.. And The Infinite Taste for Travel and Infantile Adventures

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Hiatus and Introducing Oss and Roll

So I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve decided to create a new blog for all my Brazilian Jiu JItsu experience. It is named Oss and Roll. “Oss” embodies the spirit of perseverance and how someone reacts to pressure. Roll on the other hand would refer to jiu jitsu mat time. I am also busy with some other BJJ related projects that you might want to look into.One of which is Manila Kimonos. So it was really busy for me and I wasn’t slacking around at all.

Don’t worry this blog will still be getting posts hopefully in the near future.

Shoot From the Hips and the Perfect Fit

So I started shooting from the hips now. I still can’t get the composition perfect for my past shots but this is a start. I am using the QL19 for street photography now.

Any tips on how I could really improve my hip shots would really be great! So, hit the comments!

Canon QL19, Kodak ProImage 100, Aperture: 5.6, Shutter Speed 1/15

Yats International Poor Quality Round trip Transfer To Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival

When I saw the round trip transfer offered by Yats International vis-à-vis Clark Air base-Ortigas for their Annual Hot Air Balloon, I didn’t really hesitate to give them a ring to confirm two seats for me and my girlfriend. According to their press release, it is really hard to get a jeep right after the Hot Air Balloon event. True enough, they have a great logic on hyping their offer. For P1,500 I bought two round trip tickets inclusive of the entrance in the Annual Hot Air Balloon event.

According to them, they leave 7am from Ortigas in front of the Philippine Stock Exchange Building (Tektite) going to Clark. From Clark, they will pick us up at 6:45-7pm in order to leave at 7:30pm.

We arrived early to find ourselves the second row seats at around 6:30am. This was when the bad service started to happen. They actually filled the bus beyond its comfortable seating capacity. The staff of Yats International made people seat through the aisle. Just imagine big dudes cramped on a substandard seat though you paid exactly the same as the others who came early.

During the morning I still thought it was funny. Their conductoras/stewardesses would even take pictures from the bus to get people’s candid and excited expressions. I even thought that the only ones smiling were the ones placed on the comfortable seats and the ones seated on the middle aisle would look grumpy. This was actually a bad omen as the staff of Yats International were very disorganized and arrogant (read further and you will know why they are a bunch of arrogant trolls).

At around 6:45pm, the MC announced from the hot air balloon event that the wind is too strong that they can’t afford to let go of the hot air balloons anymore. We decided to head to the bus where they told us earlier to take right from the exit and take a few walks (10 minute walk) to see a tent. Note that there were not idiot guide and user friendly map on their itinerary sheet. It was just an instruction from the conductoras/stewardesses.

I called the number on their paper earlier at around 1pm to confirm the direction of the Clark Wine Center. This person named Chay Tanglao confirmed that you only need to take right from the exit to see a Green Tent saying it was really just a short stroll. Back to the story, we went to the exit to find out that we are actually walking for 15 minutes in the parking lot and yet we see no tent! If this was their definition of “walking distance” then I really have to be a marathon athlete to reach this Clark Wine Center where their busses were parked. We called Chay Tanglao with my voice a bit irked by the fact that they didn’t tell us that you would have to really walk for about 1km and cross the parking lot in order to reach the Clark Wine Center.

I really thought that this was the worst that could happen this day, but I was wrong!

People started to arrive late from the boarding time since it would really take a psychic to locate the Clark Wine Center’s location at night! Who would have thought that you need to traverse a dark, dusty and a grassy area that could be filled with snakes. People came in late as expected and we were the ones who arrived early. We had a choice of seat and it was really comfortable. Then an ARBITRARY announcement came from the conductoras/stewardesses that we have to go back to our old seats. It was really obvious that no one really wanted to settle for the less comfortable aisle seats.

This was when we protested from the bus. If you are asking why I did it; it was maybe for the sake of arguing/venting or maybe to really prove a point that they can’t do this to a paying customer. Whatever it was I know and the rest of the bus passengers know that this is wrong. Just imagine seating on the aisle seat early in the morning because you were “late” (though you paid the same or you may have even purchased their other rip off offers). And now, they are expecting you to return to your miserable chair though you arrived early this time around.

The conductoras/stewardesses proven to be damned trolls returned 3 times to our bus to coerce us that no one is leaving from Clark if we are not going to return to our seats. This was when I really exploded and pointed a finger on their mugs. I told them to stop forcing us to go to our former places when we weren’t even informed that this was the case early in the morning. Secondly, they shouldn’t have filled the bus beyond the comfortable seating capacity. And thirdly, we were hungry and I really wanted to go home or else eat the trolls’ carcasses.

They proceeded to change the seating arrangements of bus 2 and bus 3. They were lucky or unlucky since the tourists on these busses followed the troll’s advice to rearrange back to their old busses. Yats International even let bus 2 go with so many seats unfilled just to prove a point that all we need to do is to transfer seats. This was when another problem happened since a group of Korean tourists were seated on bus number 2 when they were instructed to go back to their former seating arrangement and former bus. They were seated on our bus with everyone refusing to move. Everyone heard the Korean tourist complaining to one of the troll stewardess/conductora on where should she seat? She left her seat to follow the instructions only to find out that they people on the first bus occupied her former seat!

After an hour of back and forth argument and my voice raised over the trolls’ arrogant behavior, someone had the sense to call the cops. Immediately when they saw the cops, this Chay Tanglao finally appeared and apologized for the delay and said that we can actually go. It was officially 8:30 when we left Clark. We were stuck in traffic for four hours to reach Ortigas from the Hot Air Balloon festival area.  So much for Yats International and their silly Clark Wine Center!

To sum it up:

1. You don’t fill a bus to the extent of not giving people the same or better service as the other paying customers. You don’t see planes ask people to sit on the lavatory when there are no seats!

2. You don’t arbitrarily make the rules and impose them to your paying clients!

3. You should’ve apologized way earlier before everything escalated. If not, let the trolls apologize personally and not just some insincere press release apology from your HR head.

4. For the future tourists headed towards the Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival, find a good homestay or any place where you could sleep to see the morning flight of balloons.

5. Lastly, read a review or ask anyone in the online world if you are purchasing anything online.

6. If you want trouble and if you want to get robbed by attractive press release statements that really won’t deliver, go for Yats International!

Farewell Neopan 1600!

Fuji Neopan 1600 BW. Nikon F2. 50mm 1.4 prime

Shutter Speeds: 1/500- 1/1000

Aperture: 1.4

This set is basically a dream come true. I really wanted to also try shooting sports (on film format). I just didn’t have the chance to grab hold of a film that really fits the situation, until a few months ago! I used a Neopan 1600 iso high speed black and white film. Thanks to my good friend Eugene for developing this roll, and of course the scanner goes to Canoscan 4400F.  The Fuji Neopan 1600 iso film has been discontinued for practical reasons today. This is my fitting goodbye to the grainy high speed film. What better way than to test it in action inside the Hevtek United-Ancheta Jiu JItsu grind house. Due to the uneven lighting inside the gym, I used bracketing to get the right exposure.

The Fuji Neopan 1600 was discontinued because of the presence of its 400iso counterpart. According to the rules that they give when you are trying to push or pull the film during developing process, you could actually hike it or decrease it by two stops and the results will remain the same. In terms of economic practicality, it really makes a lot of sense. The price of 1600 Neopan is a bit more expensive than the 400 iso Neopan. Why have a 1600 if you could push the 400?

These are some of the outtakes and I’ll be posting more on Flickr in the coming days!

OSS!

Reviewing The Nikon F2

I used the Nikon F2 for the Ilocos trip and so far I’m pretty much contented with the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens. Though no doubt, the F2 is such a great find; I just can’t stand the fact that wear and tear definitely manifested through the whole shooting process.

  1. On and off functionality of F stops 8-16.

I had the difficulty shooting outdoors because the shutter curtain won’t allow the light to get through UNLESS you press the depth of field preview button. I do not know if it is the 50 mm NIkkor lens to blame or it is the F2. If anyone knows what could be the cause of this ruckus, drop me a line.

  1. Faulty back cover lock.

It was quite frustrating to have some of your shots wiped off with the lock failing to keep the back cover tightly closed. Though the lock at the bottom of the camera was secured to “C”, it kept on opening ajar resulting to some frames being destroyed. Fortunately it didn’t damage a whole roll.

  1. The head definitely gives the F2 a trashy look

If you will read about the F2 it has several heads from the viewfinders that allow you to shoot from the waist to the typical eye level view finders. Mine has a wrecked front removing the “Nikon” logo upfront. It was mentioned that it is really common to cannibalize viewfinders or heads in order to fix other Nikon cameras. It is likely that my F2 was a victim of this probable theory.

Of course, you really don’t want to have all problems and no solutions. I finally narrowed three problems to one pressing problem, scratching the two others (as a non-issue for me). Since I really don’t want to destroy rolls of hard work and joy, I am going to reinforce the camera with electrical tape from this day on whenever I am shooting. It doesn’t matter if it is indoor or outdoor.

 

For more information on how the Nikon F2 works check this out!

 

 

Backpacking Ilocos 101: Vigan To Pagudpod

The next installation   of the Backpacking Ilcoos series is from Vigan headed ultimately to Pagudpod. We started from Vigan and headed to Pagudpod via Laoag by 9am. But in reality, if you want to go directly to the finest sands of Pagudpod, you can do so using GMT bus lines from Vigan, this way you skip the Laoag stop over. But for our part, we ended up going to Partas bus lines since we missed the GMT bus from the gas station.

Going to Laoag from Vigan typically goes from 2.5-3 hours. From Laoag, you can take the bus further up north to Pagudpod for another 2 hours. There are many sites you can see surrounding Pagudpod. You can in fact opt to see these places before you head directly to Pagudpod riding tricycles from one town to the other. The other option is to have a guide from the tricycle drivers of Pagudpod.

There are those tricycle drivers who are accredited by the Department of Tourism. Their rate would typically be 1,200 for both the Southward and Northward tours. The trusted driver who accompanied us was Marlito. You can contact him through his cell phone number (+63 9286618304) to get an easy accommodation especially during summer.

One of the best highlights of the trip is the Kabigan Falls. It will be a thirty minute walk back and forth to reach the falls but it is all worth it. Aside from the falls, you can also look forward to Bangui where you get to see 20 giant windmills that power two towns of Ilocos Norte.

Here are the complete list of itineraries broken down between the one headed north of Pagudpod and the ones headed south both being P600 respectively (good for 2-3pax).

Northbound Tour

  1. Kabigan Falls
  2. Patapat Viaduct
  3. Agua Grande
  4. Paraiso ni Anton
  5. Timmangtang Rock
  6. Blue Lagoon
  7. Dos Hermanos

Southbound Tour

  1. Bangui Windmills
  2. Bangui View Deck
  3. Bojeador Lighthouse

We had our accommodation at Polaris beach resort in barangay Saud. If you are looking for a quiet place to stay in, this is the best spot out there. It is near the town proper so if anything goes wrong, you could simply get to the hospital or go and get some food. Comparing Blue Lagoon and Barangay Saud, the downside to the latter would have to be the waves. They have stronger waves than the one in Blue Lagoon (which is one of the reasons why it is sought after).

If you are on a budget, you could simply go and find a homestay within barangay Saud and Blue Lagoon. You could always ask Marlito to bring you to the best places within your budget. There are rooms that would cost P800 per night while there are also those resorts that would charge 2 grand a night.

To have a smoother transaction, it is highly suggested you contact Marlito: (+63 9286618304) or Polaris Beach Resort (+63-077-6760198)

Backpacking Ilocos 101: Manila to Vigan

This is my second time around in Ilocos and the place never fails to amaze me. We hopped from Vigan to Laoag to Pagudpod in a span of five days. I’ll give off some tips on how to get around Vigan and Pagudpod, the pocket friendly way. We basically survived with the average of less than P1,000 a day. This is the first part of the backpacking entries I’m going to post.

We basically started in Manila. We chose to go for Dominion Bus Lines and left for the 8:30pm ride. Manila to Vigan is around 8-9 hours so I’d rather sleep it off. You could in fact make use of different bus lines if you want to go to Vigan but Dominion Bus Lines is quite cheaper than what Viron Bus Lines is offering.

We arrived in Vigan at around 5am and went to El Juliana Hotel. I have to admit that the hotel 4 years ago was way better than what it is now. The place is literally falling apart not to mention the unmaintained pool that could already be a breeding ground of mosquitoes. They charged P900 for a room good for two. If you are on a tight budget, you could try the different homestays in the area. You could opt to have the one beside El Juliana hotel, or you could simply ask the tricycle drivers to bring you to one affordable homestay. I saw one sign that says P280/night, I don’t know if it goes per person or it is already good for one room.

Getting around Vigan is a great experience. The picturesque heritage village simply says it all. Plus the fact that you could get around the different sites of Vigan for P150/hour tour with the calesas. The tour typically covers the bell tower where the Panday fight scene was made, then the Hidden Garden, Burnay workshop, weaver’s workshop, Chavit Singson’s Baluarte and other museums that you could opt to skip or explore on your own. We covered the different areas   except the museums and we were done after 3 hours.

Aside from the trips and the sites to see, you should try the delicacies sold in the plaza. Though the Mc Donald’s is so tempting, try the Ilocano foods for a different experience.

 

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