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

Thursday, January 1, 2009

mila | adventures . palawan

hi everyone!  i'm back.  thanks to all of you for all the love, support and prayers you sent our way.  we had a beatiful gathering.  it was quite the testament to my grandmother that so many people came to the funeral.  we spent most of the time reminiscing, laughing, hugging and enjoying each other's company.

... some notes on filipino burials....
  • there is almost always a viewing before the final interment.  it gives friends and family an opportunity to pay their last respects and get closure.
  • the funeral (viewing) may last up to 9 days.  in our case we had to wait for my family coming in from the US.  we had a viewing for 7 days.
  • during the funeral, the body cannot be left alone.  so everyone in our family took turns staying at the funeral in rotating shifts.  we are just now recovering from the lack of sleep and over exposure to air conditioning.
  • friends and family gather to share memories.  there will be tears but there will be also laughter and enjoyment.  many times, long lost friends and family see each other again in these gatherings.  the joy of seeing each other again brings a happy atmosphere to these kinds of occassions. 
i brought my laptop and showed slides of my grandmother.  my cousin camille sometime ago had scanned over 800 pictures from my grandparent's collection.  they were both photographers back in the day.  i didn't even know!!!  we told and retold the stories we knew of each photo.  the best part was when we had family and friends fill in the gaps in our stories!  

oddly, as sad as the reason for the gathering was, we had a blast.  it was the best holiday we had in a long time.  we laughed, cried, ate, laughed again.  the whole thing was just another wonderful memory to add to the collection that mama was leaving us with.  trully, we are blessed.   thanks again to everyone for all the support you've shown us.

and now on a different note... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  below are some of the pictures i took when curtis and i went to palawan a few weeks ago.  super bummed btw that my olympus underwater camera had to go back to the shop to get some service.  it missed out on the best snorkling ever!  curtis and i found ourselves swimming with giant sea turtles and a shark as big as me!  (it was a black tip and i'm telling myself we were safe).  we're definitely going back next time since silly camera showed up 2 days after we were back in the city!

mangroves and an open path to the ocean

a peek into our gorgeous cottage and the beautiful club paradise resort in palawan

7 shots in 7 seconds.  7 shots made of 15 different kinds of alcohol.  if you make it... you got the shots for free.  curtis seriously contemplated jumping into this one folks.  the guy shown below made it in just under 7 seconds.  he was still standing after he was done too.  we decided to observe him thru to the next day before exposing curtis to the deadliness.  it wasn't pretty.  the guy was too wasted to be coherent for the day trips they had planned.  we opted out.
sometimes the staff on club paradise need to keep themselves amused.  they'll do anything ... even self train for lightworks.
a view of our cottage from the outside.  the sound of the water breaking against that wall made me sleep soundly.

club paradise is a self contained resort on one of the islands in palawan.  they have hiking trails, a lagoon, a lot of wonderful snorkling areas and gorgeous sandy beaches.  check out the view half way up the hiking trail!
another gorgeous day, another peaceful sunset. 
island sunrises
stepping onto the wild shores of calauit island.
get ready for a safari adventure!  we went to calauit island .  it's an animal reserve in the palawan.  just a boat ride away from club paradise.  this island was setup back in 1977.   they imported 15 giraffes, 15 zebras and a host of other animals.  the original set have since passed but have left a legacy of beauty on the island.  today they have 22 giraffes, 45 zebras living along with deer, bearcats, crocodiles, sea turtles and other wild life living on over 52,000 hectares of land.  when the reserve was started the island had 300+ staff members managing the place.  today sadly with the lack of funding the island is only staffed with 35 people.  you should try to visit when you are around the area.  it's worth it.  heck.. pitch a tent!  you can make arrangements for camping on the island.  there are some great trails for all you nature lovers.  and some wonderful opportunities to interact with all the animals.

meet my next pet.  the bear cat.  he's totally adorable and totally a tree hugger.
fruit bats.  they were living on the island!  what a trip they were.  every day at sunset they would do a mass exodus to the next main island (busuanga) to feast on fruits.  at sunrise they would return to the island to rest.
on to more adventures...  next post is my very first PHOTOBOOTH session!!!


  1. Wow - everything looks so gorgeous!!!! It's really amazing to think of my parents getting a foot of snow in a day (upstate NY) at the same time as you and Curtis frolicking in such a tropical paradise!!!

    Heather Harlow

  2. Gosh you make me miss the Philippines!! THANK YOU so much for sharing these though :) It just shows how gorgeous our country is! oh WELCOME BACK TOO! I've been waiting for your posts! and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you both!

  3. Such beautiful pictures! I love the narrating behind them...I feel like I got to go to the Philippines too!

    I'm not sure how I feel about those fruit bats...or the 7 shots in 7 seconds...both seem a little scary! :)

  4. sorry to hear about your grandmother.
    these images are simply amazing! my mil is going back to the philippines to see her sisters. i wish we were also going. i've never been and she says it's beautiful.

  5. hey i'm sorry about your grandma, you know a few months ago i traveled to PR for my grandma's funeral too.. and is just like you said, such a sad reason to travel to my island but at the same time it turns into an awesome time going back and meeting old friends and the big family. all together... it was great, and she was probably happy that everybody was together.. just like yours probably was too.
    oh and by the way we also used to call my grandma - mama...

  6. this is an insane adventure! love it!

  7. Beautiful. I really need to go back to the Philippines, it's been far too long! :)