Jan 022012
 

Let's say it straight away, the Philippines have been our best human experience so far. Filipinos are extremely friendly and charming people. Life is not easy here for most of the population but it doesn't prevent people to smile most of the time. Being easily identified as foreigners, we'd be greeted by many people in the streets. Always polite and welcoming, never invasive or with after-thoughts. I can't recall how many times I was wished Merry Christmas or Happy New Year while walking in the streets, it even got exhaustive after a few hours.

The Philippines are not a mass tourism destination yet. So we were glad to discover a lot of authentic places and see Filipinos evolve in their daily life. Obviously, this is a country of high contrasts : Manila vs small villages, poverty vs extremely wealthiness, and tradition vs Westernization. We only visited the Northern part of the country, leaving aside the wonderful beaches of the Southern Island. Another time I hope.

As for street photography, let's say that my candid rate was probably the lowest of the trip so far. Impossible not to get spotted. At the same time, a vast majority of Filipinos like to be portrayed, even asking spontaneously to be pictured at times. I have not had a single bad look or rejection word which is definitely a change compared to some of the other countries visited. In the end, not getting many candids was ok, because depicting Filipinos can only be done with their full smiles (see series below)

Finally, a huge thanks to street photographer Enrico Gutierrez and his wife Sheila. Not only they made us discover parts of Manila, but also invited us to their house to celebrate the New Year. And believe me, they definitely celebrate big time in this country !

Good-bye Philippines, what a wonderful stay.   (click on pictures for high res)

All pictures taken with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph.

 

Jan 012012
 

Six more months to go, time is flying now.

Round the World bundled airfares make this kind of trip much more affordable. Yet at the same time, your destinations need to be set before you depart. When we planned the trip, Japan had just been hit by an earthquake and we decided to leave it out of the itinerary. Indeed, at the time, nobody really knew how the radioactive hazard would evolve.

The situation being under control and us being so close to it, we decided to modify our itinerary to discover the country that was in the top three of our wish list. We will therefore be in Japan for January 9th to 23rd. The downfall of this change is that we won't go to Malaysia. This will be for another time.

But before Japan, Hong Kong is next for a week. Flying out today!

 

Dec 292011
 

It is said to be the best beach of Northern Philippines. Very few foreigners make it up there but it is invaded by locals. I guess some secrets must be kept, just like the wonderful sunsets we witnessed here.  (click on pictures for high res)

Pictures #2 and #3 with Fuji X10. All others with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph.

Dec 282011
 

The Philippines were named after a King of Spain, that is Felipe II. The island would thereafter belong for more than 300 years to the Spanish Kingdom. Not much is left from this period, yet Vigan somehow kept its colonial appearance, mixing a strong European heritage with Asian architectual influence. Walking down its main street, you almost feel in a small Spanish town. Its inhabitants nonetheless, make no confusion possible. Well, almost. (click on pictures for high res)

All pictures taken with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph, except second to last with Fuji X10

Dec 262011
 

Banaue is a surprising city. Located in the middle of the vast rice terraces region, it seems that most of its buildings are about to crumble down the steepy hills. Though surrounded by green, everything looks grey. Yet, as our guide said, everybody is happy in Banaue. Far from the metropolis and close to the sky, Banaue still leaves in its own world.  (click on pictures for high res)

All pictures taken with Leica M8 and 35mm Lux Asph