Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Visit Taal, Batangas: A Photo tour

We visited the Poblacion in Taal town in Batangas. Heralded by some as the Vigan of the South, Taal boasts its majestic St. Martin de Tours Church, the largest in Asia, and other historic houses surrounding the poblacion. We were lucky to have been blessed with relatively good weather when we came.

We did a day tour of the town. We left Manila at around 7:45 am. Met up with the other members of the tour group (brothers and sisters) at Petron in SLEX and by 8:30 we were on our way. Traffic was sometimes bad especially in toll exits like Calamba and Lipa. There were some stretches of construction along the two-way road after the STAR tollway. Overall, it was not that bad.

We arrived before a little over 11am and we proceeded directly to St. Martin de Tours church.

We had lunch at Don Juan Boodle House, a short walk away from the Church.

After lunch, we proceeded to Marcella and Felipe Agoncillo's house.

I missed traveling. Good thing we decided this impromptu daytrip.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Reminders around us

Took this photo along the rails of the San Francisco Tram.

It's amazing how we find street signs as actual signs to our lives' daily issues. :)

Let Go
Nikon D7100 / Nikkor 18-140 f3.5-5.6
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ble+ Real Greek Food: An enthusiast's review

I personally consider myself as a lover of food and not really a food critic. I just try out random restaurants based on hearsay, online posts and gut feel.

I am fortunate to be living near what people would call a foodie haven in BF Homes. There are too many restaurants to try out in this area, too many that I sometimes question my decision to buy a stove, grill, and fridge. With all these food places a tricycle away, there seems to be no need to cook at home.

So I decide to try out restaurants arounf the block from time to time. Here is one:

Blé is a Greek restaurant along El Grande Avenue, BF Homes Northwest. I came across this restaurant in Hole in the Wall in Makati, where they had a branch. Then I saw the sign at the counter that says "Visit our branch in BF Homes." I enjoyed their Souvlaki the first time I went so I decided to try out the BF Homes branch.

I suggested Blé as the meetup place with a college friend. Despite being based in the East, she obliged my offer. So she drove an hour and a half and me? I walked for 10 minutes to the restaurant.

Enough about the anecdotes and I will go review the restaurant based only on the food we tried out.

1. Mousaka (no picture) -- Among the dishes we tried out, this was my favorite. You can taste the flavorful eggplant, bechamel and cheese just with one bite. I loved this dish.

2. Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) -- Okay, for this one, I sort of wondered if this was a version of how they do spinach pies in Greece. Of course I cannot judge which version from among the spanakopitas I've tried is the most authentic, but this was the least memorable. The skin tasted a bit like those regular lumpia wrappers you buy in the market. Hey, I have nothing against lumpia wrappers, in fact I still believe that lumpiang shanghai is one of the best culinary contributions of our dear Chinese conquerors. But this is Greek food. I expected more from this dish.

3. Souvlaki -- This one I have already tried in Hole in the Wall in Makati. I loved the flavor of both the meat and the yogurt dressing. The only comment I have here is that this looked more like a kobideh kabab than a souvlaki. Like I said above, I am not here to judge the authenticity of the Greek food, but among all the souvlaki's I've tried, this is the only one that used ground meat. Taste was good though. 

4. Coffee -- Coffee was good. Period. I cannot say how Greek their coffee, but the aroma and flavor made me want a beach getaway. 

Overall, the Blexperience was good. Not to mention that it felt like we reserved the place since there were no one else in the restaurant. We went for lunch on a weekday so I figured that was the reason. 

I'm excited to try out the other restaurants in BF. This is just one of many posts about food in the area.

Here is Zomato's page about Blé. 

365-day challenge Officially Ends Today

To my millions of readers (not!), today I will officially end my posting of much backlogged 365-day photo challenge...

What the heck is the 365-day photo challenge? It was my personal challenge to shoot one photo over the course of one year. I started on September 7th, 2014. It should have ended on September 6, 2015. I took a flurry of photos on that time frame, but somehow I wasn't able to keep up first with the daily routine shooting, and second with the posting. Up until last week, I was posting backlogged photos into the space. I got tired. I got lazy. I didn't see the point of going on. But then, somehow I needed to end it. I needed to close the book. A year and a half hence, here I am ending my own challenge.

However, my unfinished finished challenge did not end as a failure. In fact, I found this challenge to be enlightening and fun. Below are two reasons why I think this challenge was a success even if I did not finish it:

1. It made me appreciate the mundane things. During the first few weeks of the challenge, I struggled to find the right subject and object since I had a day job and I work on a routine: commute to work with wife, walk to office, work for 8-9 hours, walk to wife's office, commute home. With my hands full I cannot seem to insert this challenge into the routine. But that routine also made my challenge a bit more interesting. I started appreciating the world around me while I do the routine: the symmetry of my office's stairs; the architecture of our neighboring building; the happy musician in the corner; the flowers and the trees; the lampposts. The challenge gave a new color to my seemingly dull day.

2. It made me read more about photography. Yes, the geeky stuff: from aperture, shutter speed, and ISO up to chromatic aberration, ghosting and all those terminologies that people read about to bring about beautiful photos. But one thing I also learned is that knowledge of the technicals is power, but the icing on the cake is the composition. The Dance. This challenge made me want more, do more and be more in photography. 365-days hence, I think I have improved, but I still have way much more to learn.

3. It made me realize my favorite based on the subjects I posted. I posted more on travel, landscapes, street photography and food. Expect more of these kinds of topics in the coming posts of this blog.

It was indeed a fun 365 days. I will do it again but maybe on a shorter time frame. :)

With this, I am posting the last photo of the 365-day challenge, which I took on September 6, 2015. We went for a tour of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. As we were docking to the island, I took this view of the NYC skyline with Lady Liberty:

Lady Liberty and NYC
September 6, 2015
New York City
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 10-24mm f3.5-4.5

If you want to read about my journey to the 365-day challenge, click here.

Now on to my next challenge. :)

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Two Rides and a Self-portrait

I was fortunate to capture in one frame two of the most widely-used modes of transportation in Metropolitan DC: Metro (bus and train) and Bike. I was also lucky to be in the photo!

Ride or Ride? A Self Portrait
Nikon D7100
Edited to Mono Using Adobe LR6

Strawberry Fields Forever

Nikon D7100/ 35mm 1.8G