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.