Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Dance

Young students convey their love for books and reading in a Dance Move contest during the 6th Book Lovers Convention held over the weekend in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

The convention, held yearly in time with the annual National Book Week celebration, gathered more than 260 participants from 4 colleges/universities, 8 high schools, and 4 elementary schools of the SOCSKSARGEN region, and from one college/university of Davao City. This year's was hosted by the Federation of Book Lovers Club-Socsksargen and the Notre Dame of Marbel University-IBED. Participants went through 2 days and a night of educational and fun-filled activities (library tour, story-telling, and book sharing activities; spelling bee, read-a-thon, dance move and poetry in motion contests, etc.) all aimed at instilling and spreading the love for books and reading and in fostering camaraderie among book lovers and reading advocates. The convention carried the theme of this year's (76th) National Book Week celebration: Global Linkages through Books and Information Communication Technology.

The Dance Move contestants executed their routines to the tune of Gotta Keep Reading [The Black-Eyed Peas; Nasrallah-Berg, Ocoee Middle School]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Father, son, and horse

Ever heard of the parable of The Man, The Boy, and The Donkey? Well, there are no donkeys in these parts so most often we were told of the story of The Father, His Son, and (no, not The Pedicab, but) Their Horse. There must be as many versions of the story as there are many cultures around the world. But they all basically tell of how people would tend to traverse the extremes just to please everyone; and point to the moral that "no matter what you do, you just cannot please everybody."

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Islet @ Amandari Cove

Amandari Cove is a nature and swimming resort in General Santos City, Philippines. The place, more known to older people as Dacera Farms, had a major makeover early this year after new investors took over. The resort boasts of fairly large recreational pool areas for adults and children, as well as a half Olympic-size pool for swimming sporting events. It also features a restaurant, coffee shop, hotel and function rooms, picnic kiosks and sprawling grounds for party and other group events. "Amandari" means "peaceful spirits". The "Cove" in the name is probably lent by the presence of a large shallow pond at the back end of the resort where guests can have fun angling fish or riding flat-bottomed rowboats, or commune with its environs on a quiet morning. The pond itself has a unique feature - an islet off the middle connected to the nearest bank by a footbridge made of bamboo. I call it simply The Islet; but the resort staff have a different, rather curious name for it: Amandari Solo Island.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spare Tire

The machine is a grain thresher "tirelessly" crawling its way to work along the main road near the Koronadal-Tampakan border in South Cotabato, Philippines. Walking alongside it is its equally "tireless" owner-operator.

Traversing the 8-kilometer road linking Tampakan and Koronadal, however, has remained a tiresome endeavor for most motorists as a good part of it remains unpaved and very rugged. In her last State of the Province Address (SOPA) last year, the former provincial governor had promised to have the road finally paved before her term ends in June 2010.

Koronadal is the capital city of the province of South Cotabato. Tampakan is its neighbor to the east, and is a largely agricultural municipality which hosts SMI-Xstrata, one of the world's largest mining investors.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Brown Superman


A coindiver - coindiving being defined as the act of retrieving coins purposely thrown into the sea by tourists or travelers; the latter doing it for amusement, while the coindiver for his/her livelihood.

Coindiving is now a common sight in many seaports around the Philippines especially where there are docked passenger ships and ferries readying for voyage. It used to be that this was an almost exclusive activity of the Badjaos of Mindanao (probably an extension of their more traditional coral and pearl diving enterprise) and that one seldom encounters coindiving scenes in ports outside of Mindanao or in places where there are no Badjaos or any sea-faring indigenous peoples nearby. Today, not only have coindivers become multi-ethnic; they are now found in all major ports in the country, and have devised new approaches to egging travelers to throw in their spares. In this photo, a coindiver at the port of Lipata in Surigao City, opted to dive off the top deck of a docked ship for a 5-peso coin.

Friday, May 21, 2010


The Red-vented Cockatoo, Cacatua haematuropygia, is a species of cockatoo that is endemic to the Philippines; hence it is also known as the Philippine Cockatoo. Called by many names locally (e.g. Abukay, Agay, Kalangay, Katala, etc), this bird used to be found in wild abundance throughout the country's coastal mangrove and lowland forest areas; until the 1980's when its number started to conspicuously decline.

Cage-bird trade and the wanton destruction of its natural habitat are the main culprits of the Philippine cockatoo's diminishing population which is now pegged as just about 1,000 individuals (from a 'high' of 4,000 in the 1990's) found mostly in Palawan, and a few in Masbate, Mindanao and Tawi-tawi.

The Philippine cockatoo is listed as a critically endangered species by the IUCN; and is protected by Philippine law under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act 9147).

The photo above was taken at the mini zoo and aviary of the Durian Garden Resort in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another day in paradise

Sunset as viewed from Kiamba, one of the underrated destinations in southern Mindanao, Philippines. Located in the western half of Sarangani Province about an hour's drive from General Santos City, Kiamba is largely an agricultural and fishing community and is home to the pristine waterfalls of Badtasan, Bokay-el, and Nalus; and the Tuka Marine Park, a premium site for diving and snorkeling. Recently it has also become the official home of professional boxing world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao.

Just this February, the 6th Timpuyog (Unity) Festival was held to celebrate Kiamba's 62nd founding anniversary as a municipality.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Farm @ Carpenter Hill

This is the facade of the Japanese Courtyard hotel which is among the featured services of The Farm @ Carpenter Hill in Koronadal City, Philippines. I took this photo during the Photojournalism Workshop for Soccsksargen Bloggers in December 2009. The Farm @ Carpenter Hill sponsored the venue and food for the workshop and served as the subject and backdrop during the workshop's practicum.

The Farm @ Carpenter Hill is all of hotel, restaurant, garden resort, and events center rolled into one. It is situated in a 12-hectare expanse along the National Highway just outside the poblacion (center) of Koronadal City; and is fast becoming a destination for locals and tourists alike who want to dine, unwind or celebrate life in a fabulous manner. Its Japanese-themed villas and hotel, all set up with a touch of Zen, offer perfect accommodation for transients in Koronadal and South Cotabato. Within its spacious grounds are different venues that suit every type of occasion - from the Island Cottage and the Mini Conference Room for smaller meetings to the Japanese Hall, the Convention Center, and the Grand Gazebo for big parties. Gastronomes will not find The Farm wanting either as its Aviary Bar & Cafe and its Sushi Bar offer a diverse selection of food and drinks that satisfy even those with more discriminating tastes.

For bookings, reservations and other inquiries, one may visit The Farm's office along the National Highway, Barangay Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City; or call the following numbers: +63 (083) 228 1888 or +63 (083) 228 9010; mobiles +63 918 9210425 / +63 922 8489098

The Farm's Sushi Bar