Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Flight of Clark's Hot Air Balloon

"Let my prayer rise to you like incense, and my hands lifted up as in an evening sacrifice."
Psalm 141:2

The first take home work I had for my photography class was to produce a photo that is Raw - meaning it is unedited. A pure product me and my new buddy - My Camera.

It was 2010 - the 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta was coming up. I decided that it will be my subject for the take home work.

It was all in all successful. I had nice shots. Sadly, that time, I only took photos behind the fence, away from where the real thing happens.

This 2011, I had the priviledge to go beyond the fence. Thanks to my good friend William Uy of JAC Motors.

I went on the first day of the event for the 2010 and 2011 Fiesta.

Woke up around 3 in the morning to go to the Hangar. Above: Flag raising (or rather Flag falling) for the opening ceremony last 2010. Below: There was no Flag falling from the sky time (2011). The event started late by the way.

Since it was my second time, I was already aware of the traditions of balloon festivals. The Hare and the Hound. First to take flight among the balloons is the Hare. As soon as it is on its flight, the rest or the Hounds will start getting ready to take off. From left to right: The photo that I submitted for our take home work. It is the Hare that landed back on the Hangar at Dusk last 15th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (left photo). As I've said the event started late on the 16th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, so the Hare was lit up late as well (center photo). The Hare is all set to lead the rest of the Hounds iinto flight (right photo).

The hare is ready to go up in the perfect sky.

Hounds getting ready to take flight.

The balloons of the 15th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

The balloons of the 16th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

This balloon has caught my attention. I was able to take pictures of it from behind the fence the previous Fiesta.

This year, I think this was my favorite model. I took more photos of this modelesque balloon more than the others.

These balloons are just wating for the 15minute mark of the Hare. The Hounds may only take flight 15 minutes after the Hare has took off.

There goes the balloons but my model is still getting ready.

Finally, my model is up, up, and on its way. How I wish I was on that same balloon on this beautiful morning sky. 

Last Fiesta, on my way back to my hotel to grab a quick nap, I chanced upon a balloon landing just a few meters outside the Hangar. This was a great oppurtunity to appreciate the chase crew of each balloons.

The amazing Paragliding afternoon exhibition for the 15th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

The 16th Fiesta, while the audience wait for the hounds to take off, the Paragliders showed off their skills and talent. 

In the afternoon of the 15th Fiesta, I went back hoping to get great shots at dawn. I was lucky enough. The balloon on the side has just landed back. while the audience are waiting for the other balloons to land back, Paragliders kept the audience attention on the sky.

I did not stay until the afternoon last 16th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It was so hot and humid. Also, the program was just the same. Nothing new to look forward to. However, this year was different for me. I was able to go beyond the fence and be up close and personal with the models...err...the balloons.

Again, I'd like to give thanks to my classmate in photography, William Uy, and likewise to my grade school classmate Homer Llaguno for Nikon telephoto lens I borrowed last 2010 for the fiesta.

Target for the 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:
Take RAW photos to be submited for the photography class. - DONE!

Target for the 16th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:
Go beyond the fence. Be up close and personal with the balloons. - DONE!

Target for the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:
Ride the balloon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Electrifying Pagudpud Seas and Heavens

"Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord. You heavens, bless the Lord. All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord. Praise and exalt him above all forever."

Daniel 3:57,60

Laoag is about 80 kilometers away from Vigan according to my 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading. It would take 1 1/2 hours to reach Laoag by bus and 3 more hours to reach Pah-Good-Pood.

We left Vigan before lunch and arrived at Laoag after lunch. Left Laoag after lunch (without eating lunch); arrived Pagudpud mid afternoon. Makes sense right?

Well it was 3 years ago, you cannot blame me if I don't remember the time. As long as I was able to remember the experience and the feeling when I was there, then that's good enough.

Bangui Windmills. Considered as the giant of the north. This is the first ever "Wind Farm" in the Philippines. It renews energy sources and helps reduce greenhouse gases.

Bantay Abot Cave. Means a mountain with a hole. It was my first time to go up on a cave and I never knew it was possible.

View from Bantay Abot Cave. I was actually afraid to go up the cave because of the slippery rocks plus the waves from the South China Sea.

Nacatnagan Cliff. Nothing really special about it. You can just see the picturesque Blue Lagoon from here. I told you nothing really special.

The Blue Lagoon. A U-shaped beach with blue calm waters. Great for swimming unlike in the wavy Saud beach.

Kapuluan Vista Resort. This photo is taken from the inside of the resort. The said resort is one of the most beautiful in Pagudpud. I just don't know if there are others huh.

Patapat Viaduct. An elevated highway connecting Maharlika Highway and Cagayan Valley Region. You can sing "a long and winding road" while passing through.

Kabigan Falls. To reach it, you have to pray one full cycle of the rosary. In short, you will reach it within 30 minutes by walking.

This is a view from my window one afternoon.

Saud Beach. The most popular beach in Pagudpud.

Laoag Museum. The museum itself is a must see. Not only will you be fascinated what's in it, you will be amazed to see that it was a restored Tabacalera warehouse. The picture above shows what the Filipinos have in their closet then.

This was common in our household back from where I belong. I still remember blowing through a big straw-like wood which acts as a bellows. Now my age is revealed. 

St. Williams Church in Laoag. While waiting for our flight, we still had a few more hours to tour the city hurriedly.

Inside the St. Williams Church.

The sinking bell tower of Laoag. Can you tell me which one is it?

This is where my Ilocos tour ended. I was able to survive this tour with my good old yet reliable digicam, my one liter backpack, my appetite for the great food and adventure!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vigan by the Numbers

"I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food." 
                                                                                                                                          Gen 1:29

1. Year I went to Vigan: 2008

2. Cameras I bought:
          DLSR - 0
          DigiCam - 1

3. Number of hours going to Vigan: 5

4. Number of times I thought of taking down the bus curtain to make it as a blanket: 10

5. Temperature in the bus according to my own calculation: below 0 degrees

UNESCO Site Heritage - Calle Crisologo

St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. Simply known as Vigan Cathedral.

Vigan Cathedral's Bell tower.

Placio de Arzobispado Nueva Segovia. One of the oldest and biggest Archbishop residences.

6. Number of times I prayed to finally reach Vigan: 7

7. Total number of "Pretend" sleep I had in the bus because of the cold aircon: 13

8. Much awaited stop overs: 3

9. Minutes we spent looking for a place to stay at 3:00 in the morning: 30

10. Number of rooms I checked at Cordillera Inn: 2

Bantay bell tower.

Names of fools are written on the bells.

A replica of the famous Spolarium at the Syquia-Quirino Mansion.
One of the most striking historical photos hanged on the Syquia-Quirino Mansion.

11. Hours of sleep I had before touring the city: 4

12. Number of Calesa we saw before deciding to tour the city in Calesa: 1

13. Number of hours we toured the City: 5

14. Places we visited during the tour: 8
       St. Paul Cathedral
       St. Augustine Bell Tower
       Mansion Syquia
       Crisologo Museum
       Pagburnayan Pottery
       Hidden Garden
       Villa Angela

15. Number of Vigan specialties I ate: 6
       Vigan Longanissa
       Lumo lumo

Burnays or more popular as Pottery.

The Secret Garden "daw".

It was called the Hidden Secret Garden....But hey I found it!

Singson's Baluarte.

16. Number of times I ate bagnet during this trip: 4

17. Number of times we ate at Cafe Leona: 2

18. Number of times we ate at Cafe Uno: 1

19. Number of times I burped and it smelled like longanisa: 5

20. Number eatery we asked if they served Lumo lumo: 5

The Famous Villa Angela. This is where Tom Cruise and Piolo Pascual stayed during their visit in Vigan. - not together though. hehe

Filipinized Mc Donald's - it's about time!

21. Number of eatery that served Lumo lumo: 0

22. Days and nights we spent at Vigan: 2 days, 2 nights

23. Number of Celebrity look-a-like I saw: 1. Our calesa driver looks like Pacman.

24. Number of time I thanked Vigan Government: 2 
1. For keeping the old Spanish style especially in Crisologo St.
2. For not allowing Mc. Donald's westernize the Vigan look.

25. Number of times I was thankful to God because of the beautiful place like Vigan and because of the food: Countless.

I'd like to reiterate that I only used my reliable DigiCam on this trip. It resulted to a photo shooting and not photo making. In short "Awanti Load!"