Pokemon and their real life counterparts in the Philippine wild

My Pokemon-Philippine wildlife trivia on Facebook got published by GMA News.

I grew up watching Pokemon and collecting Pokemon cards. My interests and job also involves wildlife appreciation and conservation. So I thought of connecting the two.



Click this link for full story.



Your trash swam a thousand smiles



These plastic came from the other side (from Manila most likely). The currents brought them a thousand miles. But those who threw them weren’t sorry for the things they have done.

We included a coastal cleanup for our Project Lingap at Cabra Island, Lubang, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. ( I will write more stories about our Project Lingap in future posts). But a day’s effort to clean a less than a kilometer stretch of beach was not enough.  We got plastics full of drinking straw, footwear, PET bottles and wrappers.

lubang mosoon

The Northeast monsoon brings trash from Manila to the northeast side of  Cabra Island During the Southwest monsoon, trash is on the other side.




That was only a less than a kilometer stretch of beach but our efforts weren’t enough to clean it.



We collected lots of footwear, drinking straws, PET bottles and plastic sachets.


The Ocean Conservancy said in a report that  60 percent of the plastic trash flowing into the sea originates from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Did you know that 46,000 pieces of  these plastic float in the ocean per square mile?


We involved the kids hoping they too will be aware. Hoping also that this activity will be an opener to others. (Photos by Kyle Baculanta)



#BoomTarakTarak! Bye 2015, Hello 2016 from Tarak Ridge


I and my high school friends were that crazy to end 2015 and welcome 2016 on top of Tarak Ridge. The idea was to behold the last setting sun of the year over Manila Bay and watch fireworks while on top of the world. But Amihan brought “Signal No. 4” gusty winds and panaka-nakang pag-ulan. We ended up squeezing ourselves inside our tent, merrymaking over photographs, stories and red wine. Occasionally, we would go out in the open, brave the wind and jump and shout for joy.   Literally, the mountain was only for us. ‘Twas  an awesome experience, especially to have spent it with my closest awesome friends.




Tarak Ridge, at 1,130+ MASL, is one of the rugged peaks forming the caldera of the volcano, Mt. Mariveles. The jump-off point starts at Brgy. Alas-Asin where you register at the barangay and register again for some donations for Nanay Cording (ang Nanay ng mga mountaineers sa Tarak) and her husband.

Nanay Cording’s backstory according to her was that she and her family were forced to move from Cebu to Manila to have their son treated from some kidney disease. Her son died though and since then they moved into the foot of the mountain. “Malupit ang lipunan (Society is harsh),” she said.



At the first part of the trail, when it was still easy to pause for photo ops.


The trek starts with wide trails into Gmelina and Eucalyptus woodlands then into dense grasslands. As you enter the forest, it should be rolling as you cross dried stream beds until you hit the Papaya River.  There used to be lots of papaya trees here hence the name. This is the best spot to rest, eat and freshen up before you proceed to the next part of the trek.  Then the trail will be true to Tarak’s name (tarak= tarik=steep), you need to hang on the trees’ roots and branches as you venture into the almost vertical assault.  And as you emerge from forest, the breeze climbing the ridge over cogon grass will greet you.


At the grassland area…



Papaya river, or should I call stream.


Tarak is also teeming with fauna. Philippine bulbuls and tarictic hornbills’ calls are conspicuous in the forest trail. Other endemic birds are red-crested malkoha, scale-feathered malkoha and blue-headed fantail. While dining at Papaya river we even saw red junglefowls or locally known as labuyo. Brazen rats are also abundant at the campsite in the ridge.


During the climb, you ask yourself why you’re doing it, but there’s always this exhilarating feeling when you reach the top. And as what Miley Cyrus sang, “these are the moments that I’m gonna remember most… just gotta keep going, ’cause there’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna make it move…”



Aren’t we supposed to be great by this time? – musings over breakfast at Café by the Ruins

I am now on a sort of “that-thing-called-tadhana-inspired”, solo-backpacking, kinda-finding-yourself, should-be-able-to-write-my-thesis gastronomic adventure.

My first stop was breakfast at Café by the Ruins in Baguio City.

“Aren’t we supposed to be great by this time?”—Mace, That Thing Called Tadhana

“I am great, but can be greater.” –Diuvs De Jesus


The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, oven-fresh bread, Cordilleran cuisine, artsy and nature inspired ambiance add to the rustic charm of this restaurant built from the remnants of Word War II.


(upper left) Carabao cheese caroza- white carabao cheese and grilled peppers in a whole wheat pan de sal, dipped in egg and fried like a savory french toast. PhP 200.00

(lower left) Ruins coffee- Arabica coffee steeped with cardamom and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. PhP 80.00

(below) Ernie’s kamote bread with kesong puti- A Cafe by the Ruins favorite, this bread has highland sweet potatoes, mik and mollasses served with carabao cheese.


“I judge a restaurant by the bread and the coffee.” -Burt Lancaster


“Man shall not eat by bread alone…” – Jesus Christ



I have recently joined Carlos Celdran again in his tours, particulary his Malate-Ermita and Intramuros tours. Yeah, I too hope too see Manila, in my lifetime, back to its old grandeur.

Manila Cathedral used to be the kilometer zero during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. It symbolized the highest societal power at that time, the Catholic Church.

When the Americans bought the Philippines from Spain, they moved kilometer zero to Luneta Park and named Jose Rizal our National Hero. Originally known as Bagumbayan, Luneta or Rizal Park was where Rizal was executed and his remains enshrined in his monument.

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II, San Agustin Church was spared by the bombing of Manila by General Douglas McArthur. It was the only one of the seven churches in Intramuros to remain standing. Built in 1589, it is the oldest stone church in the Philippines and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Surviving World War II, Luneta Hotel is the only remaining example of French Renaissance architecture in the Philippines to date. The whole inside of the building was recently reconstructed, the facade retained and renovated and the historical landmark restored to its original grandeur.

Even as a Filipino, I had negative impressions of Manila. But learning that it was once a great city, just like the lyrics of the song by The Hotdogs, I’ll keep coming back to Manila.

Beyond the turtle photo bomber and the memes

We did not quite expect that Pawi the turtle photo bomber (yes, we named her Pawi from the Filipino word “pawikan” which means sea turtle) would be famous not just on my social media accounts but would go viral worldwide! Friends started liking and sharing the photo. It was picked up by the local news and soon the international media asked if they could feature it as well. Then boom, Pawi appeared  in 9GAG, boredpanda and even landed a spot on Time!

The photo became really famous and many took the effort to make memes out of it.









Like the numerous comments, it wasn’t really Pawi who photobombed, it was us. My friends and I realized that she deserves the spotlight. Through the photo, we promoted wildlife conservation, environmental protection and sustainable ecotourism.

Sea turtles are endangered!

Pawi may  be happily swimming in Apo Island but hundreds of her kind are out there threatened.


Source: Philippine National Police Maritime Group- Special Boat Unit

Last year 2014, the Philippine National Police (PNP) caught Chinese fishermen with more than 500 dead turtles on their boat. Chinese poach turtles for traditional medicine.

eggs_nov 2013

Source: Philippine National Police Maritime Group- Special Boat Unit

Back in 2013, the PNP Maritime Group arrested Malaysian fishermen in possession of roughly  10,000 sea turtle eggs, 2 sacks of dried sea turtle meat and 3 sacks of dried giant clams meat.

Source: D’Bone Collector Museum

A green sea turtle was found dead last April 2015, with these in its stomach.

FishForever Philippines april

Source: RARE Philippines, FIshForever Project

In another coastal town in the Philippines, a leatherback turtle was butchered for its meat.

Another turtle went viral last week because it was kept tied in a tourist area in the Philippines.

What can you do?

In your own way, you can do something. Pawi the turtle photobomber is a very good example that you can educate people and raise social awareness through social media. Do not buy sea turtle products such as meat for medicinal purposes and  jewelry from their shells. Do not patronize tourist attractions that exploit wildlife. Don’t throw your garbage into the ocean.

Save sea turtles!