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Live in the Philippines for Awesome Photography
Despite all the articles I’ve posted about reasons to live in the Philippines, I’ve missed one. And it is really one of my favorite things to do. It is probably the thing I’ve done the most. The Philippines is extremely hard to beat when it comes to awesome scenery for photographs. From modern day sky scrapers to shanties, many buildings in the Philippines provide an excellent chance for wonderful photographs. As I write this, I am beginning to realize it will be impossible for me to get all the pictures that I’d like to use as an example in this one article. I think this will provide me with an opportunity to develop a series of articles about photography in the Philippines. I’ve got over 10,000 pictures that I’ve already taken of the Philippines. Many are posted on this and other blogs.
Of course I’m not suggesting that one should live in the Philippines so that you can capture great pictures. I’m suggesting that if you do live in the Philippines that it is one of the many benefits. Since I bought a DSLR recently and because I’ve spent many hours researching various DSLRs it is on my mind a lot. Then it dawned me that photography for those living in the Philippines provides many opportunities to take some stunning photographs.
You Do Not Have To Live in the Philippines to Take Great Pictures
Even a low cost cameras can provide some wonderful photograph in the Philippines. You don’t have to live in the Philippines. A visitor can also enjoy photography in the Philippines. If you do live in the Philippines though you will of course have more chances to see interesting situations to photograph. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a DSLR and high quality accessories one can really step up their photography. Perhaps after a serious learning curve.
As you may know, I recently bought a used Canon Rebel XT. It is an older camera and I’ve barely taken it out of fully automatic mode yet. However, with the 50 or so pictures I’ve taken so far I’ve already seen a marked improvement in my photographs. If you’re lucky enough to own a dream camera, like the Canon 7D for example then you are in a position to get some awesome photographs . The DSLR I’ve picked up has exaggerated my desire to travel the Philippines and to get out and walk around Bogo City. Nearly every where I look in the Philippines is an opportunity to take a nice picture.
While you do not need to live in the Philippines to take photographs if you do live here it can be a great hobby and one that is good for you too. Walking around and visiting new places to take pictures is very good exercise yet not too stressful on a less than prime body like mine.
Things to Photograph In the Philippines
- Filipina always present a wonderful photographic opportunity
- Seascape scenes are abundant
- Volcanoes can be found in the Philippines
- Traditional costumes of the Philippines
- Festivals come in both the huge Sinulog down to the barrio festival
- Wildlife is a little harder to find but it is out there
- Underwater photography can be especially rewarding
- Caves In The Philippines
- Street vendors are often a great subject for photography
- Friendly pinoy are usually eager and flattered if you take their picture
- Churches in the Philippines offer fantastic photographic scenes
- Beautiful sunsets and sun rises in the Philippines
- Waterfalls in The Philippines
The Filipina can be an elusive subject. Filipina are more often than not shy, reserved and conservative. While this is not always true it is what you will encounter most of the time. Recently I obtained a 300mm lens that I anticipate will assist me in my hunt for the elusive but beautiful Filipina.
I suppose there is some risk in this. You never know when some Filipina might decide she is suddenly offended. I had a Filipina acting flirtatious one day. I was at the local pizza parlor and was sitting outside. She was inside at the window. She gave me a big smile and offered up some of her pizza. I took a picture or two which she enjoyed. Soon though she was irritated with me and even ended up talking to a pinoy while pointing at me. I didn’t do a thing to that girl. It could have ended badly and I must say she’s one of the few Filipinos that I’ve run across that I have a serious dislike for. That is just one situation though, all the other times I’ve photographed the women of the Philippines it has been pleasant.
Going to the town plaza in your locality usually presents many chances to take pictures of the beautiful ladies in the Philippines.
I also enjoy taking pictures of kids in the Philippines. This probably requires even more caution. I wouldn’t make a habit of going to the park to take pictures of kids you don’t know. I think it is also a good idea to have an adult Filipina with you while you do this. You can be arrested for being in the presence of a minor in the Philippines. It is not something that happens very often. If the police become suspicious of your activities though, they can use it if they fear that you could be up to no good. Something not to be paranoid about but also to keep in your mind. Filipinos are very protective of children. This may be because foreigners have a reputation for bad behavior when it comes to kids.
Seascapes In The Philippines
In most parts of the Philippines it is hard to live more than 30 minutes from the beach. Luzon and Mindanao are two exceptions for this. In those regions it is possible. In most other areas of the Philippines you’ll be within 30 minutes to an hour from a beautiful seascape. Some Philippine beaches are sandy while others are rocky. I find that both present good scenes for taking pictures.
There are just too many places for people to visit the sea for me to talk about them all or even a fraction of them. Bantayan Island as well as the surrounding islands are a photographic dream come true. Sunsets often take on a golden hue there. The beaches are splendid white sand and the water is crystal clear but that is now trite to me. Clear water in the Philippines is a given. Also near Bantayan is Virgin Island. I plan on visiting that island in the near future. A little further away but close enough to take a pump boat to is the famous Malapascua Island. It is a famous dive destination where you will almost certainly see sea snakes and with a little effort and an expert guide you might see a Thresher Shark.
Volcanoes In The Philippines
There are some very cool volcanoes in the Philippines. The most famous is Mount Mayon which I am dying to visit. I plan to visit it but I don’t have solid plans. I don’t know when. I was hoping it would be this year but that seems unlikely. There are other volcanoes in the Philippines but I’m not familiar with them. Perhaps a reader can share their experiences with volcanoes in the Philippines. If you live in the Philippines and would like to write about the Philippines on this blog, please contact me.
Traditional Costumes in the Philippines
Some of the most interesting pictures I’ve seen in the Philippines are those involving traditional tribal costumes. These are from ancient times in the Philippines of course. You often see these during festivals in the Philippines. Not on display but by Filipinos wearing and often dancing in them.
Festivals come in both the huge Sinulog right down to the Barrio Festival
Sinulog is often said to be the Mother of Festivals in the Philippines. It is generally recognized as the grandest of all festivals in the Philippines. It is broadcast around the world. I will be attending this year and I’m really looking forward to it. In fact, it was a huge factor in my buying the used Canon Rebel XT. I need a great camera for that event. I have my reservation at a hotel located in an alley right off the street where the festival occurs.
However, you could make it a hobby to follow festivals around the Philippines. My landlord goes to many of them, or she did. I don’t know if she still does that or not. Of course the cost of doing that will not be cheap.
There are barangay festivals too. That means there will often be a festival near you. The last time I went to Cebu City, we passed by several processions where the barangay saint was being honored.
There are also many religious festivals especially around Holy Week. The most famous and interesting of which occur in San Fernando, Pampanga. People that live in the Philippines often visit here to witness the re-enactments of the crucifixion of Christ. Though I have witnessed this on a smaller scale around Cebu Province and taken photographs I’ve not been there. What a wonderful chance to take pictures that can’t be obtained any where else.
Davao has an interesting festival too, again one I’ve only seen pictures of. Very interest pictures of floats and native tribal costumes. The festivals of the Philippines present endless and unigue opportunities if you love to take pictures.
Wildlife In the Philippines
Wildlife is a bit harder to find in the Philippines than in the Southern USA. Actually it is much harder. Environmental reasons? Too many people? I really don’t know but it’s a topic of heated debate in the Philippines.
The wildlife you can find if you live in the Philippines is often stunning! There are giant lizards, the lovable Tarsier primate, the bear cat, wild monkeys and crocodiles that you can hold and then eat his cousin for lunch are just among a few. All of which I have photographed except for the Tarsier. The Tarsier can be seen and fed in Bohol. Finding them wild would be hard as they are elusive but it is not impossible.
Mindanao might be the best place to go for photographing animals, especially wild animals. I’d actually love to photograph a cobra with its hood displayed but I’m not looking forward to getting surprised by one. Yes there are cobras in the Philippines. I have never seen one.
There are also pythons which I have seen and photographed both in captivity and in the wild. When you live in the Philippines you will see these types of animals if you are here long enough and visit the right places. Palawan is another great place to see animals in the wild.
There are many beautiful and exotic flowers and plants to photograph in the Philippines. Orchids seem to grow almost in thin air. I’ve had my own bonsai trees but they all died. Hopefully I will get another one some day. The bird of paradise is one of my favorites. I didn’t realize it was a flower until Jessie told me. There is also a bright yellow and red flower that I really like but I don’t know the name of it. I have included a photograph taken on Bantayan Island.
I have taken hundreds if not thousands of pictures of plants and flowers while walking in the Philippines. It is likely there will be hundreds more pictures of flowers in the Philippines in the coming weeks.
Underwater Photography In The Philippines
I’m really disappointed that my so called Olympus underwater camera drowned when I was visiting Palawan. It still works to some degree. It will take pictures but the display no longer works so you can not see what you are filming until you get back to a PC and import the photos. I can envision that I might get another underwater camera someday but I’d more likely just get a housing for the DSLR I have now or will have in the future.
There are many coral reefs in the Philippines which makes it easy for someone that lives in the Philippines to photograph many tropical fish. There are also many other cool sea creatures to photograph in the Philippines. There are starfish and jelly fish. I’d love to see and photograph a Lion Fish and if you go to Malapascua and dive you may very well see one.
There are manta rays and the occasional whale and dolphin too. I hope someday I can take diving lessons.
Caves In The Philippines
The most famous cave in the Philippines is the Underground River in Palawan. There are many caves though. Some are underwater, others are partially underwater and still others can be found in mountains. In other words, there is a large array of caves in the Philippines. There were even recent press reports of cave dwelling Filipinos currently living in Palawan. I suspect there was some degree of hype in that but I don’t know. I would love to see these people myself but they would be located in places that would be remote and very likely difficult to get to. Way beyond my abilities.
Caving can be dangerous and physically demanding too. Other caves are in tourist settings and even I can enjoy those. I plan to visit a cave in the very near future. A cave on Bantayan Island with a lovely resort. You can be assured there will be photographs of my visit there if at all possible.
Street Vendors In The Philippines Photography
Street vendors are another favorite of mine to take pictures of. On the first day that I began to live in the Philippines I noticed the street vendors. Sometimes dripping with sweat while ironically selling ice or cold water. I remember the obvious poverty grabbed my attention which prompted me to ask would it be safe to get out and walk around here. I was told “Yes it is.” I wanted to get out and take pictures!
Not long after hitting the streets in Talisay, I was snapping pictures of the street vendors in the Philippines. Sometimes you will see them pushing their carts or balancing a basket on their head. Often they carry the baskets in their arms making it hard to get pictures of that. It seem like nearly every time I try to capture that they take the basket down from their head. I have managed to get a few pictures of that from time to time. Not a one of which I have been truly happy with.
Street vendors sell just about everything. From watches to exotic foods to bonsai trees and jewelry. The hard working people of the Philippines makes it very easy to take pictures of them while working selling their goods on the street. If you live in the Philippines street vendors are impossible to miss.
The men of the Philippines tend to love to have their picture taken. They will often ask me to photograph them and I almost always do. Too often they will hold their fingers up to their face in the shape of a V. I don’t like to take pictures like that as they become very trite. Maybe I should just start a collection and call the the V men or something. It often spoils a great scene so I try to get my pictures when people are not aware of it. Pinoy seem to be honored that you wish to take a picture of them so click away.
Churches in the Philippines
Another of my favorites to photograph in the Philippines are the churches in the Philippines. Some churches are grand. Others are old, sometimes hundreds of years old. Sometimes the old churches are also grand.
I try to take these pictures without disturbing those inside. I avoid using flash inside the churches when people are present. There are usually people present in the churches in the Philippines.
They are often rich with bright colors and gold. Mostly gold paint but is not always paint. Some have artifacts that are hundreds of years old. If you live in the Philippines, churches present an endless array of photographic scenes.
I have some pictures on this website of churches in the Philippines. The most hisrotical of which is the Basilica del Santo Nino. You can follow that link to view them if you wish. The page will open another window.
Beautiful Sunsets and Sun Rises in the Philippines
I’ve already mentioned that the sunsets at Bantayan Island are often spectacular. I’ve seen many beautiful sunsets in other parts of the Philippines. Many right here in Bogo City which also sometimes has a golden hue at sunset. It is a peaceful time of the day. Sunsets and the early morning sun also provide warmer colors which can greatly enhance a photograph.
Waterfalls in The Philippines
The Philippines has a lot of waterfalls. Many though are hard to get to. You may have to walk for hours to get to some of them. Estrella Falls in Palawan was very pleasant but not as grand as some of the falls around the Philippines. Southern Cebu has a more towering waterfall that I will see one of these days. It is along trip so I have not made it. It is near Moalboal and is probably the most famous waterfall in Cebu. They are know as Kawasan Falls and pictured at the right.
The picture of those falls above is in Budlaan and that is near Cebu City. I don’t know but I suspect that is rugged terrain. I had not seen this waterfall before I was researching waterfalls for this article when I discovered it. It is something to look into but I fear without a helicopter I wont be going there.
I found this short list of waterfalls in Cebu Province that you can try to locate if you’re interested. I’m interested and am including it here so that I can easily find the list again:
- Mantayupan (Barili)
- Carmen (can be seen from the road)
- Tinisin Uwang
So now you have a few ideas for photographs to take while you live in the Philippines. I realize that I have likely set a new record for the longest article I have ever written. It could easily be longer. This includes many of the things you could photograph while in the Philippines but by no means everything, I can think of other things that I have photographed in the Philippines.
If you want to live in the Philippines, I would be very supportive. For me it has been a fantastic life changing experience that had increased my happiness more than I can put into words. There are many articles around this website that speak of the reasons why. There are also many articles around this website speaking of the less than positive aspects of life in the Philippines.
As I said before, the Philippines presents a vast array of photographic scenes. While it may not be a reason to live in the Philippines it certainly is one of the many benefits of life as an expat in the Philippines.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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