hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

hello...is this thing on?

this following post is a snippet from an email that curtis wrote to one of our friends talking about the road trip north before i got sick.

Hello... is this thing on? Testing....This is obviously Curtis right... (note the varied use of capitalization ;O) and the big nose! he he!).  We took a little 3 day road trip to a town callled Vigan (a few weeks ago) and on to what should have been another good surf spot Pugudpud but no such luck on the latter, surfwise at least. Beautiful though, think Siargao but quieter and mas mahal (too expensive) for what you really get. Vigan was great! It's about 4 hours by bus north of us (A story in itself...) and has the oldest architecture I think in the Philippines, circa 1500s Spanish style brick. There was this little street called Calle Crisologo that was made of bricks and all of these old buildings on either side somewhat reminiscent of London or old Spain more likely. Really neat. We took a Calesa around town which is just a horse-drawn carriage and stopped at a couple of heritage sites, museums and a zoo of sorts. They had tigers, ostriches, birds, deer and this butterfly sanctuary where you could walk through with hundreds of butterflies flitting here and there, sometimes landing on you. 

Pugudpud was another 4 hours past Vigan but when we got there it was late and dark and the tricycle drivers weren't sure where this resort at the surf was called Mike's Place. Tito Res (Michelle's uncle) had a friend who owned a resort in the town as well but not near the surfing area so we opted for that. So we tell the tricycle driver who takes us to some 
small little place that appears to be closed. We start talking to the neighbors who are a bit confused and so Michelle calls up her uncle who gets us the number to the the lady with the place. Michelle proceeds to call her up and she asks to talk to the tricycle driver. So imagine his face as he realizes he's on the phone with the Vice Mayor of the town! bahahahaha as Michelle would say! It was funny to say the least. So the tricycle driver turns us around and back we go to Saud Beach Resort.  (this is michelle: it was a nice looking resort but over our budget.  we had just enough to pay for the one night and bus fees home.)  And therein lay the problem. Pugudpud has no bank, no ATM, and the resort has no phones, so no credit cards..... cash only, of which we were short. The closest bank was 2 hours back at a town called Laoag. Translation: 8 hours by bus for 1 night in an expensive resort and we didn't even get to see the surf which is why we went there to begin with.  We went back in La Union and still no surf. However there's something to be said about feeling home sort of. 

{end of curtis entry.  back to michelle sans caps}

so it was a long road trip but a beautiful one.  the biggest lesson we learned... as much as we would like to wing it during our spontaneous road trips, that doesn't always work.  the least we could do is check for accommodations and have cash.  tee hee.  

an hour away from us (just around the coast) past the cement factory HOLCIM is a mind blowing sight.  it's an entire coast of rocks in every color, shape and size.  most of them smooth from the sea's constant tumbling.  people have been "mining" this mountain by the sea for the last 50 years.  they hand pick each rock and create piles by colors and sizes.

some of the faces that greeted us as we walked around town.

this is a shot for my 365.  the calesa (horse-drawn carriage that curtis was talking about)

this is what i call walking the cat ...

shots from the butterfly sanctuary.  check out the butterflies just coming out of their cocoon.  so it turns out that they "hatch" the most between 10am - 1pm. also see the caterpillar below, notice the similarity in it's color pattern which emerges in the wing colors of the butterfly it becomes.

the philippine carabao (water buffalo) is the national animal.  it is the work horse of this country.  used to till the rice fields, pull carts and produce milk and meat.

father burgos was a philippine national hero.  charged with having incited the revolution against the spaniards in 1872, he was sentenced to die along with 2 other priests.  father burgos is on my family tree.  this was shot at his home in vigan.

i don't know why these were at fr. burgos' house but they are coffins used by the igorots.  igorots are one of the native tribes found in the philippines.  these coffins are old.  shame on me for not getting the date.  but they were so short!  and these were intended for full grown adults.  filipinos are naturally smaller in stature but with time and mixed race, they have gotten taller.  i made curtis lie down next to them to get an idea of the difference.

vigan with its old architecture has cobble stoned streets that make you think you are in old europe.

this is pagudpud.  found at the tip of the country where the pacific meets south china sea.  miles of clear blue ocean, white powdery sands, sky and no phones.  see just clear the water is, i had to take a picture of curtis in the water.  doesn't he look like he's just sitting in a swimming pool???? 

by the way this crab scared me as we were walking.  i nearly ran into him.  he's as big as my foot (minus my toes)!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous pictures.... The one with your reflection in it... the butterfly shots! Amazing! Such a beautiful place! I must make a mental note to visit... and in the beach pictures, is that a wind farm I see along the other side of the coast?? Neat-O. =) Have you ever been to one of those upclose?? pretty amazing...

  2. So, for Christmas I am asking Santa for your life. ;) The places that you visit are amazing, and they are so full of history. Your pictures capture the beauty magnificently. I fall a little more in love with your photography each and every time you post. When will you be heading back to the states? We should definitely do a dinner date!!! Although it may be difficult to eat, while being blinded by your awesomeness! :)

  3. WOWOWOWOWOW!!! Are you still in P.I.? How long are you there for?? You make me miss the country! TAKE MORE PHOTOS PLEASE!! :-D

  4. Thanks for these posts! Thats why I keep coming back. I am vicariously living life through you!!! You are showing me the world through great photography and it's just fun to watch!

    Jessica ...about the dinner ...I want in! (did I just invite myself?)
    Seriously lets all get together!

  5. hi!!! yes rachel that was a windfarm. i think it belongs to smart cellular. they just got awarded for their green movement out here.

    jessica, i can't wait to meet you. i'll be back in the states in april. as i get closer to that date we'll arrange something and lisa can come along. hehe. joan that answers your question yeah?

    i have this set of curtis in the water i'm dying to share. i'll post it in a couple of days. just wrapping up edits.

  6. Okay seriously though, forget Christmas, I CANNOT WAIT FOR APRIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait for our dinner date Michelle & Lisa. Soooooo sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. What a cool post! I love all the photos. It looks like alot of Fun!

  8. This whole set is so cool! Can I blame you for these urges to go traveling?