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Malaysia, Truly Asia

Early this year, I went to Malaysia alone – not that I wanted to be alone, but my friend who was supposed to be on the trip with me had to cancel because of unforeseen circumstances. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity so I still pushed through with the trip. Anyway, a former officemate who worked in Kuala Lumpur offered to be my tour guide during my stay there. (Thank you, Ochie, for being such a great host!)

Here are some photos from my trip:

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I loved the food and architecture in Malaysia! I didn’t have enough time to visit all the famous tourist spots but someday I will go back and explore the countryside, the islands and the beautiful beaches.

Kota Kinabalu, I will see you in May. ūüôā

Love,

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Smile, No Matter What

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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Her heartwarming smile greeted us as we made our way through the row of little huts along the village’s main road. It was almost midday and the sun was blisteringly hot in that almost arid place. It was so hot but she didn’t mind. She just flashed the most sincere smile I have ever seen. It was a smile that had the potential to move the hearts of anyone who cared to notice.

That bright smile shook my lethargic heart. She, whose future was uncertain because of intergenerational poverty, looked so happy while I, with so many choices and opportunities, felt so troubled. It amazed me how she could still smile when her stomach was empty and her tiny feet were bare and full of scratches. All throughout the day I saw her running around and playing with a  younger girl and her smile rarely left her tiny face. Each time I saw her, I was reminded that I had no right to complain about how hot it was or how my feet ached. I felt ashamed that I, who had so much, still whined about petty things. Her innocent smile shamed me.

I remember the quote that was written in a coffee mug I bought a few years back. It said, “Happiness is not in things, it is in us.” May the smile of this little girl always remind you and me to look for happiness not in material things but in real, genuine relationships.

I pray that this child will grow up well and make a positive mark on this world. I pray that God will usher in good people to help her and the rest of the children in their village be provided with better capacities and opportunities. I hope that she won’t ever forget to smile even in the face of difficulties in life. God bless you, dearest child.

Sea Turtles

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to visit Cavite’s Marine Turtle Hatchery in Labac, Naic. I was thrilled when Mr. Antiojo, the project leader, told us that there was a batch of newly hatched sea turtles waiting to be released to the sea. Thoughts of Crush and Squirt, the super cool father-son sea turtle tandem from Finding Nemo, came to mind and got me excited some more.

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Check out these photos of our Sea Turtle releasing experience:

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It is said that in extreme cases, female sea turtles come back to the beach where they were hatched. I hope at least one of the hundreds of sea turtles released at the Labac Hatchery would come back one day and lay their eggs there. As I watched the little sea turtle crawl its way to sea, I prayed that it would live long and not get eaten by a marine predator or get caught one day by a fisherman only to be eaten or be butchered for its shell.

Crush: Okay. Squirt here will now give you a rundown of proper exiting technique. 
Squirt: Good afternoon. We’re gonna have a great jump today. Okay, first crank a hard cutback as you hit the wall. There’s a screaming bottom curve, so watch out. Remember: rip it, roll it, and punch it.¬†

Learning to Ride the Bike

I can’t remember exactly when I learned how to ride a single bike. I must have been 6 or 7 years old then because I recall having a hard time reaching for the pedals.

I can still clearly remember how it happened. It was summertime and I really wanted to learn so badly. I already knew how to ride the bike with a sidecar, and I wanted to level up. All day, I nagged my father to teach me until he said yes. That afternoon, my dad detached my grandfather’s bike from its sidecar and he started to teach me. The road in front of our family house was dusty but I didn’t mind. All I wanted was to learn to ride the single bike so I can join my friends and neighbors in their biking adventures. For the next few hours, he patiently held the bike while I pedaled and tried to balance. After a few meters, he would let go of the bike but he would still be running after me just in case I fell. We did it again and again, but I always lost balance after a few meters.

Come dusk, Dad told me it was time to end the day’s bike training. I didn’t want to stop. I just couldn’t give up. So I told him to go home ahead. When he was gone, I told myself that I could do it even if I have to learn on my own. I mounted the bike, put my right foot on the right pedal, pushed forward and tried to balance as I pedaled my way down the dusty road.¬†But because it was getting really dark, I didn’t notice the big stone along the road. I lost my balance, crashed and got a scraped knee. It was painful, but it didn’t stop me from getting up and mounting the bike again. This time, I told myself to try one last time.

I summoned all the strength and courage in me, took a deep breath, and started pedaling. You know what happened next. I did it. I finally learned to ride a single bicycle. Hurray!

See, it takes courage and perseverance to realize a dream, coupled with guidance from other people and from God. But it must all start with your decision to pursue what it is you want to do. Sometimes it’s hard to start, sometimes it’s even painful, but you won’t go any far unless you take that first step.

Learning Photography

I don’t own a DLSR (Yet. Still hoping someone could give me one for free!) and¬†I only have a cheap Nikon point and shoot camera. I’m not fond of taking photos of myself. I’m also not comfortable having my photo taken since I’m not that photogenic. But I like taking photos. Sometimes, I get to borrow a friend’s or a relative’s or the office’s DLSR during trainings and events. Given the chance, I like to be the one behind the camera. My previous supervisor and some friends say I have an eye for photography so last year, when an office mate invited me to attend a Basic Digital Photography Workshop, I said yes. Luckily, since the workshop was work-related, I got to borrow a Nikon D90 from the office.

During the 3-day workshop at APNTS, I learned about the importance of knowing your camera. Having a camera, most especially if it is a DSLR, without knowing its features is just pointless. We also studied about composition, ISO, exposure, aperture, focus, white balance, shutter and all the basic things you need to know about digital photography. The best part of the workshop was when we went out and took photos using the different camera settings we learned. At first, I didn’t know what to take photos of. But I tried anyway. I took photos of just about anything I came across with. Soon, I found out that I could actually turn ordinary sights into beautiful images! It was a fun and amazing experience. And it inspired me even more to continue honing my skills in photography.

Here are some of my practice shots taken at APNTS grounds and at Antipolo Church.

I know, I still have a lot to learn. For now, I’ll continue to take as many photos as I can. I guess it doesn’t really matter if I use a DLSR, a point and shoot camera, or my mobile phone’s camera. Alright, it matters in terms of settings and all but ultimately, I think the essence of photography is when the story behind the photo is captured and conveyed to the viewer. There are times I’d cry just looking at a photo, as if I was there when it was taken. That’s the kind of photograph that I want to make. Eventually…

My dream photography projects:

1. Nature

2. Rainbows

3. Weddings

4. Babies

5. Old couples

For those like me who want to venture into photography, here are some tips I found really helpful:

1. Know your camera (don’t forget to read your camera’s manual¬†)

2. Experiment

3. Don’t just take photos, make photos (copied from Kodak)

4. Take shots from different angles (get low or climb a tree if you must)

5. Watch the light ¬†(using the flash isn’t always good)

6. Compose and frame your subject well

7.  Practice. Practice. Practice.

Interested in photography? You might find these sites interesting:

http://www.dpreview.com

http://www.photographysites.com/

http://www.kodak.com

Yes, I Love Sunsets!

As I was browsing through the photos in my laptop, I noticed that I’ve taken quite a lot of photos of sunsets in the past two years. Yes, I love watching the sun go down especially if I’m at the beach. ¬†I love how vibrant the sky and sea becomes at that moment when the sun kisses the sea.

Check out some of my favorite sunset photos and the reasons why sunset is my favorite time of the day:

Sunsets take my breath away. (Anilao, Batangas)

Sunsets are dramatically beautiful. (Anawangin Cove, Zambales)

 Sunsets bring serenity and peace.  (Boracay)

Sunsets always remind me of the greatness and  awesomeness of God. (Bolinao, Pangasinan)

After a day’s busy work, sunsets can help calm you down. ¬†(Sentosa, Singapore)

Sunsets can soothe and relax a troubled heart. (Saud Beach, Pagudpud)

Special thanks to my friend Jennifer for being a willing subject.

Sunsets bring back childhood memories. (Pob. 1, Pagudpud)
This particular beach was my childhood playground. Since we lived nearby, my cousins and I would usually come here to play. Whenever I go home, I still go back to this beach to watch the sun set.

Finally, sunsets remind me that endings always usher new beginnings. The sun may go down on us tonight, but rest assured that it will rise again tomorrow. So, cheers to sunsets!

Snapshots

I’ve always been fascinated by beautiful photographs. I feel that photographers are truly appreciative of life and what the world has to offer. Capturing the beauty of even the minutest of things requires a keen eye. Photographs preserve the beauty of moments. It takes us to places we can only dream of going. It silently tells us stories of people – their emotions, struggles, triumphs…

Here are few of the photos I’ve taken recently. I hope they will speak to you of the beautiful things I saw when I captured them.

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