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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Man-Made Forest in Bohol

In the 1960's, during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal, a nationwide reforestation program was launched by the government. In Bohol it was spearheaded by then governor Lino Chatto. Thousands of Mahogany seedlings were planted on a cleared area of 857.4 hectares in Bilar and Loboc towns.
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The forest can be seen as you take the road going to Carmen, Bohol (site of the famous Chocolate Hills). When you approaches the forest, one will feel the change in temperature, especially during summer or hot season. It is hot outside the forested area, but refreshing (you can feel the cool breeze) inside the forest area.
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The Loboc-Bilar man-made forest plays host to many visitors, locals and foreigners alike who take time to view it from the road and take pictures. The Metro Manila filmmakers often use the forest as a backdrop for some of their action films. In fact, our girl friends even imagined the scene in the "Twilight" film as we were doing our respective post, hmmm.
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A side-trip to the forest is refreshing aside from being a perfect backdrop for your photo opportunity.
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Here's a video of the "Man-made Forest" when we visited Bohol three (3) years ago:

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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Chocolate Hills in Bohol

The Chocolate Hills is one of the famous tourist attraction in Bohol. The hills are estimated around 1,268 hills. The hills are covered with grass that turns chocolate brown during dry season, hence the name was derived from this color.
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There are a number of legends regarding the formation of the hills, one legend tells us that the hills came into existence when two feuding giants threw stones, boulders and sand at each other that lasted for days. When they finally became exhausted, they became friends and left the island but forgot to clean the mess they made.
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However, up to this day, geologists have not yet reached consensus on how they where really formed. The most widely accepted theory is that it was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion. The same statement is written in a bronze plaque found in the observation deck of Chocolate Hills Complex.
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Chocolate Hills Complex is located in Carmen Bohol, about 34 miles from Tagbilaran City. The complex is a government-owned complex and the original viewing station of the Chocolate Hills. It has a restaurant and hostels and the observation or viewing deck which is about 210 feet above the ground. There are 210 steps leading to the viewing deck were you can view the landscape which is covered by a thousand of hills.
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The other viewing station is at Sagbayan Peak in the town of Sagbayan . It is only 11 miles away from Chocolate Hills Complex. Sagbayan Peak is a mountain-top resort and recreational center.
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Entrance Fee:
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Chocolate Hills Complex - P50 per person (as of 2008)
Sagbayan Peak - P20 per person (as of 2006)
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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Bohol Beach Resorts, a Paradise

Bohol Beach Resorts is nestled in the paradise of Panglao Island in Bohol. It has a long stretch of fine and white sandy beach, a perfect haven for beach lovers and diving enthusiast.
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My wife and I went here in 2006 and stayed in Dumaluan resort, one of the resort which offers cheaper accommodation rates. The resort is too crowdy unlike the first time we went here, were we felt that we own the island (tip: you will enjoy more during weekdays or off-peek season).
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Thanks to the nearby resort, the Bohol Beach Club we were able to enjoy the beach even more. Actually, you can stroll and swim in front of Bohol Beach Club without even spending a single centavo but If you wish to see and enjoy the facilities of this resort, you need to pay P250 which includes entrance fee and P150 consumable.
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We stayed at Amihan Wing were we eat our lunch at Taclobo restaurant. We haven't got a chance to really explore the place though the resort boast of 3 swimming pools and other facilities such as function rooms, accommodations and sports facilities.
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Bohol Beach Club is surrounded with palm trees which added to the already beautiful and adorable place. A picture perfect place indeed.
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There are still a lot of resorts to explore in Panglao, a good reason for me to return here in the near future.
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Believe me its better than Boracay even without the night life.
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For Reservation and Inquiry:
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See Also:
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Virgin Island
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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Philippine Tarsier in Bohol

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), is one of the smallest known primates (the classification of tarsier as to what family it really belong somewhat problematic), no larger than the hands of an adult man. The Philippine tarsier is mostly active at night (nocturnal) and eats insects such as crickets. Aside from Bohol, it can also be found in the islands of Samar, Leyte and in Mindanao. It is endemic in the Philippines.
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Although it is a protected species and the practice of catching and selling them to tourists has stopped, the species is still threatened by the destruction of its natural forest habitat. They are becoming endangered because they are being kept in captivity and died earlier than their original death date. Tarsiers are “very fragile and suicidal once stressed out” from excessive noise and being repeatedly touched by people. If no action is taken, these species will soon be added to the list of extinct species. To date the Philippine Tarsier is critically endangered (means that its numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations)
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The Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. was mandated by the Department of Natural Resources(DENR) in their 1997 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to implement the Philippine Tarsier Conservation Program. The foundation is successful in breeding the tarsier in captivity but the effort is far from over in one way or another we could help in conserving and saving the tarsier population into extinction.
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Recently, in the effort to protect Bohol's tarsier, The Provincial Council of Bohol passed an ordinance which limits tarsier viewing within Corella, Bohol: the only place in Bohol declared as a sanctuary by the DENR (see related article).
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As of this date the moved to closed down the Tarsier Sanctuary in Loboc and Loay is not yet implemented. We were there last weekend and the situation is still the same, the tourists who flock here doesn't care much, even if they were told not to touch and use flash photography, many people are still not following the simplest instructions. Yes, they are really adorable but this practice shouldn't be continued. It is high time to implement the ordinance even if it will mean hurting the tourism in Loboc and Loay.
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I am glad to see the tarsier in the flesh for the 2nd time (the last time was in 2006, and I made a terrible mistake, I forgot to turn off my camera's flash) and I hope to see them again in the near future and I hope that the future generations will still see these adorable creatures alive and not just in photographs and websites.
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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Balicasag Marine Sanctuary

Aside from dolphin watching, snorkeling is one of the main attraction in Bohol specially in Balicasag Island.
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Balicasag Marine Sanctuary is a 45 minutes to an hour of boat ride from Bohol Beach Club n Panglao Island. It is a government run sanctuary.
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Here, you will find a 400 meter Marine Sanctuary of corals with different kinds of fishes, characterized by a vertical walls over deep waters. The fishes sometimes bites but friendly, it seems that they are attune to the visitors who flock here regularly. Even in the shallow waters, school of fish (jack fish) can be seen here and other popular fishes such as Nemo and Dori ("Finding Nemo").
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If you really want to enjoy the marine life in Balicasag, try SCUBA diving, there are a lot of diving spots in Balicasag such as the Black Forrest, Rudy's Rock, Rico's Wall, Cathedral and Diver's Heaven (I don't know where the names were originated). I was able to ask for the rate of diving lesson for beginner, it's around P2,800 for 30 minutes of lesson which includes diving gear. If I already gained all the confidence underwater I will definitely try diving, hopefully in 2 years time
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Some of the corals were destroyed by the rampant and destructive fishing such as dynamite fishing in the early 80's. In response to this, the whole island had been designated as a marine sanctuary to ensure protection of the corals and marine life around the island.
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Snorkeling in Balicasag will cost you P1,800 for boat rental and P150 per person as fee to the Sanctuary. There are also snorkels, mask and wet shoes for rent which cost you P250-P300 per set. Better invest on these things because in the long run it will saved you more money. Buying snorkeling gear will cost you around P2,000 and wet shoes is around P250 (local brand).
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Don't forget to bring your underwater camera (mine is Olympus MJU 1030) or buy a waterproof camera casing for a more enjoyable trip and snorkeling to Balicasag Marine Sanctuary.
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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Under the Sea of Balicasag

Underwater Video of Balicasag Marine Sanctuary in Bohol. Using Olympus MJU1030 (this camera is very useful underwater, it can reach up to 30ft. below sea level), I was able to capture at least a few minutes of life "Under the Sea".

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Song: Under The Sea from the animated movie "The Little Mermaid".

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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of this video may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above video was created by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the author. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mount Pinatubo and Its Crater


In June 1991, the second largest volcanic eruption (the 1st is the 1912 eruption of Katmai-Novarupta in Alaska) of the 20th century with Volcanic Explosivity Index of 6 took place on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Death reached up to 800 people and 100,000 became homeless following the Mount Pinatubo* eruption.

Not only the lives of thousands of people were affected, it also greatly affects our environment. The incident light reaching Earth’s surface decreased by 10% and global temperature decreased by 0.5 oC (1.1 oF) for 3 years.

The wrath of nature doesn't end after the eruption, lahar flow followed which caused the destruction of infrastructures and farms in Central Luzon. Irrigation, water facilities, power transmissions, road and bridges, is greatly affected by the lahar flow even the American were forced to leave the former American Air Base. It lasted for more than 10 years.

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Today, the people affected by the eruption and lahar flow are slowly recovering and the once deadly volcano became a tourist destination and one of the sought after mountain among the mountaineers in Philippines. In 2008, I was able to set my feet and witnessed the beauty and grandeur of Mount Pinatubo and its crater. It is so amazing that nature heals itself.

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Going to the crater is a combination of an hour of 4x4 ride going to the jump-off point and a 3 hour trek. Mt. Pinatubo trek is different from the regular mountains. Instead of forests, you will walk in stretches of sand; and instead of the blue-green mountains, you have a white-gray-brown, almost Alpine, formations.

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There is a shorter trip going to the crater which can be complete in just an hour, the Skyway Mountain Trail but I am not encouraging you to choose this trail since this so called “Skyway” is not endorsed by the Department of Tourism as it poses danger due to its unstable condition. No Environmental Clearance Certification has been issued in connection with the construction and use of the mountain.

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With these notes, we chose the 3 hour trek. I still enjoyed the longer way even if I was left out by my group when we were about 30 minutes to the crater lake, I was lost in the dark because my head lamp's battery were busted. The mix of colors along the way was just awesome. It took us longer because we took many "take 5's along the way.

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It is safe to swim in the crater of Mt. Pinatubo, but do not go in the middle. Currents might drown you or pull you underneath. You may climb Mt. Pinatubo at any time of the year, but pay attention to weather conditions. Heavy rains cause lahar floods that have stranded tourists in the past. If there is a storm warning within Luzon, do not attempt to climb even if there is no storm warning for Zambales and Tarlac.

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At 960+ above mean sea level, it is classified as Minor climb with 2/9 level of Difficulty.

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*Mount Pinatubo is part of a chain of volcanoes which lie along the western edge of the island of Luzon. It lies on a destructive plate boundary.

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The volcano is located 89 km (55 miles) northwest of Manila. Several important river systems have their sources on Pinatubo, with the major rivers being the Bucao, Santo Tomas, Maloma, Tanguay and Kileng rivers. Before the eruption, these river systems were important ecosystems, but the eruption filled many valleys with deep pyroclastic deposits. Since 1991, the rivers have been clogged with sediment, and the valleys have seen frequent lahars. Studies show that the river systems wil

lt take many years yet to recover from the 1991 eruption. (source: Wikipedia)



© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Firefly Watching in Sorsogon

Aside from the Whale Shark (Butanding) interaction. Donsol offers an attraction that will surely fascinates tourist - the Firefly Watching along Donsol and Ogod rivers.
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Firefly watching along the Ogod and Donsol rivers is no ordinary tourist attraction. The enchanted beauty of these nocturnal insects inhabit the two rivers and provide glow along the stretch of mangrove trees. These fireflies are common here in the Philippines but is extraordinary is the huge population of these species found along the province’s two rivers.
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Hundreds of fireflies are found rampant along Donsol River. Fireflies are not really “flies” as entomologists know them, but are actually beetles from the family of lampyridae. With their bioluminescent character or their capacity to emit flashing lights through their bodies, they are also called the “light bugs”.
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At P1, 200 (I think this rate is too much for an hour of trip); one will be able to avail of a guided bangka tour of the sanctuary and enjoy (hopefully) the scenic view of countless numbers of fireflies along the river at night. The only setbacks of firefly watching is during low tide and when there is a full moon. Boat cannot pass through Donsol River during low tide.
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The experience is somehow creepy, one can only imagine that a creature will emerge from the water ready to eat you (whew!). Our group were not able to enjoy it, because on the day that we avail the attraction, we actually have full moon. It is to bright to enjoy firefly watching. Those Christmas like trees were not that bright after all. Believe me it wont work, you should avail of this attraction when there are less illumination of the moon, where you can only see the light from these insects. Our guides actually needed to climbed the tree to get some of the fireflies for us to see, they died after that short watch. We sung the whole time of the trip to avoid boredom.
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One last note, tourist usually flock to Donsol, Sorsogon during Holy Week to enjoy encounter with the whale shark...just a suggestion, do not try firefly watching, it's full moon during this week.
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I'll be leaving with you a video of our short trip to "Firefly Watching"
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© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of this video may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above video was created by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the author. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunset @ Manila Bay


Aside from its historical importance, Manila Bay is also known for its magnificent and beautiful sunset. It may not be the best for some but for me it is the best sunset I ever seen.

I was just lucky to witnessed sunsets at Manila Bay when I was working in a government office. Almost everyday, I saw it in different varieties and colors but I haven't capture it in my camera (How can I do that?, I don't have a camera back then). I captured this image when I was still attending Basic Photography Class.

Everyday, hundreds of people flock here to see the sunset in Manila Bay. Watching the sky transformed into different vibrant colors, each day's sunset is unique that is why many people are still coming back again and again. The reflections of its color in the water is magnificent and you will be mesmerized by its beauty. Though there are a lot of photographs of Manila Bay Sunset to see, still one have to go there and witness it for yourself and captivate by its beauty and grandeur.

You can view and enjoy the sunset in different vantage points. You can view it in the former Manila Baywalk, in front of Rizal Park (some people said that guards in Rizal Parks prohibits photographers to shoot, I wonder why), in SM Mall of Asia or in Manila Yatch Club. To add a romantic mood while having a date with with your spouse or love ones, you can view the sunset while sailing in the water and while drinking champagne.

For those who haven't seen the Manila Bay Sunset, you're missing a lot.

Visit different sites to inquire for the cruise they offered, like the Jeepney Sunset Cocktail Cruise or the Prestige Night Cruises on board the M/V Spirit of Manila. I will definitely try this one soon.


I use Canon 400D and 18mm-55mm kit lens, Aperture Priority at ISO400


© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.
 

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