Latest Posts

Phuket, Thailand © Jojie Alcantara

Nightscape serenity

“Always end the day with a positive thought. No matter how hard things were, tomorrow’s a fresh opportunity to make it better.”

View of Chalong Pier at night from the The Kan Eang @ Pier Restaurant
Phuket, Thailand © Jojie Alcantara

 

signature new small 2a

Sunrise seascape, Davao City © Jojie Alcantara

Speck in the universe

Sunrise seascape, Davao City © Jojie Alcantara 2013

We are but mere specks in the universe, our lifespan a mere second on the whole time lapse of history that keeps unfolding.  So let’s make the most of our millisecond here on earth as nurturing species.  Share the love and compassion. Create a ripple so that mankind will be positively remembered.  ~Jojie Alcantara

On the view of earth from 3.7 billion miles away:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home, That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” ~ Carl Sagan, “Pale Blue Dot”

Published photo of Samal in Silkwinds Magazine © Jojie Alcantara

Giant Clam Sanctuary on Silkwinds Magazine

My photos were featured on July 2015 issue of Silkwinds Magazine, the Inflight Magazine of Silkair (Regional Wing of Singapore Airlines)

In the photo spread is the Giant Clam Sanctuary Tours (Tridacna or Taklobo), while other photos are Haguimit Falls and Monfort Bat Sanctuary (photo by Rhonson Ng), all located in Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.

More about the Taklobo Tours? Read my past article.

Silkwinds Magazine 2

Dahican Cove at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

A new beginning

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly, live.” ~ Dalai Lama

Sunrise in Dahican Cove Beach, Mati City
Davao Oriental © Jojie Alcantara
Fuji XA2 + 10-24mm | October 31, 2015 5:14AM

signature new small 2a

 

Selfie at sunrise, Dahican © Jojie Alcantara

Remember

“You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I will always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” — Peter Pan

For all hopeless romantics out there, this self portrait was prepared by waiting for dawn (I didn’t sleep because I was gloriously alone in the whole villa, save for the staff).  Avoiding the incoming tide, I placed the small tripod securely down among sharp rocks. I set my camera on timer mode and for ten seconds, walked into the emerging light in my rundown pajamas, with another camera swinging in my hand.

This is where I am always waiting, wherever the sun rises. Sunrises are worth the wait.

Self portrait at sunrise
Dahican Cove Beach, Mati City, Davao Oriental © Jojie Alcantara
Shot with a Fuji XA2 + 10-24mm
October 31, 2015 5:22AM

The Shibuya Scramble

Do you want to experience Tokyo’s high energy in action? Here’s the famous Shibuya Crossing, a very large pedestrian area outside Shibuya Station, considered to be one of the busiest in the world.  The Shibuya Scramble, as it is popularly called, is a must-try on your bucket list when you visit Japan.

DSCF5459

The sprawling scramble intersection made up of diagonal crossings has action and high energy from every angle. There are giant TV screens flashing colorful advertisements on building walls 24/7.

From a high vantage point like the popular Starbucks which is situated in the center of frenzy, you see people filling the streets like ants in every direction. Just like clockwork, it happens so fast, very fascinating to watch, yet at the same time you want in on the frenetic energy it gives off.

Shibuya Crossing © Jojie Alcantara

Shibuya Crossing when streets are momentarily empty  © Jojie Alcantara

Then for a few minutes, everything stops. The lanes are deserted. Slowly, people start filling up in the sidewalk, ready to cross again, waiting for the scramble to start over once more. Strangely, in this seemingly organized chaos, no one seems to bump into one another like crazy, even though you see them coming in from all directions.

The famous area is packed with tourists, locals. and commuters. The lights turn red at the same time in every direction. Below is an aerial view to give you an idea of the diagonal pedestrian lanes.

stock-photo-view-of-shibuya-crossing-one-of-the-busiest-crosswalks-in-the-world-tokyo-japan-246906352

Shibuya is also known for its trendy shopping malls and more than a hundred boutiques for the fashion aficionados. Food is also abundant in stores everywhere. The most famous spot though, is the Hachiko Exit near the station where Japan’s beloved loyal dog Hachiko is immortalized on a pedestal for the world to gush over with a selfie to boot.

Hachiko Exit © Jojie Alcantara

Hachiko Exit © Jojie Alcantara

Armed with my mirrorless Fuji XA2, here is my experience of the famous scramble, as I happily recorded my crossing feat like a child wanting to do it over and over again.

 

Shibuya Scramble from Jojie Alcantara on Vimeo.

The famous Shibuya Crossing is a very large pedestrian area outside Shibuya Station, considered to be one of the busiest in the world. The Shibuya Scramble, as it is popularly called, is a must-try in your bucket list when you visit Tokyo. View my personal recorded experience.

Cebu Pacific Air flies from Cebu to Narita four times weekly to the capital city of Japan, utilizing the airline’s brand-new Airbus A320 fleet.  The Cebu-Narita service is operated every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, departing Cebu at 5:55am and arriving in Tokyo at 11:20am. The return flight departs Narita at 12:05pm and arrives in Cebu at 4:25pm. 

This is the airline’s 4th route between Japan and the Philippines.  CEB’s Cebu-Narita service is aimed at boosting tourist arrivals into Cebu and Tokyo, with lowest year-round fares starting at PHP7,388 with no fuel surcharges. It is the only low-cost carrier operating this route.

For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to www.cebupacificair.com.

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Takeshita-dori

Takeshita Shopping Street © Jojie Alcantara

There is no such thing as fashion overstatement, being out of style, underdressed or over the top in Takeshita Shopping Street (Takeshita-dori), a narrow pedestrian road lined with cafes and trendy boutiques with all kinds of fashion buys imaginable, in Harajuku.  Filled with inexpensive clothing shops and the most outrageous shoppings finds, Takeshita-dori is a mecca for Tokyo teens and cosplayers.

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Young Tokyoites and curious tourists walk along this jampacked street to be seen or just to be able to sashay down in the most creative outfits imaginable.  For photographers like me, it is street heaven.  I can stay here for hours just shooting, people watching…. or playing the “Where’s Waldo?” game.

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Among the famous shops located here is Daiso Harajuku, one of the largest 100-Yen shops in Tokyo, with amazing cheap finds.  Located at the heart of Takeshita-dori’s busiest street, this store is one of Daiso’s largest, and sells merchandise across four levels. Tourists and locals alike flock here for a cool and unbelievable array of souvenir items to shop till you drop. I mean it. With four floors of exciting stuff to discover at a fraction of a price, you cannot go into Daiso without walking out armed with treasure finds at 100 yen each.

Daiso Harajuku by Jojie Alcantara

Daiso Harajuku Street by Jojie Alcantara

A review explains it this way: “Not only will you find what you’re looking for, but you’re also likely to find a lot more things that you never knew you needed.” Haha, exactly my sentiment.  I went home with six five-fingered black socks when I don’t even like wearing sneakers or closed shoes. 😀

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

In my hometown of Davao City, Daiso is located at the 3rd floor of Robinsons Abreeza Mall.  It is my personal shopping therapy store.

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

Takeshita Shopping Street by Jojie Alcantara

But shopping need not take you to places like malls and downtown street shops. You can find good, affordable fab finds online as well.  As I am into shirts and any comfy cotton top to wear, I like shopping online in Zalora Philippines which carries shirts from local and international brands.

Cebu Pacific Air flies from Cebu to Narita four times weekly to the capital city of Japan, utilizing the airline’s brand-new Airbus A320 fleet.  The Cebu-Narita service is operated every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, departing Cebu at 5:55am and arriving in Tokyo at 11:20am. The return flight departs Narita at 12:05pm and arrives in Cebu at 4:25pm. 

This is the airline’s 4th route between Japan and the Philippines.  CEB’s Cebu-Narita service is aimed at boosting tourist arrivals into Cebu and Tokyo, with lowest year-round fares starting at PHP7,388 with no fuel surcharges. It is the only low-cost carrier operating this route.

For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to www.cebupacificair.com.

Cool waters of Aliwagwag

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

Local kids in Cateel, Davao Oriental enjoy the cool waters of Aliwagwag Falls, its stunning cascades a poignant reminder of nature’s fragile ecosystem when it was affected by the onslaught of supertyphoon Pablo (Bopha) in 2011.

Today, it remains as majestic in its height of 338 meters with 84 cascading tiers in varying levels. It is said to be one of the highest and most uniquely beautiful waterfalls in my country, the Philippines. Left on its own to recover, the forest has thickened once again to cradle the breathtaking natural pool in its protective embrace. Good, paved road is now passable for a closer view of its chilly depths. No one can resist its lure to jump into the icy blast of clear, swirling waters.

Aliwagwag Falls has been declared by our President as the Aliwagwag Protected Landscape, a republic act that protects the mountain range and its peripheral areas as Buffer Zone, “subject to private rights, and without prejudice to the rights of indigenous peoples.”

The Province of Davao Oriental will soon open its welcoming arms to tourists and visitors as it launches its new tourism campaign.

Aliwagwag Falls before the typhoon

Sabang Beach, Puerto Princesa, Palawan © Jojie Alcantara

Dream of paradise

“Pay attention to the richness of your inner life. Daydream, imagine, and reflect. It’s the source of infinite creativity.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Thinking of where to go this summer? Dream of paradise in my beloved Philippines. Imagine a carrying a drink, a book, and some sunblock while resting on this hammock in Sabang Beach, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Sunrise in Times Beach, Davao City © Jojie Alcantara 2012

Be thankful

Sunrise in Times Beach,  Davao City  © Jojie Alcantara 2012

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn. Read More

Calm after a storm

“There is a place of perfect peace in each one of us that nothing can harm or disturb. It is waiting for you in this very moment.” ~ Christopher Foster, The Happy Seeker

Read More

Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand © Jojie Alcantara

Beautiful Kata Beach

 “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh Read More

Talikud Island by Jojie Alcantara

Listen to the rain

“It is raining and you can hear the pattern of the drops. You can hear it with your ears, or you can hear it out of that deep silence. If you hear it with complete silence of the mind, then the beauty of it is such that cannot be put into words or onto canvas, because that beauty is something beyond self-expression.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti Read More

My Recognition Award for 2013

Receiving an award of recognition from the City Mayor  © Jojie Alcantara

Receiving an award of recognition from the City Mayor © Jojie Alcantara

Thank you, Davao City Government,  Mayor Sara and Vice Mayor Rody Duterte, for this wonderful honor.  (My years of hard work — labor of love–  are finally recognized since I started as a journalist in 1994). Read More

An interview on photography and living in Davao

PHWOW :  Do you have any tips for travelers who visit Davao for the first time?

Me : Don’t hesitate to ask around. The guy beside you may have just gone through a unique Davao experience he can recommend. Read blogs. Many Davao bloggers give a lot of tips and places to discover.  Mine is www.dabawenya.net. Read More

The Decisive Moment

“Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism, on his concept of “The Decisive Moment” Read More

Jojie Alcantara in Bravo Filipino! photo exhibit, Manila 2010

My Fine Art Photography

Jojie Alcantara Fine Art Photography

Created this short version of slideshow for my blogs and online media. Just sharing a little about my passion for travel, writing and photography. The longer version is usually presented during my photo workshops. I create my own simple videos and choose certain types of music. 🙂  This was saved in Vimeo version suited for small viewing but you can click to view a larger version of this. Read More

Aliwagwag Falls © Jojie Alcantara

Aliwagwag’s hypnotic falls

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Read More

There may be a reason why you stumbled upon my page today.

Boredom is one good guess, but let’s think positive and uplifting, shall we?

Welcome to my (almost) daily blog of personal images matched with inspirational quotes. 

My photography is simple in composition, more often emotional and dramatic, but easy on the eyes.  Because of my orientation as a painter and artist, I view each capture as evocative scenes I want to brush on canvas.  The changing header you see above are snippets of my life as a photojournalist all these years. Read More

A dip into the blue abyss

This photo, since it was published many years ago, has been the most viewed and commented on in my Pbase photo gallery,  my most popular site which garners more than a thousand views per day.  Rhonson, an award winning photographer, didn’t take out his camera, but as though hypnotized, immediately went for a dive.  So I got my money shot instead (I made sure to precariously position my leg dangerously hooked onto a jutting tree trunk by a cliff, while the other leg was balancing my awkward pose).  This image has been published several times. 

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.  ~Vincent Van Gogh

Proudly located in my awesome island, this little known town of Hinatuan is blessed with a hidden treasure –a stunning blue lagoon nestled within a mountainside and protectively covered by a forest.  Its dark tinge comes from the Pacific sea pouring in from a deep underwater crevice. To local folks, it is said to be enchanted. Full of rich marine fishes swimming in the deep blue, no one is said to have ever caught one. Once you take a dip in the cool, clear waters, you don’t want to come out. Read More

Punta Dumalag at sunrise by Jojie Alcantara

Imagine, create, deliver

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.  Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarcely see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” ~William Blake Read More

The Tourist and the Beggar

Tourist and beggar, Siem Reap, Cambodia (April 2012)  © Jojie Alcantara

Read More

Of ancient ruins and eternity

“When Moses was alive, the pyramids were a thousand years old . . . Here people learned to measure time by a calendar, to plot the stars by astronomy . . .  Here they developed that most awesome of all ideas – the idea of eternity.” ~ Walter Cronkite

Currently, I am finishing an article on ten things I discovered about the Great Pyramids of Egypt, which totally altered my adolescent information storage.  These ancient ruins have been in my bucket list since forever,  and the fact that I was able to shoot them up close made me realize a lot of things, including brushing up on my knowledge on the ancient civilization.

It sucks to be sorting through overwhelming files of imagery, and getting that nagging feeling of failure to deliver the visual concept you are aiming for, due to several factors which I will relate soon as I get to finally breathe (translation: view all photos).  Just like the pyramids, it might take an eternity to organize them.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt © Jojie Alcantara

One factor would be time constraint.  I was mostly shooting from inside a moving vehicle.  In moments we got out of the tour bus, Egyptian peddlers instantly barraged tourists, and would not leave me alone in attempts of selling papyrus, wallets, keychains, and ref magnets — all of which I foolishly succumbed to, except for a ride on their camel’s back.  After all, this was Egypt, and I may never pass this way again. 🙂

Egyptian peddlers souvenirs in Giza © Jojie Alcantara

So this is me trying to get a lone and uncrowded shot with the pyramids to no avail. Apart from peddlers, camels are the next best photo bombers. 🙂

This shot of me above was taken by my travel roommate, a sweet young Filipina I first met in the airport.  For copyright security, though, my watermarks have to be made.

(All my photos are taken with mirrorless Fujifilm cameras, unless otherwise stated)

Advertisements
Jojie in the Lost City of Petra

Lost City of Petra

Petra has borne witness to the rise and fall of one civilisation after another. It is a historical and archaeological city in southern #Jordan, famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. It was described in a poem as “a rose-red city half as old as time” due to pink toned hues of its carved stones.

A narrow passageway called Siq through the mountains as entrance to Petra © Jojie Alcantara

A narrow passageway called Siq through the mountains as entrance to Petra © Jojie Alcantara

Petra is Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction, created by Nabataeans (nomadic Arabs) who established it as a major trading hub. They were gifted with amazing skills in carving structures from solid rocks and constructing efficient water systems in barren deserts. Petra lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified as the biblical Mount Hor).

Horse carriage to the entrance of the Siq © Jojie Alcantara

Horse carriage to the entrance of the Siq © Jojie Alcantara

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the fictional doctor’s quest for the Holy Grail led him to Petra. Unknown to the Western world until 1812, it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, Petra was named among the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and chosen by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.

© Jojie​ Alcantara​ 5.07.2017

First photo of me above was shot by a fellow Filipino tourist, Ryan Ong, with my camera.

Wadi Rum in Jordan

Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon)

If you think this is a scene from a Star Wars movie, there may be a little truth to it.

Wadi Rum (Arabic for Roman Valley) is also known as The Valley of the Moon, a protected area covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan. The largest wadi in Jordan is cut into the huge mountains of sandstone and granite rock which reach heights of 1700 meters in southern Jordan to the east of Aqaba. Inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, communities leave their marks in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples found in narrow canyons and fissures. These include the highly artistic Nabataeans, as well as other communities known as “monks of the desert”.

Wadi Rum Bedouins © Jojie Alcantara

Today, Bedouin tribes live among the mountains of Rum in their large goat-hair tents, and a surprising range of desert wildlife.

Wadi Rum Protected Area was declared in 2011 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its most outstanding desert landscapes, lending a surreal feel to the vast environment. This is why it has been used as a background setting for its science fiction vista like Red Planet (surface of Mars, 2000 film), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (to represent Egypt), Prometheus (an alien planet), Last Days on Mars (2013 film), and The Martian (Matt Damon’s 2015 film), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (scenes set on Jedha), among others.

Wadi Rum in Jordan © Jojie Alcantara

It first gained prominence in 1962 when the classic film Lawrence of Arabia was set on location.


Pyramids of Giza

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often though, they hurt.” ~Anthony Bourdain

Photo of me by Denmark Alejandro (Giza, Egypt, CCF Holy Land Tour 2017)

As much as I am eager to share a huge chunk of my files during a 15-day trip to the Holy Land, starting with a bucket list, Egypt and its pyramids, I am still overwhelmed in sorting out the daily activities.

Will be posting more photos of my travel in Egypt in the next blogs.  Here below, are a few of my Instagram posts of the ancient ruins so far.

Giza pyramids in black and white ©Jojie Alcantara

Giza pyramids in black and white ©Jojie Alcantara

instax in Giza

Sharing the love with tiny precious instax prints

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Juan in the Land of Sugar and Smiles

It was a cool misty dawn at 5am when I entered Francisco Bangoy International Airport with a light luggage and camera bag, off to a destination I have yet to find out.

Seriously, I have yet to know.

I have since packed my bag a tad earlier stashing stuff I may need (swimsuit for Boracay, sweater for Baguio, garlic and holy water for __ … you never know).  A few days before, I was invited by Nuffnang (a huge blog advertising community which taps bloggers and talents to brands and connects both via event opportunities) if I was interested to participate in a Juan for Fun Campaign by Cebu Pacific Air.

It was easy to accept the mystery challenge. Having covered several Juan for Fun events in the past during its Davao leg tours and awarding ceremonies, I am pleased to promote this year’s Juan for Fun Campaign and encourage a new set of young adventurers to follow the footsteps of the teams before them.  Bear with me while I do a little nostalgic flashback coupled with my latest adventure.

My column article in SunStar Davao back when Juan for Fun started in 2012 with the first batch of adventurous teams. Below is Team Big Explorers, the first overall winner.

Juan for Fun Backpackers Explore Davao (by Jojie Alcantara, SunStar Davao)

Arriving dawn (I was asked to be there at 5am for further instructions) at the Davao airport, I approached the check in counter, and the young lady behind gave me a bright smile. She promptly fished out an adventure passport and yellow banner with the now familiar Juan for Fun logo.

Juan for Fun Challenge 2017 © Jojie Alcantara

Juan for Fun Challenge 2017 © Jojie Alcantara

Just barely a couple of hours before I was set to depart for that “secret destination”, I received an email of my ticket, that I was to depart for Bacolod City.

A mixture of excitement and familiarity sets in, coupled by a relief that I did not need to check on Mr. Google for added information.  Plus, I have just concluded a trip to Sipalay a week before, and this beautiful destination is five hours away from Bacolod City by land.  I was coming back so soon.

Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental © Jojie Alcantara

While part of the excitement fizzled out since I have been to Bacolod several times and was on board the inaugural flight of Cebu Pacific’s Davao-Bacolod destination a few years back, I was looking forward to the journey with a fresh perspective in my mind, the way a young Juan for Fun Backpacker contestant would have eagerly took all in.

For me and my fellow bloggers who were scattered around Cebu Pacific’s local key destinations, the object was to enjoy while exploring the city with fun, simple challenges to do.

Today, Bacolod Silay International Airport serves the general area of Metro Bacolod, in the Negros Island Region of the Philippines.

Reliving the excitement on my mind, I remembered the first time I landed in the old Bacolod Airport, where the short runway leaves so much to the imagination; you cringe as you look out of the plane and see a view of the sea …. and nothing else.  The runway was so short that touchdown looked as if we were hitting the ocean.  That was way back in 2007.

My travel article on Bacolod City during Cebu Pacific’s inaugural flight of Davao-Bacolod in 2014. Cebu Pacific Airlines celebrated another milestone as it launched its direct flights between Davao and Bacolod in January 2014, linking Bacolod to another key Mindanao destination.

So what is there to see in the famed City of Sugar and Smiles, a key city destination in Visayas most especially during peak season where tourists flock to the world renowned Masskara Festival, a photographer’s paradise for me?

First stop was to check in at a travel budget hotel and my first choice was Go Hotels for its accessibility to downtown areas and its adjoining Robinsons Mall.  I took my first lunch there.

My short trip of 3 days and 2 nights around Bacolod City did not give me ample time to revisit neighboring cities of Talisay and Silay, but instead I went around the capital and gateway to the Province of Negros Occidental on several transportations from private car, taxi, jeep and the old reliable tricycle. Part of the fun challenge in the passport was to ride in four different public transportations (check, except the stationary train).

Riding the jeepney front seat!

Me riding the tricycle

Too bad this isn’t moving.

The land of vast sugarcane plantations has seen its peak in the early years, and the once lucrative sugar industry has now given way to other profitable industries that include handicraft exports, furniture, metalworks, arts and crafts, garments, bangus and prawn culture, and more.

Barangay Pahanocoy Pottery Livelihood © Jojie Alcantara

In Barangay Pahanocoy, which is in the southern part of Bacolod City, to this day potteries still remain to be a main source of livelihood. Along the road your eyes feast on rows and rows of colorfully displayed decorative clay products in artistic variations on the sidewalks for visual impact.

Pottery is cool in Pahanocoy © Jojie Alcantara

Barangay Pahanocoy Pottery Livelihood © Jojie Alcantara

Now a booming metropolis and center of trade, commerce and industry, Bacolod continues to lure investors and tourists in for its convention facilities, heritage tours, culinary delights and ecotourism adventures.  For pasalubongs, you can buy quality items in Negros Showroom which is a showcase of the best artisan products the region offers.

Association of Negros Producers (ANP) Negros Showroom in Bacolod © Jojie Alcantara

Declared a “Center of Excellence” by the DOST-Information and Communications Technology Office and the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Bacolod joined the ranks of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Clark, and elevating itself as a top information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) destination.

Bacolod was also consistently in the list of the “Top 10 Next Wave Cities” in the country, offering business opportunities to investors as well as comprehensive amenities for MICE events (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).  This year, it has been ranked number one among the 10 best urban areas to live in the Philippines  by the web-based social networking group “The Conyo Times” (my beloved Davao landed second).

Bacolod has just successfully hosted one of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 2017 (ASEAN) meetings.

Bacolod City Plaza and Gazebo © Jojie Alcantara

A sampling of a good city tour if one has the time and leisure must have the following itinerary:  the Bacolod New Government Center and Lagoon; the century-old baroque San Sebastian Cathedral built in 1876 showcasing our Spanish culture; and the Bacolod City Public Plaza with its bandstand and gazebo constructed in 1927 to provide recreation and cultural activities, and now used for the annual Masskara Festival street dancing competition.

San Sebastian Cathedral © Jojie Alcantara

The Blessed Pope Paul II Tower was built with the statue of Pope John Paul II when he came to the Philippines on February 20, 1981 and delivered a message in Bacolod.

Blessed Pope Paul II Tower © Jojie Alcantara

Blessed Pope Paul II Tower © Jojie Alcantara

If you go for heritage tours, the historical landmarks include several well-preserved mansions that give you an idea of how the upper-middle class lived in the 50s, like the Dizon-Ramos mansion turned museum, Balay Negrense, and even the offbeat Familia Luzuriaga Cemetery which landed in the Guinness and noted by Ripley’s, hailed as the “only cemetery in the world at the intersection of two highways”.  If you are romantic, go for The Ruins in nearby Talisay and learn of the love story.

The Ruins, Talisay © Jojie Alcantara

However, in Bacolod, FOOD is always a top showcase.  And if in the name of photojournalism I need to document every food place in town…. THEN I MUST.

Good food can be tasted anywhere, from its famous chicken “inasal”, sweet pastries in Calea, delicious dining in Aboy’s, long time Bar 21, organic meals in Fresh Start, or the popular food strip in Manokan Country.  With this food challenge, I should be the winner since I must have eaten A LOT.

Batchoy in Bar 21 © Jojie Alcantara

Inasal in Manokan Country © Jojie Alcantara

Inasal in Manokan Country © Jojie Alcantara

Fun of eating alone in a crowded resto

Now this challenge “GO FOR A SWIM” is a bit tricky.  If I had the time and length of stay, I would have gone to Mambukal Resort, or ride the 5 hour trip back to Sipalay’s sugary coastline.

Instead I visited the New Government Center.  It has a huge lagoon, and if the full moon was out and I was half crazier than I already was, I would take a dip in it to accept the challenge.

Bacolod New Government Center and Lagoon © Jojie Alcantara

FINALLY, to cap off the last challenge, an exciting one for a photographer is to go look for that sunset capture. Normally we shun the postcard shots, the ones that are often taken in the most familiar landmarks. Barangay Punta Taytay is a coastal barangay situated in the southernmost part of the city, a fishing village with a nice shoreline and a quiet thriving community.

With patience borne out of it being the last day of my solo relaxing trip, I waded in the low tide, ruined my shoes and pants, to wait for the sun to peek out of dense clouds, even just for a teeny bit.

Just below the misty rays which obliged for a few magical seconds, my subjects were all in place as if on cue:  two women and one child, picking shells. I didn’t dare approach them lest the sun gives a peekaboo when I wasn’t looking.  When it finally did, I took my happy shot then I was ready to go back home.

Punta Taytay sunset © Jojie Alcantara

The Bacolod-Silay International Airport is an hour away from the capital city.  From Bacolod, Cebu Pacific operates flights to Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao. Davao-Bacolod flight runs on a thrice weekly service, utilizing an Airbus A320 aircraft with a lowest year-round cost.  Cebu Pacific allows every Juan to enjoy the inter-island routes in a quicker and most affordable way, thereby boosting tourism in every local destination they serve.

The Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge is now on its 6th year. Last year, the annual Juan-of-a-Kind competition pitted 5 chosen teams of 3 college students or fresh graduates against one another in a spirit of camaraderie and bonding across several islands. The student teams got to travel for free, choose their fun activities on a budget and with the help of adventure coaches, were only to find out their destinations during the sendoff ceremony!

Take note, last year’s grand prize was a travel-all-you-can pass to any Cebu Pacific domestic or international (short-haul) destination!

The previous awarding ceremonies I have attended in the Davao leg

For my students in various photojournalism workshops I have conducted in several universities, I encourage you to join the Juan For Fun Challenge 2017.  Send your auditions as a team now, and let your mind be broadened by the sights and sounds and cultural experiences here and abroad.  If you’re between 17 and 22 years old, and are a currently enrolled student or fresh graduate, join Juan for Fun now! Believe me, it is worth the EXPERIENCE and ADVENTURE.

How to join: (link to source)

  • College students or fresh graduates aged 18-23 years old can join, form a team of 3, could be from different colleges / universities
  • Each member of the winning team will receive a 1 year travel-all-you-can pass
  • Application period is from April 5 to May 15, 2017 (11:59 Ph time)
  • For more details, visit and follow our official Facebook pages
  • Juan for Fun www.facebook.com/CebuPacificJFF or  Cebu Pacific www.facebook.com/CebuPacificAir.
  • Follow Twitter and Instagram accounts @cebupacificair to learn more and score promos

 

Mission accomplished!  Special thanks to Cebu Pacific Air and Nuffnang for the #JuanForFun2017 adventure. * *

* * (Jojie Alcantara is a long time columnist, travel photojournalist, blogger, and social media influencer based in Davao City, on personal quests to promote the beauty of Mindanao and her country. Visit her adventures in http://www.pbase.com/jojie_alcantara and http://www.kodakerdabawenya.com)

Secret destinations

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber

If you were given a bucket list destination anywhere in the Philippines, and will fly tomorrow in a heartbeat… where would you want to go?  🙂

Finding serenity

“Life is like the ocean. Waves will try to knock you down and push you back to where you started but once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours.”

Fisherman in Bankerohan River © Jojie Alcantara, 2017

Malipano

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt

Malipano Island in Fine Art Black and White Infrared Photography
© Jojie Alcantara, 2017 (Fuji XA3)

Aerial photography of Davao by chopper © Jojie Alcantara

Above the skies

Aerial photography of Davao from a chopper © Jojie Alcantara

“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

When I was actively doing aerial photography for establishments, it was normal to hire a pilot, a plane or chopper, and a photographer by the hour to shoot a good view from the top.

With technology in the upswing, the traditional aerial photographers are slowly being taken over by drones, where you can spend less in manpower, fuel cost, and a licensed pilot. Plus you get the results straight away in stills and video.

Drones are able to capture panoramic scenes at a lower altitude where vehicles like a helicopter or a Cessna could not. I could not even ask the pilot to turn back repeatedly, so every shot was calculated and anticipated. Failure to shoot well was a costly mistake.

While we now invest in these new high tech gears, and eventually I need to master the intricacies of maneuvering the small craft, there is nothing like the old ways of capturing images from my own eyes, to feel the wind in my hair, to take a risk at the changing weather, and to rise above the skies and feel immortal for a moment.

Crater view of Mayon by chopper © Jojie Alcantara

Crater view of Mayon by chopper © Jojie Alcantara

Without boarding a chopper, I would not have seen the fuming ashes spewing up close from the mouth of the crater of Mayon Volcano during an alert level, nor would I have witnessed a spectacular view of the rainbow on the other side of the crater, back in 2010.

Aerial photography of Mount Mayon by chopper |  Photo of me taken by Rubi de Vera

Aerial photography of Mount Mayon by chopper | Photo of me taken by Rubi de Vera

By then, my image on the cover of Mabuhay Magazine would have been captured by a mechanical gadget, and not by dear old me hanging on for dear life in an open aircraft, dangerously inhaling deadly fumes.

This year alone I rode in a chopper three times over Davao region (see top photo and below). Will post more aerial shots in my next blogs.

Aerial photography of Davao by chopper © Jojie Alcantara

Aerial photography of Davao by chopper © Jojie Alcantara

Siem Reap, Cambodia © Jojie Alcantara

Stay in the moment

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” ― Gautama Buddha

I have a pet peeve in life.  I truly dislike it when I talk to people and they are busy with their cellphones, or excusing themselves to reply on their gadgets, or furiously texting back on their mobile units with fast flying fingers while talking to me.  When I am in the middle of a serious conversation, and my phone is ringing, I simply ignore it or turn it off, and quietly finish the talk first.

Unless it is the Dalai Lama.  Or the President of my country.  No, seriously because I once worked for him. The President, not the Dalai Lama.

Each day I meet people who are multi tasking unhealthily as they move around … texting while driving, texting while eating or talking, texting while watching a movie, texting while watching their kids’ program in school.

texting-family-photo-gn

In doing so, they forget to live in the moment.  They forget to appreciate what is happening in front of them, in anticipation of the future events.  They google, surf, check, chat… struggling to be one step ahead, concentrating on a virtual reality, and avoiding a reality check.

And if they don’t worry about the future, they darn dwell so much in the past, often unforgiving.  No in betweens. With all the rapidly burgeoning high technology around us, only a small percentage of humanity today is left living in the NOW, and appreciating life as it unfolds, willing to let bygones be.  Everybody seems to carry excess emotional baggages which they dump online (hugot).

“Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it robs you of truly living.” ~ Joshua Baker

Millenials of today panic when there is no wifi signal, as if the world forgets them if they disengage with the wire for a moment. There is simply no time for zen moments in a garden or a quiet walk by the beach, because today zen is another state of being.  It is surfing as a lurker, and getting momentary pleasure to be voyeurs to others’ lives.  We all have opinions on how others must live, while our own are on standby every time we open our communication gadgets.

text-prob

I mean, I have bought tons of notebooks and pens, and the pages today are still blank. Flashback to twenty years ago, my pages used to be covered with poetry, short stories, doodles and comic sketches. No wonder calligraphy and zen doodling have made a comeback.  They are trying to teach you how to use your fingers again apart from pounding on keys.  (I did calligraphy since high school but never thought it would be a trend today).

writing in calligraphy letter form

writing in calligraphy letter form

Though I miss my good old past where I can hear the rustle of pages as I turn each leaf of a book, or mail my letters in a postal office and wait for a reply to come back a week after, communication today has enormous progress, and reading materials are immediately updated and available online.  With the rapid response though, comes a scary thought for reckless people … an honest mistake, a false accusation can go viral and in a snap destroys a reputation and honor.

What a sad, sad thought to dwell when we are so busy thinking one step ahead, that we simply forget to appreciate where we are and who we are with at the moment.  Family and pets are vying for attention, but you are currently caught up in the viral Snapchat of the day, or the latest political meme.

texting-gif

We do not need to catch up with technology.  We need to tune in to our emotional well-being and seize the day (carpe diem).  What is that updated term again?  YOLO, the younger generation declares, for You Only Live Once.  Once cute and trendy, now they find it annoying and banned in a list of overused slang by teens making excuses.

yolomeans

source : internet

Before I end my lengthy piece of mind, here is a nice article to share from Joshua Baker’s 10 Tips to Start Living in the Present.  It may just help you get off to a good minimalist start in your journey.

Furthermore, here’s another piece of advice to share from the net where I spend 24/7 of my time scouring for inspirational tips on how to live life inspirationally (irony alert).  Read  Top 10 Instant Moments of Zen and look for something moving to uplift your spirits today.

And if there is a way to avoid anxiety attacks on information overload the minute you go online… I really don’t know. Sigh. Why don’t you google it.

Photo above :  Monk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia © Jojie Alcantara

dalai-lama

Manila Bay at sunset © Jojie Alcantara

Silhouettes at sunset

“Someday you will find the one who will watch every sunrise with you until the sunset of your life.” – Unknown

While I love capturing sunset because of its golden glow and fiery red tones at fortunate times, like this moment I was lucky to capture, there are moments when I go for black and white photography because I find the silhouettes of subjects more dramatic than the skies.

People have a way of calming down and just chillin’ while admiring a work of art by Mother Nature.

Manila Bay at sunset, Philippines © Jojie Alcantara, 2010

Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara

Reach high, dream deep

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” ~ Pamela Vaull Starr

A message for aspiring kids who are dreaming of their goals. Anything is possible when your dreams are within reach.

Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara, 2015

Tojoman Lagoon, Sohoton © Jojie Alcantara

Entrance to the Jellyfish Lake

“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”― Thich Nhat Hanh, “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life”

Tojoman Lagoon is nestled within the Sohoton Cove National Park, protected by verdant hills and underwater cave systems. This is situated in Bucas Grande Islands of Socorro in Surigao del Norte, a fast rising tourist destination and exciting foray for adventure seekers.  The Tojoman Lagoon is also home to the stingless jellyfish in Sohoton.

On this occasion, the jellyfish was in seasonal migration, so we saw less of the species. But the place is very serene, and allows you to embrace the profound calmness in awe. A visit to Bucas Grande Islands is a must on your bucket list.

Special thanks to the Department of Tourism Caraga Region for the invitation and wonderful experience in 2015.

jojiesig

Tojoman Lagoon (Jellyfish Lake) in Sohoton

The view above is from the Tojoman Lagoon within the Sohoton Cove National Park. This is situated in Bucas Grande Islands of Socorro in Surigao del Norte, a fast rising tourist destination and exciting foray for adventure seekers.  The Tojoman Lagoon is also home to the stingless jellyfish in Sohoton.

The stingless jellyfish is a wonderful phenomenon. Because of their enclosure and isolation from the open sea, they have evolved into a harmless species trapped within a lake devoid of predators.  The protected habitat allows them to feed on the algae within the lake, existing and reproducing in peace, without interference from outside forces.

A group of jellyfish is called a smack. Other common collective names for these creatures include “bloom” and “swarm. (trivia)

Tojoman Lagoon, Sohoton © Jojie Alcantara

Tojoman Lagoon, Sohoton © Jojie Alcantara

However, as humans slowly creep into this fragile ecosystem, the situation may change soon. Even when strict tourism rules state that you cannot swim in the lake (lotions, sunblock will harm them), or carry them (they easily wither out of water), eager tourists will naturally want to commune with these gelatinous beauties without being stung lethally.

I have been to three such delicate marine locations. The first one was the famous Jellyfish Lake in Eil Malk in the Republic of Palau, Micronesia.  It became a bucket list must have to most adventure seekers.  I did not swim with the swarm at that time because tourists were already lining up, noisily waiting for their turn on a platform facing the calm enclosed lake.  This was in 2006, and I have read that the millions of jellyfish existing there have since slowly dwindled down today.

Jellyfish Lake Palau © Jojie Alcantara

Jellyfish Lake Palau © Jojie Alcantara

Please excuse the photos, they were from my disposable film camera.  🙂

Jellyfish Lake Palau © Jojie Alcantara

Jellyfish Lake Palau © Jojie Alcantara

The second I’ve been to was in the less explored Libtong Cove in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur back in 2014. At that time though, the lake was very calm, lacking the shiny creatures who were on its seasonal migration pattern elsewhere, so said the boatman.

Libtong Cove, Cantilan © Jojie Alcantara

Libtong Cove, Cantilan © Jojie Alcantara

Third time around was better in Sohoton Cove last year (2015), as we were able to see different species of jellyfish in various shapes, sizes and textures.  So I guess I must backtrack and revise my old published articles that Palau has the only non-stinging jellyfish in existence.  Philippines and Indonesia have them, too.

Jellyfish don’t have brains. There’s not much to a jellyfish. They’re composed of three layers: an outer layer called the epidermis; a thick, elastic layer made of a jelly-like substance called mesoglea; and an inner layer called the gastrodermis. (trivia)

Sohoton National Park © Jojie Alcantara

Sohoton National Park © Jojie Alcantara

If you are interested in visiting Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove National Park in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, you may visit Bucas Grande Island Travel and Tours  as they have nice comprehensive packages and accurate directions on how to reach the destination.

I cannot provide exact rates as I was invited by the Department of Tourism Caraga Region.  Special thanks to the office and team for this wonderful experience in 2015.

Will be writing more about the Sohoton Cove adventures in another post.

Tayangban Cave Pool, Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara

Tayangban Natural Cave Pool

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.  There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” —Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Tayangban natural cave pool
Barangay Datu, Pilar, Siargao Island © Jojie Alcantara

 

General Luna in Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara

General Luna, Siargao

“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me:
If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures,
life and living need not be so hard.”  ― Psyche Roxas-Mendoza

General Luna, Siargao Islands, Surigao del Norte © Jojie Alcantara [ FujiXA2 ]

September and October are the months when most tourists flock to Siargao Islands for an international surfing competition boasting of huge prize money and giving world-class surfers the chance to show off and tackle the island’s renowned hollow swells rolling in from the Pacific Ocean at 1.5-2m tubing waves.

On the other hand, non-surfers and beach bums can enjoy the serenity of a calm beach vista like the one above. Simply being in Siargao is worth the long trip by land, ferry or small plane.

The Philippines’ Surfing Capital once again shines out this coming Sept. 24-29 as it prepares to host the 22nd Annual Siargao Surfing Cup at Cloud 9, General Luna, Siargao Islands. Below was taken in last year’s competition (2015).

Cloud Nine, General Luna, Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara 2015 [ FujiXA2 ]

Cloud Nine, General Luna, Siargao Islands © Jojie Alcantara 2015 [ FujiXA2 ]

Siargao Islands ‘Cloud 9’ is a powerful hollow right-hander that has elevated the country among wave seekers as having one of the best waves in the world comparable to the popular surfs of Hawaii and Indonesia.

Siargao's Cloud Nine © Jojie Alcantara 2011

Siargao’s Cloud Nine © Jojie Alcantara 2011

Cloud Nine back in 2011 was pounding awesome gigantic waves, though. I had a great time capturing them.

More photos in Cloud Nine, Siargao by Jojie Alcantara

Sunrise, Davao City © Jojie Alcantara

Rise, shine, repeat

“It was sunsets that taught me that beauty sometimes only lasts for a couple of moments, and it was sunrise that showed me that all it takes is patience to experience it all over again…” – a.j. lawless

Read More

Kids running in the corridor © Jojie Alcantara

When kids stay positive

Kids running in the corridor © Jojie Alcantara

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.” ― Marianne Williamson

Whenever we feel the usual blues (it is seasonal and hormonal for me) and just about every little thing lets us down, emulate the little children. They do not have a memory bank of anxieties and disappointments yet.

They charge into a dark unknown with a fearlessness, optimism and youthful spirit you would want to bring with you into adulthood…if only you can recall how you once were.

signature new small 2a

Footprints

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” ~ unkown

Skimboarder at sunrise in Dahican Beach
Mati, Davao Oriental
© Jojie Alcantara | Fuji XA2 | 10-24m

Follow the sun

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.” — Sandy Gingras, Writer

The Amihan Team is composed of future power skimboarders in Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental. They are trained and disciplined by Jun “Bochok” Plaza, the founder of the original Amihan Boys who brought fame into the little town of Mati (my birthplace).  This moment was their early morning practice, and it was a bit chilly.

© Jojie Alcantara [ Feb. 7, 2016  |  Fuji XA2+23mm ]

Waiting for the next wave

“Life is a lot like surfing… When you get caught in the impact zone, you’ve got to just get back up. Because you never know what may be over the next wave.” ― Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

The new young batch of Amihan Team is composed of future power skimboarders in Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental. They are still trained and disciplined by Jun “Bochok” Plaza, the founder of the original Amihan Boys who have grown up and moved on to find work and life elsewhere.  I had fun taking photos with the young ones during their early morning practice.  Though I didn’t camp for the night, I arrived on a chilly break of dawn to wait for these kids.

© Jojie Alcantara [ Feb. 7, 2016  |  Fuji XA2+23mm ]

Read more on my published article here:

New-Breed-of-Amihan-Team-by-Jojie-Alcantara