Scenes from the UPLB Feb Fair 2014

The annual University of the Philippines Fair, held every Valentine’s week, dates back from the university’s protest fair during the Marcos regime. Now, the week-long tradition sees the Sunken Garden in UP Diliman and the Freedom Park in UP Los Baños converted to fairgrounds, host to food booths, vendors, and a center-stage for band performances.  Below are some photographs of the UPLB Fair taken last 12 Feb. 2014 on my tablet. Note: because I needed natural light, these were shot right before sunset, just as the fairgoers were starting to pour in. (15 photos)

A food vendor grills isaw (chicken intestines) and pork barbecue at the UPLB Fair.

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23 Dec. 2013 - JR hauls his boat Astrobal-2 to shore at the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan, Philippines.  Local boatmen like him earn a living ferrying tourists across the different islands.  The holiday season is an especially busy time for the park.

23 Dec. 2013 - JR hauls his boat Astrobal-2 to shore at the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan, Philippines.  Local boatmen like him earn a living ferrying tourists across the different islands.  The holiday season is an especially busy time for the park.

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Batanes’ Other Residents

The lush green hills of Batanes, Philippines are extremely well-suited for grazing.  Cattle are as much a staple of the landscape as gentle slopes and views of the sea.  Livestock, after all, is a major export of this northern province.  But there is something evocative about the sight of a solitary cow gazing out into the sea.  Pensive?  Perhaps.  Are cows capable of appreciating the beauty around them?  Do they ever ponder their fate?  With the hope of gaining compassion for these creatures, the following bovine portraits are an attempt to anthropomorphize and humanize Batanes’ other residents.  (10 photos)

A cow stares into the West Philippine Sea in Batanes’ Marlboro Country.

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Street Scenes from India’s Golden Triangle

The triumvirate of Delhi, Jaipur in Rajasthan, and Agra in Uttar Pradesh comprise India’s Golden Triangle. As the site of the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, several forts (Red, Amer, and Agra), 2 Jantar Mantars, and the largest Jama Masjid in India, the Golden Triangle sees millions of visitors a year. But looking beyond the majesty of its Mughal monuments, the area is a street photographer’s dream. With the country’s population pass the 1.2B mark, its cities are always teeming with people. The streets are remarkably photogenic; one only need point the camera at any direction to capture some hustle and bustle going on. The following photographs, taken last November 2010, offer but a tiny glimpse of the streets of Incredible !ndia. (31 photos)

An old woman waits to cross the street along Mathura Road in Faridabad.

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tumblrbot said: ROBOTS OR DINOSAURS?

A: Why pick when you can have both?

I believe this image is from a show called Dino-Riders. Rawr!

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A Temple Run at Siem Reap

We spot them within minutes of turning at National Road 6 from the airport (REP): hotels after hotels as far as the eye can see, built to accommodate the 2 million visitors Siem Reap receives every year. Tourism, after all, is now the lifeblood of this once sleepy Cambodian province.

Touts and tuk-tuk drivers offer deals at every turn. In our case, a simple “ott-tey aw-koon” (Khmer for “No, thank you”) impressed them well enough to leave us alone. Tours of Tonlé Sap’s floating villages have made a spectacle out of poverty. Night markets selling nothing but souvenirs have sprouted up all over town. But the biggest draw remains to be the majestic ruins of Angkor, built by the Khmer empire between 900 and 1200 AD.

As visitors crowd Angkor’s temples, climb its ancient sandstone steps, and graze its carved walls, the sustainability of tourism poses a serious challenge. With conservation efforts underway, the next few years will be an exercise in balancing Cambodia’s economic interests with the preservation of its heritage. (25 photos)

Siem Reap
An imposing face carving overlooks the ruins of Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom.

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For One QC Restaurant, The Theme is Crazy

(Note: for more pictures, see Benette’s amazing photographs of our night)

Entering the Van Gogh is Bipolar Restaurant is akin to tum-tum-tumbling down the rabbit hole. The place is dimly-lit, full of knickknacks and mismatched furniture, resembling a cross between an antique shop and art studio. Leave your sanity — and shoes — at the door. Eccentrics, deviants, cuckoos, weirdos, idiots: welcome. You are with kindred souls. (4 photos)


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A Weekend in Banaue

I’d like to think of the Ifugao people of the Philippine Cordillera Region as an extremely stubborn, albeit ingenious, bunch. They, who insisted on planting rice at any cost, decided to carve rice fields into the mountains in the absence of plains. Two thousand years later, the Ifugao’s legacy lives on. Since the rice terraces’ inclusion in UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in 1995, there has been a continuous influx of tourists in the area.

The construction of the rice terraces is no mean feat. Each step represents a paddy surrounded by a wall made of stone and dried mud. Rows and rows of these paddies, each around 10 feet high, cover clusters of mountains from top to bottom. Our local guide tells me that ownership of each paddy is passed on from generation to generation. Affluence is measured by how many paddies, not tourist inns, a family owns.

While there are terraces scattered all over the Ifugao province, only 5 are included in the UNESCO list: Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao, Hungduan, and Nagacadan. My main destination was the amphitheater-like terraces in the remote village of Batad, reachable after a 1 hour jeepney ride from the Banaue town proper followed by a ~1-2 hour trek downhill from the Batad Saddle.  Below are pictures from my trip taken last 16-17 February 2013. (14 photos)

The north side of the Batad Rice Terraces.  Each paddy is in a different stage of planting: some fields contain rice seedlings in the 3-5 leaf stage, some with plants mid-tillering, some empty.

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On Chinese New Year, Binondo Sees Red

Because of its large Chinese immigrant population, the Chinatown in Binondo, Manila has one of the most spectacular Lunar New Year celebrations in the country. Visitors flock Binondo for its dragon dances, fireworks displays, and wide selection of Chinese food. Red, an auspicious color during the New Year, takes center stage in both people’s clothing and street decorations. Last 10 February 2013, I visited the Manila Chinatown to participate in the revelry and to sample Chinese fare. (50 photos)

Banners welcome visitors to the historic Manila Chinatown.

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Closing Time

Last 19 January 2013, my high school friends and I met up at Café Ilang-Ilang at The Manila Hotel for dinner. As the conversation progressed into the night, we lost track of time and found ourselves the only patrons left as the staff prepared to close for the night. (5 photos taken with my iPad)

A waiter brings dirty dishes to the kitchen.

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