“There is enough mountain to climb every weekend of the year and you wouldn’t be able to finish them all!” says Gideon Lasco during his much awaited launch of his first book, “Day Hikes and Nature Walks from Manila”. Gideon, a physician and medical anthropologist by profession, started climbing mountains since he was 8 years old. To date, he has climbed over 150 mountains in the Philippines, hiked in 20 countries spanning 6 continents, and scaled 3 of the 7 summits of the world. He was one of the pioneers of the website www.pinoymountaineer.com.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”
Late May 2015, I became a part of a group of nature and news photographers to capture images during a photo safari organized by Oceana Philippines. Each of us had our own styles and strengths ensuring we show different facets of the protected seascape, Tañon Strait. For six full days, traveling from Bantayan Islands of Northern Cebu to Dumaguete south of Negros Island, we visited beaches, island hopped, snorkeled, dived, strolled through historic towns, shopped at dry fish markets, went on a river cruise, walked on mangrove boardwalks, stayed a night at a reef station and chased dolphins in the wild. It was an exciting expedition where we were thankful for favorable weather conditions allowing us to easily capture the wonderful scenes during the trip. A set of carefully curated images were printed and became part of a travelling exhibit which includes the World Ocean’s Day exhibit in Libis and toured in parts of Cebu and Dumaguete. Half a year later, we got excited too hear that the planned coffee table book was already out, sooner than expected. The book “Images of Tañon Strait”, is like the culmination of this project.
It was back in 2006 when I first met Romi Garduce when we did a feature on him after his climb to the 8000-meter high Mt Cho-Oyu. He was already making waves then to the mountaineering community for his announced attempt to climb Mt Everest, which at that time, no Filipino has ever done before. He was simple, unassuming and with the occasional witty remarks. Seven years later, after climbing the world’s 7 Summits including Mt Everest, being part of the TV Show Born to Be Wild and other slew of accomplishments, he still feels the same, unpretentious with some witty remarks here and there. Adding another glory to his cap is the launch of his book “Akyat! A Filipino’s Journey to the Seven Summits” (which means Climb! in English) which tells his story of his journey to the Seven Summits which includes the behind the scenes challenges he had to face.
Pristine. Exotic. The last frontier. These are some of the common impressions of people on Palawan. The breathtaking sights of Puerto Princesa, Coron and El Nido has been one of the poster destinations the Philippines boast in their tourism campaigns. No doubt Palawan is replete with natural wonders and culture dating from thousands of years and Into the Green Zone: Palawan Islands, a 288-page hard-bound coffee-table Book hopes to capture all these things that makes the Palawan magnificent, from its breathtaking archipelago, rich culture and exciting developments.
The premise, retrace his route from his travel narrative that shot him to fame with his Great Railway Bazaar. It was a book published in 1975 recounting his railway journey from London to Asia, Japan and Back through the Trans-Siberian express. 30 years later, around 2005, Paul Theroux, now much mature, relived the journey which resulted to the book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.
I have never read his Great Railway Bazaar but I found it wasn’t a problem with this book as we would give glimpses on what it’s like on his first journey. In fact each chapter can stand alone, like if you want to read a portion on Japan or Vietnam, it would not be a problem.
But take heed this is not a guide but more of a personal account and he does it with exceptional writing. He’s a keen observer and touches a lot on the social and the political state of a country. His narrative is fluid and emotional at times but can be brash and egotistic as well. But one thing is for sure, he is a very good writer even if I sometimes don’t really agree with his views.
What I really enjoyed is portions where he met up with different authors I also enjoy reading like Haruki Murakami and Pico Iyer in Japan or Isaac Asimov in Sri Lanka. I’m glad to read about these authors for a change and to have them traveling together in one book was exciting. It also gave me an idea of how the mind of a travel writer likes Theroux works, learning about his method on recording while he travels.
Backpacking nine countries for 50,000 pesos is the bold marketing claim of the most recent book by Robert Alejandro entitled “The Sketching Backpacker “. Published by ROX (Recreational Outdoor Exchange) Philippines, the book aims to entice local backpackers to do a circuit around South East Asia and some parts of China on a measly budget. Being a long time fan of Robert Alejandro’s graphical works, I was excited about this book, but does it deliver as it was purported to do?