Thirty one thousand seven hundred and four photographs, one blue and three black cameras, two unlined journals filled with spidery writings, a couple of retired walking sandals, fifty eight days of traveling on twenty four locations outside the metro, a week outside the country and a pair of very sore feet through a blur of churches, restaurants, hotels, streets, people, resorts, beaches, underwater escapades, tacky shirts, ref magnets, Starbucks mugs, sunrises and sunsets; allow me to recount a year's worth of walking through the Philippines.
This is actually the first time that I'd be doing an annual summary, begging off doing one last year since I was still working on two months worth of travel backlog and wanted to finish everything off before proceeding with it. As with photography, I realized too late that backlogs are part and parcel of travel writing .
So with half a year worth of backlogs, allow me to finally do a summary before the year ends in a few hours time.
J A N U A R Y
The City of Pines was the first destination of the year, Baguio is an annual thing for us and we’ve always made it a point to visit it at its coldest months. The middle of January found me accompanying an old friend from Ireland through the rushing waters of Wawa Dam in Rizal and the final days of the month was spent on a misadventure searching for migratory birds in Pampanga's Candaba Swamp.
F E B R U A R Y
Red dancing dragons, firecrackers and Chinese dimsums greeted me in February as I made my way through the alleys of Binondo. Missing Baguio, a weekend getaway with office friends to Tagaytay was worked out in the middle of the month. Massive fireworks at the Mall of Asia closed February with a bang as I somehow managed to sneak a media ID for the year's Philippine International Pyromusical Competition.
M A R C H
March was pretty slow after the first two months of the year. I rediscovered farm life after being invited by a friend from Bulacan, which was the only out of town trip for the month. Only notable happenings were Earth Hour, which we always participate in, and a discovery of a awesomely tunneled Starbucks branch in Intramuros.
A P R I L
The humdrum of the previous month was broken with a daytrip to Batangas followed by a nine-day journey south of Luzon. I set foot on the mountainous island of Romblon, got stuck in Marinduque just in time for the Moriones Festival, splashed through the islands of Caramoan, stepped on the foot of the majestic Mayon and visited the churches of Naga. To round off the busy month, I organized a tour of the old world town of Taal in Batangas with friends.
M A Y
May found me back in Tagaytay for a relaxing weekend. The peace and quiet was temporary though and I was soon on a bus to the north visiting massive old churches through Ilocos Norte and Sur*. The northern tour was capped with a two-day solo walking jaunt at Vigan*. Braving typhoon Chedeng, another trip with office friends found us at the rough coasts of Baler.
J U N E
The sixth month of the year turned up a blank. I can't believe I did not leave Manila for a month
J U L Y
The second half of the year starts the airplane months. After booking months in advance, we had our stomachs filled with sweets from the university city of Dumaguete* and hopped to the mysterious island of Siquijor* for some fun under the sun.
A U G U S T
After years of dreaming, I finally caught up with Batanes!* The airfare was slashed in half but still took hurt our not so deep pockets. The rolling hills, towering lighthouses, friendly people and awesome awesome landscapes were all worth every peso we spent.
S E P T E M B E R
Tarsiers greeted me on my birthmonth. Two touring days in Bohol and another two spent on the beach of Panglao* convinced us that we should return to this paradise in the near future. This was also where I found that I was chosen as a finalist for a European photo assignment which brought me to Intramuros* for a two-day photo shootout a few days later with five of the best travel photographers in the country.
O C T O B E R
The tenth month of the year should have found me in Cebu but had to opt out for a chance to tour the Netherlands after winning the DPP-KLM sponsored On Assignment to Europe. It was my first time to go out of the country and words are not enough to describe the week-long adventure I had over Holland. I also had a chance to revisit Puerto Princesa* after two years, the original plan was to check out El Nido, but was scrapped due to financial constraints.
N O V E M B E R
A revisit to Iloilo and Guimaras* was another trip that was almost scratched off my calendar after schedule conflicts at work but was fortunately salvaged back to life. This was a no-tour four-day as-lazy-as-we-can-be laid back trip spent on the shores of Guimaras’ Villa Igang.
D E C E M B E R
With no scheduled trips, I took the time to explore some of the metro spots, looking particularly for colorful Christmas themed locales. The highlight of the month was a Simbang Gabi shoot at Quiapo Church which had been eluding my camera for years already.
2011 has been such a blessed year and I'm really thankful to God for all the graces that had been showered upon me and my family and friends for the unyielding support they’ve always given.
The year started with a nod from Living Asia Channel's Snapshot Asia photo contest. Then a landslide was set off after bagging the first prize for the DPP-KLM On Assignment: Europe that sent me on a seven-day journey across The Netherlands. A consolation win at the 2011 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk followed with another one from the Annual Canon Photomarathon quickly after. I received six nominations from the Philippine Blog Awards in December and won the Luzon Travel and Photoblog categories. That same month found my photos from Holland showcased along the halls of RCBC plaza via KLM’s Capturing Dreams photo exhibit and my Intramuros images in Digital Photography Philippines and Lonely Planet magazines. The year was capped with a chance to travel across Northern Luzon for nine days as I was unexpectedly picked to join the third Lakbay Norte on January of the coming year.
2011 was one heck of a year, I had never travelled as far and as long and I am unsure if I can top it off in the coming year. But really, I’m not the kind that wants to overdo ones self for the sake of saying I outdid myself. I’m happy and content to just be able to travel and share my stories and images with my readers; to be appreciated for my efforts is a more than enough bonus. So with that, let’s all pack our bags and I’ll see you guys next year! :)
* Unpublished Backlogs :P