PILAR NEREIDA

the everyday exploits and bursts of ideas from a twenty-something beatnik

Archive for the tag “people”

Expeditions with Tao Philippines (Part Una)

I had the much-needed time to organize my thoughts for this blog on my one and a half month with Tao Philippines which consisted of 7 expeditions, and I’ve decided to dissect it in two parts (the El Nido section of the trip and the Coron part) since I wouldn’t want to drag you in a very long blog which you have to understand will consist a lot of photos so.. .

Let’s start off with bits of facts about the company, so Tao Philippines explores the remote islands between El Nido and Coron in Northern Palawan and it offers an ‘off the beaten path’ kind of adventure and we always tell the guests that ‘this is not a tour, it’s an expedition’ so don’t expect a 5-star accommodation on a remote island, it’s as rough as it gets. But anyway you’ll find a better description and all that about the company here, so let’s move on to  how I got involved with Tao Philippines – the main man responsible for taking me on a trip of a lifetime is my longtime friend Johann, we have known each other since college and I’ve always referred to him as my best and worst friend only because we’ve always tolerated each other’s bad habits (but let’s not get into that huh?) which always result in a ‘friendly’ banter. So one fine day Johann texted me (he was already with Tao since October 2011) and asked me if I wanted to join and work with him in the expeditions, I was free, had nothing to do and nowhere to go last summer so why the hell not???

Johann – Tao Buhay’s Expedition Leader with me as his ‘wingwoman’ on board

I arrived in El Nido on April 3rd and had to wait the day after to join Johann’s group who were already on their 3rd day of the 7-day expedition. I won’t write about each trip I had but will just write about it as a whole for practical reasons noh? So where were we? Yes, the El Nido part of the expedition.. .

the town between the limestones and the sea, El Nido

Tao office – everyone’s all ready to go!

On the first day of the trip we’re usually still on the tourist zone so we go to these beautiful but at most times crowded spots in the area like the Small Lagoon which is, like all the other places (and I’ll probably say this a lot) a very surreal place  because before entering the lagoon you have to pass this small opening and then let the sight inside take your breath away after. The rock formations, trees, and even the tiny cave that you can swim in are just picturesque, but too bad I wasn’t able to take photos inside though.

on the way to the small lagoon.. .

the small opening that you have to pass to get inside the lagoon

And at night we stay at our base camps, these are the places where only Tao is allowed and it’s either that Tao’s owner Eddie bought some part of the land or he knows the owner of the place (it should be noted by the way that Eddie along with Jack are the people behind Tao and both guys run the company). On our first night we usually stay in the Tao Village in Cadlao Island where Jack has a house with his tiny pet monkey. Plus if you’re really lucky then you might be able to see the very shy manatees who they say are present in Cadlao! And if we don’t get to stay in Cadlao, we take shelter in a place we fondly called ‘the Farm’ (and in a few months, true to its name it will become a real farm with all the organic stuff the guys at Tao have planted and will plant and raise there). The Farm is the biggest camp we have so far and it has one of the most beautiful sunsets ever and couples always do photo ops furing sunset.

Tao Village in Cadlao Island

fisherman’s wife whom Tao trained to be a masseuse for extra income

long stretch of white sand beach in Cadlao

the Farm in Pangaraykayan, El Nido

a luxury suite consists of a mattress, blanket and mosquito net.. .

picture perfect sunset in the Farm

coconut juice and meat in the morning with Redjie masterfully breaking it in half, yikes!!!

But it’s not always swimming, snorkeling and lazing under the sun everyday because for those who’d like an adrenaline rush even for a very brief moment then there’s always cliff jumping (I know it’s nothing like skydiving or base jumping but the rush still gets you, I promise). We have spots like Pinagbuyutan Island where you have to climb past a bird’s nest guard’s house which look like it’s made of sticks and ready to collapse anytime you put much weight on it and having passed that you’re now in a deciding moment of whether to jump 12 meters down in the water (which may not seem much but trust me, when you’re there at the edge it’s a pretty scary height) and which you wouldn’t have a choice of course because you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of climbing down those rocks rather than a 3-5 second jump huh? And if you want an 8-10 meter jump then there’s always Brother Island which has a view deck that you can hike from shore and get to jump on the rocks below the view deck. It’s where I had my unfortunate accident, all for the love of cliff jumping (and again that’s another story to tell.. .).

Pinagbuyutan cliff jumping, notice the house of sticks on the left?

Ryan, one of the craziest guest we had wanted to do a back flip but it was too dangerous with all the rocks below, so he settled for this jump instead.

Aside from chatting with guests or clowning around the boat, a really fun part about the trip (and this happens a lot) is when the crew starts to show off their singing when there’s nothing left to do on the boat or while it’s cruising to the next destination. Hand them a guitar and they’re good to go, plus some of them can really carry a tune like Mak whom we tease as a ‘ladyboy’ because he’ so good at acting as one!

Redjie, Wasuy, Mak and Chance

An international doll collection they say with two Filipino hunks – Den2x and Captain Bogart plus a Filipina beauty of course, ahem! ;-)

I have too many favorite spots in the El Nido area of the expedition including our Tapiotan camp which I failed to take a photo from the inside because it’s like enclosed (almost) by these rock formations and only small boats can get inside but are not allowed because it’s our private camp (it was bought by Eddie a year ago or two). There’s also Daracuton where Tao built a school as one of their social welfare projects, it’s also a great snorkeling spot especially the wreck from the 2nd World War which is not far from shore.. .

photo from the inside of Tapiotan camp

climbing up and down the rocks in Daracuton – destination nowhere!

Diapila is also one of my early favorites, it’s a small town which consists mainly of families from Bantayan, Cebu  and imagine my delight when I got to speak my local dialect again (Cebuano/Bisaya) when we get to roam around the town  and interact with the locals. The beach there is like Boracay, white sand stretches far enough beneath the very clear waters but without the flocking tourists of course.

the beautiful seaside town of Diapila

I know that El Nido has flocks and flocks of tourist who come and go, let’s just all hope that it won’t be turned into a circus soon and that they’ll still be able to keep that small town charm. And with that I’ll probably end part one of the trip here, will be writing the Coron adventure real soon!

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

KALAYO – uniquely Filipino World Music

Kalayo is a new ‘old’ band who has been in the Filipino music industry for as long as I can remember, they were formerly PINIKPIKAN, one of the best bands and probably the first to introduce world music to the country. And now known as Kalayo, they are still the same group of talented people who just won’t stop giving us great music, the band is Sammy Asuncion, Louie Talan, Boy Garrovillo, Budeths Casinto, DJ Rodriguez and Reli de Vera. Of all the band members, I’m only familiar with Sammy Asuncion since he’s practically an old soldier in the music industry and many great musicians have been under his apprenticeship, and of course there’s Louie Talan whose music I really got to follow being with Razorback, Kapatid and even his other projects like Loquy, Malaya and a lot more (he seems to be very in demand no?). So I got to see Kalayo play at the Outpost last 29th of March and it was well worth the wait since my friends and I arrived around 8:30pm and they only got to play after 12 or so but hey admission was free so no complaints here. Although we didn’t get to finish the show and left shortly after their first set nevertheless, we still got to listen to really good music.

chatting up with brother Louie, Louie,Louie.. .

Sammy and I

For more information about Kalayo like gigs or to just listen to their music, checkout their website here or like their page on Facebook. Also, watch the video of their first single ‘Lumaban Ka’ in their album Kalayo Malaya on Youtube. Enjoy! ;-)

Peace, Love & some RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

***photos by El Torrefranca

old friend, new black & white photos

Almost 2 months after our Paper Flight exhibit and I just had to share with you my friend Mykee’s photo contributions, these are black and white photos that she took around different spots in Los Angeles, California (with the paper plane of course). Mykee is one of the closest if not the closest friend that I have in our group and even if she left after 6th grade to migrate to the US, we’ve always kept in touch all these years. We’ve always gotten along and agreed on most things if not all, and we’ve been happily swimming against the flow ever since – from one crazy head to another huh! Thank God for her almost yearly visits since 2005? When she comes to visit I’m almost assured that we’ll have more crazy misadventures and I only regret that we didn’t get to spend much time together when she came this year because I’ve been busy with this ‘higher education’ that I’m currently taking but the exhibit itself was already a really great time spent together. So back to the photos, I’m really proud of these shots that she took because first, I love black and white photos and second, she used a Holga 35BC camera and god knows how fond I am of Lomography (which I will dedicate a separate blog soon for that little hobby of mine since I myself is a proud owner of a Holga 120CFN, Diana F+ and Fisheye 2) and shooting with film is much more challenging for obvious reasons. I am no photography expert or critic but the raw look of the photos is just so appealing – you couldn’t get more unedited than that!

airplane x paperplane

Chinese dragon lion x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

LA river x paperplane

random chair x paperplane

Chinatown x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

city buildings x paperplane

my fave - random couch in street x paperplane

graffiti x paperplane

city streets x paperplane

stencil in sidewalk x paperplane

multiple exposures x paperplane

girls flying paperplane

my other fave - LA ducks x paperplane

It’s raddd to have a life partner-in-crime like Mykee, it’s true that only crazy people truly understand each other and I’m not afraid to go crazy especially with her! Cheers to more years together dearieee, can’t wait for your next visit.

Mykee & Pilar - coz we're cleva! ;-)

Peace, Love & RakEnRoll,

Pilar Nereida

electric blue shoes

It was the busiest street in the city and the stranger was staring at my electric blue shoes. I never would’ve minded if he wasn’t wearing peculiar clothing himself, I’ve never seen a guy wear a bright blue belt under a tucked in grey polo, at least not on a Monday. He looked too caught up in his thinking and my shoes was some sort of diversion. He was obviously distracted and just needed something to focus his eyes on and it would’ve been awkward if he stared at some other body part that didn’t need the attention. Perhaps he had broken up with his girlfriend or had a rift with a sibling or parent? Well he could also be having trouble with his finances or maybe some work-related affairs. I would’ve dared to ask him his qualms had he not stood up, smiled and walked away. Oh stranger, I’m sure everything is going to be alright, maybe my electric blue shoes helped after all.

***photo by Vic Mercado (Times Square, New York)

 

Post Navigation