Exploring the Hundred Islands, Pangasinan in Black & White
Tell me anyone who isn’t captivated by colors, and I’d say he or she is more than blind. Even the blind are fascinated by colors. I once had a job interview for a BPO company which had an account serving the visually-challenged, and one of the (tough) questions was how I could explain colors to people who do not posses the sense of sight. I don’t remember now how and what I replied, but if you’re curious, I didn’t get the job– not entirely because of my answer, I suppose. Back to colors, though.
Recently, I saw an episode (entitled “In Living Color“) of Brain Games on National Geo, and it claimed that “color is just an illusion created by the brain.” It further explained “the colors that we perceive inside our brains—and the significance that we attach to them—sometimes diverge from the wavelengths of light that exist in reality.” Sounds technically complicated, right? But watching the entire show, I could only say “creepy,” learning that our own brain was just actually fooling us and that there are certain things, and people, in our environment that we don’t know are messing with our perception of things. In short, what we see is not what we really get… especially when it comes to color, which also plays our mind. It isn’t all bad, though, as we can manipulate it, too, to our advantage. Also, the ideas pointed out in the presentation can mean that there is really no “color blindness,” only that the people with the said condition have a set of colors different from the ones ordinary people know; the same thing goes with the visually impaired who might be seeing hues that others are void of. And I could have had a more impressive response in the interview had I known these points early.
There were several other “truths,” interesting experiments, and cool games (!) presented in the episode that you would want to watch for yourself, if you haven’t, to understand more how color works, or to just pass your time exclaiming “oh, cmon.” But the thing that stood out for me was the reality that we live in color, and we hardly acknowledge the beauty of it unless we are a child receiving our first box of Crayola excitedly taking out our coloring books, a painter contemplating in front of a canvas, a lady accepting a bouquet of roses and saying yes to the giver (another trivia: red is the color of high-level of testosterone, while yellow is sex), or a photographer (professional or a wanna-be like me) detailing every single little thing, even dirt, as something significantly beautiful. And why not? Every thing that exists is beautiful. Sprinkle a little more color, then that thing will come alive.
Naturally, we are drawn to vibrant colors. The more hues there are, the more attractive the objects are. However, every shade affects our emotion and brings significance to how we view life. I love how the clean blue sky littered with white clouds on bright days calms me, how the changing of blue seas to green when I come near it elicits my sense of wonder, and how a yellow banana gives me hope for a better health. Then again, based on the Nat Geo show, I’m just tricked. But so what?
In lieu of the “color” topic, I have had two weeks going back and forth deciding for my post (like it was a more important thing to decide on than what shirt color goes well with colorful platform pumps) about an enchanting place I visited two weeks ago. It was the waters, nature, landscape, and they would surely be laid out pretty in their color. However, this black-and-white theme has been tempting me, too. I have tried a little of it in some posts, and I’ve thought of doing an entire photography post applying only the said style. I used to be judgmental about photo bloggers who utilized the monochrome effect. I thought they were taking away the life of the scene or the subject. In contrast, I adored those who have nice, fancy cameras and color editing tools that make their works stand out. But I’ve come to know black-and-white better, thanks to blog.mingthein.com and a walk with my camera, and to WordPress, in general. I’ve gotten hooked to the crispiness and texture the theme captures and have learned a little about what subjects go well with it. Now, I like both types of photography, color-wise. I know they say, you have to be faithful to one style so that you’ll give an identity to your blog, and that it’s either you’re black or white. But I’d say, why not black AND white?
I’m afraid my chatter above has overshadowed the subject of this post, which is The Hundred Islands Park in Pangasinan, Philippines. I wouldn’t want to showcase it less, despite using the black-white theme. Trust me you can find more than a hundred reasons to love the place if you are keen like us, photographers (wink wink). And even if there are only two colors present, the scenes are enough to signal your brain where to pop out the blue, the green, and the “wow.” And who knows? They might not really be only black and white as they appear to be.
Lucap Wharf, the entry point to the islands. Where you register at the local Tourism office (P80) and find a boat and accommodation and sign up for activities. Of course, there are outside spotters whom you can bargain with.
Boats loitering the area. The tower is one of the prominent spots that visitors could climb before; now, according to the trike driver, it was with electrical wires, so don’t attempt.
Arriving late afternoon, we immediately ventured into our first set of islands. There are two sets of service boats: P800 for the three most popular (and populated) islands, and the other P1400 for islands-all-you-can.
I asked one of our boat guys if he was still amazed of the sights, he said he’s used to them. But I think this boy above, who was the son of our main guide, still had that sense of awe.
And who wouldn’t be delighted by the eerie yet inviting scenery tempting you to explore what is behind and beyond it.
Quezon Island: one of the three main islands where swimming is ideal because of the absence of big rocks in the water. The other two are Children’s (ideal for children’s swimming) and Governor’s, where you can climb to a 126 steps cemented stairs to have a glimpse of the stunning islets.
Being only four to five hours away from Manila, the place is a favorite location for mermaid-themed movies and TV series.
This was once the house of local TV’s “Big Brother.” The sign wasn’t anymore there, but Kuya is (spot him).
This was one of the roughest part of the sea where our middle-sized boat almost jumped up and down. The guide said the other side, not so far from where we were, was already part of the South China Sea.
One of the highlights of the trip. Seeing the sun set so close I could almost reach it. Maybe I was overreacting, but the hues, the feel, the mystery of how it was there and how I was here made me shed some tears. I watched the sun till it disappeared from my sight.
Some caving the next day.
The Bat Island. The bats were outside their cave and basking in the sun but asleep, mimicking the twigs and leaves of the almost-barren tree.
This kid, eight. Sunshine. That’s her name. While we put on helmets just to see the view underwater, she effortlessly jumped to the big ocean and into the surface below playing with the fish which also seemed to enjoy her company. She also accompanied me in some short trekking and in the shallow waters while laughing at my inability to swim. I jokingly bribed her P20 to get my camera from the boat, but she insisted P50. I refused and had her brother get it for me, and then she raced with him to get it ending up crying when her brother got the camera first, but the brother pissed by her crying gave it to her eventually. She settled for P20 (seriously, it was part of our tip; she and her two brothers went with her father who was our boatman/guide; when we finished the tour, her mother was waiting for them in a pedicab full of souvenir items; she was also waiting for us and sold us some; the simplicity of their life despite the apparent day-to-day struggles that have made them stick together as a family is one miracle these days). She enjoyed being my photographer. I asked if she had Facebook and thank God, she didn’t know it yet. But I hope she would not be content of where she was; seeing her assertiveness and strong will, I have faith she’d go great places.
One of the activities: helmet-diving. Since scuba diving needs certification first, we settled for this, and it was nonetheless breath-taking. I am scared of the deep water, do not know how to swim, and do not want to die. My brave friend motivated me to do it, saying “we’re already here, what is there to be afraid of.” I screamed “a lot” in my mind, but the next thing I knew, one of the diver-guides pushed me already while the other held my helmet for a while as I descended, maybe noticing that I forgot the instructions. And there it was– absolute beauty. Fish coming to my direction, Nemos, big clams I tried to touch, the sand underwater that my feet could still feel, the sounds below even if the pressure was paining my ears, the thrill that overcame my fear. It was love. At first dive. But I had to go up to scream how I was feeling that time.
And then, I got kissed by a fish. Or my helmet.