Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Our second venue was even more challenging for us.... out of the box.... out of our comfort zone!!! Definitely many will be intrigued because not everyone is given the chance to come over to Layag-Layag, the mangrove community off Talon-Talon in Zamboanga City!

A friend told me its name has the same style as Talon-Talon, which means "Jump Jump". 
Layag-Layag means "Sail Sail" because it is a water community!

Here is a map of Zamboanga City showing the relationship of Layag-Layag to Talon-Talon and the rest of the City.

As you can see from the map, Layag-Layag is separated from the mainland by mangroves and we venture to Layag-Layag by way of open sea.

I am sharing " the Road to Layag-Layag" to borrow the phrase from my Travel Reportage classmate, Jess Yu.

We left at about 8 a.m. 
Doc Anton (of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and also our classmate in the Travel Reportage Class) chose this time because of the high tide so we could ride the boat to Layag-Layag, the easier way.

Here I am at the Talon-Talon Salinas (Salt Bed) which we pass by on the way to the mangroves where our jump-off point is. 
I am ready with my Tzu-Chi vest! 
But, even in the Salinas, Mich already had a share of her adventure!

OOOhhhh! So this is what we are going to ride, the bigger version of the Yellow Boats and very apt for visitors... but, I am not so into boats!

We pass through the mangroves on the way to Layag-Layag. It was about a 10-15 minute boat ride. The boat trip was calm, but I don't know why it seemed to tip to each side. It may be an uneventful ride, but others could feel some fear of tipping and others simply had seasickness!
They said, we shouldn't worry about tipping over because the water was mostly shallow... and clear contrary to what we think of mangroves! 
Maybe, it is clear because the place is close to the open sea... 
Photo credit: Doc Anton Lim

If we left too late, we would really have to walk through the mangroves and this would really be difficult. At some areas, others do it this way...

We see a community, although, we are moving on to a different community further on.

So as we move further, the sights are even more breathtaking. And the sandbar is so pristine!
sand bar
Finally, we arrive at the Layag-Layag village.

The mangroves are so beautiful.

Now we are landing in the Yellow Boat village...Layag-Layag!
I didn't realize, we were really going to walk around knee high water and eventually, thigh high!
Yes, you would notice the yellow boats around...the Yellow Boats of Hope!
the Bagong Pag-asa arrives
This is the learning center/day care center which  was featured last March 2012 and sponsored by the Tzu-Chi Foundation.

The community's main livelihood revolves around the Agar-Agar.

We see the mosque at one end of the community. The folks of Layag-Layag helped construct the mosque!
We were all amazed and touched by our Travel Reportage experience at the Layag-Layag Community. 
We were able to relive how the kids do it... 
During low tide, they walk through the thick sea mud. 
But during high tide, they wade in the waters and considering they were little kids, they were practically swimming to school... with wet school supplies!
Travel Reportage Group with Lester Ledesma ---
photo credit: Doc Anton Lim

Doc Anton, the local coordinator for the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation was very wise to introduce us to the place to discover its beauty and the beauty of the people!

We hope we too could help in our own little ways... and also reach out to our friends who may also want to extend their helping hands.

I would like to thank in advance my friends and  High School schoolmates from UP College Cebu, Harry Abilla and Jason Duterte now in the US who have expressed their intention just by seeing this picture! 
Thanks, Jun Lim for the picture... 
They worried about us not wearing any protective footwear... for the possible pain and infection, we may be inflicted with.
So what more for the inhabitants of this village who live this way everyday!

Those who are interested in learning more about the YELLOW BOAT OF HOPE can check out these links:  
and their Facebook Page: YELLOW BOAT OF HOPE FOUNDATION http://www.facebook.com/YellowBoat?fref=ts

Thanks to Doc Anton Lim for sharing the experience with us.
Thanks to the Travel Reportage with Lester Ledesma class because the opportunity was opened to us.
Thanks to the Travel Reportage teacher and classmates who made the activity more enjoyable.
Thanks to Mary June Bugante, DOT RIX director for supporting the group with the escorts and for joining us, too!

Here is a backgrounder for the Yellow Boat of Hope which I lifted from Wikipedia on Jay Jaboneta with this link:

Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (2010-Present)

On October 29–30, 2010, Jaboneta served as a featured speaker at Mindanao Bloggers Summit in Zamboanga City. It was at this event that he first learned about elementary school students from Layag-Layag, an island community in Zamboanga City. Close to 200 of these students could only attend school by swimming half a mile to get to the mainland.[3][11] Disturbed by what he had just learned, and encouraged by his friend Josiah Go to do something more than just post on Facebook about it, Jaboneta began a movement he called Zamboanga Fund for Little Kids, in an effort to help. The group began by raising funds to be able to provide the community of Layag-Layag with boats which the students could ride to school. Meeting initial success, the group kept pressing forward, searching for ways to be able to serve the Layag-layag community more sustainably while identifying other communities with similar needs. The effort eventually resulted in four separate Yellow Boat communities in the Philippines as of May 2012. His focus is on education, medical support, local ecology, sustainability, and empowering others. Strong community support combined with social networking contribute to the growth of the Yellow Boat Project. Today, the project is formally known the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.[3][5][11] with Jaboneta and Anton Mari H. Lim[12] as co-founders.

Communities served by the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (January 2013)

  1. Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids: Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City[13]
  2. Masbate Funds for Little Kids: Isla Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate[14]
  3. ZamSur Funds for Little Kids: Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur[15]
  4. CDO Funds for Little Kids: Cagayan de Oro[16]
  5. Sibugay Funds for Little Kids - Sagip Bahay: Yellow Dorm Project: Zamboanga Sibugay[17]
  6. Negros Funds for Little Kids: Island of Roma in EB Magalona[18] and Matabas Island, Sagay City in Negros Occidental[19]
  7. Zamboanga del Norte Funds for Little Kids, Siayan and Dipolog City[20]
  8. Monte Central Funds for Little Kids, Subanon, Zamboanga Peninsula[21]


Friday, January 25, 2013


I really could not  imagine how the folks in the market would treat us. Definitely, we did not go there to market. We had our DSLRs hanging on our neck or held in the hand.

But, I was happy that I was greeted by cute and happy kids. They were thrilled by the thought that someone took their pictures and wanted to see the images, too. They giggled and laughed everytime they see their faces! And we know very well that they may never even have a copy!

The lady selling pancit was also very kind and was gracious enough to let us go on with what we were doing!
And the young lady washing the clothes was also so happy when I photographered her.
Where there were very happy people, there were also those who were indifferent...
And went on with their meals...

But some asked us why we were there... some asked innocently... and others, sort of doubtful and asking if we are from the media or TV stations.
And even old guys asked us to take his picture, too! This guy specifically pointed out why there was no flash!
We were taught... as much as possible do not use Flash... Better a grainy image than any picture with a flash! 
And this guy is selling these two shoes...in the area of the food!
But, even young people can also look so serious!
But it is the nice smile that makes the day!!!
Good day, everyone!


Actually, during our Travel Reportage seminar, we were asked to make a story in our mind and express it in pictures...

By looking at these pictures, can you imagine what I want to share about the Food Hawkers at the Zamboanga City Public Market?

Thanks, Michelle L. for the photo of this guy making coffee.. they say NITIB (Native) Coffee !

There are real people in the ZC Public Market and I was so happy to meet them and thankful that they were very nice to us!


Our Travel Reportage stint brought us to a place out of our comfort zone... the Zamboanga City Public Market!

The ZC Public Market is in the heart of Zamboanga City. The place is a bustling even if it was already a Saturday afternoon.

It was drizzling at the time we went there and we hoped it would soon stop! We could imagine the wet floors and maybe some muddy areas if the rain continued.

We were given an hour to see and feel the place and create a story in our mind while we do this. Teacher Lester Ledesma  joined us over there.
Here is the first look I had of the Zamboanga City Public Market which I would want to share with you!

I was greeted by one kid who brought his friend and later more friends came, and they wanted to have their photos taken over and over again.

I had to excuse myself from them because I had to think of our story.

Midafternoon, there was almost no more meat...but still lots of vegetables!

But, some of the vegetables were already cut up and placed in plastic bags!

We didn't go to the fish, seafood nor poultry place since our assignment was Food Hawkers.
There are food of all kinds, bread and pancit... and making native coffee!
They also make their own delicacies right in the marketplace.
Outside, we see a kid selling ice candies.
And also, we would like to thank these guys who graciously watched over us while we did our photography shoot!

A most interesting afternoon!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Last weekend was one of the most exciting weekends I had! 

I attended the Travel Reportage seminar by Lester Ledesma here in Zamboanga City. 
Camera Club of Zamboanga (CCZ) President, Sixto Kwan met Lester Ledesma during the Photoworld Asia 2012 Convention held in Makati last year, where Lester Ledesma was the invited speaker on Editorial Photography and indeed this is his forte, being Smile (Cebu Pacific) magazine's photo editor, as well as a freelancer for other Asian magazines, too. 

When Sixto heard Lester was in the Philippines, he immediately took the initiative to invite Lester to Zamboanga City and he did oblige. 

Sixto told me of this seminar by the end of last year and the title itself already appealed so much to me! Travel Reportage is exactly what I want to learn. First of all, I have been traveling a lot and second, I want to share about my travel experiences through blogging. 

I know no rules in blogging. I usually say what I want to say and flood my readers with pictures so I can be more visual. I thought, here is a venue where I can learn tips from people in the know... and pick up a better way to share my stories. Why not!

So here is our teacher: The Lester Ledesma!
our teacher... cool guy!!!
This is our venue: ABC Bakery and Restaurant in Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City
They have function rooms now...

This is our class: mostly, Camera Club of Zamboanga's members
Allan Go, Felipe Lim, David Luy, FRR, Anton Lim, Marvin Macrohon,Jess AndrewYu, Sixto Kwan
Blanca Mae Sebastian, Teacher Lester Ledesma, DOT IX Director Mary June Bugante, Michelle Lim 

And here are my groupmates:

And here are the places we went to, which I will share in my next blogs...
*The Zamboanga City Public Market
It was drizzling when we went there.... expecting muddy floors!
*The Layag-Layag mangrove community off Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City
our own Cultural immersion!

Most of all, I'd like to share more about our teacher, Lester Ledesma and his impressive career!
Taken from the Skylight Images website:www.skylightimages.info/
Lester V Ledesma lives and breathes for his two passions - travel writing and photography - so much so that he has made it his purpose in life. Fresh out of college in Manila, he went freelance in 1999 and documented the Philippines, his work earning him accolades such as Kalakbay Travel Writer of the Year Award. He travels the world, shooting and writing stories for magazines like Prestige, Silverkris, COLORS Benetton, Mabuhay, Smile and Asian Geographic.  
Lester is based in Singapore, but feels more at home in Bangkok, Rome, and his native Manila.
Lester maybe contacted at lledesma@skylightimages.info
Singapore photographer photojournalist writer  

Awards Received:  
      • 2009 Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award for Travel Photography
      • 2007 Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award for Travel Photography
      • 2006 Asia Travel and Tourism Creative Awards (ATTA) Silver Medal for Travel Photography
      • 2002 ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) Award for Excellence in Photography
      • 2001 Kalakbay Travel Writer of the Year (Philippines).
      • 2009, South of East (Royal Plaza on Scotts, Singapore)
      • 2008, Seeing Elvis, Singapore International Photography Awards (Old School, Singapore)
      • 2006, The Ring, Chobimela IV (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
      • 2006, Passage Through Europe (Filipinas Heritage Library, Philippines)
      • 2005, Pilipinas: Travel Photographs by Lester V. Ledesma (Singapore Arts Museum, Singapore)
      • 2004, Pilipinas: The Travel Photography of Lester V. Ledesma (The Photographers’ Gallery, Singapore)
      • 2004, Pilipinas: Travel Photography by Lester V. Ledesma (Brunei)
      • 2003, Bone and Stone: Unearthing the Bombon Ruins (Filipinas Heritage Library, Philippines)
      • 2002, Nayong Pilipino: A Last Look (Filipinas Heritage Library, Philippines)
And this is the cover of his website, Skylight Images:

If you see this, you got the right page! 
Those who are interested in getting him for projects or join activities which he organizes can contact him through this website.

Lester has a special project this March and is an open invitation to everyone and anyone interested...PhotoTreks: Bali on March 16 to 19, 2013
To learn more about Photo Trekking, you can check out this Facebook page: Photo Treks with Smile magazine & Lester Ledesma.http://www.facebook.com/PhotoTreks 

If you are off for a vacation, why not try Phototrekking!
Lester has scheduled it based on how he does a shoot, so that you can be in the place when it is most picturesque... whether it is sunrise or sunset or even at night!
A value added activity is Cultural Immersion where you can stay with a Balinese family or ride the traditional boat in Halong Bay in Vietnam or a temple experience in Bangkok! 
So check out his website if any of these activities intrigue you!

Well, as I said, we had a challenging and exciting Travel Reportage seminar with no less than THE LESTER LEDESMA, the cool guy! 
Aside from the Pearls he taught us during the seminar, I also learned these:
* Frame the story in your mind even before the shoot.
* Don't underrate your pictures.
* Don't confuse yourself with worrying about technical quality.
* Choose the pictures which touch your heart most... don't use two of the same!
This isn't learned overnight!
I hope I wouldn't disappoint my teacher with my future outputs!!! 

Also, I hope you can experience him as a mentor by joining one of his intriguing Asian PhotoTreks!!!