“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous”. ~Aristotle I had no idea what kind of paradise I was getting into when I ventured into the southernmost tip of my country. This island chain province of peace loving citizens are always affected by media portrayal of turmoil and violence in these parts of the archipelago. So much so that when I announced to my friends and family that I was traveling to Tawi-Tawi, the question was WHY and WHAT FOR? And my only reply was BECAUSE. Because it is there. I have seen the tiny specks on a map and wondered what life is like in those parts. I have seen few images of its seascape and I wanted to confirm if it was truly that stunning. A few times, I thought I was lucky to go, then news reports of peace and order in neighboring provinces would surface, and the trip was shelved. I’ve read blogs of a few brave journalists who went there on their own and wrote good things …
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. ~ Nelson Mandela Scaling the Great Wall via Badaling Route This UNESCO World Heritage Site is very touristy and congested in the Badaling route from Beijing. It may be a little difficult to recognize from the serene pictures you see on the net and books. For a photographer, it becomes a feat trying to find a spot to capture its “zen-like” ruins, without being pushed or diverted by a shuffling crowd. Not recommended for those suffering from vertigo and fear of heights. Then again, you will encounter a whole family gently holding on to a grandmother who looks to be a hundred, nimbly stepping on very steep stone pavements, while a throng of tourists are hyperventilating and waiting behind them.
“We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic.” ~ E. Merrill Root View of sunset at the top of Pre Rup, Siem Reap © Jojie Alcantara On the edge of centuries-old ruins that have survived to this day, I stood in awe at the wonder that spread before me…skies changing into warm streaks of colors that fused into a golden canvas, the sun a fiery ball from a distance, casting a gentle glow over ancient structures. I wondered if tourists around me busily clicking away at their cameras were aware of the miracle we were witnessing before our eyes.
The iconic Giant Holiday Tree was lighted on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 in the City of Tagum, Davao del Norte, to officially start the festive season of Christmas, and coinciding with Tagum’s 3rd Food Festival, one of the 14 monthly celebrations cooked up by the city with the most festivals.
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci This sunset can be viewed overlooking the sea where we stayed in Sandbar Lepa Resort in Tawi Tawi. As it gave its last peek before disappearing from the horizon, we quietly captured it from our cameras, silenced in awe. If I were to relive this moment over and over, I will most likely be staying longer in this island and coming over to this spot each day. Tawi-Tawi is an island province southernmost of the Philippines, located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and sharing sea borders with the Malaysian State of Sabah and the Indonesian East Kalimantan province. To the northeast lies the province of Sulu and to the west is Sabah in Malaysia, which one can visibly see on a clear day from its highest peak, Bud Bongao. Tawi-Tawi also covers some islands in the Sulu Sea to the northwest, the Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi …
I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime “associates,” food, for me, has always been an adventure. -Anthony Bourdain Food photography for Sumo Sam Restaurant (American-Japanese fusion) for M Magazine, natural lighting …and it’s yummy too. :-) More of my food photography
“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.” ~Dale Carnegie My aerial images featured in both LA Times and Chicago Tribune for Getty Images. Caption above are not mine. :-) Langkawi is a not so hidden paradise which comprises of 99 islands surrounded by pristine waters and lush rainforest. The mysterious islands are steeped in fascinating legends and folklores. It has been cited as a UNESCO Geopark (geological park) in recognition of its amazing and significant geological formations and untouched paradise. The park covers mountainous peaks, sandstone formations, limestone caves, mystical lakes, waterfalls as well as fascinating flora and fauna dwelling in its environmental wonder. Recently, National Geographic has listed it as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. More of Langkawi in my article “Langkawi and its 99 Magical Islands”
“Too many of us are hung up on what we don’t have, can’t have, or won’t ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy – if not less of it – doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do.” ~ Terry McMillan, From Disappearing Acts I’ve been dying to visit Tawi-Tawi for a long time. Cloaked by many intriguing and fearful stories of armed abduction and sea pirates, its beauty has remain inaccessible to tourists due to its proximity to peace-conflicted provinces and stories that the unforgiving media carries out to the world. Finally, I had the opportunity to reach the southernmost farthest islands in my country (in 2012). Braver bloggers have journeyed to these distant specks before. I merely affirm their statements of wonder and dispel the myth that surrounds Tawi-Tawi. It did not disappoint, and gave even more breathtaking surprises in the offing. (read: more memorable photos to come, I swear) I reluctantly came with a light …
“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.” ~Shing Xiong Sunbather at Puca Beach, Boracay, Philippines 2006 Update: Out of all the islands in the world, Travel+Leisure Magazine chose to name Boracay as its Best Overall Island of 2012. Located in Malay, Aklan, Western Visayas, Boracay is just seven kilometers long, and less than a kilometer wide at its narrowest point – a postcard-sized tropical paradise. (source)
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller Skimboarder in Dahican, Mati, Davao Oriental during the 12th Sambuokan Festival 2012 © Jojie Alcantara Mati is known for its long, gorgeous coastlines of white sand beaches and sparkling blue waters perfect for surfing. View more photos here
“Never stop being a kid. Never stop feeling and seeing and being excited with great things like air and engines and sounds of sunlight within you. Wear your little mask if you must to protect you from the world but if you let that kid disappear you are grown up and you are dead.” ~ Richard Bach, ‘Nothing by Chance,’ 1963. Demo paramotor gliding in Dahican, Mati City during the 12th Sambuokan Festival View more photos of Sambuokan Festival here
“Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives”. ~ Socrates Demo sailing in Baywalk, Mati City during the 12th Sambuokan Festival In my younger years, I led a sheltered life. I was afraid of venturing out on my own, of taking risks. At a major turning point in my life, in defiance of betrayal, pain, depression and anger combined, I gathered my wits together and went out of my domesticated box. Stretching my worn out limbs, I started to conquer my fears, one by one. It included fear of rejection, of commitment, failure, and stark fear of heights. I came out a new, daring person –the process was never easy– and I never looked back. Today, I specialize in aerial photography, among other things. One day soon, I shall tell you how I confronted it dramatically. View more photos of Sambuokan Festival here
“There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality.” ~ Jonas Salk A young skimboarder dreams big in the skimboarding competition held in Dahican Beach, Mati City during the 12th Sambuokan Festival Mati is known for its long, gorgeous coastlines of white sand beaches and sparkling blue waters perfect for surfing. View more photos here
I am a long time fan of the Cirque du Soleil. I collected every CD of their performances since the 90s. Years passed and this Canadian world class act finally invaded Las Vegas, came to Southeast Asia, and even performed in Manila. I never got to see them yet. However, in 2008, I had a wonderful opportunity of watching Chime-long International Circus in Guangzhou, China. It was breathtaking. While Cirque du Soleil concentrated on human performances, China’s pride has man and beast performing harmoniously together (think White Tiger with performers), and it always brings a full house everyday in Chime-long Resort. As the world’s largest permanent circus, founded in 2000, with more than 8000 seats in the circus stadium, the circus performers are a merry mix of colorful races plus a horde of talented animals. The spectacle equals one fantastic show combining the best international circus acts. Read my article about the “world’s largest permanent circus” or view my photo gallery. Related links you may want to view : White Tiger of Guangzhou