Thursday, November 27, 2008

BATANES : Sabtang, where time stands still

Time does not exists out here

shelters from the storm
As I continue with my Batanes wanderings I went farther up north
of Batanes and crossed the ocean to another island destination which is Sabtang.

rider on board
I have read numerous stories on how the waves going to Sabtang can scare the shits out of even the seasoned mariner but i was lucky the swells I have experienced were quite tame although I have to admit that while on the boat you can still feel the large ripple of ocean waves hitting the sides and bottom of the faluwah.

the waves are tamer now
In Batanes the waves are different from the normal ones we see on familiar oceans. Out there the ripples are rippling far apart and it could go very high then drop down very low. If you are riding the faluwa you can feel the boat swaying in one direction as the waves carry it up high then you can feel it being lowered down as if a large forklift drops it like it’s hot.
Anyway, I could see that the boatmen were very calm, the boat ride even looks boring to them so I guess the waves that morning when i crossed the waters in between Sabtang and Batan was like a walk in the park for these mariners.
aboard the faluwa
Sabtang is one of the three islands of Batanes (Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat).
The island has its own way of life, its own culture and own sense of posterity for its heritage.
As the boat approaches the shorelines of Sabtang the first thing that I noticed were the white long buildings which I found out to be the Heritage Tourism Office, the School of Fisheries Building.The Sabtang Lighthouse also stands majestically on the top of a cliff.

Sabtang coastal town

Parola by the cliff
Sabtang light house

As I disembarked from the boat I observed how peaceful and isolated the place is.
The port is the only point of entry to the main town and I was greeted by an arch signifying the arrivals of any visitor to the island and by numerous faluwas currently tied down or anchored on the shores. One will not also miss the church of Sabtang as it stands facing the ocean towards Batan.
welcome for coming
Peaceful town

church of Sabtang
Church of Sabtang

hello again Batanes
Sabtang has maintained its old way of life.
In Chavayan and Savidug the houses are still in their original Ivatan designs.
stones on the walls
The landscapes on this island are very beautiful and enchanting it made me asked myself, "when was the last time i really got awed by a picture?"
God's country

road to the edge of the earth
heaven and waters
under a different light
enchanted island
sunrise for the dreamers
Dios Mamajes!
Romulus Rueda
Sabtang Island, Batanes
August 2008

BATANES : Dios Mamajes

The lighthouse amongst the clouds

Of howling winds and gentle people

We travel to see places that are unfamiliar to us and to experience the cultures of the people that may seem strange to us. But oftentimes we travel to enhance our knowledge and to educate our beings from what we can get and absorb as we become part of the destinations we visit. To be a stranger in a strange land, that is.
As we traverse with time we the restless soul tends to get the urge to go to places beyond our realms in order for us to get out of our lackluster milieu. It has been said that from time to time we have to live the life bereft of caution, to pursue that great escape, to be one with the wind. We need this to reconcile with whatever it is that we are searching for or perhaps just to scratch the wanderlust itch.It is also rejuvenating to get out of our comfort zones and savor some new experiences with reckless abandon.With that in mind, a place in the northern edge of the Philippines was beckoning and I heeded the call.

Basco lighthouse
So there i went with wanderlust in my heart and elation in my soul as I chase the lights to explore the place that may have been just a speck in our map and yet it is the destination that promises the howling of the wind and the adventure of a lifetime.
The Dash-7 50 seater propeller type plane landed on Batanes in the middle of August just after a typhoon hits the area.
we have arrived
I was expecting overcast skies and monsoon downpours but was greeted with good sunshine and no rain. The weather was sunny and very beautiful I could swear it was like summer! Strangely enough the people there told me that they have four seasons so come to think of it August is quite the summer time.
Indeed Batanes is like the land of what dreams may come. The seas are unruly as the waters collided with the rock formations on the edges of the cliffs.
my kind of beach
Monstrous waves that oftentime creates a sound akin to thunder and produces a thud similar to gentle earthquakes as they hit the breakwaters.
come hell or high waters
Terrains that are so rugged and beautiful one may think that this is no longer part of our country.
Good morning Batanes
Rolling hills from here to eternity. Lighthouses that made me feel I am in some foreign land.
from a distance
Canopy of stars on moonless nights which are good for contemplating about everything and nothing. Landscapes that seems to mold the poetry of the land..Seascapes that are so enchanting one may hear music from it.
twilight slowly coming by
In every curve of the winding roads at the edge of the cliffs, in every turn from every rugged terrain an adventure awaits. There were times when while riding a motorcycle (I rented one) a “ monitor lizard(bayawak) or a snake” may occasionally cross the road. The place is indeed full of surprises.
a rock and a hard place
As i drove along the edges of the cliffs I could see the horizon from a distance as the sun rolls behind the earth and all I can say was “ I could stay here forever”.
serenity of the setting sun
At night I can hear the howling of the wind as if calling on some distant shores. In one island (Sabtang) you may feel very isolated and yet very much welcome.
We may never have control over the wind or the weather and the inhabitants of Batanes islands are at the mercy of it , yet they are all self sufficient and self assured.
The Ivatans are people with big hearts..
I have never been with such kind and gentle people. Most of them are fishermen and cattle herders but the way I see it, all of them are happy with the simplicity of their lifestyles.

the boatman
Occasionally you may witness Ivatans on the road in their classic type bicycle, at the shorelines searching for the days catch or just walking on the hills with their carabaos as life passes them by unperturbed but contented.
catching the days catch
While on the road almost everyone that I met gave me a smile or an assuring nod as if I am from there too.

tie me tight
A tied up Faluwa

down and out
Ruins of Sitio Songsong.
A coastal area wiped out by a tidal wave in the 1950's.
Today some ruins remain in the area and the place was dubbed as a ghost town.

Shelter from the storm
Storm Shelter Port
This is where they docked their Faluwas when a storm is coming to prevent them from being battered.

a long and winding road
i just love the Batanes winding roads.
Very ideal for motorcycling.

The house that Pacita built
Fundacion Pacita Abad
Tukon, Batanes

cliffs to Mahatao
The cliffs of Mahatao overlooking Basco town

the view from the hill
The view from the rolling hills.

Parola by the sentry
An old military sentry near the Basco Lighthouse

at the road side
The winding roads of Batan

end of day
Serenity in the land of howling winds

Dakay's stronghold
This is the old Ivatan house of Dakay in Ivana. The house was built in the 1800's. Limestones, rocks, wood and cogon were used in building the house. Btw, dakay means white hair and the original owner of this house was called as such for that reason.

Beach boat
The beach in Batanes

Good evening Batan
Night time at the Parola in Basco

as the sun rolls behind the earth
I fell in love with Batanes and my first visit is definitely not the last.

Dios Mamajes!

Romulus Rueda
August 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old beauty of Dumaguete

all rusty and yellow

Dumaguete City is part of the province of Negros Oriental in the Visayas region.
This city is said to be the home of the Gentle People.
I went to Dumaguete in the summer of 2008 to explore the place and to capture the moments through my lens.
It is a small city comparable to my hometown Naga City. There were a lot of tricycles plying the downtown area and these three wheelers are the major transportation means of the city.
I also noticed a lot of people are riding motorcycles and there were also numerous motorcyle rental shops in the downtown. I guess the people in Dumaguete are indeed very laidback that they always prefer to explore the city on a motorbike, but then perhaps it could be because of the booming tourism of the city that is why these motorbike rentals are everywhere. There were also a lot of old expat living in in Dumaguete, i was told that most of them married a Filipina after the war and decided to settle there.

At night you will hear a loud siren at 10PM signifying the start of the curfew. and it ends at 5AM. This curfew is for the minors in order to ensure that they won't loiter around the city in such an unholy hours.
The crime rate is low and it is safe to take a stroll in the city at night which i did when i took my night shots.

Here are a few shots from my trip.

The Dumaguete Belfry belltower.
A bell tower; attached to a city hall or other civil building, it is usually named belfry;
This belltower was used during the Spanish colonial period to warn the townfolks of attacks from marauding pirates.

trinity of statues
Dumaguete Church

guardians on the rooftop

One may never run out of good subjects to capture in Dumaguete, be it landscape or street photography. Everything is just shouting to be captured by the lens.

Dumaguete still maintains its laidback ways of life. Even if this city has its own hustle and bustle the people are never in a hurry, everything and everyone seems to be rolling on their own phases.
One of the famous place in Dumaguete is the Rizal Boulevard.
During afternoons people from all walks of life frequents the place.
Some go there just to enjoy breeze, you may probably spot a few lovers weaving dreams, some old timers seating by the benches telling stories, kids and kids at heart playing on the pavement and occassional artists, musicians and photogs who also visits the place.
I was one of them.
Colonial designed lamp adorns Rizal Blvd

Mossy rocks at the shores of Rixal Blvd.

A boat docked at the Dumaguete port.

class of 1933
Dumaguete is also being referred to as the university town because of the presence of a few universities in the area.
The best known is the Siliman University.

An old building inside the Siliman Campus.

the lake
Lake Balinsasayo is located about 1.5 hours away from Dumaguete City.
This lake is tucked in the middle of the mountain ranges of Negros Oriental and can be reached via a motorcycle. If you are keen in exploring Dumaguete i would highly suggest you rent a motorcycle and test your all terrain driving skills by going to this lake. You may have to cross a couple of mountains, endure the rugged terrains and negotiate a few off road cliffs before reaching the lake but the trip is all worth it.
Let the road become your mistress!

morning lights
Early morning shot.
The building on the left is part of the Siliman University and to the right is the Rizal blvd.
Sometimes early morning is the best time to shoot, there are no cars or people blocking your shot. The air and atmosphere are still cool. Only downside is you have to wake up early.

water and colors
Neon lights at the Dumaguete port.

Belfy night shot

How to go there, man? :
Most major local airlines fly to Dumaguete from Manila on regular schedules.
It is also reachable by ferry from Cebu.