Dear organizers and willing sponsors of the event,

Hi, hello. I hope you are in a good mood and sober reading this after all the partying you’ve made last weekend in Limasawa. I will not hide the fact that we were shocked, frustrated and angry  to hear of a ‘beach party’ that lasted through the morning –  a week after we made a cleanup in the same island. Look, I do party, drink and socialize and its all too familiar what goes on with this kind of events: loud music, wild atmosphere alcohol and worse the spectacular amount of trash it generates… And that is exactly why we don’t approve of your event in our beloved Limasawa.


Photo from event sponsor Discover Leyte Society

I know it comes at a surprise to hear someone lashing at you in social media and bashing your event. So allow me to introduce myself and hoping I can convince you that I’m no keyboard warrior and that I do care a lot for Limasawa, at least more than you. I’m Lester Glenn Tabada, age 30,  my address is in Poblacion, Bontoc, Southern Leyte just in front of the Municipal Building so you can always visit me there now that its officially my ‘summer’ according to the UP calendar. Yes, I’m a fine arts student from UP-Cebu. I’m a self-proclaimed environmentalist and shark rights activist, but a certified scuba diver, freediver and Eco-diver (we do underwater surveys in these waters). But as a professional I’m a CPA with masters in Public Ad. So I dont really call my self a keyboard warrior, I go outdoors and do things.  I’m also a freelance writer and blogs about my travels, so if you google “Limasawa” chances are you’ll encounter my previous articles and the photos that goes with it. Plot twist: I’m the guy behind the Lapiskamay  wordpress blog.

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This is how we roll in Limasawa. Why party when we have the best waters in the world? (c) Jao Cuyos

Here’s some of my previous articles written about Limasawa over the years (in case u want some ‘research’ from people who’s been there):

Limasawa Island: An Outsider’s Guide to Paradise

LIMASAWA ISLAND & the King of Summer

Limasawa: Island Paradise

                I’ve been in Limasawa countless of times the past few years and it would be an honor to call it a home. Nowadays, I often bring diving friends from Cebu to dive and explore Limasawa and parts Sogod Bay on weekends; did you know that there’s a whale shark watching operation too in Southern Leyte? Nah you’re probably drank and wasted on your weekend parties. I can still remember the old Limasawa just a few  years back where electricity only runs from 5pm to midnight and life was simple; where tourists are few, where beaches are litter free, and people greeting and helping me in exploring the next caves, springs, beaches and many other secrets Limasawa offers. Limasawa was, is and always will be my “Me” place, a place where I could escape depression and recharge from stress. Nowadays, it seems like stress follows me in the island when I see tourists behaving badly in the island. Depressing. But at least we can both agree that waters in Limasawa are amazing.

The similarities, however, end there. You guys organized a huge beach party because you love Limasawa, (to hell with the trash and disturbance you’ll cause in the area). Me and my friends from Sawum do things a lot different. We organized a big underwater and coastal cleanup just the weekend before the party: 30+ divers from Cebu, plus local volunteers, covering three barangays and collected almost 1.5 tons of trash in a single day. It was awesome; you should see our pictures in Facebook. And oh, we finished at 5PM, your party lasted until 5AM the next day. I really do hope that you make good in your promise that you make a cleanup post-party (though I doubt if you can pick the trash that ended up under the waters) and contribute some of the proceeds to the island. Hey, I have an idea can I audit your income statement from your event? I promise I wont be a number Nazi.

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(c) Photos from Mazi Keen of

Which brings me back to my argument, WHY ON EARTH DID YOU CHOOSE LIMASAWA FOR A BEACH PARTY? I dont really care if you’re an outsider of Limasawa or the Southern Leyte, but there are reason why Limasawa is a sacred and special place to us. Now listen..

Limasawa Island is a historical place. I am assuming you took your history lessons well, this was in on our pre-tagay years in elementary. Limasawa is one of the places where Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish fleet the ‘Armada de Molucca’ visited in his quest for the Spice Island and fortune. Plot twist, the Spice Islands, are actually located in Indonesia so you can blame them when Magellan accidentally discovered the Philippine archipelago. LOL.  This is the island where the first Catholic mass in the country and the whole of Asia was held in March 31, 1521. (Wait, do you still go to mass, dear organizers? It was 5am when the party ended, it was Sunday). Magellan was welcomed by the locals, perhaps the same way today, and stayed for a few days in Limasawa. Like you the party goers Magellan probably went beach bumming and it is actually recorded he and the village king, Rajah Kulambo, were stone-dead drunk with tuba in Limasawa. It was one of the earliest contacts between a Filipino and the Western world, sealed with tuba. And Sandugo. Its easy to say our Philippine History, quite literally, started in Limasawa.


A detail of Carlos V. Francisco’s First Mass in the Philippines painting

On June 19, 1960, Republic Act No. 2733, called the Limasawa Law. The legislative fiat declared The site in Magallanes, Limasawa Island in the Province of Leyte, where the first Mass in the Philippines was held is hereby declared a national shrine to commemorate the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.

Limasawa Island is a sacred place. This is in connection to the events that happened in the above paragraph. Imagine such a gesture of hospitality and friendship of the Limasawasn of the 16th century would later on lead into three hundred years of colonization. That is because the Spanish used the Catholic religion as an excuse to colonize the archipelago. But that Faith is one of the enduring legacy of the Western world from that period, the same Faith where our culture and traditions are intricately woven up to the present day. It is important to know that Limasawa is a pilgrimage site for Catholics in and around the province. People flock the First Mass Shrine in Magallanes to offer their prayers, especially in summer.

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The First Mass shrine (c) Jundy’s Place

Plot twist, the place of worship and pilgrimage is actually in the very same village of your beach party venue, the Amy Resort in Magallanes – just a few hundred meters away actually. So imagine what would the Limasawans think of a beach party with all the loud music, the unli-alcohol and the good-time-with-careless-abandon that went from evening to sunrise the next morning (a Sunday).  One has to argue if you’ve ever think about the disturbance you’ll cause to the locals or you just simply lack respect and decency. Or probably just too drunk to care.

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Limasawa Island is a marine conservation hotspot. This is the most important argument that I’m going to throw at you, and I would not blame you dear organizers if you’re not aware of this. Limasawa happens to play an important role in the livelihood of the people surrounding Sogod Bay and the nearby islands. Limasawa is covered with world-class reefs that supports growth and security for fishes for them to spawn and regroup. (You guys should see their marine protected area, those reefs are amazing!) And they are not there for beautification. It’s a protected area so that no human activities, especially fishing, would affect the spawning and growth of the fish population. Our MPA in Limasawa, like most in Sogod Bay, is a no-take zone so its really bawal to catch fish in there.  If you look at the Map of Sogod Bay, Limasawa is one of the major components of the complex network of marine protected areas (if you see red buoys floating that’s an MPA) and shallow reefs that ensures survival of the fishes but also the livelihood of our fishermen .

There is currently a global coral bleaching event happening all over the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is severely affected) you know that phenomenon where colourful corals suddenly went ghost-white and soon die. The Philippines is now starting to feel the effects of bleaching and unfortunately two weeks ago my freediving group witnessed bleaching first hand during our underwater cleanup in Mocaboc Island in between Cebu and Bohol. Southern Leyte, amazingly, is spared for now. We cannot afford to lose these reefs.

And here’s a map I made for tourism purposes:

Brochure 2-1

That is  why people from the universities and conservation are particularly not fond of the trash pollution in our waters. And trash, my dear organizers, are what you inevitably brought to the island.  Again, this is with the assumption that you guys made a cleanup after the party. But goodluck with the ones that gets thrown into the ocean. Plot twist: Limasawa doesn’t have a land fill or garbage treatment facility yet, so thank you for your basura. Plastic plays a vital role in coral bleaching because they increases the carbon footprints that gets trap in our atmosphere and makes our temperatures warmer. Greenhouse effect anybody? With great heat comes devastating bleaching, and you know  lots of dead corals. And I hope I don’t have to remind you what plastic cause to our marine animals.


Six-pack of beers anyone? party party..

So I hope you understand the anger and frustration for your beach party thing. I know there’s nothing wrong with having a good time with drink and loud music. But there should be a limit to it (til 5Am, wtf), there should be a rightful place to host it and even further research of the venue choosen. The latter part my friends, my dear organizers, is what you clearly lack. You just don’t know Limasawa. The beach beach party is not only misguided and ill-advised, its borderline idiotic. I hope you don’t take offense if we call you out as ‘idiots’ because somehow if you read this letter thoroughly you did make some idiotic things in Limasawa Island.

I hope this is a learning curve for everyone, especially the LGU who approved the event. It does not make sense at all to allow an event that can disturb the locals and increse the trash footprint, then allow people to do some cleanups. We don’t get to see some parties around these places but there are good venues to choose from if you wanted to. The municipal grounds are particularly awesome, we camped there and really enjoyed the sunset view by the baywalk. There are also the covered courts scattered across the island, Triana, Cabulihan, Lusungan and San Agustin to name a few. We just can’t  afford to party  on an actual beach, for Magellan’s sake. But most importantly, legislation wise, we need ordinance to regulate these kind of event. Limasawa is just too beautiful, important and vulnerable to mess up. It is our role, both locals and tourists to preserve the island and maintain its unique island charm. Lets not tolerate the party culture go out of hand, we don’t want any Boracay incident in in here. The real Limasawa lies above and beneath its waters. Lets keep it that way, OK?

And, this is asking too much, but we can we make another cleanup drive next time? Brgy Magallanes need some serious cleanup.


Miulbo ang kaspa,

Lester Glenn Tabada



There are similar legends across cultures about the origins of whale sharks. It is said that there was a time when the gods came down to visit Earth, and somehow they saw the giant fishes swimming gracefully in the seas. The gods were amazed at these majestic creatures they decided to throw silver coins to the sea. The coins bonded with the skins of the giant fishes forming their unique white patterns in their bodies, perhaps as a reminder of the god’s goodwill to the sea and the giants we call today as whale sharks.


Fellow blogger and Sawum freediver, Alieth, swims with whale sharks in Pintuyan. (c) @badjaw_

Fast forward to present time right here in the tropical islands of the Philippines, we are very fortunate to have whale sharks in our seas. There are known places where whale sharks often hangout: in Donsol in Sorsogon and the infamous Oslob in Cebu province (we will talk about that later). But there’s a new location that you have to put in your bucket-list if you want to see the gentle giants in your lifetime: Pintuyan town in Southern Leyte. Pintuyan is located in Panaon Island of the province at the edge of the diving paradise of Sogod Bay. It is located a town away from the diving world’s famous Napantao Reef!


A view from above. Toursist has to ride banca to reach and swim with whaleshark. (c) Rocky Fabilane

But before we go to Pintuyan it is important to me, as an advocate in marine conservation, to compare the whale shark watching activities in Oslob to the one in Southern Leyte. As you probably have heard (or seen pesonally), the whale sharks in Oslob are baited and fed with krills (‘uyap’ in the Bisaya) from the boats by fishermen in order to attract the creatures to their boats..filled with excited tourists. This kind of practices have resulted in documented injuries to both whale sharks and tourists. Fishermen fend off the sharks from over boarding their boat by hitting with poles. Tourists often accidentally kick or make physical contact with the creatures. But the more serious effects of the “Oslob thing” is that they are practically taming these wild creatures and taking away their natural fear to humans by making them dependent on their ‘uyap’. Remember these are migratory animals, and only further studies will prove that we are indeed screwing up their growth and migratory patterns. See photos below:



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Fortunately, there is a better alternative to Oslob right in my province of Southern Leyte. I grow up in Sogod Bay and have heard tales about different kind of sharks, especially whale sharks, roaming around the Bay.  I made my first trip to Pintuyan last January and as of this writing I’ve been there four times! I just fell in love with the idea of having a safe haven for whale sharks in my Bay and that the community respects them dearly on how they conduct the interactions in the area.



Me recording a whaleshark (not seen in the photo) while another lurks right below me. (c) @badjaw_


They love playing in the deep, so Louie and I have to breathe up to dive the giants below 🙂 @badjaw_

In Pintuyan, the whale interaction is operated by the KASAKA, an association of fishermen in Son-Ok 2, Pintuyan. There’s strict guidelines in place to safeguard the safety of both tourists and the animals. Feeding the sharks are absolutely forbidden. Since whale sharks don’t stay at one, tourist have to actually hire boats, guides and trained spotters to look for them in some areas in the Bay.

Whale shark watching in Southern Leyte is not just an activity it’s a full blown tour.

We are given a maximum three hours to search and interact with the whale sharks. It’s a long time compared to the 30 minutes (OR LESS) in Oslob. It’s basically whale shark watching with a glorious island hopping journey! There’s no guarantee that whale sharks will appear (it happened on my 2nd trip), so to finally find one is simply euphoric! We are not allowed to touch them or stay closer than 5 meters from the whale sharks. Since they are not fed, they don’t usually surface so having  freediving and swimming skills are really good advantage. For non-swimmers it is important to wear live vest. 🙂


From David Alfaro

Read: David Alfaro’s travel blog on our Southern Leyte adventure

Also please note of the prices of the Whale shark tour, since it is not a fixed price per head and could be a bit expensive for local tourist (for comparison in Oslob is P550 each for 30 minutes). In Pintuyan this is how they compute the rates if you’re a group of 6 (six):

MPA/Environmental Fee – 6pax x P250 each = P1,500.00
Spotters – 4 spotters x P300 each = P1,200.00
Guides – 2 guides x P350 each = P700.00
Pump boats – 2 x P800 each  – P1,600.00
Grand Total = P5,000.00 (or P834.00 per person) that’s 3hours already of awesome adventure.

Proceeds from the Whale shark tours are going directly to the KASAKA organization and its members which are duly managed by the local LGU.  You can also purchase stuffed whale sharks (below) for your bags (and loved ones)  made by the fishermen’s wives in their association, See Breeze Conservation Sew Mates. For reservations and inquiries, contact Mr. Virgilio Flores of KASAKA through through mobile at 09359296626.


I can also tour groups of people coming from Cebu on weekends (dont worry I’d pay for my own expenses there). Reach me on facebook at Lester Glenn Tabada, mobile 0977 4990 282 or email me at

And for the encore here’s Louie’s epic travel video of our great Southern Leyte Adventure!


How to Get to Pintuyan:

From Cebu
Ride the Cebu – Hilongos ferry of Roble Shipping or Gabisan Shipping at Pier 3 in Cebu
Available travel time are: 12 Noon, 2:30 PM and 9:00 PM
Travel time is 4-6 hours, and cost P265-450 ($5-9)depending on accomodation

Ride the boat service boat or van from Hilongos – Pintuyan.
Make sure to drop by at Brgy. Son-ok II in Pintuyan.  (Or you may check in first at Pintuyan lodges.)
Bus fare: P150-200 ($3-4).

From Manila
Ride a plane from Manila to Tacloban, available daily airlines are Cebu Pacific and Philipine Airlines. Book in advance for cheaper plane tickets
Ride a bus or van from Tacloban to Sogod.  Bus fares is at P150-200 ($3-4)
Ride another bus or Van from Sogod to Pintuyan. Fare is P150-180 ($3-4)

Where to Stay

La Guerta Lodge I
(in front of Pintuyan Municipal Hall)
Barangay Poblacion Ubos, Pintuyan, Southern Leyte
Contact Number: 09261426986 look for Mrs. Lynrie B. Guias
Rate: P600/per room a night

La Guerta Lodge II
(in front of  Pintuyan District Hospital)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Contact Number: 09261426986 look for Mrs. Lynrie B. Guias
Rate: P600/per room a night

D&D’s Lodge
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Contact Number: 09069372486 look for  Mrs. Emmylou Banol

6 A’s Beach Resort
Contact number: 09173211024
Owner: Amy Tandayag

Pintuyan Dive Resort
Location: Barangay Caubang, P. S. L.
Contact Number: 09176597032

Napantao Skwad

Pip, Nathan, Angus, Lester (me), Lois, Felipe, Leo, Aarron and Sarah!

Its been a two-digit number of days since I left as a local scholar for the Coral Cay Conservation in Napantao Reef in Southern Leyte, Philippines. The adjustment to come back to the outside world was tougher than expected as I had to right away prepare to finish my Masters at SouthWestern Uni and capping off summer for artschool in  UP-Cebu for the Fine Arts degree.  But who am I kidding? I just simply miss all the fun, friendship,  and learning in that remote area. Like most of the volunteers, we just didn’t want all of it to end. But the busy streets of Cebu and familiar papers for Uni beckons me to write at least a descent public post beyond my private journal. I owe CCC that much, so here’s my experience!


Illegal boating on our off-day Sunday! (c) Leo Willis

I applied to become a local scholar for CCC last February and was fortunate to get selected for the July 19 expedition. But I got moved for the June expedition, which is a real blessing. I knew of Coral Cay for years as an international NGO operating  in Sogod Bay in my home province of Southern Leyte. But I never got the wind to apply or check them out. Until I injured my knee late in 2015 that keep me out of running races and pushed me to rehabilitate through freediving. I fell madly in love with the sea. Since the then I left my job in finance, pursued fine arts and and made tough decisions in life but one thing I got right was spending a month in Napantao to learn the way of the scuba and the sweet science of the seas.

I soon learned Coral Cay in Napantao isnt just about a Europeans’ avenue for research and tropical holidays. Volunteers and staff, Europeans or Filipinos, are there to make a difference to the local community and learning the skills and knowledge necessary to protect the sea. They trained their volunteers and local scholars to have the capacity to collect data underwater that will be used for scientific papers and commendations to set up marine protected areas and other form of legislation. I felt honored to be a local scholar who happens to be one of the direct stockholders of what CCC stands for in the Bay.

SnkKids - 2


There are two major training each volunteers and local scholars must undergo before doing the actual ‘data collection’ in surveys: learning to dive and learning  the science of the sea. It’s one week of scuba diving course up to Advance Open Water. Then two weeks of  Skill Development Program (SDP!) that includes lectures, exams and underwater validation.  And one week for surveys (you’ll be very proud to be very familiar about fishes, corals, substrates, invertebrates and survey methodologies). I struggled in some part of the training and  I’m not going to throw away excuses that I do have zero background in marine biology nor the fact that I went full 7 years of dumb-ing down my brain in the industry before coming back to Uni.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn for free and I can proudly say “Hey I gave my best and I actually survived it all!” Beers. Beers. Beers.

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The Aarron and Leo Tag Team. (c) Pip Roe

By the end of our first week of the expedition I was the only Filipino left after my fellow scholar Janine of SLSU and Lucas the Filipino volunteer left for valid reasons. So I was the lone Pinoy on the dinner table during the entire time. I wont lie it was scary at first thinking how I’d survive living with the British-heavy European population on the base. Will they accept and treat me like equal? Can I communicate well enough to them? Will I be discriminated on my own bay? But these thoughts are really silly man. Its borderline inappropriate. Everyone from Staff to Volunteers made sure everybody belong and no one left behind (no matter how dumb we are in SDP). My spoken English skills greatly improved thanks to all the long talks and silly jokes we do everyday. Its really different talking to native English speakers than speaking English in a university or office settings. There is no better words I can put this but I have nothing but the highest regards to these Western folks.

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But in Coral Cay fashion, learning about the seas is just one part of the package, the other part is: learning each others’ cultures. Sure we have very very different cultures, educational backgrounds, experiences, and even age gaps but every one treats everybody as family. My favorite part of the base beside doing chores is the dinner table not just for the great meals, but its the area where we can exchange our thoughts, daily plans, ideas and, most importantly, jokes. Their British humor is really divine. There, I adapted to use fork and knife to eat, Filipino uses spoon and fork, or sometimes by hands. I ate less rice but more veggies. I also learn that there’s are several British accents (Asians worship the James Bond accent), I’m most fond of Lois’ Kent accent and dreaded Leo’s faster Bristol version (and I’m closest to the latter volunteer). I’m not sure if they learned from me but I did answered any curiosities they have about the Filipino culture. If they don’t like something about my culture especially corrupt politics and sweet-and-oily culinary, I always blame it to the Spanish colonization. And Felipe, our dear Project Scientist, is Spanish.  LOL.

group photo

A month is such a cruel short time to squeeze in everything at Coral Cay. We are always on a hurry rushing out to meet the day’s dive and daily plans. With two dives a day one mush have a tough mind to survive the grind. There’s always something to do the whole day from the 7am breakfast to the 7pm fellowship dinner. Our personal time mostly comes at night which are spent on reading books, studying, joking around or just chilling at the porch over a bottle of beer. No TV, no Newspaper and shitty internet connection. Life at its simplest best.

It was also a month friendship. I didn’t really have much chances before to meet friends from Europe. Now I have 11 new friends from UK, Spain and Belgium! It was a close atmosphere and I’m thankful for the mutual respect and acceptance. That is what makes really hard to say goodbye to those folks (even if I live just on the opposite corner of the Bay). Those were my brothers and sisters for a brief period of time. Those mural paintings I made at the base, it was a Thank You love letter for all of them. I havent told anyone. But as long as those painting are there I really hope our friendship and learning will last a lifetime.

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Going beyond my Coral Cay sojourn, I’m a better  artist and a nature conscious person now. I’ll just focus my resources and projects about conservation. Its my new niche. But the most important thing I gained here is the awakened passion to protect not just my Sogod Bay but the entire seas. I hope I can really make an impact on my creative pursuits. Its true I put on a massive effort to present art plates last semester centered about marine conservation, but after Coral Cay I’m doing that full time with more conviction and wiser in the ways of the sea. It will be an exciting year ahead  in art school.

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Back to outside world, it looks like everyone is going back to school this year starting this August with me at UP-Cebu. Leo’s on his last year for his degree in Wildlife Conservation. Lois and Pip (my scuba instructor) will take their masters in Marine Biology. Sigh. Will I behold such beauties again? Angus will take on his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. Nathan will finish his research on jellyfish for his dissertation after teaching SDP  the rest of the year. Felipe would likely pursue his doctorate. Sarah our SDP fairy god-person is back teaching. Aaron will make a terrific dad and hopefully an exciting new career. And Ben I dont he owes me P1000 for a wicked watercolor frame.

It was damn good month. Now let’s get on with our lives. Salamat Napantao. Salamat Coral Cay!


Salamat sa pagbasa!



Here goes another obligatory wishlist. Where material things rule and never granted (thanks goodness). This is only a for-your-information only post, and not some kind of tool to extort my friends and relatives. I always end up buying or making them, like last year lol. However people are free to grant these material wishes. Why not diba? It will be much appreciated.

These list are the things I want and need right now as I am starting a new life as an art student and is also embracing my life-long fascination of history. (Which is only awakened due to historical revisionism by the Marcos camp, he’s no Hero btw).

  1. War in Cebu  by Resil Mojares et’ al. – let us start the list by listing the biggest and most expensive book about History. Folks this is the big coffee table book to dig up what happened in Cebu during the World War II against the Japanese occupation. It’s also written by my idol historian and essayist Resil Mojares so that also got me really excited. Another wishful reason why I must have this book is that boy I might need to write a book similar to this on the War on Leyte Gulf durign the same period.. from a local’s perspective. #libremangarap
    Where to find: War in Cebu is published and sold by the University of San Carlos Press and are sold for P2,700.00


                               (c) PhilStar

  2. Kamingaw by Raymund Fernandez – This one is something personal because my current art professor in UP sir Raymund wrote this. I saw how hard he truly worked for this book this past year, and we’re jealous of this book for stealing his time from us. haha.  The book is about the Cebuano painter Martino Abellana sir Mon’s friend and mentor. This book also serves as our guidebook about the Visayan art scene, and hopefully a great campaign material to make Mr. Abellana a National Artist. Launch of the book will be sometime on January 2017
    Where to find: KAMINGAW is published by the University of San Carlos Press. Price is still for confirmation but should be about P2,700.00-P3,000.00.


    (c) University of San Carlos Press

  3. The Art of Moana – I’m a frequent window shopper at FullyBook. I could not really afford most of their leather-bound books (though I buy some new paperback novel there) and these includes the incredible “Art of” companion books of Disney, Pixar and most animated movies.  So far the best Art Of book belongs to Disney’s new movie “Moana”. It’s a comprehensive book from idea conception to the post-production. And the designs are stunning.
    Where to find: The Art of Moana is available at FullyBooked stores. Price is about P1,800-P2,000.

    (c) Disney

    (c) Disney

  4. Oil brushes – this should be easy to explain: because I’m an art student. We are not yet into oil or any painting at all but it’s really helpful to explore the medium already. And brushes are distinguished and separate from every medium. I only have watercolor and acrylics brushes.
    Where to find: I’ll be needing artist grade brushes set and they are available in Fullybooked and at the

    (c) the Oil Paint Store

    (c) the Oil Paint Store

  5.  Oil paint tubes – I only have the basic Reeves intro set, and its not really a good quality (my opinion). If I have money I’ll go buy some Grumbacher or  Winsor and Newton artist grade tubes.
    Where to find: Artist grade tubes are available at the Paint tubes vary in price individually usually P300-P900. Mahal I know.

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  6.  Acrylic paint tubes – Unlike oil, I’m much more at ease and used to acrylic painting. I only have limited colors of cheap Reeves and Sakura tubes. But if given the chance please buy me some Golden and or Liquitex tubes.
    Where to find: Artist grade acrylic tubes are available at the Tubes vary in price individually usually P300-P800.

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  7.  MMFF Tickets! – Prior to this year, I used to hate cinemas during Christmas because they only show those stupidly unoriginal and badoy films from the likes of Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino. This year however, I’m in full support in putting only the quality films and rightfully snobbed those big stars’ lazy entries. The result is an incredible and promising lineup that’s too good to pass up. Just give me money please!

    (c) MMFF

    (c) MMFF

  8. An Escoda Reserva Round Brush, size 2/0 – relax I wont request for the big guns, I only wanted a small one size 2/0 for details. Price is only P275 available at  ArtWhale Ph or DEs Artroom.

    (c) ArtWhale.Ph

    (c) ArtWhale.Ph

  9.  External memory drive – I wont request for a new smart phone or a laptop even though I badly need it because mine are already so obsolete and ancient. But let’s be realistic, a terabyte of extra mobile memory is good gift.

  10. Free Tuition fee – but my oh my! This one’s was actually granted before I could even put my ideas into writing. The Senate already approved a bill for Free Tuition Fee to all State Universities and Colleges (SUC) which also includes UP! Yes, best Christmas gift ever!

Of course, except for No.10, everything is wishful thinking. What we truly need this Christmas is some peace, some time with family and some winter chill and kilig. Char.

Have a very merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!


Maligayang Kaarawan, Andres, Supremo ng Katipunan!

Look you don’t know me but I kind of know you, though not personally. I’ve read you in books, movies and those damn boring history classes.  You’re like  a rock star to many Filipinos in the 21st century, you are one of our National Heroes.  Historians, professors and even the entire University of the Philippines look up to you as the guy to emulate as a role model. Because you are definitely one of the bravest Filipino who lived, for founding the revolution against the tyranny of the Spanish colonizers (er make that the Friars too). It take guts to make a secret society, but it takes major balls and big heart to go out into a battle with bolos and zero military training against disciplined, well-armed and well-trained Spanish Infantries. That’s why you are the symbol of a Filipino courage. That is why we celebrate  your date of birth every single year.

Unfortunately that’s the last bit of information of what many of us know about you and the other heroes who fought with you in the Revolution. People only know you as a god-like warrior of unlimited amount courage with the red bandana and bolo on his arms.  You were an extraordinary guy who loved his country dearly. That’s the clichés about you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Only people in my generation have already resigned to that image and ultimately failed learn more about you and to look at your weaknesses and sins. Don’t get me wrong I also don’t know much about you before. Im not even a fan of yours, sorry. I’m a Rizalian just like you.


Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

I only realized I have to understand your life story because, I believe you sent our idol Dr. Jose Rizal to Luneta to be shot. You may not have killed him directly, but his blood is on your hands. But you know it, and to be clear let us review the string of painful events that led to, then, Bagumbayn:

You met Rizal in 1892 when he founded the La Liga Filipinas, you were there as one of the founding members. If it happened today you probably took a selfie with The Great Rizal who wrote best-selling YA novels called Noli Mi Tangere and its dark sequel El Filibustirismo. The idea was to improve the conditions  of the ‘Indios’ or the natives under the Spanish empire via access to better education, autonomy, commerce and equal rights via peaceful means. Peaceful. Unfortunately Rizal got arrested a few days after and got banished to Dapitan. You probably said Adios to diplomacy and peace because it failed before it could even start. The only logical solution on your mind was to turn to violence, a revolution, just like the Frenchmen did a century before in your favorite book Les Miserables! That’s when you founded the Katipunan or the KKK. So poetic and pure.


cover of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. One of the books read by Bonifacio

Four years later, the number of Katipuneros grew and you rose to become its supreme leader, the Supremo. You taught you were ready and you even consulted for the “Go Signal” from Dr. Rizal who was still exiled in Dapitan but yes happy and bored to death. But surprise, he said No and flat out wanted nothing to do with your poetic Katipunan.  He however, recommended the services of this rich kid Antonio Luna guy. But just like Rizal, Luna said the same thing: without fund and weapons launching a revolution is too premature. I heard you were mad and all profanities when they declined.

You wanted to prove those rich kids wrong, so when the KKK was exposed in August 19, 1896 you tore your sedulas and make the “Cry of Pugad Lawin”. It was a point of no return and a declaration of war! 1896 is the biggest year of the Philippine History.  Your first battle major battle was to take San Juan to secure it stocks of gunpowder and armoury.  But the Katipuneros armed with only bolos and spears, boy it was a massacre. You lost in your first and last major battle. Even the guerrilla warfare you launched were also hopelessly lost. The bolos and over-sized courage are just no match against the rifles and the thing called “military science”. Your revolution only lasted for a week.   Rizal, Luna, and the upper class was proven right.

Now lets get back to Rizal after you contacted him in Dapitan on May 1896 about the plans of the revolution. The guy got scared and un-heroically packed and left Dapitan for Spain. He could have said “Fck this exile, Im gonna save my butt and go to Mama Espanya”. Even before your Revolution exploded Rizal was already headed for Cuba to serve as a military doctor under the Spanish flag. You may call him a coward because he probably was, but we also have to understand he wanted to study how the Cubans did their revolution thing out there. But to cut the long journey short, Rizal was arrested and sent back to Manila. His charges was, of course, sedition for starting a Revolution (he had no business with). By December of that year while the revolution still going on in the provinces, #Aguinaldo #Cavite, a kangaroo court was made for the trial of Rizal. Unfortunately all the circumstantial evidence and witness were provided by the Katipunan. You are so fond of Rizal you made him an honorary president of the KKK, you even set the Katipunan password to “Rizal” and guess the witnesses who confirmed the involvement of Rizal to KKK and the Supremo,  Pio Valenzuela. The same guy you sent to Dapitan is also the same guy who made the Judas Kiss to Rizal.


Dr. Pio Valenzuela

Did you frame Rizal? We will never know, but one thing we know karma happened, because the following year, four months after the Rizal execution, it was you who stood in front of a Kangaroo court. It is so tragic to believe that the two greatest national heroes of the Philippines suffered execution on Kangaroo courts. But don’t worry most of my generation doesn’t know about this, our education system made sure we won’t found out by making our lessons boring and full of shits like enumerations and multiple choice exams. There’s a reason we don’t celebrate your death because we don’t want to remind ourselves that the Supremo was killed by fellow Filipinos.

So why write this letter to you Supremo? Because in the present day there’s never been an urgent need to understand the very definition of Heroes or in our language Bayani. Our history, the Philippine History, are getting revised right in front of our very faces. The battle for your legacy and your true stories are at stakes. Powerful people who are the perpetrators of the darkest part of our history (around 70 years after you died there’s this Martial Law thingy) and they are trying to warp what truly happened. Their weapons are  lies and manipulation, and war is waged in the field of Social Media. And I believed my generation is too damn weak to know the truth and how resist the lies. Why? Because, Supremo, somehow we lost our love to learn, to read our books and even the Love for our Country you fought so hard to emancipate. This a time when the only History books young people know, read and trust are the one found in Facebook. Its so ironic for a country with a high literacy rate we are a people of non-readers.

So how can we understand who we are if we are not going to read our very own history?

Don’t be surprised but people nowadays are really worshiping and idolizing a dictator who have stole billions, ordered to kill by the thousands and oppressed our freedom for three decades. We even bury that bastardo y salvaje in a grave for Heroes. That’s a painful lesson we have to learn and live with. We failed our History, period.

We want your legacy of bravery, of loving to read books in absence of education and most of all fighting for what is right.  We are generation in trouble of losing our identities and weakened by unnecessary distractions, perhaps it’s really time for us to dig you out of the grave and celebrate the life that you led. You are our National Hero equally alongside Rizal, Mabini, the Lunas,  and many countless others who fought for our freedom.


Generasyon Milenyal


#ARTambay cover

There’s always a place to call home.  It could be the place where we grew up, the school we attended, and even the state of peace. Over the last two Saturdays, I like to insert home is also in the company of others. #Belongingness.

The past two weekends I was fortunate enough to attend two events that’s close to my heart: Art.

The DE’s Artroom held two very different art meet-up events called #Artambay. First was in Cebu City last weekend and then yesterday in Maasin City, Southern Leyte.  DE’s Artroom is a distributor of Daniel Smith Watercolors paints and art supplies in the Philippines, and #artambay is not only their promotional events but also a way to reach out and create art communities in the country through meet ups and demos. The DE Artroom is actually composed of Singapore-based Maasinhon couple Dino Dante Pajao and Ethel Pajao, the former is one of the best water colorist I know and the latter is a marketing guru – a very formidable team. We’ve been friends with the Pajao couple for more than a year but I have not really met them in person because of geography. But I’ve been a proud recipient of their generosity and passion for art, may it be from discounts on DS paints and Escoda brushes, and in grass root Debujo events in our hometown.

#Artambay Cebu


The Cebu edition was held on June 19th at Tazza Cafe and Patisserie. I happened to be in Cebu due to my academic obligations and seriously I didn’t want to miss the event and meeting the DE team.. Bisan pag baktason ang Colon padung Lahug. On the way to the event I rode a bogus taxi and almost got scammed by its fast-moving meter. I had to argue for the fare that’s so unreal, from E-mall to Capitol it was already P175 and we’re not even a third of the destination to Lahug! I probably scared the driver when I was about to call LTO that he dropped me off in the Capitol area for free.

I arrived in the venue 5 minutes past 2pm, a few moments before the event started. I spotted ate Ethel and Dino and was very glad I finally met the legends. I also spotted familiar faces in the Cebu art community like Wee Bong and Joan Florido. It’s a diverse group, most are hobbyists, some students, some full-time artists, youngest is a teenager, two from Leyte, and I believe those are good passionate people. I have to mention also that most brought their A-game brushes and papers. The whole attendees was about 25 artists that somehow perfectly fitted on the fabulous Tazza cafe.

(c) DEs ArtRoom

(c) DEs ArtRoom

by Des Artroom2

The first part of the event was introductory phase of the watercolor qualities by the master himself, Dino Pajao. I cant go on specifics but he did mentioned some key tips. He also performed two demo paintings first in a bond paper and in a proper watercolor pad. The group was tasked also to paint on bond papers to get a fresh grip on the qualities of water and the paints. I painted a sea turtle, and all of us we’re struggling on the spot like beginners. But the thing with watercolors is its a hard medium  to control that one can easily feel like a newbie anytime even if you been painting for many years already (*cough cough*). We were also tasked to paint the same subject boat on the water that Dino painted on his pad. I did picked some of his techniques. He was amazing and fast.

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The snacks, too, were great. After the demo and the individual assignments on the boat scene, it picture taking. And lots of talking and meeting other people. I think something great started that afternoon.


#Artambay Maasin


Last Saturday, the DEs Artroom held another #artambay in our home province in Southern Leyte. Sir Dino and Ethel are both from Maasin City, the capital of the province, where I also took up my accounting course. The event’s target audience are students and young artists from the city. ‘Young’ as in like I’m the oldest. Haha. Unlike in Cebu, the meetup was held early during sunrise at the Espina Boulevard (one of Dino’s favorite inspiration in his paintings). It was a plein air session with pan de sal. Most of the attendees are members of the local art group called ‘Debujo‘ which I co-founded just last year.  I wish I was not elected to lead the group since by the start of last summer until I have been super busy with work and academics (I’m studying at SWU for a masters degree, and this August for an FA certificate in UP). It feels bad not to spend more time with them. Lots of plans but not enough time to devote to the group. #Artambay was one of our rare ‘physical’ meetup.


(c) Rochelle Gerong/DE Artroom


For the Maasin edition of #artambay, Ethel single-handedly carried the whole event as she introduced the Daniel Smith watercolors and the importance of using artist grade paints. Dino has to go back to Singapore for work. The goal of the event is not to sell these products but to allow the young people try and to hopefully encourage them to embrace the watercolor medium.


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#Artambay Maasin was a very different setting compare to Cebu. One, we dont have a competitive watercolorist in the group to demo. I’ve been watercolor painting for four years already, and ‘competitive’ is still a distant dream. I did the demo anyway haha. Two, the kids and Debujo people just dont have the materials. We had to share all the brushes, including the Escoda ones, that I brought to the venue. Three, it was a peaceful, laid-back, scenic and joyous learning experience with the young ones at least the space are unlimited.  At the everybody got to taste Daniel Smith and Escoda, and people passing actually stopped by to say hi and check our works. #inspiring

   *     *     *

The past two Saturdays spent in two cities and two very different groups has been a great experience for me as an artist. It gave me perspectives on where I should go, whom I should hangout with, and whom I should strive to help. Being with those great artists in Cebu inspires me to be like them, to try to make use of my time to practice the craft. The need to take that leap of faith in UP Fine Arts was only validated. I have to learn and improve, even if it means years of temporary unemployment. Thanks to #artambay I also met people in Cebu whom I can hangout with on weekends. And lastly, I believe there’s something to be done to the budding artist in Maasin City. They may lack the materials but they were there to meet Ethel, to try Daniel Smith and to really learn the medium.  Also to have fun, lots and lots of it. Their presence means a lot not just as an absentee leader of Debujo but as a fellow student of the craft.  Hopefully there will be more gatherings like this in Cebu and Leyte.

Because #Artambay rocks!

by Tazza Cafe




Despite the unrelenting summer heat there are places on Earth where rain never ceases to fall. One of them is in a gorge at the municipality of Libagon in Southern Leyte. The place is called the Uwan-uwanan Gorge (‘uwan’ means rain in the dialect, and a ‘gorge’ is like a mini-Grand Canyon) named after the place’s enchanting quality of making rain-like experience from  fresh water dropping from above the cliffs. Rain literally last forever here. And that alone is one damn good reason to visit!

I’ve been to the Uwan-uwanan Gorge three years ago. However, I did not explore the whole area because we were in a big group and we just love to enjoy the place. This weekend, however, me and my life-long pal Ramil Melano who is on a summer vacation from Manila, decided to check out the ‘rumored’ exhilarating challenge the place offers. We had no idea what challenge we were really up against…


Uwan-uwanan is no walk in the park. It’s ‘canyoneering’ one of the most dangerous (and painful) summer adventure you’ll ever experience. It’s best to bring the following appropriate stuff: Comfortable or compression clothing. Durable Islander sandals or aqua/trail shoes. Helmets and vests are not provided but I really recommend to Challengers to bring their own (see below photo). Foods, lunch is good but you’ll need light carbohydrates rich foods. Water tumblers (water is fresh there). Money for the tour guides at P250 each, and environmental fees at P10. GoPro or any action cams (make sure it wont get wet). Dry bags are a must to store the stuff you don’t want to get wet. And lastly a huge dose of spirit of adventure!


The Uwan-uwanan Challenge!

The challenge turned out to be an epic adventures filled with bruises, busted muscles, death-defying climbs, but ultimately rewarding with drop-dead gorgeous scenes. It’s a challenge unlike any others we experienced before. For a quick statistics its a four kilometer trek from the starting point to the grand finale, you get to become  frenemies with five waterfalls (yes five!),  climb on four of them,  cliff jump on three and we finished the challenge in 5+ hours. Uwan-uwanan Challenge is definitely not for the faint hearted and the weak. It was survival at its core. So #buwisbuhay mode on and GoPro out!

First Challenge: The Trek – Like almost all journeys it always starts with a single stride repeated a million times. From the starting area at the Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon the challengers must walk a 2-3 kilometer trail of rough roads, bushes, and river crossings. There’s no elevation gains and the river crossings are not a problem.  It’s only  foreplay, the easiest part of the challenge. Survival rate is 100%.


Second Challenge: Hodor – As of this writing we already learned of the meaning of ‘Hodor’ in Game of Thrones, so there’s no proper way to name this small but very meaningful part of the challenge. After the long trek the challengers will see in a river bank and on its wall are the words “Welcome Uwan-uwanan Gorge”. It basically means Welcome to the main challenge you idiots! This is the passageway to suffering and fun. It is highly recommended to take selfies and full body group shots  in this area (while you’re still whole and fresh and innocent bwahaha). Hold the door and take your selfies.


Third Challenge: Aqua Extremis – By the time you came out of Hodor only then you’ll realize what kind of challenge you have signed in for: a wet and wild adventure date with nature. And its real. From here on out the trek is purely a long and dangerous climb. Every inch of your body will be wet, every strides are potentially dangerous, every muscle of your body pulled out and yes every climb is non-negotiable! Remember this is a five-waterfall challenge with increasing climbing difficulty  and we ain’t got choppers. So man up and hold the door este the ropes.

WaterFall #1 – The first one’s the easiest one to climb. Just a mere 20 feet with ropes and old tires in the right side of the falls to maneuver. Just a left-foot up, right-foot up then push, and you’re there! After conquering this fall you’ll immediately see the second waterfall and a perfect resting place.


WaterFall #2 – Let it be known that by the time the Challengers get to this point, chances are people are hungry and tired. At the bank of this waterfall is flat surface where everyone can relax and eat. The water is cold and deep, so swim to your heart’s desires!


To climb this waterfall, the challengers must maneuver at the right side of the fall’s rocky wall. There are ropes tied like nets or spider webs so climbing should be a bit of a challenge ala Spider-man. But make sure to hold on to the ropes and not look down haha. Once you get over this part, remember This is the point of no turning back.

WaterFall #3 – Now this particular waterfall is a thing of beauty to behold… and a stuff of nightmare when you realize that YOU HAVE TO CLIMB THAT BIG BAD THINGY. To be honest I froze like a white-walker when I saw and analyzed my predicament. Yes its a beautiful body of water, quite high, at least 50 feet but then how in the world will I find the courage to climb it? To climb it using the spider ropes and old tires is definitely nuts. Under normal circumstances that is already beyond my fear threshold, but hey I got a willing soul in Ram.  And besides a group of four (three girls and a guy) was already ahead of  us and climbing it. So what the heck. Kat-kat!

This particular climb is absolutely one of the craziest thing I’ve done in my life. It just that scary and having no helmet, vest or climbing gears doesn’t help ease out the misery. Pro tip: just trust your feet. Make sure to step securely on the ropes in every strides. And savor that moment when you reached the top! High five!


WaterFall #4 – This one looks noticeably smaller than #3 but make no mistake this is one tough waterfall to climb. In terms of climbing difficulty, this one is the hardest part of the Uwan-uwanan Challenge. Like WF#3, your life and success depends on the spider ropes. This time you are facing against the falling waters. Out there it’s Man vs Wild (vs The Ropes). What makes this climb difficult is not the height but on how you pull yourself to the top. The ropes are difficult to climb in because it tends to dance sideways and backwards. Balance has never been this precious. The Challengers must be ready to drain the living souls of their upper body muscles. They must climb with a strong arm and a strong pair of legs. May the Force be with them. Because me, I almost gave up on this one. Too tough, too hard, too tired. I guess it comes in handy to have pride and determination.


WaterFall #5 – The Hallelujah Waterfall – after the punishing waterfalls in #3 and #4 behold this awesome sight, the Grand Finale! A grand waterfall probably at least a 100ft high that not even a camera can handle its beauty and grace. This is exactly what you came for. Just being there is a trophy moment already. No more climbing, only swimming, selfies and praises to up above. The Challengers must pay their respect and surrender theme selves to nature’s awesome beauty and raise their hands. Hallelujah.


This is what the goPro can take. A good shot. But the real thing is divine!


and we met new friends at the gorge finale!

(Note: The guides say there’s still a waterfall beyond, but sadly it’s not for tourists to climb, yet)

Fourth Challenge: Cliff Jump – When the Challengers have their energies refilled and selfies taken at the grand finale they must trace back the exact route towards the starting line. But home is still a long road ahead. Folks we’re not out of the woods, er rivers, yet.  And going downstairs might be faster but it doesn’t necessarily mean easier. Climbing down the waterfalls is actually scary because you can see how high you’re at and how far is your katagakan. But I have one pro tip to offer: cliff jump! All of the waterfalls packed in deep waters below. So jumping is a must try! I jumped at WFs at #4, #3 and #2! Jumping is an exhilarating and liberating experience to let go of the recent painful memories and celebrate thy conquests. And its way faster and more badass. (I almost give our tourguide a heart attack in every jump)


from 2013. Last weekend I jumped more and higher!

End Game

Now that everything has been said and done it is very important to preserve and promote the Uwan-uwanan Gorge. I know its not going to be for everyone because of its physical requirements but for a Challenger to another please come, test yourself, and have a GoPro worthy good time. You will be challenged, and you will have fun. That I can promise.

There’s still a lot to be done in the area. The Libagon LGU must step in to promote by inviting travel bloggers (*coughs*), instagramers, prints and TV crews etc to take the Challenge.  That’s the easy part. The hard part is developing the area.  Challengers must register and be provided with safety gears. Safety ladders or tighter ropes should be installed in the climbing parts. Of course that entail costs, that’s why its the hard part.

But despite the inherent danger, nobody ever got seriously hurt in the area. Like, never, as what our guide Glenn Toledo assured us. Maybe the guides are good (which they are, so pay them good too), or perhaps in the recess of our civilization, someone or something is looking after the Challengers and the place. I did not have the courage to ask the guides, but Uwan-uwanan is really off-the-charts ‘enchanted’. It’s hard to explain, but I felt there is something beautiful, kind and paranormal in the area. But that’s for another discussion. Whatever it is I am grateful.

Peace Y'all!

Peace Y’all!

How to get there:

The Uwan Gorge is located in Brgy. Kawayan in the town of Libagon, Southern Leyte.

By Air: It can be reached from Manila through a flight to Tacloban City. Then from Tacloban hop in a van to the town of Sogod at P150. Travel time is 2.5 hours.  Then from Sogod hop in a multi-cab or a bus going to Libagon, make sure to ask the driver to drop off at Brgy. Kawayan Elementary School. You should reach the village in 20 mins.

By Sea: From Cebu you may take a ship to Hilongos, Leyte. Then from the Hilongos Port ride a bus to Sogod for an hour’s travel for P80. Then from Sogod catch a multi-cab to Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon.