Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Iloilo: One Day Food Trip & Photo Walk

The batchoy at Netong's in La Paz Public Market.
Being in Iloilo City for just one day gave me a unique timeline to follow. I wanted to get the most about what the city had to offer in terms of food and photos. So I decided to hit the restaurants that had a lot of foot traffic around the area to increase my chances of getting good photos with the human element present.

I decided on visiting Netong's Batchoy & Madge Cafe in the La Paz Public Market and Roberto's Food House in downtown Calle Real.

A flag vendor near downtown Iloilo.
More on Iloilo after the jump.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Top 9 Sunset Spots in Bacolod City

Bacolod has some of the best sunsets in the Philippines.

Why? Well because Bacolod City is a sunset city by nature. It sits on the western end of the Negros Island Region fronting the Guimaras Strait and is composed of mainly flat plains and fields which presents viewers with an unobstructed view of spectacular Philippine sunsets. 

During my many years in Bacolod, I have borne witness to the sheer beauty of the sunsets that can be witnessed around this fair city. I humbly believe that Bacolod and its surrounding municipalities have some of the best sunsets in the Philippines. Being the photographer that I am, I have made this list of The Top 9 Sunset Spots near and around Bacolod to prove to readers that the sunsets on this part of the archipelago are uniquely different. 

Disclaimer: The locations mentioned in this post include municipalities and cities located within the general vicinity and AROUND Bacolod. Thank you

More after the jump.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bacolod: Bago River

Bago River is one of the largest rivers that runs through the south of Bacolod City. Its wide river banks make it an ideal setting for small boats to ply the river. Along its banks, nipa and other palm like plants grow abundantly along its sandy shores.

This great river is located 15 minutes to the south of Bacolod City. It is located beside the City of Bago which was actually named after this river. It was named as such because the first settlers in this part of Negros Island started building their community along its sandy banks during the Spanish era.

It has long provided a source of life and livelihood to the people living just south of Bacolod due to its water supply for irrigation purposes and the many sources of trade such as harvesting nipa and sand along the river banks.

On my end as a photographer, I enjoy driving along the national highway which passes through some parts of the Bago River to photograph the sheer amount of life that revolves around this body of water. From the tops of bridges I wait, preying on the boat men as they cross from end to end of the river; and sometimes, if I am feeling adventurous, I descend to the river bed hopping from stone to stone to bear witness to the strong current flowing rushing from the highlands of Bago and Murcia out into the Guimaras Strait.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bacolod: Punta Taytay

Punta Taytay is a coastal community to the south of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Being around a 20 minute drive from the city and facing west, it is a great place to catch the Negrense sunset in the south. 

Although I've been living in Bacolod City for most of my life, I only recently discovered Punta Taytay. The beach itself isn't that clean and the sand is black, but the breeze is good and the shoreline is broad. It is also home to a thriving fishing community and you can see a good number of fishermen at all times of the day doing what men of the sea usually do before they set sail.

You can just park your car at one of the many resorts around the area (Entrance Fee is around Php 20 per person where we parked) and walk towards the beach. There are many huts around the area selling drinks (both soft and hard) and grilled food.

Let's see what this area has to offer in the future as I will definitely be going back to take more photos.

(On the other hand, if you are from the north of Bacolod, you can catch the sunset at Brgy. Balaring, Silay City. Check out my post about that place here: http://www.andreobongco.com/2014/10/the-sunsets-at-barangay-balaring.html)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bacolod: Holy Week 2016

I haven't flexed my photography muscles for personal shoots in awhile.. My photo library says the last time I did a random photo walk was a year ago in early 2015.

It felt good to just drive off randomly at sunrise and snap a few photos in 'the backyard' lol. Also rekindled an old tradition which was to take photos of the Santo Entierro (Good Friday) procession with my fellow photographer aunt.

This sort of 'renaissance' of my photography was also brought about by the acquisition of two very important lenses that helped me see the world in a different angle. Thank you very much to Manong C. for selling me your Nikon 180mm f/2.8 and to Tita B. for allowing me to buy your Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G. You have truly allowed me to see further and differently.

Here's a snap shot of what my Holy Week was like. Description on each photo.

For the first photo (sunrise): Randomly woke up at 5 AM on Maundy Thursday. Had nothing else to do so I threw my gear in the back and drove north.

Bacolod is mostly a sunset city with the open sea facing the West. As for the sunrise, although it is missed by most people because it is obscured by the moutains, you can get lucky sometimes and catch it just as its tip peeks out from the saddle of the mountains.

Taken with 180mm.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Experienced the mystique and charm of the northern most province in the Philippines. The Batanes Islands are so hard to get to and so isolated, yet so unique and beautiful that I couldn't believe I was still in the Philippines.

The first part of this blog post is where the journey begins from entry into Basco, Batanes, exploring the unique hedgerow farms, seeing our first stone houses, Fundacion Pacita, the famous light houses, boulder beach, the signature rolling hills, waves crashing on jagged cliffs, and catching an elusive rainy sunset at the pier.

Description of each place to follow on the photo itself.

The second part of this post is all about getting to Sabtang Island. This includes the crazy, stomach turning 45 minute boat ride with killer waves 30 feet tall (hello seasickness), but it was all worth it because of the even more pristine landscapes that dotted this little island that time forgot. From the natural stone arch at Morong Beach, to the rows upon rows of sturdy stone houses that lined the streets of Savidug Village, to the breath taking views of Chamantad-Tinayan Viewpoint whose outlooks could rival that of Scotland, and to munching on some coconut crab (the local delicacy)

After exploring Sabtang Island, we spent the last few days some new and old spots in Basco. We explored a hidden spring which locals called 'The Spring of Youth', we played a load of board games during down time, and we visited the lighthouses and beaches of Batanes one last time before heading home. A good way to end the trip was a ride on some of the many Japanese style bicycles the locals are so used to. It was a poignant affair riding our bikes into the Ivatan sunset.

I don't know if I'll ever be back in Batanes (partly because its so hard to get there), but I do know that these beautifully proud little islands that could have now calcified and become a part of my heart.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bacolod: Natural Garden Cafe

Bacolod: Natural Garden Cafe's Php 50 Organic & Gourmet Meals

Spaghetti in Basil Peanut Pesto (Php 50), with grilled shrimps, eggplant, kalobay and tomatoes.

Some of my favorite outtakes from a recent pro-bono shoot with Welcome Home Foundation's Natural Garden Cafe in Bacolod.

All of the food at this cafe is organically grown, prepared and cooked by the deaf-mute, but probably the best thing about this cafe is that THE MOST EXPENSIVE DISH COSTS JUST 50 PESOS. Weird right? Let me explain.

As I've mentioned before, one of my advocacies as a photographer is to provide pro-bono (free) imaging work to organizations which strive towards the common good. By taking pictures and writing about their efforts, it is my little way of helping them market what they believe in.

Natural Garden Cafe is one such organization I've come to help because it recruits, trains and employs the deaf-mute of Bacolod at their cafe. The deaf and mute are given dignified jobs with fair salaries and are trained excellently in HRM and the culinary arts.

Aside from this, the cafe takes on a farm to table approach in its dining. All the vegetables and meat are grown on the restaurant's grounds either in pesticide free vegetable beds, or in aquaponic fish tanks to raise awareness for a more natural diet free of GMOs and preservatives.

Now you may ask, why all of this for JUST 50 pesos? (Don't believe me yet? I posted the menu here just in case) The cafe prices their meals this low because their aim is not make a profit, rather it is to allow everyone (most especially low income workers) an alternative to cheap GMO and preservative laden food that people are so used to eating nowadays.

If you're interested in seeing what this bold yet well meaning cafe has to offer, drop by their alfresco cafe anywhere from 10AM to 5PM from Monday to Friday. (Better to go there during lunch because most of their food is sold out come 2PM).

They are located on the right side of the road entering Villa Valderrama Subdivision along Lacson Street going to the North of Bacolod past CountryMart.

I swear, you will not regret visiting it. Neither will your wallet, your tummy or your lymph nodes.

Puso Wrap (Php 50) with tomatoes, bellpepper, mayonnaise and letturce.