Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wildflowers near the Falls

I purposely went to La Union, a province >6 hours by bus north of Manila to see waterfalls. (My previous post earlier about the Simminublan waterfalls). My travel buddy met me at Evelyn's house there, our base while looking for whatever interesting things we might go into. Evelyn is also looking for buddies who just want to go nature tripping, butterflies and photography. The only concrete plan is to go see a waterfalls, wherever that might be. Through the circuitous and undulating steep roads we went, enjoying the incredibly difficult trip. As most say "it is the process not the product", or  "enjoy the means more than the end". So we go, they plunged into the water, Linda even jumped from the cliff. But i stayed dry, looked for butterflies, dragonflies, and wildflowers. I even looked for hoyas at nearby trees, but found none!

So i might as well share with you the wildflowers.

 I am sorry, i do not know most of their names. Maybe i am the only one who love them that much. Above and below looks like a species of Impatiens. Both the stems, leaves and morphology of the flowers and fruits have semblance to Impatiens balsamina, even I. walleriana. When i searched in the web, i just realized there's a lot, as in a LOT,  of species of Impatiens. Unfortunately, i was not able to find one image that looks like this.

 those flowers are lovely with the bottom petals darker than that on top

 This one has very minute flowers in spikes, but the leaves have smudges of red like drops of blood. Of course, i don't know it too. They are actually weeds.

 What a lovely color for flowers! I haven't seen any flower design or structure like this. And they are so small with half of that petal only one-third of a centimeter. If you don't call that small,  i don't know what is. Again, a NOID for me.

 Above is so striking in golden yellow. I am sure it is a legume, flowers looking like peas. I searched for its leaves and they look like that of peanuts. I am sure this is a peanut cousin.

 And while the above is a wildflower i know very much it is lantana. Whether it is L.camara or another species, i don't know. I watched for butterflies nectaring on it, but i didn't see any.

 This one is the favorite of butterflies, as we have them too in our property as weeds, and butterflies love them, the porter weed, Stachetarpheta jamaicensis. I will not forget that long scientific name because i had been teaching my nephew and niece this name since they are 5 yrs old. Now they can recite that long name even if they just woke up! That is the first Sci name they learned, hahaha.

Another NOID (No Identification). This is an umbel and the white flowers are arranged around it, i wonder why there are no white flowers at the center, maybe the maturity starts from that bottom. The golden yellow pollens are very prominent.

I searched for more wildflowers at the vicinity of the waterfalls, but the dragonflies and damselflies got my attention most. So next time i will be posting them too, maybe next post. Thanks for your visit and comments. Your comments are the life of my posts.

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Experience in the Pacific Ocean

In my so many years of travelling all over the Philippines, i have for a few times reached the beach of the Pacific Ocean. However, travelling on it on a boat has not happened yet till this trip to Albay, to an island called Rapu-rapu. It has always been said and written that we have 7,1007 islands and lately there are still some additions. And i guess they did not include those which vanish during high tides. On the plane, it really is lovely to look at the plenty of islands dotting the blue seas. 

Last March we need to evaluate a fishery project in an island cove in that island facing the Pacific Ocean. Despite my hesitance there is also that exciting feeling of trying something i haven't done before, as i am really scared not only of heights but also depths. That includes deep bodies of water. But this time, i said let's go! I hope against hope that i will not be scared. Thanks God, the sun is bright the whole day, there was not even some clouds looming in the horizon. The dry season is really the best time to do island travels, and this time i conquered myself. 

Those two bays in Rapu-rapu Island-Batan are the sites we visited. Going there entailed 1 hr in the inland waters and 1 more hour along the Pacific Ocean. Our route going there are the red arrows, while yellows show our route on the way back. That body of blue water is the Pacific Ocean. It doesn't look scary on the map, but we worked with the big waves on that blue expanse for an hour. 

Our rented boat has a maximum capacity of 25 and we were 11 passengers including
 the 3 crews who maneuver it very well. Below is the view of our boat 
with only tarpaulin sheets serving as the roof. 

The waters are just very tamed and normal during the inland journey, it was at the Pacific side when even just the normal wind is enough to give us big rounded waves. The boatmen decrease the speed when encountering such bigger waves.  Actually, they might not be waves but just normal swaying of the water.

Above and the following pictures are some of the islands we encountered. There still are a lot of them, but i was not able to document all. I only labored to get the smaller, lovelier ones.


Small boats like that above is commonly seen along the routes. 
They are standing because they are fishermen trying to see where the
 schools of fishes are and put their nets nearby.

No two islands have the same vegetation and physical looks, above has a rocky beach.

even the islands have coconuts, some people might have planted them there

above island look so lovely in that cone shape

Above is aptly named the Vanishing Island, as only those huts are seen during high tides.
These huts are built on stilts to give way to the rising waters, looking like floating huts.

This is the only island there with a wide expanse of white beach. 
It is made into a resort with amenities for the tourists.

I am so curious with those cavelike crevices on the shore cliff. I wonder if people 
have gone there to look what are inside. But these waters are so deep 
blue in color which means the water is very deep.

The above area is the first cove we visited for our seaweed and squid pot projects. A small boat got some of us from our big boat to be carried to the stalked sites. I did not go that first time, but i took turn at the other bay where we took even a smaller boat with only 3 passengers.

On the way back from our visited sites, we took another route because the Pacific waves are bigger and might be scary for our boat. The boatmen decided to take the longer inland waters. Please look at the map for the yellow arrows. I put a small asterisk on the map to locate the area we were stranded for 1.5 hours. It was low tide when we got here, stopping our boat to push through.

We just stayed on the boat, watch the boys gleaning for shells in the shallow waters. We even resumed our discussions about a lot of topics. While i was talking with the boss, the research assistants took a nap leaning on the single boat post. I guess they really had a good rest.

That is one of the boatmen looking at the waters for the deeper areas to pass through. He signals his boat mate for the direction to take. This is already on our way back, no more big waves to contend with. I am so glad i did not experience the fear i tried hard not to feel, and i succeeded! 



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Decade of Blogging!

Time went by including blogging. I am not thinking about the time i've spent here, i just know a lot of changes happened through the years. It has been supporting me through, and i realized it has already been 9 years, as in NINE YEARS! It only takes 1 more year to be a DECADE of Blogging! It started on March 26, 2008. I also changed the design twice but not completely. Also, my Header Title changed once, but my name there remained. When i made another blog catering to my own garden and locality, this older one remained totally devoted to travels, photos and plants not from my own.

I still remember my blogger friends who taught me developing this, how to insert some changes, put some links, the data in my side bar, etc., etc. And some of my friends from far away countries already got other life achievements, or careers. Many already became grandparents, or acquired sons or daughters-in-law. Others still continuously comment and make virtual contacts. Others still blog but felt my posts are not interesting for them anymore. Some are still around but completely stopped posting; and unfortunately, some already passed on to the other dimension. Somehow another blogger friend let us know someone's passing and i always send prayers for them. We just leave this world in our own designated time, and we are all going there!

Blogging still fascinates me. It serves as my venue to show my photos and my interest with plants, creatures, landscapes and places. It also let me spend my extra time to simulate a semblance of diligence, not let my mind wander to maybe harbor some negative thoughts. I was given chances of putting words into thoughts and ideas, and let whoever may drop by know my preoccupation at the moment. My posts are normally spontaneously written, just my thoughts that moment. I treasure all the time they have spent reading my posts, looking at my photos and of course leaving their thoughts and comments. At this moment there are 220,082 visitors who dropped by.  As i put below my page, "your comments are the life of this blog", and they really propel me. I truly appreciate all of you, your energies sent here, and these all delighted me through the years. Thank you very much. As in any commencement exercise, a culmination is also the beginning. I hope you will all still be with me.


Monday, March 27, 2017

The Cozy Coast or Kusikos de EveRim!

The brackishwater in this part of La Union is a very beautiful and rich natural resource. The people there call this a river, but i think it is a large pool of water developed during the rainy days with very high tides. I did not see the actual flowing water from a river coming from a continuous upstream source. The good thing about it is the size and shapes of the pools. Moreover, there are big islets with grown colonizing vegetation. There are also small islets good for picnics and small games. There are nooks along the waters, and there are surprises as you boat along or there are surprises at the other side of the islands. We were not even able to explore the full expanse of the waters beyond all the islets.

A friend has a property near the waters, and she plans to make a bigger hut, bring in kayaks and build bamboo rafts not only for friends but also let visitors rent them for a small fee. Her property caretakers of husband and wife will be very busy these next few summer months, when people seem to frequent bodies of waters for fun, bonding with friends and adventure. And we did clamming too, gathering oysters, shells and the famous kusikos! It was really a lot of fun. We also had fun using the word as a verb or adjective and more, e.g. we will come back for more kusikosing! Or expression of awe, e.g. what a kusikos! Isn't it lovely. Come and join us.

And the most spectacular view visitors will see here is the sunset. I have been to many beaches and i can vouch for the most beautiful sunset scenes here. My photos might not be good evidences of my claims, but i assure you they are much better to see in person.


A lot of birds can be heard and seen while we are on our boat raft-hut. We spotted a lot of egrets, some blue kingfishers, and many more we don't know the names. Some are just solitary walking on some shores to look for their food, like the white egret above. 


 One enterprizing farmer brough a few cows there, made his hut at the center and enclosed his abode with fences of thorny branches to discourage entrants and curious folks. The scarecrow serves as direct message to intruders.

the thorny branches around the enclosed property with cows

The hut at the middle of the enclosure, and silhouetted in this picture is a bit far from us, so we cannot get its bigger view in nice details. It was made of grasses, both walls and roofs, to be cool even at midday. 
 
The factory at the horizon is already at the mainland. I guess this yellow boat is owned by the owner of the hut with thorny fences.. 

The sand might be beautiful with those patterns, a semblance of what we see in the desserts. But i tell you, it is difficult to walk barefoot in sands like this. My weight maybe is too much for my feet to be agile on it. 

After traversing the patterned sands for a few minutes, we reached the real beach, it is now the West Philippine Sea, also a vast ocean. We reached it just in time for the sunset. Oh My God, i forgot my big camera with CPL at our boat raft. I only have my small Olympus OMD-EM10.  Now, be the judge. Tell me what you think of this sunset scenes. 

I stayed here longer than my 3 companions, as the lacey, lovely waters breaking from the waves and hurriedly approaching the shore are very beautiful. I took lots of shots, but eventually just stayed there to imbibe the serenity and stillness of the scenes. 

 That is my friend also being mesmerized by the almost holiness of these whole drama unfolding before us. Can you blame me for already missing this and wanting already to come back?

 I was lost for words to describe this scenes and the feelings of awe while imbibing everything all at the same time. I just thank God for the experience, the opportunity and the privilege of having friends who make things happen.

 The drama is at the denouement, and we are about to go home.


Above is the raft my friend hurriedly commissioned people to make, in time for our visit. Clutching our shell harvest (oysters, kusikos, other shells, bivalves and univalves), we went home satiated, contented and happy. We are ready for a good night sleep!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Exhilarating Experience

I did not go to the office last Friday, 17th March. I left at 3:00am to take the 4:00am bus for a 6.5 hours ride to the north of Manila. I will be joined by my friend from Baguio City and we will be staying with my friend in La Union. She will take us to a waterfall near her place. Serendipity came in as the tourism officer will be bringing some people who won the raffle in their Agri-fair Exhibit. It is one of their promotions for people to visit one of their waterfalls in their town, in fact there are a few more waterfalls there. So we left my friend's car at the Santol Poblacion for the hired vehicle that brought us to the Simminublan Falls. The jeepney was full and a few guys together with my friend took the topload, or on the jeepney rooftop.

As far as this lifetime is going, i can say that this ride and that route to the Simminublan Falls, Santol, La Union is the most exhilarating and scary one! The road is paved to the top of the mountain but rough downwards to the other side where the waterfall is. But the slope, OMG, is definitely only a little less than 90 degrees. It is circuitous and both sides of the road are deep steep ravines, that if we fell there nothing will stop us from reaching the bottom, not even a big boulder. I tell you, it is more than a roller coaster ride. All of us held tightly to the jeepney roof handles! Sometimes, someone gasped, or screeched, involuntary controlled screams that got out from their mouths.

I was able to get a few hurried shots, although they did not show the real dimensionality of the area. They still appeared flat, not that scary as in the real experience. (please move over your mouse for a bigger and clearer picture)

 This is taken while going up to the top of the mountain, afterwhich, it swiftly went down on a rugged unpaved road. I can just think of what it is during the rainy season, maybe more difficult and more scary! The tourism officer said only single motorbikes can traverse this road during the rainy season.

above shows the not so steep part of the road to the top

 The barangay road is only as wide as a jeepney, it is good that nothing comes here but single
motorcycles. Or else the other vehicle will take reverse until the point it started, and that is at the bottom of the mountain. There are portions of the road where both sides are very steep ravines, with nothing to bar you from falling, not even a big tree!

 another view of the other side of the mountain

another expanse at the side of the road

I felt that everybody almost held their breaths most of the time. And maybe a few said some secret self prayer of thanks to God when we at last reach the bottom of the road, a dead end. And from there, a few more steps brought us to big boulders, which kept our destination, the Simminublan Falls.

All of us have picnic baskets, some even have a radio, and of course a large tarpaulin for shade. Most of them swam in the big basin-like catchment of the falls. All the men tried jumping on the water from the rock cliff.

 I did not join them, as my other purpose is to shoot some wildflowers and butterflies. There are also a lot of dragonflies and damselflies, so they also took my fancy.
 
This is the total expanse of the waterfalls, in cascades. They said it is about 30ft in height. The water now is not as big as during the rainy season. It would be lovely then, but i doubt if i can be brave enough to take that single motorbike on slippery steep road during the rainy season.


 the 2nd cascade from the bottom

2nd cascade even enlarged

My friend is the only lady who took the plunge from the cliff. She even wanted to start from the topmost rock, but there are no holds to get there. We were all at the sides, taking her picture. 

the vegetation around the falls

That is a summary of that experience. My more extreme-adventurer friend still wants to visit more of the falls that need more hiking hours. However, i think i need to ask for more details of the road going there before i decide to join her again. 

Below is my friend's video of the road going there and back. 





Monday, March 13, 2017

Malimatoc Beach with Character!

Our town is a peninsula, protruding from the province of Batangas, Philippines. At the west side where the sun sets is a marine sanctuary which has lots of internationally known scuba diving sites. It follows that most of the resorts are found there. Our side of the town is where the sun rises, and we get spectacular sunrises. However, the disadvantage of living in an area like this all your life, is that we almost take for granted its beauty. Maybe tourists or visitors take lots of photos here, but residents like us normally don't.  I just have a few photos because i often pass by here, as the jeepneys start from this area. Our road to town is basically along the shore, but houses now block the shore views. It is not a good type of development, but that is our reality!

This is a bay or a big cove, and the Batangas International Port is at the other side of the bay, where the sun rises. I am just giving you a few compilation of this area, to show our bay's character. Sometimes it is serenely inviting, but most times it is not. An area between those islands at the east directly goes to the Pacific Ocean, giving us strong currents too. Because the west side is famous, this side of the town is not sought after by tourists. As a resident, i think i love it better that way. .

a  serene sunrise

lacey shoreline during serene sunrise

A very calm day and very calm waters. This view is also the scene at my header.

Stormy days bring the ships to our shores to hide. Those are fast craft passenger ships. 

A rocky beach give some residents to gather live shells for food


 Those fortress-like big structures were there only for maybe 3 yrs, a flour and cement factory. Brown waters are here when seas are rough, and the sounds of bumping rocks underneath the waves are sometimes scary. 

 Waves look like this during slightly rough seas at high tides. 

I like looking at those waves when they hit the cement breakwaters

 That island at the horizon is Tingloy, another town, not anymore part of our own. At the farther right of that big island are some small islets that are often visited by tourists in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas. Some resorts include lunch in those beaches as part of their itineraries. At the back shore of that big island is where the Magsasa Beach is located, a beach side very famous for local tourists these days. It is known to have finely white sands so attractive because of the nearness to Manila at 4 min to 1 hour from Anilao port. Further, Anilao to Batangas Grand Terminal is about 1 hr, and to Manila is 2 hours through the newly constructed CALABARZON Expressway. 

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