The Best Places to Photograph in the Philippines Part I

I know it's completely ridiculous to choose just ten as the best places to photograph in the Philippines from the endless list of stunning locations I've set foot in the past. Also, I've yet to visit other equally and even more visually orgasm inducing locations - but I've heard the echoes of oohs and aahs originating from my well traveled friends. I hope someday to add more to this list. Meanwhile, these are the places that gave my wanna-be-photographer pants some wet spots by experiencing the equivalent of a non-sexual wet dream, while shooting the most eye popping landscape and seascape one can imagine. 

First on the list is the rolling hills of Batanes


I've always directed my wanderlust at this island province at the northern part of the Philippines. Expensive airfare delayed my visit until a seat sale fell into my lap and last February, I finally laid eyes on the sweeping landscape of Basco and Sabtang, Batanes.  I came at the tail-end of winter but the sun was gloriously shining and accompanied by the strong wind, i let my worries be swept away and just feasted on the beautiful spots that adorned all angles everywhere I look.

El Nido and Coron, Palawan

I've been to Coron thrice already and once at El Nido but it's the places I wouldn't mind going back every year. Teaming with a rich marine life and colorful coral reefs, the waters around the Calamianes group of Islands in Coron makes the idea of visiting beaches and other islands in other countries such a waste of time. Why? because you feel like you've seen the best already. Same with above-water attractions such as the Kayangan Lake, encircled by a small island and surrounded by lush green vegetation, it creates this setting of being in a secluded place - and anytime you'd half expect a young Brooke Shields coming out of the crystal clear waters, topless. The Blue Lagoon baby!
Underwater in El Nido
 El Nido, Palawan is just the same as Coron - we arrived there almost as the remaining daylight faded and as soon as darkness crept in, the vibe at El Nido town transitions into neon lights, reggae songs, beer gulping as you eavesdropped on multiple languages of the world conversing freely. We played drinking games with three crazy Europeans and a stunning German female traveler, a small bomb went off the next day (an isolated case) that failed to even dampened the paradise-like feeling of the place. By daytime, all boats heads to the A, B, C and D's of island hopping tours, we took A, B and C and if spared with additional days, we could have explored whole archipelago and even fill the whole alphabet with island tours. The big lagoon, small lagoon, secret beach, hidden beach, helicopter island, snake island and a lot more. It's beaches overload - but to a positive high. Says our French boatmate "it sucks to go back to Hong Kong next week, I wish I'd live here for a long time".

palawan 172-172
Kayangan Lake Coron
The Rock Formations at Biri Island 

Whenever I look at my pictures of the rock formations at Biri Island, I wonder about a distant world, a setting for a science fiction film. I had this photograph taken there, that kind of reminds me of one of those Philip K. Dick novels I've read. Prior to coming to Biri, I momentarily lost my traveling mojo, until i saw "the big-ass boulders known as Macadlao, Magasang, Magsapad, Bil-at and Karanas"


Mount Pulag and it's sea of clouds.  
We all ditched the planned socials and retired to our respective tents and braved the gulag-like coldness. In the middle of the night I woke up to pee. As I unzipped the tent I felt my finger froze. So I just let it out until before the sun breaks. Suffering from the cold is just too little a prize to pay for such scenery atop the peak. While we're unlucky to witness the famed 'sea of clouds' the photographs I took atop, amidst the market-like crowd of hikers atop, still are one of the best sets I've taken. 

I asked other Pinoy Travel Bloggers about their favorite places to photograph in the Philippines and here are their interesting picks:

Claire Madarang of I am Traveling Light regards Palaui Island as having the same amount of charm as her boyrfriend Rem

'Palaui Island is an island located in the northeastern tip of Luzon, in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, is recognized by CNN as Top 10 among the world’s best beaches. It is also rich in forests, mangroves, coral reefs, and wildlife. But what is especially postcard-perfect here is the view as you take the 200 steps up to Cape Engaño lighthouse: to your left are frothy waves pounding on the beach and rugged cliffs, and to your right is a tranquil cove with the calmest blue waters. And, between these two beaches are the brightest green hills'

View from the top, near the Cape Engaño Lighthouse
Dane Policarpio, the other half of the travel blog Tramping Philippines mentions Mount Kanlaon at the first beat of a drum.

"Imagine the break of dawn, sweat gushing from your forehead, then suddenly, you see sun rays. Sun rays breaking into sets of illuminating lines, all of a sudden, everything becomes covered with light. Everything becomes clear and before you know it, the sweat and hardships you were once experiencing were gone just like that. One view and one majestic moment, the summit of Mt. Kanlaon will make you forget everything negative. Then after taking all of this in, pull out your camera, however cheap it may be, and you will get one of the most amazing shots you can ever take, photographer or not."

No shots are put to waste at the peak of Mt. Kanlaon
Simply Jho of Mountains and Beyond considers Tinuy, An falls in Bislig as her favorite. Actually, Jho didn't give out an explanation as to why. But, looking at the picture she sent and having visited the place a couple years ago, I must agree with her choice. Just a tip though; do NOT call Tinuy an as the "Niagara Falls of the Philippines" because its like robbing the place of its unique character.  

Tinuy-an Waterfalls
Yes, that is a rainbow
When not getting drunk and representing Bong Revilla and Jingoy in their plunder cases, Atty Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas nurses the longing for his mermaid by traveling around the country and he specifically point out to this island not far from Manila, Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas

"I say "Abandonment makes the heart grow fonder".  This abandoned luxury island resort is one of the best lairs for procreation (don't think too much) - creating postcard images amidst a panoramic landscape, pristine beach and architectural landmark in the form of Grecian pillars and statues that we thought is not in the Philippines albeit death-defying boat ride"

Samson wannabees, there's some Grecian Pillars to bring down
The tranquil setting of Lake Sebu and among other things made Albino Chua of I Wander into maxing out his camera's 8 gig memory card

"I personally enjoyed taking pictures in and around Lake Sebu. Everything about it is so picturesque - from the water lilies that bloom in the morning to the colorful native costumes of the T'boli people. Many people go there for a day trip from Gensan but I would recommend at least a one night stay. There are few simple joys as being able to wake up to a placid and almost mirror-like lake in the early mornings. The place is truly is a photographer's dream" 

Lake Sebu
Lake Sebu
I feel bad at leaving out other places - it's like picking out ten FHM's sexiest Filipina ladies from a list of 100. That's why this list deserves a part 2, 3 and 4 much like the Once Upon a Time in China film series. But I'm sure you also have a place in your mind that you ought to share with us, feel free to let us know and absolutely definitely, I would love to visit that place too.