Travelers all over the world abide by a single mantra; travel light.
While I try to follow these two words most of the time, it’s not always possible. Consider my case; I’m already a camera enthusiast even before being hooked to traveling. Bringing one compact camera on a trip is like diving without gear.
Or so I thought.
Lights trail right outside my bus window as it sped towards Zambales. It was the last few days of the year and I was visiting a good friend in the town of Cabangan, spending some days in her hometown before ending the year back in Manila.
Cabangan is a laid back town in the middle of Zambales. While the province is flocked by tourists for its weekend coves in Anawangin and Nagsasa, Cabangan has almost zero tourists. Well, except maybe for me and a few lost travelers looking for a place to get away from the holiday crowd.
The town is mostly made up of farmlands, but head towards its western side and the sea will greet you with its massive waves. It’s the perfect location to take both pastoral scenes and landscape photographs. But with this trip, I decided to finally make good on that travel mantra.
I will travel light.
Armed with only a single camera, or make that a phone camera, I braved going on a trip without my backbreaking camera bag. That said camera bag, storing three camera bodies and two extra lenses. It was a first for me, but I was willing to try the limits of the new Nokia Lumia 1020 which has been in my pocket for at least two weeks now.
And so I went; my backpack lighter by a gazillion kilo of equipment. Gone were the two heavy Nikons on both my shoulders. Gone was my fridge-heavy camera bag. Gone was the tripod.
All I have was the camera phone on my pocket and nothing else.
Days at Cabangan usually start at nine by the beach.
After being woken by the crashing sounds of the waves, we would have coffee at the beach house veranda before hitting the waters for a swim. Or a non-swim, to be realistic.
Cabangan’s beach is not an ordinary one. Its sands are gray and loose; its waves, unrelenting. It’s almost like a surfer’s beach, only it is way too deep for the uninitiated. Swimming is a chore even for experts, so what we do is simply wade in and let the waves slap us to kingdom come.
Besides farming, fishing is also a way of life in Cabangan. The town is abundant with small tunas which they call baralete. It is perfect for breakfast, especially when paired with fresh greens harvested from the backyard and their local fish bagoong.
Without a permanent irrigation system, Cabangan’s farmlands are quite dry. Rice isn’t always their main crop and they resort to crop-rotation techniques to keep the land fertile. Sugarcane is one such alternative crop and I was lucky to witness how they harvest and convert it to matamis na bao, their own version of muscovado sugar.
With the unobtrusive Lumia 1020, I was able to document how local farmers manually squeeze the juice out of the sugarcanes by carabao labor. They then boil it for hours to achieve a thick consistency using a giant cauldron and an underground furnace. Finally, they let it cool a bit before filling coconut husks with the sticky concoction. These are then left to dry until they become solid.
It was quite heartening to see how folks at Zambales still spend hours to produce sugar that will put to shame the most expensive ones you’ve got on your kitchen table.
These are then sold on the market for a mere Php120.00 per half-coconut husk.
It’s always interesting to take photographs inside marketplaces so I made sure to tag along. The area is always replete with vibrant colors and interesting people. Cabangan’s own is no exception.
A whole range of mountains cover the province of Zambales and a few of those can be seen through the town. I convinced my buddy to go and see these mountains across one of the rivers I saw on my way to town.
Hounded by dogs, we trekked for some minutes, looking for pathways before being able to descend to a once mighty river. It has since been tamed by the Pinatubo eruption, filling its once deep bed with ashes and pyroclastic material.
The view however was still as beautiful as it probably once was before the infamous eruption.
Secretly, I was apprehensive that I would be limited by the Nokia Lumia 1020 and would hanker for my Nikon and UWA as soon as I started shooting; I was worried that I would regret my decision of following the travel light mantra. But it didn’t happen at all.
I was so engrossed and satisfied shooting with nothing else but the Lumia. I didn’t miss my ultra wide angle lens at all and was perfectly happy with the output from a phone camera.
It was liberating to be lifted off a great weight when traveling. Travel light indeed.
Where to Stay: Kobe Beach House
GPS Coordinates: 15°10'27.5"N 120°02'05.2"E
Contact Number: (0920) 630-7090 | (0943) 564-7536
Rates: Php3,500.00 max. of 15pax
How to Get There: Board a Victory Liner bus bound for Iba and ask to be dropped at the town of Cabangan. Fare is Php301.00