morning. Choosing wasn’t that hard because I have heard a lot about this lively island from food, cultural events and landscapes.

I have a number of pictures I would like to share but this would be a very lengthy post if I compile it in a blog post, maybe I can add them later when I get home; i’d rather choose the relevant shots. If you want to see more, they are available on my Picasa or Facebook profile.

Let us start from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a good timing because they were celebrating their month celebration of World Heritage from June 15 to July 15. The moment we arrived there, with newly found friends, the people were astounding – there were a lot of tourists and also the locals themselves are preserving the pristine culture of Penang.

Penang

World Heritage Temple

The music players, draw, pastel and charcoal artists, singers and dancers were scattered throughout the narrow streets.

Penang

Arts By The Road

Now, let us go to the Kek Lok Si Temple. You would never miss this spot because it is one of those mostly visited places especially during Chinese New Year. Practically hiking up through an indoor staircase would give you a feel that has been developed for tourists. It was this time that I was feeling that I was being presented with too much oriental culture. I have never seen such beautiful carvings in Mandarin and Buddhist statues.

Penang

Kek Lok Si Temple

Heading up to the highest peak of Penang, the Penang Hill: For tourists, you have to pay 30 Ringgits especially for foreigners. Such good differential pricing that they can maintain an eight-Ringgits fare for the locals.

At the peak of the hill, you will see one side of Penang facing the island that goes back to Butterworth. We were not able to stay long because there’s really nothing there except for the exquisite Penang skyline.

Penang

Penang Skyline

Would you imagined that I performed all of these trips within a day? And yes, there is one more! We went up to the northern part of the island where the beach is located. Batu Ferringhi is not really that good when you talk about clear turquoise water compared to Redang or Perhentian. The beaches accommodate mostly the foreigners and the hotel fares are pretty hefty if you would consider it for a normal local tourist. Nevertheless, I am always astounded by the beauty of the of beach sunset setting, so I stayed for quite some time to experience its golden setting.

Penang

Golden Sunset

All of these pictures I posted were taken in high dynamic range. Sorting, combining three photos, mixing to the most vibrant tonal range without oversaturating everything and converting them to a computer and human readable pictures are very time-consuming, but seeing these pictures especially in print brought a big smile to my face.

I am set to return this November to attend the annual running marathon hoping for another chance to take more photos and focus on what the island has to offer in terms of its food specialty.

Ecoteer at Perhentian Islands

Last weekend, JJ and I went for a short over-the-weekend vacation to Perhentian Islands. We have planned this months ago although, I could have overlooked the chalets and hotel bookings not knowing that it would be full because we were set after Singapore Day.

Until I found Ecoteer. The price is a bit higher with the amenities included but it was worth it. Why? There would be a point in your life that self-fulfillment will not be based on material things but rather, when you see the essence of helping people without asking anything in return.

Ecoteer Club

We arrived on Friday morning and they were already conducting the Ecoteer Club. Teaching the Malay children on how to conserve the environment and learn the English language is one of the itineraries.

The Children of Fisherman’s Village

Training and adult learning have always been my passion and as a matter of fact, for the rest of my career in Customer Service and Information Technology, these have never been out of my league.

Playing While Learning

Who would know that teaching the younger ones would actually bring a greater feeling and sense of fulfillment when you see them smile and converse you with the knowledge you have passed on to them?

Painting Houses

I could have brought my camera while we are working but I was worried that it may be dropped or spilled with paint. Yes, we were painting houses! The program also helps the villagers not just with environment conservation, but also to have a more comfortable basic lifestyle.

Ivy, I grabbed your photo on Facebook. It looks fun you guys doing the painting compared to us. Haha

Perhentian Besar on HDR

Also, a few days before the trip, I was thinking of buying a waterproof casing for my SLR. Perhentian Islands are known for its rich aquatic marine ecosystem in which, again, I have failed to record because I thought that the casing was too expensive for me to consider. Not to worry because I am pretty much sure that I will return and do more volunteer work.

Perhentian Kecil Contre Jour Sunset

We could have stayed longer but time does not permit since both of us needed to return to  work. If I would be given a chance to stay longer so I can help further with all the ample sources I have, I’d do it!

A list of activities have been set because usually the program runs for a week – from teaching the children, having a typical Malay dinner with the locals wearing sarong, composting, research, environmental specifically coral reef and turtle conservation and a lot of stuff that you would rarely experience on your typical vacation. So why not make your vacation worthwhile?

Know more about their program on Ecoteer Malaysia.