Friday, April 13, 2007

Camarines Sur: Home for Xtreme Sports in Asia

I have been to Bicol region just recently and the talk-of-the town there was about the new sport complex that is still being developed by the provincial government. It is a world-class facility that will house extreme sports such as dirt biking, skateboarding and the now popular cabled-waterskiing.

The Cam Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) was the first world-class facility in Asia located inside the Provincial Capitol Complex or commonly known as "Kapitolyo." The concept was patterned in Florida, USA who led the popularity of extreme watersports all over the world.

"Kapitolyo" is also the place of the regional government office. It has facilities for all sorts of public recreation. I remembered during my high school days when we regularly visited this place for our outing. I also brought my wife here before we get married three years ago.

This 6-hectares of reclaimed land has 6-point cable ski system that has become a favorite destination spot of sport enthusiasts all over Europe, Australia and the United States. It has a 700 meter long manmade lake constructed for wakeboarding or surfing. Aside from sports, the lake invites visitors to have a swim or bath under the sun.

Cable skiing as the name suggest, is a sport wherein a skier is being pulled by an overhead cable suspended 8 to 12 meters above water surface by specifically designed pylons. It is the same with the water ski being pulled by a motorboat. The cable travels continuously and run counter clockwise with an estimated speed of 20 to 65 kph.

The complex also offers more than just watersports. Some of its amenities are swimming pool, volleyball and basketball area, a clubhouse for dining and for live entertainment. It also houses indoor sports such as billiards and darts. And to those who want to relax while enjoying the spectacular view of Mt. Isarog, they also have Spa Pavilion that offers a variety of massage therapy that is a must experience for visitors.

This coming May 25-26, 2007, the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur will be holding the 1st International Wakeboarding Competition in connection with the "Kaogma Festival" to celebrate the Foundation Day of the Province.

I was very thankful that my high school friend Alan invited me to this place because he was amazed and entertained by the stunt performances of the foreigners who regularly visit the place. Aside from that, he wanted to test his newly-bought Finepix digital camera which gave us the chance to get a good photo-op for ourselves.

I teased him to try wakeboarding but he was preoccupied of taking pictures using his newly acquired cam. He knows that I am into photography that's why he took the opportunity to extract learnings from me. I gave him some tips and hints on how to make those photos look amazing and with the presence of these elements, the proper exposure, framing and composition. From then on, he became satisfied with the results of his shots. He had plans of selling his cam but changed his mind because he now knew its importance and the many benefits he would get from it. He went out of the place with a renewed mind for his newly-discovered photographic skills. His lens will never miss again those hot babes in their skimpy suits. :)

Related Links:

Photo Gallery


CWC Open

CamSur Royale

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pieces of Hope in Albay

Cagsawa Ruins, the famous landmark of Bicol region are still intact and are spared from the ravaging flash floods brought by typhoon Reming last year. It resulted to more than a thousand deaths from various municipalities surrounding the Mt. Mayon in Albay province.

It is contrary to the reports made by foreign and local media who covered the fiasco and said that it was washed away and half buried by pyroclastic materials from Mt. Mayon. Local residents said that mediamen were not able to reach the Cagsawa ruins because roads leading to it were impassable and full of boulders and sand that reaches up to 20 ft. high.

November 30, 2006, four months after the strong typhoon, I visited this place again and witnessed the real condition of the people and the landmark. The roads that led to it were already cleared but you can see the 20 feet wall of sands in both sides. Some houses were abandoned and was half-buried in the mud.

I saw construction-owned trucks passing back and forth loading boulders and sands from the former Busay river. It was devastated and now cleared with pyroclastic deposits, sands and boulders. Some folks are still trying to catch fish in this almost dried-up river.

While taking photos of the surrounding areas, I was able to meet Marwin Muerabuena, a 17- year-old survivor of the tragedy. He was unconscious and half-buried for 5 hours when he was rescued. He said he never thought he would survived. The experience was terrifying and everyone were shouting for help as the hot pyroclastic materials swept their barrio in an instant. Six of his family members were dead. Three were recovered a few kilometers aways and three were no longer found. He regained his consciousness in the hospital and kept on crying every time he recalled that fateful afternoon.

According to him, he was swept 4 kilometers away from their house together with his brother who was also rescued from the deep mud. He managed to grab a branch of tree but the ravaging flood dragged him down almost to his death. His mother survived by climbing a tree while her relatives managed to reach an elevated area and had relocated them just in time the flash floods came closer. Dead bodies according to other survivors were scattered in different places including those hanged on trees. Some were decapitated and headless due to some flying objects like roof or washed away along with other things.

In Brgy. Busay alone, there were more than 300 confirmed dead and more than 100 were missing or presumed buried. The nearby municipalities of Guinobatan had the worst casualties with an average of a thousand and counting.

People of Albay are on desperate needs for shelter, food and clothing. Government agencies such as the DSWD had evacuated and transferred the homeless to the school grounds. Bridges connecting the main highway were being repaired. Some private investors had not yet recovered and they had abandoned their ruined establishments. Many rice fields were awashed and livestocks and vegetables were scant to support the entire province. Mountains of "yero" or roof were sold to junk shops to amend for the lost properties.

I was able to witness the sufferings of this people in the eyes of Marvin. He accepted the fate and can't do anything about it but to move on and live. By being a peddler of photos and a tourist guide can he survive the aftermath of Mt. Mayon's fury.

I took a snap photo of him along with his buddy. I want to remember these people as survivors. Marvin told me "Siguro mahal ang camera mo, ako balang araw, gusto ko rin maging photographer." Indeed, these people still have dreams and do not lose hope despite of the tragedy. They still long for a better life after tomorrow. For now, they were eager to make a living even if they must be in school. They were restless and determined to help their families even through small means.

I took my wallet and gave some tokens as reward for opening and sharing their lives to me.
A life that is worth more than this story.

Related links:
Albay: One month after super typhoon Reming
Rummaging through the ruins of typhoon Reming
Family struggles to survive in Padang lahar site

Related News:
Bicol region faces dark Christmas
Slow Recovery for Albay Residents

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Time to Reflect

In the Philippines, the Holy Week culminates the solemn observance of Christians faith. Countless "Cenaculos" and "Pabasas" reciting and re-enacting the passion and death of Jesus Christ will again be traditionally observed. This rituals became one of the tourist attractions during the Lenten Season.

Last Sunday, April 1 marks the Palm Sunday. It signifies and highlights the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago. In Sto. Domingo church alone where I usually attends mass was full of vendors with their palm branches reaching people who will attend the mass.

Truly the world is turning so fast and here comes another year for us to reflect on what we have done so far. We, at the big city sometimes forgot about these festivities and usually go the beaches and relax. Yes, I have also been there few years back and I have experienced how the crowd enjoys the Boracay and Puerto Gallera's party even if its Good Friday. Commercialism has crept us the observance of Holy Week which may have been helped along by the lack of understanding of the Paschal mystery and our faith.

Are we still the Christians that our forefathers expect on us? Do we still live by our christian faith? Well, you have the answer.

I still don't have any religious plans this holy week because I will be going home to my hometown in Bicol to visit the destruction of our province brought by the recent typhoons and at the same time to be with my ailing father.

Last year I've been able to join the "Visita Iglesia" in Quezon province. And I'm greatful for having through it as my way of penance. We have been to 15 churches and visited other religious place to relax and reflect. I have with me old folks who still can recite the "via crusis" in latin. Thru them I have realized that this ritual is a must for the younger generation because as the years pass, we never know who will lead the prayers for us when they are all gone. How can we teach our children with these prayers If we ourselves are not practicing it.

Truly, we have lots to repent this Holy Week. This is our time to engage in solemn prayers, reflections, fasting and other traditional ways of repenting and asking the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins. Repentance should be a humbling act for those who are willing to admit misdeeds. But for those who are unwilling, we will never see any sign of repentance.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Long Live Philippine Blog Awards-07

Finally, the bests of Filipino Blogs was acknowledge at the 1st Philippine Blog Awards last night at the Podium of RCBC Plaza in Makati City. I was able to attend the awards night with my wife and I was thankful to the organizer for sending me an invite.

I accompanied my wife at the Glorietta to do her regular shopping before we proceeded to the venue earlier at 5:00 pm. She was actually hesitant to go because she was already exhausted but I have been able to convinced her to go since we are already in Makati.

We have meet Mr. Abe Olandres who was one of the early birds. He was known to the bloggers as "Yuga" and one of the pioneers in the blogging scene in the Philippines. Actually his group are the ones who conceptualized this project because they believe that there's a blog community growing in the Philippines.

The venue started to be filled with guest as we are invited at the cocktail area by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, one of the winners of the blog awards. I was also able to talk to fellow bloggers and finalist and chat about their blogging experience and interests. Most of this young bloggers are doing this for fun. They are not even expecting for any recognition but they are also possitive with the organizer's initiative and believe that it's about time for Filipinos to be recognized with their excellent blogs.

Noted wordpress template designer Gail de la Cruz-Villanueva was in her cocktail attire, Google country representative Aileen Apollo and Jayvee Fernandez was on their party dress too. Not to mention that these are one of the presentors for the award's night :) Lots of photographers scattered in the area busy taking photos of the guests. This is truly an exciting event for all bloggers out there who are gathered for this very special day in blogging history in the Philippines.

A photog and fellow webmaster Melo Villareal of LakbayPilipinas was also present for the awards night and was so excited to see a long photo-buddy. He is representing Jessica Zafra's blog site who is a finalist for the Personal Blog Category. We had talks on our adventures in Vigan for a travel assignment. He ask me if I was able to made it to the finals, and I told him that mine was just a sort of a personal blog that was boring, seldom to have a fresh entries and for sure no body won't dare to nominate it. :)

I'm convinced with Ailleen Apollo ealier gesture that night (she is one of the emcees). The crowd according to her was so tamed. Yes, its true..they are silent, unlike with other award giving body where crowd are energetic and sometimes unrully. Maybe this is because of the limited invites the organizer had imposed. Meaning, if you are a finalist, you are only given two additional invites and those will serve as your supporters. So next year, I hope the organizer will have more space to accomodate those who are willing to participate or attend the awards night.

Anyway, the night was a success with lots of special awards that was provided by the sponsors. The crowd might be silent for tonight but for sure the pinoy blogosphere would be crazy and noisy again when they start jotting with their keyboard as they spread the news of this momentous event.

To the congratulations!

See the event photo gallery at Abe's site

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