Home for the holidays (A Travel Diary)


Top Veteran
I'm currently on a 2-week trip here in Manila, Philippines, where I grew up. Christmas is one of the biggest holidays here (if not THE holiday), but I only get to spend it with my parents and sisters once every few years.

I thought I'd share with you some interesting images I'm taking as the days go by. Well, interesting at least for me. :D I have with me the Fuji X10 and a Panasonic G3. I can only post a few a day, because 2 weeks is such a short time to be with family.

Manila is gritty, dirty, noisy, busy. But it's home sweet home. I hope you enjoy these as much I enjoyed taking them.

(PS - I forgot to post this on the first day, so this first post will be Day 1 and Day 2)

Day 1

It's been a gruelling almost-24-hour flight from frigid Boston to sunny Manila, and I arrived around 12:30 am. Slept at around 2 am at my mom's, and woke up at around 5:30 AM, and off I went prowling my old stomping grounds.

Manila sadly has become a place of extreme wealth and poverty. In one of the poorer areas of the city, I saw this "guard" picking up the daily sales, presumably for deposit to a local bank. Note the need for protection. I had quite an initial shock, having not seen such a public display of firepower. :smile:
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Pinoys (local term of Filipinos) are notorious for rule-bending especially on the rules of the road, as seen here. BUT I have a firm hope that we'll come around, and I know we'll get better. ;)
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A local "deli" shop.
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Day 2

A few shots from Day 2.

The view from my window, sunrise.
<i>PS: It's nice to finally have a uniform schedule - sunrise @ around 5:30 AM, sunset @ around 5:30 pm - the way sunsets should be, in my opinion. Not 9PM, not 3:30 PM. :smile:</i>
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One of my favorite comfort foods - Bacolod chicken, garlic fried rice, soy sauce+lime+chilis, iced tea.

A closer look at the side dish - a salsa of green mangoes, onions, tomatoes and <i>bagoong</i> (fermented shrimp paste). Heaven in a small bowl.

My old stomping grounds @ the Makati Central Business District
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The view from inside a ubiquitous local transport - a de-padyak. It's a bicycle fitted with what we call a "side-car" that you ride on. It's so convenient because with it's size, it can easily navigate even very small streets, up to your front door. :smile:

So early in the day, it's already business as usual for these children. Grabbed this quick shot while riding inside the de-padyak.
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<i>(So far all shot with the Fujifilm X10)</i>


betwixt and between
Hebert, I am so glad you're sharing your visit home with us. There's nothing like traveling with someone native to the country...so I'm definitely coming along for the ride. I also appreciate your sharing more than "pretty pictures". Keep the narration going, too - storyline is important!


Top Veteran
Thanks for the kind comments everyone, I appreciate each one of them.

I'm now on Day 4, and boy, a week's almost done, and I still have a long list of to-do's! :smile: This time, I visited the local Chinatown, where every trip is an adventure.

I decided to go all-Fuji processing for this trip -- these images (except the last two) were straight out of the camera. (The other two just didn't seem to convey the same feeling when I used just the OOC jpg.)

Food is a BIG BIG part of Filipino culture, and when you mix it some more with Chinese culture and cuisine, you have an explosion of culinary possibilities. Sadly, my stomach can only take so much in one sitting. :D First off, a shot by my mom of my dad, me, and some local personalities in front of a no-frills, off-the-beaten-track restaurant that's a local legend.


And here's a quick Super-Macro of the food. I said "quick" because I just had to get that snap before I gave in to the sights and smells of the food in front of me! :smile:


After lunch, we rode one of the de-padyaks (only this time it was not a bicycle, but a small motorcycle fitted with a sidecar). I rode behind the driver so I can get quick snaps of the area while he navigated the streets.

A ready-to-eat fruit vendor

A calesa (horse-drawn carriage) -- I tried to take a shot of the calesa's front view as we passed, but I almost fell from the vehicle. :D

PS: Note the yellow ribbon - when one wears it, it's almost always a sign of fondness for the late Corazon Aquino (the wife of our hero Ninoy Aquino) who was swept into power through a bloodless revolution in 1986 (also called "People Power Revolution"), and is generally credited with the restoration of democracy to our country.

Fruits and veggies everywhere! (That's my mom's back, by the way :D)

A local grocery shop
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East meets West. Note the Chinese incense candles in front of the cross.

A de-padyak (which is also called "sidecar")

It's the way Chinatowns should be (I think): busy, tasty, crowded, colorful. It's sensory overload, but well worth the trip.


Top Veteran
Today was a slow day. I think the daily trips/errands have finally caught up to me. :smile: So, I just went for a walk around town (after my siesta of course), and tried to capture Christmas around our town.

First stop: food. :D Did I say food is BIG here? This time, I went to a sidewalk vendor famous for their grilled meats.

Here's the master at work ...

... and his masterpiece(s). (Apart from barbecued pork, you can see some more exotic stuff like chicken innards and pork ears. :smile:)

Here, the local church is usually the center of activity in every town, so I was naturally drawn towards it. Here's the plaza in front of the church.

A light in the dark

Also, starting today December 16, the traditional karoling starts. It's when everyone, especially kids, go around houses singing Christmas carols, and then they are given coins for their effort. Here are some carolers with their improvised instruments.
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Even some grown-ups, too!
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After their rounds, the kids divide what they received, everyone goes home happy. And then it starts over again the next night!
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(Used G3 for the carolers, the X10 for everything else.)


Top Veteran
Ok, my apologies for not "closing" this thread. But the last few days of my trip have been spent with family and friends - reunions, birthdays, Christmas, etc etc. Then when I got back here, work caught up to me. Plus I think I'm photographically "not in it" - I find myself not really much interested in photos the past few weeks. Maybe it's the weather, a post-vacation down, I dunno. But I hope to get out of it soon.

Anyway, before Christmas I did manage to sneak in a mini-trip to Tagaytay, a few kilometers south of Metro Manila, with a very nice view of the famous Taal Volcano. I believe it is the smallest volcano in the world (or at least visibly smallest), but what do I know. :smile:

Here are a few more photographs.

A local store (love the colors on this one). I was a bit surprised to see winter/snow hats here, being a tropical country, but it does get chilly in these parts, being highly elevated.

I just hope those are salt- and pepper-shakers. :D
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My niece and nephew, with the view:

Outside view:
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Here's a horse (and his boy) - for BB? :smile: They are renting out horses and bikes (see below) for an hourly fee. Needless to say the kids (and adults too!) enjoyed it.

Bikes for rent:
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And here's the volcano. That small tip on foreground is the volcano tip itself.

All in all a great trip!! And for those interested, (as what our tourism department says) IT'S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES! :D


betwixt and between
Herbert, I haven't had time to catch up completely but I must add my "Wow" to say that I, too, think that the picture that Nic singled out is superb. You have to have a good print made. It's beautiful in so many ways and will always be meaningful. Superb image!