Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Baguio: Patch Cafe

Food Photography: Patch Cafe, Baguio City

I recently did some commissioned work for this new and awesome little hotel cafe called Patch Cafe in Baguio City. They're getting popular for their desserts and all day breakfast. I was tasked with taking some food photos of their best sellers. 

For any one wondering, Patch Cafe is located in the Bloomfield Hotel, Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City. (Read complete details of Patch Cafe at the end of this post.)


Patch Cafe Brunch Sampler (Php 190) - Baguio Longanissa, choice of Carabao or Beef Tapa, Crispy Dangit, Two Eggs of your choice, garlic rice, two pancakes and your choice of coffee or tea. 
*****Disclaimer: This is a commissioned shoot I (Andreo Bongco Photography) did for Patch Cafe. Anything written in the succeeding post must consider that factor. Thank you*****

Some people may say that I am biased since I was commissioned to do the food photography for this place, but heck, I am going to say it anyway. Patch Cafe is one of the hippest new hotel cafes in the city of pines... and their food is pretty damn amazing!

Official opened in December 17, 2014, Patch Cafe was originally called Cafe Sorelle and served the regular clientele of Bloomfield Hotel  until the owners of the hotel decided that their cafe needed a rebrand. After undergoing some game changing interior design and menu development, Patch Cafe was born.

Too bad I wasn't able to get that much interior shots of this place as the design is B-E-Autiful.(Ahh well, next time!) Patch Cafe now serves as a nice hide-y hole for people along or near the downtown area of Baguio City and Session Road. It offers weary souls the chance to unwind and relax over good food and pastries at a location close to the heart of the city.

Before Patch Cafe was Patch Cafe, diners used to be few and mostly made up of diners in their forties and up. But ever since the rebrand, Patch Cafe has now been experiencing an influx of customers from the younger generation. Students from the nearby universities often visit Patch Cafe to partake of their trendy desserts (like the Boston Cream Cupcakes, New York Cheesecakes or even the fancy shmancy Strawberry Saint Honore! [beats me why they call it that! haha]). Don't be surprised to find the cafe filled with groups of quiet students having relaxing study groups during dismissal time (4 PM onwards). The cafe is also very popular with the young professionals of Session Road. One can usually see leisurely business meetings conducted at one of the secluded inner tables of the cafe during the 8 to 5 grind.

In my humble opinion, I think Patch Cafe will solidify its place in the food map of Baguio City because of two things: it's all day breakfast dining and its ever-evolving pastry menu. Let me elaborate on each:

Patch Cafe has a huge serving of All Day Breakfast offerings. They have 12 breakfast items that you can order at any time of the day. They're capitalizing on the recent trend of all day, everyday breakfast food and this is especially popular with the younger generation as I'm sure that almost everyone has had a hankering for some breakfast food at around 6 P.M. in the evening! (Try the Patch Cafe Brunch Sampler!)

Also, the dessert menu is constantly changing and adapting to the finicky dessert cravings of diners. The good people over at the Patch Cafe bakery are always thinking of new cupcakes, pastries or delicacies to serve their customers. At any one time, you'll be able to see up to around 16 different desserts chilling on the shelf at the Patch Cafe counter top. (Try their New York Cheesecake, Tiramisu Cupcakes or their Strawberry Saint Honore!)

Continue reading the post below for complete info about Patch Cafe.


Patch Cafe's moist and delicious Chocolate Cake (Php 100 per slice) with an arrangement of New York Cheesecakes (Php 50 per piece) on the side. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bacolod: Visiting Rapha Valley, Negros Best Organic Restaurant

Rapha Valley: Organic Farm & Restaurant

Rapha Valley is an organic farm & restaurant located in the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental, Philippines that is dedicated to educating visitors about organic farming and healthy living. The owner, Dr. Albert Jo, is a passionate believer in organics and utilizes his farm to show diners that eating healthy can be a deliciously refreshing experience in itself. 



Birds in the field and cicadas on the trees had been whispering to me about a secret mountain retreat in the peaks of Don Salvador Benedicto recently. The whispers had been about stupendous and sometimes hard-to-believe things like an all organic, farm to table restaurant in Bacolod that served mouthwatering food without meat and artificial anything.

Interesting. I told myself.

An opportunity to visit this famed yet secret mountain retreat presented itself when some guests flew in from Manila recently. One of them was an organic nut (shout out to Monsqueaky!) and was looking for her juju fix amidst the sea of cholesterol that was Bacolod cooking. I was more than happy to oblige.

The trip up the mountain from Bacolod took around 45 minutes. (I had made sure to e-mail the owner and let him know we were coming a week beforehand. Check the 'details' towards the end of the post to find the owners e-mail). Rapha Valley isnt as exclusive as to require dinner or lunch reservations. You do need to reserve if you have a group of 8 and you want a complete farm tour though. We opted with just eating at the cafe.

After finding this 'hole-in-the-mountains' (literally), it felt as if we were transported to paradise. Organic paradise that is. I know I dont have photos of the environment and landscape surrounding Rapha Valley (I'll work on that in a future visit), let me try to describe it to you in words after the jump...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Engagement Session: Shirin & Van

Engagement Session: Shirin & Van

One of my favorite engagement shoots to date. Made even more special because of the trust that my subjects bestowed upon me as well as their special relevance to my own life. This was my first engagement session way back in April 2013. It will remain as one of my most memorable... Van and Shirin's "Post Nuptial". Read the description below to find out more. 



For this pre-nuptial, my client wanted something totally different from the done-to-death cheesy pictures of made-up couples dressed in fashion that they don't normally wear and sporting smiles that were probably manufactured in China. (Plastic). 

Instead of looking at the couple before the big day, my client wanted to offer viewers a glimpse of what the couple's life would be 48 hours AFTER the wedding. It was structured as a 'peek' into the beginnings of the newly-weds life together. 

As my client put it herself, "It’s a montage of moments during a lazy, slow and unstructured Sunday morning of a newly-wedded couple. It’s capturing the awkward yet intimate, romantic yet nervous, and simple yet compelling activities and movements that become the seeds of future Sunday morning rituals." I couldn't have said it better myself.

This has to be one of my favorite works yet and it would not have been possible without the help of a few awesome people that I would like to name now: Jake Morales, my co-photographer, KC Marcelo, the set designer, Eva Ramos Derecho, the make-up artist and of course, the beautiful couple themselves. 

Photographers: Andreo Bongco & Jake Morales 
Set Design: KC Marcelo 
Make-up: Eva Ramos 
Calligraphy: Shirin Eugenio Ramos



Read more by clicking below...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Merchant Review: Tay Hua Trading Corporation

Tay Hua Trading Corporation

My review about a recent business transaction at Tay Hua Trading Corporation, which is one of the more reputable and well known studio equipment suppliers located in Metro Manila, Philippines. 

Disclaimer: This photo is not mine. Image source: Intuition Photos - www.intuitionphotos.com
(Disclaimer: Tay Hua Trading did not in any way pay me to do this review. I bought and paid for the item with my own funds.)

When you're a photographer based in Bacolod City, one of the most frustrating things for 'provincianos' like us is getting good quality studio equipment. Pickings are very slim here in Bacolod with almost no one offering softboxes, shoot through umbrellas or lightstands. One remedy to this is tapping photography gear suppliers in Metro Manila to ship studio equipment to you.

I stumbled upon Tay Hua Trading Corporation based on the many positive comments I read about it on a local Facebook group that was dedicated to buying and selling photography gear. People were pointing those in search of the aforementioned studio equipment to their website, which contains a full list of their products for sale. (I liked this a lot since their website has detailed product descriptions and up to date prices.)

Tay Hua Trading Corporation's Website: http://www.tayhua.com/

Read more about how our business transaction went after the jump.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

BAPEX: Bacolod's Dedicated Facebook Group for Trading Cameras

BAPEX: Bacolod Photography Exchange

With the rise of Facebook in the recent years, groups on the social media site dedicated to buying and selling things have really taken off. Enter BAPEX or the Bacolod Photography Exchange, which is a Facebook group dedicated to the buying and selling of cameras, lenses and all other photography related equipment in Bacolod City. Find out how to be a part of this group after the jump. 



Friday, October 31, 2014

The Facebook Black and White Challenge

The Facebook Black and White Challenge

So there's been this photo challenge going around Facebook recently. It challenges users to post one black and white photograph for 5 days. To add to this, each time a black and white photo is posted, the user must nominate a friend to start his own five day black and white photo challenge. It was a pretty fun challenge. Check out the photos I posted after the jump. 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Bacolod: The Sunsets at Barangay Balaring

The Sunsets at Barangay Balaring

Conveniently located near the city of Bacolod, the sea side barangay of Balaring in Silay offers photographers one of the best vantage points to view the setting sun for people who don't want to stray too far from the city. Aside from sunsets, this little barangay offers a variety of seafood restaurants which are perched on stilts beside the seashore. 

Yes, that's me taking a self-lighted, self-portrait, or as I like to call them, "Lightfie's" lol
One of my recent haunts whenever I'm chasing sunsets is Barangay Balaring in Silay City. I first found out about this sea side barangay when I was still in highschool. It was the summer before I left for college and a few of my buddies and I decided to do some exploring. We had heard about this relatively untouched barangay by the sea that was a mere 25 minutes away from Bacolod. We had no notion of what it looked like or how the road conditions were going there, but what we had heard was that they had a sea side restaurant (sort of a karinderia) that served the best porkchops that side of Negros (Yes, ironic that a seaside restaurant be famed for it's grilled pork rather than its fresh seafood.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bacolod: Harvesting Shrimp

Harvesting Shrimp in Bacolod

Although Bacolod is more known for its sugarcane production, another lucrative trade here is the shrimp industry. The prawn farms or "punongs" as they call them in the local dialect, have supplied many an international company with the shrimp they need for export to other parts of the world.

This blog post is simply my fun little take on what it was like attending my good friend's first ever harvest of shrimp.



If there's one thing I learned about shrimp farming from my good friend, is that it is all about risk. Yes, I am aware that each business has its own risks and what not, but I would have to think that prawn farming is a little bit riskier than the rest. The rest of this blog post contains my amateur and unprofessional observations as to what shrimp farming is all about.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Engagement Session: Chris + Roslyn

Engagement Session: Chris + Roslyn

The following photos are out takes from a recent engagement session I was commissioned to shoot for a beautiful couple celebrating their engagement in the Philippines. The location chosen was that of The Ruins at Talisay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. 



I had the joy and honor of documenting this beautiful couple's engagement session during their lengthy stay here in the Philippines. Since Chris and Roslyn call Bacolod their temporary home, it was only fitting that the photos be taken at a location that speaks volumes about love that endures.

The couple specifically requested for The Ruins (link) in Talisay City as the location for the shoot and I was more than happy to oblige. As The Ruins are sometimes called the 'Taj Mahal of Negros' due to a wealthy sugar baron building this majestic mansion for his wife, so did Chris and Roslyn have their moment at a structure that stood the test of time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bacolod: 21 Restaurant Batchoy


21 Restaurant Batchoy: The Best Batchoy in Bacolod

21 Restaurant (or more locally known by it's old name as Bar 21), is a staple among both tourists to Bacolod City and locals alike. In my humble opinion, it serves some of the best batchoy in one of the most relaxing environments in the city. 


For those of you who don't know what batchoy is, let me explain what it is before you guys miss out anymore on this cholesterol-rific dish that many people in Bacolod claim to be a local delicacy.

When I had a visitor try this dish for the first time, my friend aptly dubbed it 'heart attack soup'. Imagine crunchy bits of chicharon generously scattered around a pipping hot and thick pork broth with bone marrow, egg, liver and chicken bits. Throw a handful of soft egg noodles in and sprinkle some green spring onions and you've got batchoy! Don't forget to add some soy sauce and pepper!

Batchoy is more or less synonymous to the Visayas region of the Philippines with Bacolod (Negros) and Iloilo (Panay) both hawking home cooked dishes that will whet any appetite. In Bacolod, the best batchoy for me can be found in 21 Restaurant along the main street called Lacson.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bacolod: San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay City

San Diego Pro-Cathedral, Silay City

The San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay City, Negros Occidental, serves as one of the most prominent landmarks of nearby Bacolod City. It comes only second in grandeur to the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City proper. It plays a key role in the cultural formation of the dominant Catholic population and is a monumental addition to the old Spanish feel of the romantic little city called Silay. 


The San Diego Pro-Cathedral stands erect in the background as religious sculptures file past its form during the Holy Week celebrations in the Philippines.
Although not the main cathedral of Bacolod City, the San Diego Pro-Cathedral sure seems to me like it is the most iconic. With its white concrete walls that take on a subdued yellow glow in the sunlight, this "pro-cathedral" will catch many an eye for first time visitors in Bacolod and Silay City.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bacolod: The Ruins in Talisay City.

The Ruins at Talisay City

The Ruins at Talisay City in Negros Occidental have always served as one of the landmark tourist attractions of Bacolod City. These skeletal remains of a sugar baron's once majestic mansion draw people from all over the world and offer them a glimpse at the culture that was prevalent among the Negrense hacienderos. Read more about this jewel of a place after the jump. 



If there's one place I'd recommend people to visit in Bacolod, it would have to be The Ruins.

I say this because for me, The Ruins symbolize a lot about what the culture of people from Bacolod and Negros have to offer. From visiting the place, you can learn about our deep Spanish influence, the sugar industry, the life of hacienderos and the tragic love story behind this famous facade.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Eat Baguio

Eat Baguio

This blog post is composed mostly of food and travel pictures from recent trips up to Baguio to visit a certain feline. Some mini reviews on the certain restaurants we visited there are also in the post.  This blog post is constantly being updated. 



Going up to Baguio is always a special journey for me and my girlfriend. Let me add a little more to that sentence. Eating in Baguio is always a special journey for me and my girlfriend.

There is just something about Baguio makes eating better. Don't you agree? I don't know if it's the cold that puts your brain onto a hibernation-like alert where your senses tell you to fill your stomach to the brim to get ready for impending slumber, but I just know that the more lard you have on your person, the warmer you'll be in the chilly weather.

The variety of food and palates that dot this mountain is immense. Just like yellow sun flowers seeking the rays radiated from their name sake, so do the amount of good restaurants in Baguio draw in hungry foodies through their welcome doors. 

Here are a collection of some of my favorite food photos and a little info about the restaurants that are responsible for them.

Let us begin to... Eat Baguio.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Galleria Taal: Philippines' First Vintage Camera Museum

Galleria Taal

Galleria Taal is the Philippines' first ever vintage camera museum located in the historic heritage town of Taal, Batangas. This treasure trove of glass, metal and film serves as a testament to one collector's love for mastering light and preserving memories. Find out more on my blog post below:



On cobble stone road, in a sleepy little town that time forgot, sits an ark. It is predominantly made of stately hard wood (as all arks should) but also carries sturdy stone in its body, fit for any flood of water or heat that seeks to destroy its precious cargo. Although it does not carry a menagerie of animals like the proverbial ark of Noah, what it does carry is a collection of vintage cameras that are in danger of being washed away in the deluge that is the new age of digital photography.

I see the Gallera Taal as exactly what was described above. An 'ark' that wants to preserve what has been made to preserve. Here in this wood and stone ancestral house lies a treasure of precious metal camera bodies, multicolored glass lenses that sparkle brighter than the stars, and even gold and silver body plates attached to the even more precious optical system housed within.

Now aside from all the fluff that I have written above (I wanted to pay homage to this wonderful shrine of light) the Galleria Taal is 'the first and foremost vintage camera museum in the Philippines that houses Mr. Manny Inumerables (I'm pretty sure his family name says something about his collection. Endless!) collection of rare cameras from the late 1800's to the 1900's'.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Baguio: Oh My Gulay! One of the City's Best Vegetarian Restaurants

Oh My Gulay 

The Oh My Gulay restaurant at the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space (VOCAS) is one of Baguio City's well known secrets. This quirky little vegetarian restaurant will amaze you with its healthy food and fantastical interior design. 


One would never have imagined that a quirky vegetarian restaurant housed in a humongous cavern with ponds, wooden huts and even a frickin' boat would be located 5 story's above the busiest road in Baguio City. If this description fails to give you an idea about what the place looks like, think: tree house on top a building in downtown Baguio. A tree house with really really good food. Really really good vegetarian organic food for that matter.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Baguio: Mt. Pulag, Climbing My First Mountain


Mt. Pulag, Climbing My First Mountain

Climbing Mt. Pulag in Bokod, Benguet in mid May this year served as my 'introduction' into the interesting world of mountain climbing. Read more about my experience in the blog post below. 


The sunrise over Mt. Pulag in Bokod, Benguet. Sadly, no sea of clouds, but still an awesome view!
Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to climb a mountain. Sure, I've hiked up a few mountains here and there once-upon-a-time in a land far, far away... But by climbing I mean actually hiking up a steep incline with a ton of stuff strapped to your back, making camp and cooking your own food, enduring the rain and freezing cold at night and then finally being able to actually see the sun rise over a place first, with your own two eyes. This is exactly the type of 'mountain climbing' I experienced when I climbed Mt. Pulag, My First Mountain in mid May this year.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Bataan: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

A heritage resort full of old Spanish houses in Bagac, Bataan. 

Casa Meycauayan. One of my favorite pictures of the heritage houses. The sculptures of children playing in the lawn truly complete this house. This house was originally built in 1913 and was initially in San Fernando Pampanga.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a town that time forgot. It truly is, in a sense, a throwback to a time when the Spanish influence was very much the norm in our little Pearl of the Orient. This heritage resort located in Bagac, Bataan patterns itself after Spanish towns of old and reminds us of a time where sprawling cobble stone streets, gas lamps and old stone and wooden houses were a common sight in the Philippines.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bacolod: The Secrets of My Home

***'The Secrets of My Home' was written as my first ever featured article in a young and upcoming magazine dedicated to the youth of Bacolod City called Hubin Magazine. It was published in their Second Volume on April 11, 2014. My article can be found on page 158 of the magazine.

You can check out the entire Hubin Magazine and download it for free here:

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Photo by Miguel Sy

Where is home?

Home can be many places, can mean many things and is called by many names. It is ambiguous and fluid, shaping itself to fit the definition of the person who calls it by its name. To most, home may be a nice tidy house tucked away in a quiet subdivision. To many, home is a lofty condominium over-looking the vast city sky line. To me, home is the fields.

Home is the sugarcane, and dazzling yellow sunsets, and mountains and rivers, and farmers with their beasts of burden in tow. Home is a lush green landscape filled with a patchwork of brown and green fields as seen from above. Home is a city of smiles, a festival of masks, a place where everyone knows everyone and a land where life is sweet. Home is Negros. Home is Bacolod. Home is where my heart is.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bacolod: Eltoro Zoo, The Hidden Animal Sanctuary of Negros

Eltoro Zoo De La Castellana

This hidden zoo in La Castellana City, Negros Occidental was unique discovery that one of my friends stumbled upon. When we visited the site, we were surprised with the diversity of animals in the zoo. It was the first time I have ever heard of tigers and lions in Negros Occidental. Read more about this zoo on my blog post below.


So apparently there's this hidden zoo in Negros Occidental... and this hidden zoo just so happens to have Lions and Tigers (and Bears. Oh my. Just kidding, no bears!). The moment I heard the word lions and tigers, my interest was piqued. I had never heard of a public establishment in our humble little island that has played host to any king of the jungle (tigers) or lords of the savanna (lions). (Well, of course I've heard the rumor that a mayor of a small town here in Negros keeps a pet tiger on his farm. Perhaps to devour his enemies? *nervous laughter*)

Bacolod: Don Salvador Benedicto

Don Salvador Benedicto or simply 'DSB' as it is known to the locals, is a mountain municipality an hour to the east of Bacolod City. Known for its higher altitude to the flat fields of Bacolod, DSB is fondly compared to be the 'Baguio of Bacolod' because of its colder climate and sprinkling of pine-like trees. 


Posted on February 2, 2014



When someone says the word 'Negros', people automatically think of flat landscapes full of sugarcane that stretch out widely in every direction. What most people don't know is that Negros is also home to some beautiful mountain ranges that each offer a different view from the cane fields and flat lands below them.

I set out to explore the mountain ranges near Bacolod in hopes of escaping the heat in the city as well as finding a unique view of the Negrense life way above sea level.

The mountain you see pictured above and below is called Don Salvador Benedicto, located around 45 km East of Bacolod City, this little town up the mountain is a one hour drive from the city proper and is dubbed the 'Summer Capital of Negros' because of it's chilly weather. In the past, the road up this mountain was in disrepair and in some states, still under construction. Now that the provincial government has made vast improvements to the road, motorists can enjoy a easy drive up the mountain. This has led to the development of residential lots and subdivisions (of where there are now 2 located up this quiet town).



I was surprised myself when I visited the area and saw modern looking high-end houses calmly perched on hills overlooking Bacolod. According to this article, a hectare of land in Don Salvador Benedicto ('DSB' as it is called by the locals) has increased from Php 500,000 per hectare to a staggering Php 5,000,000 per hectare! (source: http://archives.visayandailystar.com/2012/February/10/topstory6.htm)

This beautiful mountain is definitely something to watch out for in the future. Mountain house with roaring fire place anyone?



Posted on February 23, 2014


I usually spend my Sundays out on some random photo trip in the fields or the mountains alone. It doesn't matter where I end up as long as I get to flex my photo muscles. This trip I had a few Sundays ago was a little bit different. Some of my friends decided to tag along and chase the sunset in the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental.





Anyway, coming from an hour's drive up the mountain, my friends and I found the perfect sunset viewing deck on a hill over looking the winding roads and beautiful mountain side houses. We promptly sat down and broke out some snacks & drinks and leaned back in anticipation of nature's light show.

After a little while, we were surprised when three young boys aged 7 to 9 crept up from behind us and stared at us with curiosity. (I bet they were wondering why five grown men were making such a ruckus over a vibrant sunset they were probably used to seeing everyday) Apparently these kids (2 of which you can see in the middle of the picture) were on their way home to the mountain next to us which was quite a far way of for these tiny guys to be heading to. Anyway, we invited our new friends to join us and share our chips as we all watched the sun set over the mountains. A Sunday well spent if you ask me.




Updated on January 1, 2015

Went up with my brothers on new years day to chase the first sunset of the year. 'Twas a glorious afternoon for a sunset.




Updated on January 6, 2016

Went up the mountain with my brother and a friend to celebrate my brothers last day in Bacolod before he heads back to the big city for work.

Update: our favorite spot from where to watch the sunset from is now gone. Some enterprising and sketchy individuals built a bar on the spot in a record amount of time. Funny since the news articles say that the bar was built without a land title and without a permit to operate. Anyway, we pulled over to the side of the bar and descended the mountain a little to park the car and grab a few beers.






Directions:



Photographer's Notes:


  • The road to DSB is winding and uphill, but cemented. You can take a normal sedan up there but I would recommend you take a sturdier car like a pick up.
  • If you are waiting for the sunset, note that it will be a dark one hour journey down to Bacolod after the sun has set because there are no street lights along the roads of DSB.
  • It can get a bit chilly at night at DSB so best to bring a jacket. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fujifilm X20


Before I begin, let me state that this camera is not mine. It's my father's. But damn, do I want it! My mother gave this camera to my dad as their anniversary gift and ever since he unboxed it, I am green with envy. From the design to it's handling, I am in love with it. What I like about it best though are its aesthetic qualities. The retro feel is reminiscent of the film range finder cameras of days gone by.

Being the vintage looking beauty that it was, I decided to practice my product photography on this little baby. These are the results of that happy experiment. For the shot above, I wanted to group together things which look classic, elegant and tasteful. So I gathered a bunch of photography books (you've definitely got to included an Ansel Adams one in there!), the antique brass pocket watch from India that my girlfriend gave me :) , a Parker pen that was mostly monochromatic, a few foreign coins and of course my grandfather's old trusty Ronson lighter located at the bottom right of the picture. I'm quite happy with what I was able to capture.

Now, for a little bit more about the star of this photograph, the Fujifilm X20. Fujifilm has been staging a comeback as of late with the introduction of their "X" series of cameras. These Fujifilm X-Series cameras are mirror-less compact digital cameras that are catered towards the high end crowd who don't want the hustle and bustle of bringing around a bulky DSLR with too many buttons & functions. Although small and compact, these little cameras are surprisingly capable and produce a high quality image.

One of these days, I'll probably do a review about the X20, but let me just tell you that I was damn well surprised when this little baby gave me dreamy 'bokeh' (blur) shots with no problem at all. (Note to self: post pictures taken with the X20)

In the absence of a formal review of this X20, let me jot down some quick details of what's under the hood.. err.. image sensor. The X20 was launched in January 7, 2013 and is the entry level 'X' series camera. It retails at around Php 36,000.00 at all local camera shops (since there is already a Fujifilm distributor here in the Philippines, they regulate their prices well. So you won't see price ranges that differ greatly from shop to shop Also, the photography black market hasn't been able to smuggle in Fujifilms at a discounted price yet. Well, at least to the extent of my knowledge, they haven't.) (Oh and in case you're wondering, this was bought in Camera Haus, Robinsons Bacolod.

The X20 is aimed at what Fujifilm calls 'enthusiasts'. These 'enthusiasts' according to Fuji are people who already have a DSLR but yet want a small portable camera that can keep up with the quality output of a DSLR. In that aspect, the Fujifilm does not disappoint. It packs a 12 megapixel 2/3 type CMOS sensor (don't mind the jargon. Basta, mirrorless), and the lens on it is a built in, un-attachable zoom lens (specifics: 28-112mm f/2.0 - f/2.8). This means that unlike a DLSR where you can change your lenses to fit your needs, the X20's lens stays fixed. Much like that of your normal compact digital camera.

Lets run down the other things that caught my eye: it can capture images in RAW format (meaning the largest size available as well as the format used by professionals), it can record videos in full HD at 1080/60p. (Basta, very good!), it has built in editing programs that can give your photos the 'Instagram' effect whenever you want.... and.. and.. and.. it's freaking sexy! (I'll really come up with a review sometime. So many good things to write about this little gem).

So until next time, here are more pictures to make you salivate over this beautiful piece of image capturing hardware.






Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's to Days Gone By!


This year has definitely been an amazing adventure for me. Thankfully, there have been more ups than there have been downs. There have been more friends made, than lost (if there are any at all) and there certainly has been a lot more learning than well.. err.. being stupid? lol the point is, this year has taught me a lot and I'll sure be sad to see it go. But then again, I think to myself, if this year has been awesome, what more the next? It's up to us to make our year amazing! But let's not forget where we've been and what we've experienced so we can make next year even better :)

Looking back at days gone by, I've compiled a little picture collage of a few places that I've been to that have somehow made an impact on my 2013. Here's to not forgetting some of the good old days :) Hope you like 'em!

January 2013 - Bacolod

January 2013, I was still working for McCann, but I was able to get a long break for the holidays which I happily spent at my hometown of Bacolod (like I always do every year). The fields are especially beautiful and breezy during January, so I decided to take my dad's pride and glory out for a ride when I was home.

You can find more pictures from that here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-fathers-pride.html


February 2013 - Laiya, Batangas

Towards the end of February 2013, we took a short but meaningful trip to a beautiful beach on the Batangas Coast. Laiya was a welcome respite from work. This has got to be my favorite shot from 2013

You can read more about this here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/03/laiya.html


March 2013 - San Fernando, Pampanga

March 2013 found me with a group of officemates (one of which is sorely missed) on our way to Pampanga for the San Pedro Cutud Lenten rights. This holy week celebration was a real eye opener for me since it showed me how some people choose to interpret their faith. I can still hear the screams. They don't really bother me that much actually haha


April 2013 - Bonifacio Global City, "Makati"

April 2013 was a busy month for me at work. I didn't get to shoot a lot of photos since I was mostly confined to the hustling streets of Bonifacio Global City, but it was during those long nights at work that I realized that we had to be thankful for the little breaks in between.

This here is a shot of a building crane operating late at night. I was doing Over Time and I needed a break so I climbed up our building's roof to get this.


May 2013 - Ambuklao Dam, Benguet

May 2013 saw me going up to Baguio for the first time this year. Had a lot of fun exploring the city and especially the outlying towns more. Here's a sun set shot of the mountain range seen from the Ambuklao Dam. We chased this sunset for quite a while but it was worth it. It was as if the mountains were on fire.


May 2013 - Singapore

May 2013 also saw our family take our first out of the country trip together. Since it was my second time in the Lion City, I had fun showing them around. I especially remember when me and my two brothers left the hotel in the middle of the night and trekked out to see the Merlion at Marina Bay. No gangs of tourist. Perfect.

You can check out more pictures of Singapore here:http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-lion-city-singapore.html


June 2013 - Taal City, Batangas

June 2013 saw me and my girlfriend visiting the tiny town of Taal in Batangas. It literally feels like time forgot this sleepy little town beside the Taal Volcano and lake. Old Spanish houses lined the cobblestone streets and we were also able to see the largest Catholic church in Asia, the 'St. Martin of Tours' Basilica.


July 2013 - Sky Ranch, Tagaytay City

July 2013 had a lot in store for me. It was my last month in McCann before I quit. One of the promises I made myself after I resigned was to travel a lot more.

Here's one of those promises come to life in the form of a Ferris Wheel. My aunt, a friend and I traveled up to Tagaytay in search of a sunset over Taal lake but instead, we found an amusement park. Here's the Tagaytay Sky Ranch Ferris Wheel which is the tallest ferris wheel in the Philippines.

You can check out more shots here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/07/tagaytay-sky-ranch.html


July 2013 - Corregidor Island

July 2013 also saw me visiting a place steeped in history with my aunt and a friend. We visited Corregidor Island in the mouth of Manila Bay. Since I love history, it was a real treat for me being able to see the ruins of this proud American fort and the last vestiges of resistance in the Philippines before the Japanese took over.

Here's a shot of the Mile-long Barracks in Corregidor. For more pictures, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/07/corregidor.html


July 2013 - Mine's View Park, Baguio City

July 2013 was when we headed up to Baguio for the second time this year. It was time well spent taking pictures of jewelry, flowers and hotel rooms for my girlfriend's family.

Here's a shot of a band of Baguio's iconic Everlasting Flowers at Mines View Park.

For more pictures of Baguio in Bloom, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/08/baguio-in-bloom.html


August 2013 - San Juan, La Union


August 2013 saw me visiting San Juan, in La Union for the second time. It was a short but exciting trip that was filled with sunsets, walks along the beach and meeting new people.

For more pictures, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/08/sunsets-on-beach-in-la-union.html


September 2013 - Siliman University, Dumaguete City 

September 2013 found me on my way home to Bacolod to start work for my family. It was a big leap leaving Manila behind, but it was a decision I both had to and wanted to make. Coming home was refreshing for me in the sense that I was able to re-connect with my family after being away in Manila for 5 years or so.

Here's a shot of a vacation we took to Dumaguete City as soon as I got home. Seen here is Siliman University.

You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/09/uni-town-dumaguete.html


October 2013 - The Ruins, Talisay City

October 2013 found some officemates visiting Bacolod for the Masskara festival. It was nice having them over and reliving old times at work. We toured around Bacolod to see what my hometown had to offer them.

Here's a shot of one place which every visitor must see when he goes to Bacolod. The Ruins in Talisay City.


November 2013 - Sipalay City 

November 2013 was when my girlfriend and a close friend visited Bacolod. They wanted to head to a beach so I took them to the best beach that our province had to offer.

Seen here is the virgin beach of Sipalay at sunset. We were lucky enough to have been there when it was at the zenith of it's beauty. Soft white sand, gentle tides and fiery sunsets.

You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/11/sipalay.html


December 2013 - Session Road, Baguio City

December 2013 found me once again at Baguio City for the holidays. Experiencing the rhythm of the city during the yuletide season was a totally different thing with the joy of Christmas present every where you turned. It was a great way to end a year of travel and taking photos.

Seen here is Session Road's huge Christmas Tree. You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/12/baguio-in-december.html

Well, that is more or less my year in photos. Thank you 2013! You've been wonderful. Come on over 2014! I'm ready for you!