Monday, October 22, 2012

The Butterfly Effect

After going on a long trip. I am back. I have so much to tell that it will take me a few weeks to squeeze in all the posts.

First things first.

News! News!...

I walked as a MODEL in one fashion show. By golly, and this after coming back from a cruise with an eat all you can buffet... you can imagine the pressure! GAWK

From previous posts, I already told you about how I lost weight on the Cohen program

Coming back from my trip, I scrambled to find a suitable gown to wear. It had to be red since I was put in the red group (some of the others were yellow, blue and black). Fortunately, I had a designer friend who lent me a gown that was used for a previous fashion show... and it was GORGEOUS.

One thing was, I wasn't thin enough (model sizing and all) to fit into it. (panic!!!!) I scrambled all my arsenal. (I avoided carbs, dairy, salt and sugar for a week).

OCT 18..... D DAY....

I did finally fit into the gown with no unsightly bulges. OH... and did I mention that the dress was a SEE THRU LACE creation? yup. nothing you can hide in that dress for sure.

One thing about this fashion show, is that it is like a graduation of sorts for most of us who have NEVER EVER been thin nor even considered ourselves model material. I know ALL of us were nervous, we have never been center of any spotlight... moreover, we tend to hide ourselves behind our husbands, kids or furniture in any picture taking activity and here we are... going out to prance in front of hundred of people... with cameras ... and spotlights. It's enough to give you nightmares and cold sweat.

Of course the fashion show is like a display. A display of results of how hard we worked. Some of the beautiful people with me were amazing in their transformation. From a grubby caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. We were ALL butterflies that night.

We had rehearsals the Sunday before the event. even then, we were nervous. the morning of the event itself, I woke up early and tried remembering all the tips the stylists taught us... back straight, chin up.. walk and smile smile smile. I had 5 inch heels... good thing was that it was very comfortable and my feet didn't hurt until the last hour before the show (9:30 am call time... 7pm show.)

prepping the stage
We had morning catwalk practice on the actual stage and then, we had a final run through for the whole show. After lunch, it was a mad house of make up and hair.

At 4pm, we had another run through and backstage picture taking... (by this time, I had a light salad for lunch amid kenny rogers chicken and 5 stacks of pizza backstage.. as I said, this dress was unforgiving).

the red team
At 6pm, we could hear some people were already coming in the venue. I could feel my armpits sweating. (thank you rexona... you didn't let me down! hahaha). I had touch ups to my hair and makeup and rested my feet (my toes were cramping up... it's not easy to be a model I tell you!!!)

7pm, we were getting more nervous as the "time" was nearing. I could see the others practicing their walk, some were at the mirror, practicing their pose. Some of my fellow models took "shots" of alcohol to calm the nerves. (I can't because I break out in hives when I drink). My feet were cramping and sweating at the same time. *dread* I tried to "walk through" the walk in my mind, where to stop. how to turn (I had a train and was afraid to trip on it) and to relax, pause, and smile. We were advised to not rush the walk to give opportunity to the photographers to take our pictures. (the advise was to count 5 seconds for the pose).

How can you smile when you feel your lips shaking? 

Here are some of my fellow models.

Younger, prettier.. AMAZING.......!!! (can't get enough of using amazing...!)

Watching all the ladies (and men) just reminded me how we can all be butterflies. It only takes a decision to change and the will power to see it through. 
walk the walk, talk the talk

strike a pose... VOGUE, here I come.

*note*- not a few chickens died for the boa. hahaha

My ONE and ONLY model moment. It felt like I was in the Ms. Universe pageant to be judged. Walking down the runway, the lights on you, you hardly see anybody. You just hear the screams of your friends. (thank you for all those who screamed.!! hahaha)

It was an experience. 

Thank you Cohen for this life changing event and for the new me. Till the next post guys. 

*discalimer- Cohen did not provide and/or approve alcohol during the event. The bringing in of booze was by personal choice

Monday, August 6, 2012


First time to get invited to a launch as a blogger. Joining COHEN gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of people (some involved in the food industry)  (see previous posts)

One, a former editor of a food magazine, invited me to a launch she was hosting of a new sweetener.

WOLFEX 2012 - (world food expo) just the name is like giving me ideas... (wolfing down gaboodles of free food samples!!)... and me, just in the middle of finishing my program

Just so you know, it was my first time to go to a FOOD expo (most of the time, I accompany my husband to CAR shows!) anyhoo...

Entering the venue (which was huge), I could see a lot of "sinful" booths... like...

sausages galore.!!!!!!! (I used to have a weakness for hungarian sausage)



excuse me while I wipe away the drool... (take note, the have my favorite-- ferrero rocher flavored!)

my oh my!!!--

there were roast Calf there too and all kinds of franchises like dim sum carts, popcorn carts, plus a host of new products. I avoided most of these with a vengeance.

Some products worth mentioning are:

COCONUT SUGAR  - a glycemic index of 37 (w/c is a lot better than regular sugar)

not sure on how to use this though. ( calabasa= pumpkin, camote = sweet potato,  )

they have granulated (for coffee) and finer one (for baking)
The coconut sugar costs about 300-350/ kilo pack. This is a lot more expensive than regular sugar, but if you want to try something healthier once in awhile.. why not?

Special Mention:

the new snack of choice!!!!- very healthy and no sugar added!!! - For Cohen people, you can have this on maintenance. (available in local groceries, about 70 pesos/ pack).. they also have a taro, jackfuit, banana and mixed fruit variety 
verdict: delish!!!

almond creamer (dairy free/gluten free) for coffee. haven't tried it but it looks interesting!

I bought one to try out with my gluten free vanilla cupcakes. I was wishing it would whip up firmer, some of my taste testers said it was fine. I could add more sugar (waiting for the confectionary version of the sugar free sweetener that was launched) to give it more oomph but opted to stay within range

This is also a almond milk cream (also dairy free). They said you can use this to make ice cream, shakes and such. (It has sweetened, sugar free and unsweetened version). the only problem with this is that it is quite expensive (300 pesos/box.. about $7-)

FRUITTI NUTTI - (DISTRIBUTOR OF THIS) - tel 9759689, 234-0872. they are located in santolan road. they also have various nuts and dried fruit.

After losing all the weight, I wanted to adapt a healthier lifestyle.. specifically doing GLUTEN FREE recipes. (planning to experiment on this on my other BLOG)

I also saw a lot of cooking stuff that were on sale, like silicone mats, specialty coffee machines and even a booth where they sell "subasta" (cheap) plates

It was a nice trip and to be invited "special" for an event. wooohoo.! My husband liked the DELIMONDO corned beef booth and got to try some bread too!

super delicious as per hubby... he bought several cans

my bread is better.. he says.!
Wolfex is a test of SELF CONTROL... in both eating AND buying (do I really need this??).. there is so much to see and try. There are also a lot of business opportunities (franchising) for those who are interested...  Hope you get to go to the next one!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reaching the Finish line... LITERALLY

As you may know, it has been several months of me doing the Cohen Diet. I have been so pre occupied lately that I have been neglecting blogging. 

It started from this blogpost- HERE

updated 2 weeks later  HERE 

Finally achieving something HERE 

Funny thing about it is, I was running (as exercise ) about a year before I started Cohen-- and during that time, I also gained about 8 lbs! (I was already overweight even before running). The final straw was when I saw the pictures that came out when I did a run with my friends. I could hardly recognize the person in the picture. Was it really me? (horror!!!)

Ok. ok. you might think I am vain. But I think we all have a screwed up view of what we really look like in REAL life. I always think I am a bit chubby but overall, I am fine.. I can take decent pictures and still look good. (but, I am THAT person that when someone says picture.... I usually position myself behind somebody and have only my head showing.... hahahaha)   HOWEVER.... this picture was just horrible. It was a eye opener. Who is this person??? I thought to myself. She looked old, bloated and the hips!!! (OMG).. (glad I was smiling though)

YEP.. that's me... about 4 1/2 months ago. Ok, got back up from falling from your chair? If you are wondering if I had any problems (health wise), I was pretty clear on that area. No high blood or medical problems of any kind. Just this feeling of going 40 and getting fat.

So, June was coming and I haven't exercised for the whole 4 months I was in the program. My friend who is a runner signed us up for a FUN RUN. I agreed on the basis that I was nearing the end of my program (nearing goal weight, which in turn will prompt me for the next phase of the program which is REFEED... where they add more food on your allowed intake-- all this on the basis of blood tests you had on the precious months weigh in.. etc etc.. it's pretty complicated)

So, the fun run... I signed up for the 5k run planning on just coasting. (run-walk).. not the full on run I used to do before where I was opting for a PR (personal best) time. Just finishing will be an achievement. ( I didn't want to over exert myself since I was not eating carbs-- might faint)

I tried on my old running clothes and they were quite loose on me. Honestly? It felt REALLY good. By this time, I had lost 30 lbs (with about 3 lbs to go to graduate).. clothes size?? small.. (can you believe it?) shirt size? (extra small.. depending on the brand)

here is my running pic : TADA!!!!

here is a side by side one..

note: the pink water holder couldn't fit me before, and I was wearing my HUSBAND'S water belt in the first picture.. and even then, it was on the very edge...

I finished the 5k in 43 mins. Happy all the way.! I honestly could not believe I could do this. But with perseverance - we can finish anything we set our mind to. I even went to the US and all the parks with my handy weighing scale (for food) and my basket of packed lunches (which I cooked in the hotel via microwave). I shopped for my food in the local groceries and made do with canned tuna, cabbage coleslaw and salads. Of course there were road blocks and stumbling blocks.. (like that apple crumble ala mode!!!) but you have to dust yourself off and get back to the program. Do not say it's too late or there is NO HOPE.-- because someone said... when there is life... there is still hope. (right??)

One of the things I found with all the conversations with other "cohenites" is that you must stick to the program FROM THE ONSET. Because when you start cheating straight off the bat.. it will be harder for you to stick to it till the end. Mostly because as you near GOAL weight, you get so ravenous. Aside from this, being a girl also affects your appetite so much. Especially during "that time of the month" .. it's like you could eat your shoe in hunger. My only consolation during these times was coffee and the allowed coke zero. It helped me tide over the hunger. (although I was not a soda drinker before).

I also discovered a lot more recipes (from others in the program-- that you can cook without using all the soy sauce and additives) that still tastes great. The thing is, you really have to cook. If you have the meals delivered... it won't be the same and I think you would not be able to stick to your eating plan as strictly. (some people are asking for delivery service... )

As of this writing, I am planning my REFEED week. I was off the refeed for a week when I went to a business trip to China (too complicated to do when you are traveling)

here is a "fashion" photo--

one thing though... losing weight also prompted me to buy new clothes!!!

my credit card bills are sky high... When before, I did not want to try on clothes because I always feel disappointed... now.. everything I try on looked good on me... like what it would look like on the mannequin.! How can you argue with that? Before.. when I try on things, some would make me look too fat, fit lousy and make my hips look big.. noowwww... woah mama!!! no more log like legs or sofa like hips.. KA CHING!! cash register pls!!!

Sale season currently ongoing... (NOW, I have to psych myself to avoid buying more clothes... self control girl... self control!!!)

Now.. to REFEED and MAINTAINANCE. I finally reached the finish line.

PS- this is the LOWEST weight for me EVER!.. not even this thin at my wedding. I think I was this weight maybe.. age 12?

PPS- finally bought a 2 PC swimsuit. (rawrrrr!!!..hubba hubba)... not yet worn. maybe I'll try on the trip I am going to go to in September... currently too rainy (monsoon season here) for any swimming.-- just wearing it in the bathroom!!! hahaha.-- maybe next project is to get those rock hard abs. GYM time!

PPPS- for those wanting to know more... you can reach Cohen philippines HERE

Monday, June 11, 2012

I want to ride a Bicycle...

I know I have been remiss with this blog. I guess I was really getting into cooking and my food blog that I really didn't have any time to go on any adventures lately.

I recently discovered a bicycle shop near the school of my son. They sell refurbished Japan made bicycles. I saw one and just fell in love!!! It was one of those classic bicycles. -- with the basket in front.

I admit, I am a country girl living in the city. I love to cook, garden, decorate. I also love to imagine my house is somewhere in the country side. I even had a fake fireplace installed in my tropically located house!!! (hahaha)

doesn't it remind you of one of those old english movies where the leads take bicycle rides in the country??? ~~~~ swoon

So, I did buy this red one. My son really went and rode this up and down the street. So, I went back and looked and saw this white one. (classic) with thicker body and leather seat. It even had a lever to control the the speed. It also had built in lights (when it gets dark, the lights go on), also it has a lock built in.

can't wait to take it for a spin!
first gear, second gear. third gear
If buying 2 bikes wasn't enough, I also saw one that was perfect for my son...

it has the pizzaz for a young!!!--- it is FOLDABLE. yes, you heard me right. a foldable bike.

it has hinges on the front and the middle you can unlatch and fold. (how convenient for out of town trips!)
It also had speed gears. !

I HAVE to tell you about the other things (well.. a few months old actually) that I did. I just don't have time yet to write it all down. (whew- )

I may post a few FOOD PORN pics here-- all the wonderfully sinful things I have been cooking. but we'll save it for a later post. 

For now, I have to ride like the wind!!!!

P.S. -- in case you want a bike of your own. here is the contact # of the store.
JF and JR - 0910-7528116, 0921-720287. *there are pretty nice. they even threw in a free tire pump!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Cohen report- 3 months and counting

It has been awhile since my last post (as usual, busy with everything!!! )

Here's a 3rd month update on my Cohen program...! see other posts HERE and HERE

Doing Cohen has been life changing to say the least. Just analyzing what has occurred over the past three months has left me in awe and had opened my eyes to a lot of things I have been doing wrong for the past few years. Here are some of them

1. eating when  I am - sad,--- happy-- or tired
2. eating anything without regard with what is in it (chips, buttery everything)
3. not drinking enough water
4. not reading labels

To some people who I haven't seen for a few months, seeing me lose weight was a real shock. But honestly, it wasn't easy.

As of this writing, I have lost 25 lbs. with another 13lbs or so to lose before I am finished with the program. (first month- 11lbs, 2nd month- 6 lbs, 3rd month 5 lbs.. so guys, this is not "instant" weight loss)

One of the thing that is different with this program is that you have the support of other people going throughout the same experience as you. Through the Facebook group, we can share our triumphs (weight loss) or disappointments (deviations) and generally get moral support for the eating struggles we face everyday. I can say, the group itself kept me from quitting at one time or another.

One of the things about Cohen, as I have observed in myself, is that it give you guts to speak up. the first things that went through my mind when they explained the program (you have to indicate and assert you meal requirements at places you eat at) is that "I am not the KIND of person"

KIND - meaning, the bossy type who asserts herself: example...

waiter: what is your order mam?
me: how many grams is your steak?
waiter: 200 grams (I split this with my daughter because I can only eat 100 grams)
me: can you cook that with no oil or butter, pepper and salt only with the sauce on the side?
waiter -- jotting down
me: also, can you change the mash potato to some vegetables like asparagus, grilled also with no oil or butter and just pepper and salt?

This is just one example of the meal requirements I have to do when we order out. I sometimes have meals packed in sealed plastic containers with me and whip it out in the restaurants to eat my lunch or dinner. In other words, you have to just DO IT and not be shy about anything you have to do to stick to the program. You might be labelled as difficult or bossy but you'll be a THIN and FABULOUS bossy woman.!!!

It is kind of awkward to try to explain to Chinese suppliers why you can't eat this and that. So sometimes, I just feign eating or try my best to approximate what I need and eat that (can't have them lose face if I don't eat what they give me... I just tell them to treat me to a steak house and not a soy sauce laden chinese restaurant)

There are times when you just REALLY crave. (especially when hormones kick in when "its that time of the month") but I try to drown myself in Coke zero and tea.

Also, socializing with friends of family ALWAYS entails eating. Just finding the courage to tell them you are full and can't eat is a struggle. You just have to get blinders on and not mind anything they say to try to get you to eat (the calorie laden) food. People WILL TRY to make you quit.

It is not unusual to find myself late at night in front of my closet, trying out various clothes that did not fit me before and finding that they are loose. I get a kick out of trying everything. I even go out and shop (without buying) just to see what size I can fit into (currently size US 8, banana republic size 6, club monaco size 4 and a micheal kors swimsuit in size 4!)
I find myself doing a fashion show weekly in my closet. I couldn't help buying some stuff at the outlet mall when we went to the US too since it was soooo nice and it WAS discounted after all.!! They all look so great on me that I am so giddy with joy!

Cohen is actually a battle of the wills. LIKE, I WILL not succumb to the cake and ice-cream ... I WILL stick with my allotted meal plan.--

I still have (from my calculations), 2 months to go to reach my goal weight but I this is the thinnest I have been since high school. I have fitted into my wedding dress too and my husband has challenged me to pose in it and have pictures taken. (wahahahaha)

Aside from this, Cohen recommends NO EXERCISE... so... I quit running. I was getting fat from running anyway (getting hungry after every run)  and in retrospect, I did not really enjoy it as much as badminton or my other sports.

Another story is that I went to a slimming salon I went to for several years to try to use up all the treatments I have left (after all, its paid for) and they were really surprised at the amount of weight I lost. I used to hate having my weight measured (a requirement before you have the treatment) but at that moment, I was EXCITED to see what weight they would measure. VOILA-- it was the lowest weight they measured for me in the 10+years I have been going there. They were so amazed that they even ASKED me to ENDORSE the center... like having my picture taken and saying I lost the weight there (the GALL!!) and isn't that FALSE advertising??? Anyway, 3 months of cohen did what 10+ years and uncountable hours and time spent in their slimming center could not. HA!

For all those who need the motivation... Do COHEN and stick with it... you won't regret all the time you decided not to eat that cupcake.

Priceless comment from my husband --- He said he can't find me in a crowd anymore because my BIG bum is gone!!! hahaha

So, here is my fab dress from BCBG .. (taken at the hotel restroom during a wedding I went to)
size 8 and still loose!

Some of the Cohen group have more will power and honestly, I am really in awe at what people are capable of once they set their minds to it. (100lbs lost!! imagine!)

kiss kiss and hope I can finally get myself into a 2 pc swimsuit!!! till the next update!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The land of Lost (part 2)

After lunch at the hotel, we proceeded to the Basco Basilica. the only problem was, it was undergoing renovation so we did not have any great opportunity to take photos of the inside of the church since it was full of scaffoldings and the altar was covered. Mandy took this opportunity to teach us about portrait taking using light coming from a window. (of course having one of us as the "model")

The white and blue theme of the church reminded me of Greece. In the following days, I would see this color in most of the doors, churches and houses. (blue is a favorite door color in Batanes)

After, we proceeded to  house of artist Pacita Abad called Fundacion Pacita. (which has now been converted to a pricey hotel) I really wished we could have had the opportunity to enter the house, but at the time we went, it was fully booked and we were not allowed in. So I had to content myself to a wide shot of the house. I could really imagine the views... since it was situated on top of a cliff with views of the sea and hills on the back.

The house was made of stones and the surrounding landscaping was what I would really like what my garden would look like.

It had an "office" on the side of the road with a quaint blue swing bench. (love it!)... notice the color BLUE again

Kuya Roger, our guide, hurriedly gestured that we needed to go and I hurriedly rode the jeep to the lighthouse.. trying to catch the last rays of the sun (sunset shot hopefully)

ALAS... as with everything that day.. the sky was overcast so much there was no chance of a blazing glory of a sunset. However, the light house itself was fantastic.  We had to leave our ride at the bottom of the hill and hike up to the top where the light house was.

By the time we reaches the top, most of the light was fading and we had to scramble to get some shots of the light house ( was really really wanting a lighthouse shot with a bit of sun on the side.. *disappointment)

I like that the front of it was covered with ivy.

I decided to go on a bike ride the next day in the hope of getting a sunrise shot (bec I missed the sunset). I inquired at the hotel for bike rentals and was informed it was available at a rock bottom rate of 50 pesos ($1.5). WOW. since our schedule for the next day was not really very early, Me and my husband (me on a bike.. him, doing his training run) decided to go out early the next day at 6am (after being informed that sunrise would be 6:30am)

The weather the next day had not improved. The clothes I brought with me was for sunny weather and was greeted with cold and wet conditions. I bought a souvenier sweater at the hotel a size too big (limited choices....)
colorful boat at the dock

one of my favorite shots of the boats

little red rickety bike

the hotel itself was near a wharf where fishermen moor their boats. The ride down was scary since my bike was old and the brakes were not very good. I had to put my feet out in case I couldn't stop my momentum down the hill (whoooo.............)

I had some nice shots of the boats-- which were very interesting and colorful.

We went to the middle of the town some more, noticing the quaint houses and colorful daycare centers. Before we got very far, it started drizzling hard.I was concerned for my health, husband and camera... This is no place to get it wet nor catch a cold. I pedalled hard to get back to the hotel. My husband , the runner, was even running faster than I was peddaling (the bike was really old!)

 huff huff puff puff pedal pedal........WHEW!

Our Day 2 would take us to the island of Sabtang. a 45 min boat ride. I was told the island had a lot of interesting architecture and villages good for picture taking. The sun shone a bit when we boarded the boat and I opted to sit in front (I really like sitting in front of boats... as in my other boating adventures (see HERE). The waters were quite choppy. (which we were told was NORMAL).. some of group got really seasick and dizzy.

Coming into the view of the island, I could see the lighthouse on the top of the cliff. I whipped out my camera and started clicking like crazy while at the same time trying to keep myself INSIDE the boat (choppy choppy choppy!!!)

This is what I got....
love this shot!!!

Sabtang Island was one of the best scenic spots we went to. We went to an IVATAN village where the houses reminded me of the COTSWOLD'S in England. They were made of stone and had thatched roofs. One of the houses we visited was the oldest house in Batanes. I got to ride on top of a jeepney-- the unique filipino vehicle... (which was kinda scary since there was a chance of you falling off)

 I also need to mention that the food was great. They had specialties that even I hadn't tried before. I am sorry to say that I did not get any pictures of the food since I was too dang tired by the end of the day.

oldest house in Batanes

We had the local escargot (snails) and some Pako salad ( which was a local fern salad)-- they even served fried flying fish, which they said was a local delicacy. Believe me, the food was GREAT.

The next few days found us hiking up 45 degree hills to get to another lighthouse, the"Marlboro" country-- as they call it since it was a lot of rolling hills where you get fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and a sputtering of cows-- (I tell you, going up that hill was killer... since we were battling really strong winds-- this time, it reminded me of Scotland... with gloomy , windy, hilly conditions... but never the less, beautiful...!!!

the long - windy walk.. a bit scary really when you factor the wind
the third day, we went to a spelunking (thats rock climbing to you) adventure on the beach... going through rocks and having a time walking through low tide with waves crashing into the surf...

surf's up!!!

I loved the trip and I would really want to go back, but it would be awhile since I still have other trips planned. If you plan to go, it's really worth the trip. You won't go home disappointed.

Oh, if you want another version of this trip, click at my friend's blog HERE... I am still jetlagged from my trip to the US but I will try to find the contact numbers of Roger (the tour guide)- He was quite helpful in airline and tour rates

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The land of LOST

I have been on a mission lately. If you have been reading this blog, I have mentioned earlier about having a BUCKET LIST. Maybe since I was turning a year older this month, (and that # is quite big.... a turning point in one's life..) that I have resolved to make most of my time... yehah! no more dilly dallying.

Learn. Explore. Live.

One of the things we have eyeing to do is the MANDY NAVASARO PHOTO SAFARI in Batanes Island. It teaches photography while letting you explore the unexplored part of the Philippines.

Batanes is the northern most part of the country. Its farthest island is Itbayat, which is actually nearer to Taiwan than the Philippines (190 kms to Taiwan, while it's 290km to the nearest Luzon island).. they can actually see the lights and cars of Taiwan.


We were scheduled to fly at 6am using a small (32 seater, propeller) airplane. Honestly, I haven't tried flying on a small plane for... 25 years??? and haven't been to the domestic airport since,..... I can't remember. So, I was very nervous at the state of our domestic flight

Guess what. The domestic airport was better than expected. It was refurbished and spiffed up quite well. It even had a french style coffee corner ...(fresh espresso and cappuccino at 5am!!!)

starting sunrise over the clouds
I had a nice seat at the back near the propellers and even got a chance to take some sunrise pics... (didn't get any sleep.. too excited to see the islands).

the view was amazing.

I was thinking it was  a preview of what we had in store for us in the 4 day trip...

actually had a sense of how amazing God's creation was. It is rare that we see this view in the city. (well, maybe in postcards)...LOL

finally, after an hour or so... we were greeted with  something out of Fantasy Island....

can i say??? WATTA VIEW!!!

I was imagining Tatoo ( the sidekick in Fantasy Island) shouting below... "zeee plane. zee plane!!!".. which was plausible since there was only ONE flight coming in everyday to the island ( with only 32 passengers max). There were no clusters of house, nor sighting of tall buildings... only green everywhere with spattering of small houses and boats. Coming in, you might catch a glimpse of cows grazing on some of the hills or some huge wave crashing into a cliff.....

Mandy, our host, was a mature woman who had been (once in her life) -- a stewardess, a PR exec, and banking executive. She has since graduated to teaching photography, PR work and writing for a local newspaper. One of her quotable quotes are:

"Photography has no retirement...that's why I am still around".... which is quite true when you see her. She is like a quirky aunt you have and just happen to visit one weekend. Never a dull moment.

She even had to try to make a pass at one of the doctors we had in the group ( a young, slim and cute one). In explaining the course during breakfast, she indicated that we had to pose as "models" for our photography lessons. Turning to the doctor, she said nonchantly... "Doc, you have to pose with your shirt off..." THAT just made me chuckle.

Arriving at my usual wake up hour of 7:30am, we proceeded to the hotel to freshen up and get some breakfast. (consisting of native flying fish, tomato salsa, rice and egg.. yumm).

We had the briefing and then proceeded to our stop at the japanese tunnel. On the way, we had a photo shoot at one bent of the road, teaching us angles

We then were led to the entrance of an old japanese tunnel. where we traversed darkness (If they told me, I could have brought a flashlight).. the walls were damp and it was hard going in the dark especailly when we reached a 90 degree drop.

and eventually exited through a clearing.

the exit of the japanese tunnel
One thing about Batanes is, there a lots of cows and carabaos (water buffalo) and as expected, you get your hefty share of humongous POOP.

We hiked up a hill to reach the top to get our lesson in posing and I think, how to position your subject, which in this case is, most of the participants in the photo safari.

posing. posing. shoot.

This was our first taste of the views ( which in the next few days will get better and better)

the view from the hill....

the walk to the top of the hill

cows gone to pasture
The few days we were there, it was balmy, drizzling and cold. I could have wished we had better weather. It kind of reminded me of London, or the rolling hills of Scotland. At least I got some nice shots (however overcast it was)

coconut, sweet potato, tomatoes, fried fish
It was already noon and we were just getting started. After posing and taking pictures of the surrounding landscape, we proceeded to boulder beach where we would get our snack (fish, sweet potato and coconut) One of the things you realize, taking picture is time consuming and you wont eat on time... most of the time! The sweet potato WILL tide you over.

 I loved boulder beach. And when you see the picture, you'll understand why its called boulder beach.....

saw this guy gathering something.. maybe shells?

It was amazing to see all these huge boulders. The native IVATANS (those living in Batanes) use them to build their houses. These are necessary because of all the typhoons that come our way every year and they usually enter the Philippines  through Batanes.

I think I'll reserve the second half of the post for the next time... If you want more information on Batanes, one of our group (Ferdie Bondoy) is a regular blogger. He wrote a post too.. see HERE. I think he has better work ethic than me because he regularly blogs (everyday and sometimes 2 posts a day) WOW. check out his site.

So, I still have more stories to share.. just bear with me. I still have a day job you know....



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