Monday, July 15, 2013

Islas de Gigantes | Restless in Islas de Gigantes

Restless in Islas de Gigantes
A Morning Photowalk In The Mangroves

Standing at the edge of a cliff, in a sweeping panorama of rolling hills with rocky beaches, Sayuri looks out of place in her grey plain kimono dress, her locks of jet black hair is swaying in the wind, her blue eyes lost in unreadable thoughts. Certainly one of the unforgettable scenes I know in the movie adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha, more so because this part of the movie where Sayuri lets go of the handkerchief the Captain gave to her as a child looks so unlike Japan. Muir Beach to be exact, in Northern California was the location of this beautiful landscape, but what strikes me, is not the awful storyline of this adaptation, but of being lost in a beautiful place, of being there but not looking with your own eyes. This mirrors the emotions I was harboring during my visit to Islas de Gigantes, I see the place but I don’t feel like I’m actually there. I wasn’t standing on a cliff, heartbroken and trying to let go of a dream, but I’m lost in my own thoughts as I walk alone in the coastline.

There is this kindred spirit I have with the locals, knowing that we speak the same language, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being lost, a stranger in a strange place, forlorn in an exotic location. Battling an inner dilemma, knowing that I only come home once a year, with only a week to spare for my family, I brought my younger brother with me in a pretense to treat him on his 19th birthday, but he is not much of a companion to begin with.

I thought about ways to write just about every negative aspect of my visit to Gigantes but I can't bring myself to do it. After all, my feelings and inner turmoil are somewhat personal. So in this blog I'll tell you instead how I went about chasing a good spot for Sunrise Photo in Islas de Gigantes, maybe just walked you through with these photos I have here.

Putting these photos as my timeline, taken on the morning of my 2nd day in Gigante Norte, our arrival yesterday was fairly comfortable. I didn't tire much for the long haul, truth be told, it was fun, I feel like a true traveler at this point, talking to locals along the way even just asking for directions. The old lady at the bus terminal allowing to have a tub of water to wash my feet, or the merchant man in the feeder port animatedly telling me to board the boat way before the actual boarding time so I could get a prime seat or the boat crew asking me to actually scale the ladder to the roof top of the boat to better take pictures of the island along the way. 

It was surreal, the rich marine waters of Estancia to Carles is calm, looking at the dipping sun, meeting Cebuano speaking traveler/backpacker/lovers from Dumaguete encouraging me to visit their place. I mostly just listened to their chatter, as the girl is lumping all the negative things she can think off about the trip in her own language, of course I wasn't excused to it saying that I speak Hiligaynon mixed with Filipino, she marvels at how I alternated with my accent, frankly people can't tell I'm Visayan unless I tell them, she's being too confident that the people within earshot would not understand a word she is saying, fat chance really, underestimating Ilonggos is a grave mistake. They ask me to join them as they will go hunting for accomodation in Granada, Gigante Norte, wasnt I glad to tell them off that I have made reservations in Asluman. I'd rather go alone than listen to midless chatter.

Taking an eyeful of the place on our arrival, I was disappointed, not because the island didn't meet my expectations, but that I wouldn't find a scenic spot for Sunset in here. There is a towering wall of Karst Rock that's blocking the Eastern Horizon, putting the entire Brgy Asluman in the shadows of the mountain every afternoon, I would have to drive up to go to the other side of the island and there's not much time at 4:30 PM, Sunset is due in an hour, Sunset's in May comes early. 

There's not much of the beach, as heaps and mounds of Scallops shells are scattered and left along the beach, making it treacherous to waddle through with uncovered feet. Seriously these people need to think about how to dispose of these shells properly, a White Sand beach littered with sharp shells is not very enticing.

Settling in our fair accommodation in Gigantes Hideaway Resort, the fan room was small for 2 guys, I know my brother is a rowdy sleeper. But I went past it, not having much of a sleep as I worry about the rotational brown out, lights off at 11:30. I was duped; the resort had their generator running for the entire night so the sleep was fairly comfortable. But I woke up way before Sunrise, I immediately grabbed my camera bag and tripod, I went to the mangrove area, a stone throws away from the resort, you can well imagine my disgust seeing trash scattered along the coastline, seems like the locals need a lesson about waste management, I shudder the thought that fecal waste could be in here as well, though I see people waddle through the muck of shallow waters to get to their little boats anchored beyond the mangroves. Braving the dirty waters, thick with sea grasses and what else, looking past dead trees while I carefully stepped forward hoping I wouldn't trip or it would be the end for my camera.

It's not the perfect place to take photos of the Sunrise; it was just a wrong place for it. This is becoming a disappointment for me, though looking forward in today's itinerary of exploring the nearby islands. I'm finding less reason to photograph Islas de Gigantes altogether, my patience is perhaps being tested; after all, landscape photography requires a whole lot of patience and planning.

Looking back at it now, my short visit to Islas de Gigantes had been good; a few mishaps have taught me lessons along the way. I was with my brother, and since I was older, there is this generation gap between us, that for the most part I felt like I was actually traveling alone. I can't blame him, being the teenager that he was. His interest about the every place we visited would only spike for the first 15 minutes, and then I would expect him to nod over or look somewhere else. Ah youth, and the innocence of immaturity, makes me wonder why I had to lose it as I grew older.

On The Map

Isla de Gigantes group of islands comprises mainly of Gigante Norte and Gigante Sur as its major volcanic islands with scattering of islets around it. Located in the western part of the Visayan Sea and approximately 18 kilometers Northeast off the mainland of Panay. The islands belong to the political domain of Municipality of Carles, Iloilo Province.

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. Your photos are wonderful and your intro as well. I was expecting the usual intro for a travel post and found myself pleasantly surprised that is was different.

  2. I've never seen any mangroves irl. I hope I could visit Islas de Gigantes sometime soon. ^_^

  3. I swear I fell in love with your photos. They are just so powerful :) Wish I could have a chance to visit this place someday..

  4. Your photos are very stunning! Whenever I look at them, they're not just photos, there's life in them. :)

    1. Thanks Sarah! I make extra effort with my photography, If I cant make people read my articles, at least I gave a very good photographic impression.

  5. I would rate your pictures taken of those mangrove trees as excellent, though I am not a professional photographer. But anybody could see these pictures they will highly appreciate them too for their candidness and vividness.

  6. Love the sunset photos, it makes me envy for people who have time to took snap a photo.

  7. Beautiful pictures, you must have an eye for beauty! I'm now wondering how to get there and what lens did you use for those?

    1. Hi Shie,
      This is just a kitlens for nikon.
      My unit is entry level, still saving up for mid range camera.

  8. i remembered how we were in the boat for 5 solid hours without our feet touching any island in gigantes. malas sa weather :(

    1. Hello Blissfulguro!
      Thats a waste. But theres nothing we can if nature contradicts our plans.

  9. Hello Idol Sir!
    Hindi ako marunong mg HDR. I shoot manual mode sa DSLR, nka Raw file pa to, para mas madali linisin.

  10. Ang ganda ng shots!
    Can't wait to go there next year. :)


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