Travel Archives - Page 2 of 2 - She Makes Him Known

Exploring Home: Binondo, Manila

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Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out experience etched on a person’s face. 

(Steve McCurry)

As a portrait photographer exposed to the the deviously flawless world of beauty and fashion (photography) so early on in my life, the fear of imperfect photographs has always limited my craft. For a very long time, I restricted my perception of beauty to the impeccable and the grandiose. I was unable to compromise my aesthetics; anything that did not meet a socially acceptable standard of beauty – the filthy, the unfamiliar – was something I veered away from. Thankfully, growth is always possible.

It takes courage to explore your craft, to know your style, be comfortable with it, yet still dive into a deep abyss of the unknown, which may not merit approval from your peers, and even yourself. It takes courage to feed on discontent but ultimately, be open to the possibility of change.

Taking photographs of strangers has always interested me but it is only at this point when I intentionally make space to immerse myself in everyday encounters. I have been opening my eyes – as if for the first time – to the world and really understanding and communing with the human condition. This is the beauty of portraiture. It elevates a soul, plunges in its reality without the need for words. It sees struggle, embraces it, and tethers you to another.

This is what it means to be human.


Exploring Home: Wawa Dam, Montalban

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An hour and a half away from home is Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal – a place for an unbelievably cheap, enthralling adventure for those itching for a quick getaway from the rowdy streets of Manila. I spent less than P300 during the trip, which included: my Montalban jeepney ride from Marikina (P27), a Wawa tricycle (P20/head), an entrance fee (P2), and a rental fee for a tent (P150); the area abounds with sari-sari stores in case you forget to bring food. I find this so ridiculous, I could have ordered two drinks at Starbucks!

It takes 15-20 minutes of walking from the entrance before arriving at the dam itself. For those allergic to trekking and other more strenuous activities (like asthmatic me), this is particularly easy to traverse through. The only dangerous part about the entire trip was climbing down the rocks to get to the dam, which does not take much time. For the more adventurous folks, climbing Mt. Pamintinan (in the same area) may be another option; tour guides say it takes approximately 4-5 hours.

My half-day Valentine’s weekend with one of my best friends, Boch, was truly unforgettable. Sharing our thoughts on the Divine, on life, and the essence of passion and work under the “falls” – in my gym attire – is all I needed to remember how loved I am. I am reminded that every day is an opportunity to celebrate Love – to be so full of it that it overflows. May we let Love embrace us and let it become a habit, a response, and more so, a reflex.


Exploring Home: Coron, Palawan

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My memories seem to betray me as each day – back in the rowdy cosmopolis – passes by, and words that I try to conjure never seem to compare to the reality that was. As Joan Didion would put it, “Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.”

Coron was pure magic.

As a city girl who has lived in the Philippines (Manila) her entire life, I constantly yearn(ed) for uncharted territory. Discovering the rest of my country seemed a bit pointless – a truly horrible and unpatriotic mindset brought about by being in the same place for too long. But, an opportunity arose, I took it and have never been more in love with my beautiful country – dominated by myriads of virgin islands and beaches – I can only hope to keep exploring through the course of my small life.

45 minutes away (via plane to the island of Busuanga) from Manila is the municipality of Coron – simple and underdeveloped, which makes it even more appealing. The town proper brims with a roster of busy hostels, authentic restaurants, and colorful stores. Four days were enough to have a glimpse of the Condé Nast Traveler awardee as the best island (Palawan) in the world; its beauty will overwhelm, fascinate, and leave you speechless.

We had two full days to soak up the sun and traverse the idyllic sites including Kayangan Lake, Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, Coral Gardens, CYC Beach, Balinsasayaw Floating House, Malcapuya Island, Isla Bulog, and Banana Island. Booking tours may conveniently be done online, especially during peak seasons, but there are several agencies in town one can sign up at for a safe and stress-free adventure.

Abounding in white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and limestone cliffs, island-hopping has never been more thrilling; this comes from a city girl who has never been a big fan of nature and wildlife. Closest to my heart is Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, and Isla Bulog, which made me feel small yet so infinite. No photograph, no paragraph I may produce can ever encapsulate the big magic I experienced through my stay there. I had a splendid time with my family and our tour guide, Kuya Larry, who made sure I was having the time of my life, guiding me through stony pathways whilst taking my spontaneous Instagram portaits like a true professional (yes, that was him!).

I am learning that it really is never too late to let go of the familiar to make space for new places to have a wider and deeper understanding of life beyond the self. May my comforts never, ever dull my need for wonder.


Life via Instagram: Coron

At the beginning of the year, I whispered a bold prayer to the Universe. I told my Greatest Love I was willing to let go of the familiar, the comfortable to discover His unfathomable, vast creation. I no longer wanted to be cooped up in this safe space I built for myself. I longed for untouched trails to have a greater understanding of His artistry. I wanted to see, to revel in, and record His glory. And so, He answered with a powerful, resounding yes.

This week has been an incredible whirlwind of scenic views from dreamy Coron. Pastel colored sunsets, lush greens, pristine waters, and powder-fine white sand beaches…this is my reality, and it is infinitely more than what I deserve.

Dear universe, I am so glad to be alive in you.


Portraits: Little India

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I am surprised by joy.

I look around me, and I see a tapestry of blinding, effervescent color. Fabrics designed so dutifully, flora cautiously tethered together, ceramics of all shapes and sizes molded by weary hands. Every piece is part of this spectacular feast for the eyes, and I am so, so overwhelmed. I cannot fathom the reality of the now, and I wonder, am I dreaming? Is this truly my life?

I am reminded how very little and insignificant I am – my weight, my problems. Love is greater, it encompasses my unbelief. It is greater than me. I find it in the soulful eyes of strangers, in the little acts of faith of those I know nothing about, in their diligence.

I am always grateful for the humbling gift of photography. For teaching me to see(k) something greater than myself. To see others as more beautiful than I am. To see light in dark places.

Photographs make everything so real.

They take a moment so sacred, capture it, and preserve it so that we may be able to live out its divinity again and again. It may not make sense but we are comforted by the idyllic reality that once was but now is not.

We photograph the places where we leave bits of our hearts and souls in. We photograph the people we want to always stay. We photograph ourselves to see some sort of progress. We photograph because we are nostalgic creatures who need to be reminded that life is ephemeral, and nothing ever stays the same.

This is my life, and my God, I cannot believe I am living it.