.. And The Infinite Taste for Travel and Infantile Adventures

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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.


Film Scarcity

I used to buy 30 peso expired films from the very same person I purchased my latest Nikon F2. That old guy is really a Nikon shooter who prefers the softer effect of Nikon lens to a subject’s face than a Canon that can really gobble up the reality with its sharp images. Few years back I bought his expired 400 iso Xtra films. After two years, I finally ran out of stash and this is part of the last roll.

If you notice the cold feel for the Fuji films, it’s the trademark blue color that you get when you use Fuji films. Compared to the warmer taste of Kodak, I usually prefer a Fuji film than a Kodak whether it is black and white or colored negative.

The Last Roll For Canon AE-1 Program

My Canon Ae1-Program already gave up. This is the reason I used the Canon QL19 for the past days. I recently bought a Nikon F2 that reminded me of T-800 in The Terminator. Barely having a decent face, it works good with a 1.4 50mm lens. I hope that I could use it in the coming days. For now, I will be planning to take a trip headed North and maybe rejuvenate the film stash that has been drained by the last months.

It was really a long way since I decided not to sell the Canon AE-1 Program from the usual line up of then functional Hidalgo Online. But now it has a new owner and I was informed that it was fixed in Quiapo by our most trusted Oca. Come to think of it, it was the same Canon AE-1 Program that started our business and even up to an extent, a photographer’s friendship with Oca . I usually have Dong to fix my camera in Quiapo in the past. But knowing how Oca can give you a good run for your money when it comes to repair, I need not to find another technician. My and my University buddies are now heading straight to him.

Oca fixed the Canon AE-1 Program’s   light meter roughly two months before heading to Pulag. It was more than a year since we had that trip and the Canon AE-1 Program didn’t fail me in the meter department at all since then. But this time around it was the gear that was involved. The part that gave up was the one that cranks the roll into the next frame. Living up to it’s repair shop’s name Shurdun! You can really be sure with your camera with this guy.

I no longer wanted to have it repaired for an P800 price considering the battery is now becoming steep! So I had no choice but to bid it goodbye. I sold it to Clark together with the multiplier, battery pack and the 1.4 50mm lens. Though I really remember him getting trouble with its focus after having the gear replaced; this camera is such a treat. It’s history runs from an old photographer who finally decided to sell some of his stuffs to a hustling hobbyist (which is me).

For now, it’s going to be the Nikon F2 aka T-800 Terminator or the 40 year old but still dependable Canon QL 19. As a memento, the photos are some of the Canon Ae-1 Program’s  last roll in my hands.

To my surprise, some of the last shots of the camera came from my grand father’s tool shed. It was where some of the most basic and complex repairs needed in our household was done. It also involved some repairs done for the past and present car. The irony that it is complete with a collection of tools amounting to 50 years, no one inside the house has any knowledge to crack the Canon Ae-1 Program puzzle and fix it.

Do it Yourself Developing and Scanning

We are currently in the testing phase of our project. I just bought a Canoscan 4400F and I really find it user friendly and something useful for my photography hobby. I personally like the fact that digital photography made people interested over photography all over again but I just, can’t take the fact that people are too lazy to get to know the basics. Why would you watermark all your photos, saturate all of them through adobe compromising the basic premise of composition, depth of field, and the correct exposure?

Everyone is heading straight to what the digital world could offer them. This is part of the reason why I really won’t jump towards digital photography and sell my gears. Though there are threats of discontinuing some of my favorite films, but as long as the third world is using them; film photography will still breathe.

We are planning to make things more affordable for people who love film photography. We all know how difficult it is today to really have someone get your black and white film developed with D76 developing. And the story really doesn’t end there. We are also aware how scanning could really cost you. What we are trying to do is to test whether it is feasible to scan and to develop on our very own. Well, we already did it on our films. It is just time for us to apply them to other people’s work. If all goes well, we might be launching it in the next few weeks.

Here are a few outtakes from the Tmax 100 using the Canon AE-1 Program, developed by Eugene’s D76 developer, scanned by the Canoscan 4400F.

Relearning The Primary Language

Let’s just say I had the experience of working with Shakespeare the web copy writer. I hate being the grammar police because I am also a fugitive myself hiding behind the comfort of the internet and the desktop, but this case is just so hard to let it slide. If you are applying for a writer position, at least make things cohesive on what you are saying. I could forgive the tons of subject verb agreement violations, and the misused articles you precede almost every noun in each of the sentences; but writing wordy sentences that lack the direction and sense is already something atrocious that I could never pardon.

I played grammar police with one of the new writers in the office today. I know that there is a drought of writing machines recently in the office and we badly need some hands. But if you are mixing old English with a conversational tone written mostly on “American” English, you just can’t help but to scratch your head with all the “ought” and the incoherent sentences that came after.

I never had the fervor of writing Pulitzer worthy prose materials. What I do is what any other sensible copy writer does and that is to produce a copy that is capable of transcending to the readers despite the unavoidable grammar mishaps here and there.

I do not believe that we Filipinos in general could master the use of English in a proficient manner mainly because our first language has been bastardized. Socialites love to use the mix of Filipino and English on a regular manner that you are definitely not making positive strides for both. According to linguistics experts, mastery of the first language is a must in order to be proficient for both written and verbal to the second language.

When writing or speaking the target language (L2), second language learners tend to rely on their native language (L1) structures to produce a response. (Dechert, 1983 and Ellis, 1997).

The text means that second language speakers tend to still rely on their primary language in order to compose a thought, thus; if you do not have the mastery of your primary language, how do you even expect to rely from it? I remember the time when I first had my taste of cash from writing, one of the very first things I bought was the Cultural Revolution propaganda material from eBay for the sake of having a memorabilia. According to the guy who sold it to me, it says “ China Down to Countryside Movement Periodicals Magazine”. By looking at it, it seems to me that the periodical was published during height of reeducation campaigns for the Chinese middle class. Not only did it bring the Chinese kids of that time closer to the harsh realities of post civil war China, they were also made to teach the illiterates how to both read and write.

If we could only teach the basics the right way, we could’ve been doing complex things the right way too. Though it is bullshit to say that you need a second language in order to be an industrialized country, in my opinion, I just find it a crime to make use of secondary language as your source of bread and butter if you are already being blatantly atrocious on using it.

The hybrid Shakespearean/American conversational tone turned into text was probably one of the worst copies I ever read. I really do not know if it’s the effect of the late night shift plus the shitty computers in the office but come to think of it, what do we really expect if we couldn’t even converse on our own language?

When Plans Go Shitty

Canon QL19, Neopan 400, 5.6 Aperture, 250 shutter speed

If you believe in dreams and you stick to them with every ditch of your effort, I really can’t blame you if you end up frustrated and drained half way. For years, I really dreamed to be part of the Medical Profession, making my four years in premed, taking a BSN degree and then pursuing Medicine right after the four years. Well that was the plan. If you ever believe in the adage: “Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan”, it should have said: “Plan Your Work (If you have money), Work Your Plan (If you have money)”

Most kids these days are programmed to enter College and end up getting a lucrative profession (at least for Philippine, third world country standards) outside the country. Most Some people would work their asses off from the very first time they conquered separation anxiety in elementary school to the time they already conquered awkward years in high school only to find out right after college that the real world really don’t think highly of accolades like: upper 10% rank on your high school batch, member of the chess team, highest pitch award in a singing contest, fastest lunch eater, longest nail in the class, etc.

When it comes to the real world, you are simply a statistic waiting and falling in line.

There needs something to be done in the high school and over all curriculum of the whole school system for both public and private schools in order to at least change the mindset of individuals when it comes to life after school. If there is something I learned after College that I wished I learned a decade back; it is the need for a long term, mid term and short term goal. Not to mention the fact you always need a plan B, plan C and don’t go for broke on something that could go 50/50 along the way.

Before anything else, Nursing is a noble profession and a very good premed degree. The bastardization of this profession however started long before when I started to enter college. When everyone was caught in the fad of going to the profession that would serve as their one way ticket out of the shit hole; not only did it attract thousands, it attracted hoards of hopeless to hopefuls to hope-FOOLs to enter the field without thinking of the possible repercussions or the responsibilities that come with it.

If there is any logic that justifies the fees you pay for just to have “training” and “hospital experience” while you shove the possibility of being hired as a chance to win the lottery or the chance to have an alien abduction or a meet and greet with La Chupacabra; something has to be checked inside your cranium.

Something really went wrong with finances that I somehow couldn’t continue to go to med school right after the completion of my Nursing Bachelor’s Degree. And when you have no other choice but to practice, you really wished you knew sooner that shitty things come with fad degrees. Fad degrees generate money tons of money for Universities and flyby night schools. And when these hot pancakes go stale, thousands of monkeys are left searching and left with no options.

Presently, I write since I really don’t want to accept the fact that you have to work not just for free but for a fee. I don’t have the talent in speaking with different hot headed people just to earn some cash so that really disqualifies me from being a sales representative. I also want to make a comeback that would really hurt the nine to five’s ass balls. But I want to make my plans to be something personal and far from the touch of cyberworld press release just like this. If I want to make this work, I’m roughly 30 days shy from my 23rd birthday, so I really have to sprint in the next years to come.