March 29, 2013

The Island of Coron

As our plane approaches the island of Coron, I was amazed by the shallow coral reefs that stretch for miles. As listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the best scuba diving sites, Coron does not only offer corals and marine animals to divers and snorkelers but also sunken Japanese ships from the World War II. Because the water is so clear, even snorkelers can view the shipwrecks from the surface.

Above the surface, the island of Coron also offers one of the best rock formations made from granite. The sharp edges of cliffs also make Coron an alluring tourist destination. Rock formations can be seen in almost every part of the island and even nearby destinations such as El Nido and the island of Palawan offers similar views.
We started our day with a tour around the town. We visited first a souvenir shop that has lots of affordable stuff. We decided to leave the shop because it’s not our thing to buy souvenirs in our first day of travel. Next destination we went to is the town plaza which is still a nice place to go to even though most of it is still under construction. We also went to the town hall which we think is not that great looking compared to what we have seen so far. And then we climbed Mount Tapyas. Mount Tapyas is the backdrop of the town of Coron which has a giant cross at its peak. With over 750 steps, we were exhausted when we reached the summit even though we used the stairs. After Mount Tapyas, we went to a cashew store which made me almost broke because I spent way too much. The caramel coated cashew nut is one of the best nuts that I have ever tasted. Our last destination for our first day in Coron was the Maquinit hot spring. I have never seen a hot spring in my entire life and I was simply astounded by the pools of hot water that exhausts steam that enters to my nostrils. Our first day was simply unforgettable.



Mt. Tapyas

Coron Baywalk

Souvenir Shop (Left) and Maquinit Hot Spring (Right)
Sunscreen was no use in our second day in the island because we are booked for a whole day island hopping activity. We visited first an island that has great corals around it. We went for a dive in this area for almost 30 minutes. Then we went to Coron Island Cove which is by far the best view in the island and probably the best view that I have seen in my life so far. We climbed 350 steps to get a wonderful view of the Coron Island Cove. We took a couple of pictures and then went to the other side which is the Kayangan Lake. Kayangan Lake is labeled as one of the cleanest lake in Asia and when we went there, I can see why it got this title. The lake is a freshwater lake and is so clear that we can see the bottom of it even though it is very deep. We ate lunch at a secluded bungalow which surprised us because we saw other tourists having their lunch in a crowded beach. After lunch, we went to see a sunken ship but I was not able to see it clearly because there were a lot of divers in the area. Our island hopping activity ended in Twin Lagoon. We swam for more than 100 meters (one way) which made this last destination more fun and unforgettable. We weren’t able to take photos because we have to swim and enter a cave just to reach the lagoon.



Coron Island Cove and Kayangan Lake


Secluded beach bungalow for lunch.

Entrance view of Twin Lagoon.
Even though we only stayed in a budget hotel, I am still amazed by the wonders of this island. This is one of those experiences wherein I cannot explain more to my friends what I have seen and just tell them to visit the island for themselves.

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December 5, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Experience

I have just recently bought the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and in my experience, this phone is by far the best phone that I have used. However, even though I like and love this phone a lot, this does not appeal to almost half of the people that have seen my phone. I can conclude that Samsung Galaxy Note II is the best phone that is not for everyone.

Credits: Samsung.com
In terms of the specifications of this phone, this is by far the most powerful Android device that is available in the market as of this moment. Clocked at 1.6 GHz Quad-core Cortex-A9 processor, this device packs the most powerful chip in a mobile device. What this means is that all of the transitions and animations in this mobile device is fluid and buttery. The camera of this device is by the best that I have seen. It features an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p at 30 frames per second video recording and a secondary front camera that has 1.9 megapixels which is not that great.

Unlike my previous phone which is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Note 2 has a micro SD card slot which is perfect for my lifestyle because I always watch movies and TV episodes on my phone. Call quality of this phone is as great as the previous phones that I have used in the past and this is probably because of the hardware the Telecommunications Company use here in the Philippines. The 4G LTE of this phone is also no use in our country even though TelCo’s advertises such network. LTE can reach downloads up to 50mbps or even 100mbps in some other countries but in our network, I can barely even reach 3 mbps.
Credits: Cnet.com
Portability of the phone is not as bad as what other people are saying. It just fits perfectly in my pocket. With a massive 5.5 inches screen at 720x1280 pixels (with 267 pixel density compared to the iPhone which has 326), this phone is the best mobile device for viewing movies and browsing the internet. Unlike the first version of the Galaxy Note, the screen of this device has a 16:9 aspect ratio which is great for watching widescreen movies.
Credits: TheGadgetCode.com
Another great addition of this phone is the S-Pen which redefines stylus technology. It has a pressure sensitivity that allows users to draw lines with different thickness. Another nifty feature of the S-Pen is AirView which allows users to hover the pen to preview albums and movies.
 
Sample Unedited Photos
The reason why I chose this mobile device is because of its screen and battery life. Even though this phone has the biggest screen of all, the batter life of this device is way better than other smartphones. I can even watch HD movies (either at 1080p or 720p) up to 9 hours using this phone. I think that the Galaxy Note 2 as well as its first version has pushed the limits of a mobile device. Five years ago, all I want is a phone that can make calls and texts and has a Java Virtual Machine on it so that I can install games, but now, this phone, as well as other similar smartphones has extended my standards for a mobile phone and the Note 2 just stands out from the rest.

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October 11, 2012

How I Spent Almost Everything

Many of my friends are wondering why I have little or no savings at all even though I have a job. One reason I can tell them is that I am now paying the electric and phone bills. But they know that this is not the real reason why I am always broke almost every month.


Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Photo by adityat.com)
It started when I bought my first Android phone which is the Samsung Galaxy Y. It has almost all the things that I need for a phone like music player and YouTube videos viewer. I was overwhelmed by the applications that I can install in this Android phone and ended up filling its internal memory storage. I ended up buying a new Android phone which is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. This phone is amazing because I always like big phones. The internet storage is also way better than my Galaxy Y which is 16 gigabytes. It can record 1080p video which is great because I like shooting random videos. The camera has also a macro shot capability making it more useful in my photography hobby. The two phones being bought in just a span of four months made me penniless in an instant.

Sony a57 DSLT
And then the Sony a57 was released. I knew I would get sick until I cannot own this camera because it has amazing features that I really want to see in a Digital SLR (even though this camera is a new breed of camera which is Single Lens Translucent or SLT). The camera boasts a 16 megapixel image sensor (APS-C format) and can shoot 10 frames per second or 12 frames in crop mode. What makes this camera more fascinating to me is that it has an ISO range of 100-25600 (ISO auto ranges from 100-3200) which is perfect for low-light situations. When I got my hands on this camera, I tested first its low-light performance and I was blown away because it renders less image noise. This is the most amazing camera that I have used and seen (I think better than D5000, D7000, 7D, D90, D3100, and 60D – I did not mention the brands, just the model numbers lol).

Sample Photos of Sony a57
I am totally poor right now and what makes it worse is the announcement and release Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Currently, I have absolute zero money in my bank or pocket but I am starting to save money by eating lunch at Angel’s or Minute Burger (and I am totally serious). This smartphone is starting to make me feel sick already. Buying so many things these past few months is of course making me poorer by the minute but I feel happy. They always say “money can’t buy happiness” which I think doesn’t work in the world of electronics. Owning these gadgets has brought joy not only to me but also to my friends especially the ones who love to pose in my Sony a57.

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January 30, 2012

Trying to be a Good Photographer – Sinulog sa Naga 2012, Photowalks, and Events

After missing out the largest festival in our country, I was still able to view a local version of Sinulog Festival. I don’t like attending the Sinulog celebration in Cebu City because of the sheer number of people. I have attended only once three years ago and it was not a good experience especially the long walks and crowded streets. Fortunately, we have a small version of the Sinulog Festival in our town.

Because I was not able and will not be able to take photos of the grand Sinulog celebration in the city, I tried taking pictures in our own version of Sinulog. It was quite difficult to get a decent shot because the dancers are moving and looks tired. I wonder how those photographers of this year’s Sinulog Photo Contest got an amazing shot. From more than 500 photos that I took, I only uploaded and edited 75 pictures [Album Photo – Sinulog sa Naga 2012].
Before, when I try to shoot events of celebrations, I always upload everything. As long as the focus of the picture is good, I always upload it. But now, I tried changing that habit because people will get confused on where to comment. With multiple albums for a single event, my friends always get lost while browsing and even worst, ask me to take down their embarrassing photos.
Editing photos is also something that I learned. Before, I use Adobe Lightroom to increase the vibrancy of colors of the picture. Increasing the intensity of colors of photos is not that a bad idea but some photos especially the dramatic and gloomy ones should not be edited this way.

For the past two years, I have been taking photos of events and join a couple of photowalks. I can say that my skills in photography have improved but looking at the previous winners of Pulitzer Photography Competition, I think that I have a long way to go and lots of things to learn.

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December 5, 2011

Boracay Adventure

With Cebu Pacific’s piso fare deals, I was able to get my butt to Boracay. This paradise island is considered to be one of the best tourist destinations in the Philippines. My friend booked me a cheap flight to Caticlan for November 25 and I got so excited. I enjoyed the flight to Caticlan because before the airplane landed on the airport, the pilot showed us the Island of Boracay. Even from afar, I can see the white sand stretch of the island.

When the plane landed, the first thing I noticed is a simple clean airport, quite different from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport that is crowded. The cost of transportation from Caticlan to the Boracay Island is reasonable. Arriving in the island is not that classy because there is no difference between the port of Cebu and their port in terms of looks. We traveled for a couple of minutes from the port to our hotel.
 
 
We arrived in our hotel early afternoon and the first thing we did was taking pictures near the beach. The sand of Boracay is certainly one of the best I have seen because it is very fine. Majority of the people I saw are foreigners so I was already expecting that the prices of meals and other stuffs are staggering.
Later that night, we walked along the white sand beach where some parts are well lit. Restaurants and bars are lively during the night where we saw a couple of live bands performing in different locations. Because none of us drinks alcoholic drinks, we ended up ordering expensive fruit shakes that tastes terrible.
The next day, we decided to try some water activities. We tried the banana boat first and this was my first time riding such thing even though this kind of water activity is available in Cebu. My first banana boat was a mess because I was not expecting that to be scary. After the blunder I experienced in the banana boat, we tried aquanaut or water helmet that devastated my eardrums. After the two water activities, we sat on a beachfront restaurant and later ate lunch. Someone offered us a cheap three-hour island hopping around Boracay. While on the trip, the weather starts to rage and the island hopping was stopped.
The next morning, we decided to eat our breakfast in our hotel because we noticed that their meals are a little bit cheaper than the restaurants outside. Upon finishing our breakfast, we went to Jony’s Shakes (supposedly Jonah’s Fruit Shakes but we didn’t know that we were on the wrong restaurant) and tasted an inexpensive but far better tasting fruit shake. We took a couple of pictures and then went back to the hotel to pack-up our bags.
I have seen a lot of white sand beaches in Cebu, Bohol, and Misamis Occidental but the white sand of Boracay is far alluring compared to others. I have already booked a flight and reserved a hotel for my next Boracay adventure in January 2012.

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