Page 8 of EdVallance Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Philippines » Mindoro January 20th 2009

Looking back on it, it was foolish to take the boat from Tablas to Mindoro. It would have been far quicker and safer to go back to Manila then catch a ferry from there, but at the time we didn't know it. We waited several days in the nondescript town of Odiongan while they claimed to be repairing the small pump boat that would cross the rough open seas between here and Mindoro. Had I somehow been picked up and deposited in Odiongan it could have been one of any number of small Filipino provincial towns. There was nothing to distinguish it; the small eateries with a collection of simple Filipino dishes laid out at the front in big metal pots, the peddle tricycles dodging in an out of the much less numerous cars, the mostly ... read more
The second gangway
Inside the boat before it filled up
The captain

Asia » Philippines » Romblon January 15th 2009

"Sibuyan island," said Fredrick, a young journalist making a documentary about mining in the Philippines, "is a microcosm of the Philippines as a whole, and all the problems facing it." We were waiting for the boat to Romblon, having spent two weeks on Sibuyan, and what he said summed up our own feelings exactly. On arrival in Sibuyan we headed for the town of Cajidiocan where we met up with a man who every one referred to as Manung Demet, or Big Brother Demet. Around sixty years old but still in extremely good shape, he was an unpaid volunteer for PANLIPI, a Filipino NGO fighting for the rights of indigenous people. Hoping that Lizz, who is writing articles for the BBC Russian website about our trips, would be able to draw some attention to his cause, ... read more
Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid (SMT) lady from Kabuylanan
Kabuylanan kids
Kabuylanan kids

Asia » Philippines December 26th 2008

October 2008, Busuanga Island, Calamian Group "There are four main groups of tribes in the area near Signapan," told us Bruno, a retired French anthropologist, while sipping his fourth pastis since we had met him at 11:30 am. "The most well-known is the Tao't Batu, but there are also the Konoy, the Tao't Daram - cannibals, watch out for them - and the ones I call the Tao't Arib." "Which ones are the most remote, the most traditional?" I pressed. "Well, the Tao't Arib I guess, they live furthest from the road, but they're not always friendly to outsiders." "So how long does it take to reach these groups?" "To the Tao't Batu it's a six-hour walk. For the Konoy you need about six days. For the Tao't Arib - maybe two weeks! Anyway, get to ... read more
One of Takukang's relatives
Having crossed the river
Crossing the river

Asia » Philippines » Palawan December 13th 2008

Not quite being able to face the full 36 hour journey back to Palawan which the previous time had been across VERY rough seas we decided to break the journey in the little-known Cuyo islands halfway in between Palawan and Panay in the Sulu Sea. I had got of the boat for an hour the previous time to discover friendly locals, few restaurants, no cars and a relaxed sun-drenched atmosphere that, despite a lack of tourist attractions other than a seventeenth-century Spanish fort, tempted us back for a stay of a few days. What we discovered this time was quite different; the harsh, near maddening winds known as the Amihan had blown up shortly after our last visit and would apparently be ravaging the isles for the next six months. It gave the whole place a ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Panay December 8th 2008

Guimaras, a tiny island in between Panay and Negros, is absolutely loaded with beautiful beaches and opportunities for exploring areas little-visited by other tourists. One such location is the beach of Tatlong Pulo, a tiny, pristine, stretch of white sand in front of the village of the same name that is almost entirely sheltered from the sea by several rock islands. Near to the beach there's a hell of a lot of undisturbed coral so swimming there is only really feasible at high tide, but locals are happy to lend you a fishing boat to get out to one of the rock islands where the water is much deeper. The only accommodation option is a treehouse which costs 150 pesos per night no matter how many people. Food and drink are prepared for you and are ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Panay December 5th 2008

After our introduction to the Ati people, the sellers in the Barter of Panay, we decided to trek through an area inhabited by the Bukidnon people, the alleged buyers. From the town of Maasim we took motorbikes to a small village on the edge of the mountains where the dirt track ended, degenerating into a path of sorts. We took our lunch surrounded by a crowd of onlookers before continuing on foot. After a three-hour walk we arrived at Trangka, a village of bamboo houses with corrugated iron rooves set on a hilltop with a spectacular view out over the foothills and lowlands stretching all the way to the sea. Staring out there I even fancied I could make out the dark outline of the island of Negros against the horizon. In one of the only ... read more
Rice terraces near Uminggan
Water buffalo plough
Makeshift band with lizard-skin guitar, Inaman

Asia » Philippines » Panay November 24th 2008

"The Negritos in Panay are called Ati and have lived here for around 25,000 years," Daisy tells us, "and there are lots of theories as to where they originated from but one of the latest is that they came in a wave of migration from Ethiopia that originated around 60,000 years ago." She pauses and takes a breathe of air before plunging back into her monologue. "Another theory is that they are descended from African pygmies because they look so similar - short, black, frizzly hair, you know. Yet another theory says that they are descendants of New Guineans or Australian Aborigines. "Over the years, new, ethnically different settlers arrived from China, Taiwan, South East Asia, that sort of area, until they formed the majority of the population, the South-East-Asian-looking Filipinos that you see all around ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Mindanao November 15th 2008

"Don't go to Mindanao. It's not safe" - Almost every Filipino we asked about the place before we went. "Of course it's safe! The extremists only kidnap people if they're worth kidnapping, like foreign journalists diplomats." - Bruno, French restaurant owner in Coron Town, Busuanga island, Calamian group. "We advise against all travel to Mindanao because of ongoing terrorist activity." - British Foreign Office. "It's fine, the fighting is concentrated in certain areas and as long as you stay away from those you'll be fine. Of course this sort of situation is liable to change and bombs occasionally go off in places far away from the fighting but for anything to go wrong you'd have to be very unlucky and be in the wrong place at the wrong time." Freddy, German backpacker. "It should be fine ... read more
Horse fighting 2
Bartering or the bride
Fried bird claws

Asia » Philippines » Negros November 7th 2008

It was ten o’clock on the evening before the final day of the Pintaflores festival. If it is possible for a city to buzz, then that is what San Carlos on the island of Negros was doing, alive with the tense expectation of tens of thousands of people who had no work the next day and were excitedly awaiting a party of truly gargantuan proportions that constituted the very embodiment of their homeland’s culture and history. On some level the city’s soul buzzed, vibrating back and forth, up and down, barely containing the tension, ready to explode, that could be felt everywhere: in the behaviour of the citizens, barely able to contain their excitement, laughing, shouting, dancing and drinking at every corner; in the constant questions, “Hey Joe, you coming to the street parade tomorrow?”; in ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Panay November 3rd 2008

Most of us have had someone close to us die. It leaves an empty space somewhere inside us that can never be refilled and the eternal longing that that person, who was once always there in the same way as the sun, the moon and the stars are always there, was still with us. How we behave after someone's death depends on our character, our relationship with the deceased, what is happening in our life, but also on our culture and the part of the world we live in. In Western cultures it is common to visit the grave occasionally, perhaps on the anniversary of the dead person's birthday, or maybe of their death. The tradition is for anyone who does this to show their respect by standing at the grave with a long face and ... read more

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