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Plenty has been said and written about El Nido—that part of Palawan where Karst limestone cliffs tower above white sand beaches and crystal clear waters—especially now that prestigious international magazines has repeatedly taken notice.

I first heard of it when I was still in high school. There was an article in Time that gave us details. I forgot about it, until just a few years ago, when the rising popularity of DSLRs prompted many to travel and explore the country.

The whole area is just north of mainland Palawan, where Bacuit Bay meets nearly 40 islands made of rough, natural, limestone material. Going there necessitates having a sufficient number of memory cards for the camera, as well as making it protected from the sea and sea spray.

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Inside a bus travelling on the highway and taking a photo of the rainy countryside using a smartphone camera with HDR activated is a challenge, particularly on the focus tracking capability of the camera’s sensor and the software involved.

Out of the 12 photos I made, only 2 made it. It was hard, under those conditions, but it was also kind of fulfilling knowing full well I deliberately chose to use that handicap. Yes, it was like that.

Until I remembered the reason why I was on that bus going to the province…

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Events such as company celebrations and the performances are such a joy to cover. The opportunity to get up close with performers—and celebrities—can sometimes become an experience on its own.

I have a hard drive full of photos taken during events just waiting to be posted—does it have to?—whether on Facebook, or here in WordPress. It seems to me what I am looking for is how to tie them together to form a coherent story, similar to the photo essays one can find in Life or in Time.

I think that there is an underlying theme that I just haven’t really scratched up to the surface. The pressure leading to the event day? The grit? The lights, sounds, and that near impossible to articulate stage vibe? Perhaps.

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Last Friday, I finally got to have lunch at Makansutra, Megamall. I’ve been wondering how the Philippine version would fare compared to the one at Singapore, and the lunch last week was indicative of a flavor that includes a dash of local.

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Outtakes from Serendra many years ago.

At that time, all I had was my first camera, the Nikon D40 and my first professional lens, the Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. It felt like I could take a picture of almost anything under the sun or under the moonlight, as the case may be.

I recall it was a bright Saturday afternoon that day. While the whole area was relatively vast, I found myself contained where most of the hum and activities were. People were generally attending to what it was that occupied them. There were families, there were office workers, there were couples dating, and there were photography hobbyists just taking pictures of what they want to.

At that time, DSLRs were selling like Nokias. There was anticipation on as to what model with what features was prophesied to arrive next. Some were well-heeled enough to get some serious photography firepower. Many—like me—though were trying to come to grips with trying to tame the technology and the time that it’ll take to rip one because of sheer options (and the resulting complexity) available.