Philippines Archives - She Makes Him Known

Exploring Home: Bohol

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A few days after my 24th, I found myself on a plane to uncharted territory.

I lost myself in Bohol upon seeing the most awe-inspiring, pastel colored sunset at the Bohol Bee Farm while, of course, stuffing myself with delicious homemade Avocado and Melon ice cream from The Buzzz Café. How could something so beautiful exist? For the next few days, I forgot the chaos of city life at Hennan Resort cherishing peaceful afternoons at the beach front rereading Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge. A friendly reminder, “Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities – as a reflection of God’s own heart.” And, how could I forget such touristy things? On the same day, I found myself aboard the Loboc River Cruise, marveling at the infamous Chocolate Hills on a freezing, rainy noon, and hiding from…tarsiers.

You are something else. I’ll see you soon, Bohol!

When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers – the moon and the stars You set in place – what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Yet You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3-5)


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.