Lapu-Lapu Shrine

In 2010 I travelled to the Philippines for the first time, travelling mostly around Cebu, including several trips to Mactan Island. Here I visited the Lapu-Lapu Shrine; a memorial to the tribal chief who, in April 1521 during the Battle of Mactan, defended against the invading Spanish, including defeating Ferdinand Magellan. Lapu-Lapu is remembered as the first Filipino hero.

The story goes that Magellan was confident of victory; that the natives would surrender to his more advanced weapons and armour. With his men Magellan waded in armour through the shallow tidal flats. Lapu-Lapu and his men, unencumbered by armour, outmanoeuvred Magellan’s attack, killing Magellan and forcing the Spanish expedition to retreat. Standing on the shore looking out it’s easy to imagine the difficulties Magellan faced.

A twenty metre tall statue of Lapu-Lapu stands proud over Mactan Island, Philippines

A twenty metre tall statue of Lapu-Lapu stands proud over Mactan Island, Philippines

Largest Rizal

Dr José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda is considered a national hero of the Philippines for his life as a nationalist and reformist. José Rizal was well educated and well respected, an inspiration to younger generations. The date of his death is celebrated in the Philippines as a national holiday. Many monuments and statues have been built in his honour. At 22 feet this statue in Calamba City is the world’s tallest, and was built in his home town in commemoration of 150 years since his birth.

I stopped off at Calamba on the way to a family gathering, taking a few quick shots under the morning sun. This particular statue also holds significance as a key portal in the augmented reality game Ingress; by capturing this portal I seized more than half a million ‘Mind Units’ from the enemy team.

World’s tallest Jose Rizal statue in Calamba City, Philippines

World’s tallest Jose Rizal statue in Calamba City, Philippines

Processing a Winning Shot

After previous success at michaels I entered three photos in the ‘Landscapes & Vistas’ Covershot Competition and was pleasantly surprised when Fran Watson informed me I’d won with my image Floating Islands in the Philippines. In disbelief I rushed to check the michaels Facebook page, and later received a congratulatory email from Marc Abrahams, the friendly and outgoing Marketing Coordinator at michaels, without whom the Covershot Competitions would not seem possible.

Although the photo turned out well thanks to a beautiful setting and a nice camera with a wide angle lens and dark neutral density filter, I doubt I would have won without plenty of post processing. While there is some tonemapping in Photomatix, I also originally edited in Lightroom and Photoshop. Since then new updates to Lightroom include clarity, saturation and white balance graduated filters and brushes; the editing I performed on this photo in Photoshop can now be performed in Lightroom. I’ve included the before photo for comparison of the difference post processing makes.

Quezon Island overlooking a floating island at the Hundred Island National Park in northern Philippines.

Quezon Island overlooking a floating island at the Hundred Island National Park in northern Philippines.

Long exposure of an island at Hundred Islands National Park, Philippines without any post-processing applied.

Long exposure of an island at Hundred Islands National Park, Philippines without any post-processing applied.

Manila Sunrise

Manila Bay at dawn is tranquil while most of the city sleeps. As the fog lifted over the water on this still morning the first rays of light broke through, reflecting off the waterfront high-rises. The moored boats sat peacefully nearby in the calm water. Even the smog haze over the city seemed golden in the early light.

A boat and city skyline reflected in Manila Bay at dawn.

A boat and city skyline reflected in Manila Bay at dawn.

Corregidor Jungle Ruins

These ruins on Corregidor Island in the Philippines are hidden amongst thick jungle, not far from the Pacific War Memorial on Topside. Abandoned since World War II, the dilapidated building was close to collapse. The place is like an Indiana Jones adventure with hanging vines reminiscent of the barnacles in Half Life. We passed through these American ruins at dawn before exploring a Japanese tunnel.

An overgrown ruin on Corregidor Island abandoned since World War II

An overgrown ruin on Corregidor Island abandoned since World War II

Baclaran Church

My great uncle Albert lived his life as a Redemptorist brother and growing up he was like a grandfather to me. Together with six other Redemptorists he travelled to the Philippines and in 1932 they founded the Baclaran Church in Manila. Today the church is amongst the busiest, with its doors always open and over 100,000 regular patrons on Wednesdays. The façade reflects the Neo-Romanesque style of the church.

Midday sun shines on the entrance to Baclaran Church in Manila, Philippines.

Midday sun shines on the entrance to Baclaran Church in Manila, Philippines.

Ice Hockey in Manila

Walking through Mall of Asia one evening I stopped to watch a game of ice hockey. I’m easily amazed at how there can be a frozen winter wonderland indoors while outside is the relentless tropical heat. Mall of Asia is one of the largest malls in the world and there is always plenty to see and do in air conditioned comfort.

Deep within Mall of Asia in Manila shoppers pause to watch a game of ice hockey.

Deep within Mall of Asia in Manila shoppers pause to watch a game of ice hockey.

Manuel Quezon Tomb

The tomb of Manuel L. Quezon rests on a catafalque in the mausoleum located in the base of the Quezon Memorial Shrine at the centre of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, Greater Manila, Philippines. Quezon led a very successful political career throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

Quezon Memorial Circle is pretty much a giant roundabout that’s very busy with constant traffic day and night. A collection of jeepneys, cars, trucks, fully loaded motorcycles and many other road users rush around going about their day, while at the very centre of it all it’s quite peaceful.

The tomb of Manuel L. Quezon in the Quezon Memorial Shrine at the Quezon Memorial Circle Manila.

The tomb of Manuel L. Quezon in the Quezon Memorial Shrine at the Quezon Memorial Circle Manila.

Corregidor Pacific War Memorial Museum

On Corregidor Island we took a tour around the island in a tramvia: a small open sided bus designed to look like the electric trolleys used on the island during World War II. After an early buffet lunch the tour guide took our group up to the Topside area of the island. The sky filled with dark clouds as we passed the crumbling giant ruins of the topside barracks.

With rain starting to come down heavy, being stuck amongst the jungle and ruins without cover seemed likely. Instead the driver took us up to the back door of a more modern building, even providing umbrellas for the few steps it took to get indoors. Inside and out of the rain we examined the World War II relics on display in the museum. As the storm cleared we gradually wandered outside to explore the Pacific War Memorial.

The Pacific War Memorial Museum on Corregidor Island has on display artifacts from World War II.

The Pacific War Memorial Museum on Corregidor Island has on display artifacts from World War II.

Lapu-Lapu Rizal Park Manila

Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition set off from Spain in 1519 and he is famous for leading the first circumnavigation of the Earth, however he never made it home. Lapu-Lapu, a chieftain of Mactan Island, resisted Spanish dominance. At the battle of Mactan the warriors of Lapu-Lapu defeated the Spanish and Magellan was killed.

I’ve visited Mactan Island, where there is a much smaller statue of Lapu-Lapu than this one in Manila, and imagined the Spanish forces wading through the shallow water in their armour, their boats unable to get near the shore. Lapu-Lapu is considered to be the first national hero of the Philippines for his role in resisting Spanish colonisation and maintaining independence.

This statue of Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino national hero, stands larger than life in Rizal Park Manila.

This statue of Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino national hero, stands larger than life in Rizal Park Manila.