Monday, March 16, 2015

Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is one of the most beautiful Architecture I have seen, and it boasts of the world's largest pool at its height!
Taken during the soft opening of SkyPark when they still allowed you to get into the pool area.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Changi Boardwalk: My Piece of Haven in Singapore

I love places that gives me some peace and quiet. It gives me that chance to reflect on my life. Maybe somehow, I'm a bit of a loner that way. But we all need to be alone sometimes. That still water comforts me. The sunset tells me, it is okay. The day is done, tomorrow is another day. 

Yes, this is my piece of haven in Singapore.
Photo taken at Changi Boardwalk, Singapore

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Glorious Sunrise in Toronto before the Extreme Cold Weather Alert

Ever wondered what Sunrise looked like this morning before the warnings and alert for the extreme cold weather today in Toronto?

It is glorious! It is for this reason why I always love waking up early to catch a glimpse of this beautiful sunrise.

The Calm before the Storm

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Toronto

For 8 years, I have lived eagerly anticipating for the Chinese New Year. In Singapore, this is the major celebration of the year. If Philippines has Christmas, Singapore has the Chinese New Year. It's the time of year when bonuses are given, parties are celebrated, Stores are on Sale. It is just the most wonderful time of the year!

This year however, I will be missing the grand celebration of welcoming the Lunar New Year, the fireworks, elaborate Chinese Lanterns on the streets, the festivities, Lion Dances, etc. 

I had to celebrate. For the life of me, I cannot not celebrate. So yesterday-Sunday, my family headed to Toronto's Chinatown to celebrate it in a simple way. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How To Photograph Children

Photographing kids is always a challenge. One thing that you must have is, PATIENCE. Remember, children will always be in playful mode. So be prepared to run around yourself and never expect them to pose for you like adults can.

Before any shoot, you must plan on how you want it, without disregarding their age. Yes, that matters! 1 yr old kids generally are easier to photograph as they don't run like 2 yr old or 3 yr old kids. You can put them in one corner, dress them up and start shooting. I always get down to their eye level to get a nice front view. But this depends on how you want it. Be artistic. You can shoot them from the top, or any angle you wish. There are no strict rules to it. So get it on, and experiment.

Before I tell you the tips and tricks on photographing toddlers, let me tell you the settings I always use.  I am an Aperture photographer. Basically, that would be the setting for my camera, unless I shoot landscape which is totally a different story altogether.

When shooting toddlers, I like to use my 85mm 1.4 or 70-200 2.8. I normally use the widest aperture. I like those depth of field in my pictures. Make sure that you focus on the eyes, the rule for photographing portraits. Now, if you don't have those fixed lenses, always zoom out to get the best results for your depth of field. Let's say, you have 18-200 or 70-200 attached to your camera - make sure you zoom in to 200.

For my ISO, I would turn it to ISO-AUTO. Why? Because I will constantly be on the move. Unless of course I am shooting with a slave flash.

So now, let's talk about tricks on how to get them to smile for you or at least stand at the location where you want them to. Remember: You have to be very fast, as kids will be out of that location in a second. Believe me.

It is always best to get somebody help you out to bring out the natural emotion from the kids. I normally would ask my husband to stand behind me, so he could try to make him laugh and get a nice natural smile or laugh.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's at Spring Sushi

This is the time of year when couples go out and celebrate their love for each other. Flowers, chocolates and gifts are the most common women would receive on this hearts day. While some men go the extra mile by surprising their girlfriend, or their wife, some opt to celebrate it in a simple dinner at home.

Valentine's Day has evolved and is no longer confined to just your partner. It has become a family affair. It's celebrating with the people that you love. Your parents, your siblings, your friends. 

Last night, my husband and I together with our son, celebrated our pre-Valentine Dinner at Spring Sushi at Toronto Downtown along Dundas Street East with our couple friends. Coming from Asia, Japanese Cuisine is something we enjoy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hongkong Travel Experience

My trip to Hongkong with my sister Fiona way back in 2007 was one of my most memorable travel experiences.

When my sister, who was working in Bermuda then, went home for a vacation after a long stint abroad, we decided to take a short trip for a bonding occasion, having missed each other from the long distance. 

She flew in from Manila and I from Singapore, marking the beginning of a set of unforeseen events that made our experiences so much more interesting.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Basilan: The Hidden Gem of the Philippines

There are 7107 islands in the Philippines, all of which boast natural treasures worthy of a fun adventure. Most famous are Palawan, voted World's Top Island based on a survey by renown Conde Nest Traveler; Boracay, a popular beach destination for both international and local tourists; Albay, home to Mount Mayon, a beauty of a volcano admired for its perfect conical and symmetrical shape; Bohol, esteemed for its delectable Chocolate Hills; Ifugao, domicile of the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces; and Tagaytay, an elevated observation deck that provides a nice vantage view of the diminutive Mt Taal, a unique volcano within a lake within an island.

There is, however, a little known gem hidden in the Southern most region of Mindanao. In Basilan, the Malamawi and Lampinigan islands remain treasures that have yet to be discovered. 

Here are lovely photos of the two beaches courtesy of my cousin, Mr Conan Dans. 

 Malamawi's White Beach. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to Prepare for your US Tourist Visa

Back in 1990, my siblings and I were granted an HB-1 Visa when my mother got accepted as a Hubert Humphrey scholar at the University of Texas. Those visas were left unused however but since then, I have had the desire to visit the land of milk and honey, not to mention, Hollywood!

Last year, after getting our immigration papers in Canada, my family of 3 applied for a US Visa so we could finally fulfill that long-desired visit. We were all fortunate to have been granted 10-year multiple entry visa.

For those who aspire for the US Non-Immigrant (Tourist) visa but are not in the know-how of things, here are a few things I can share regarding the experience.

Toronto's Winterlicious - Grab it before it's too late

Since 2003, the City of Toronto has been promoting restaurants during the low season.  Dubbed as Winterlicious, this year's event starts from January 30 to February 12, 2015. With few days left on the calendar, be sure to make the trip and don't forget to make your reservation.  Seats tend to be full especially for dinner. 

Currently the prices are $18, $23 or $28 for lunch and $25, $35 or $45 for dinner, with drinks and gratuity extra.

My favorite so far has been the lobster menu at Toula Restaurant and Bar at  Westin Harbour Castle right in the heart of downtown Toronto. Nothing beats a sumptuous meal with a nice view.

Check out the list here participating restaurants. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My First Ski Trip

When I first came to Canada, one of the things I wanted to cross off my to-do bucket list was the chance to go on a Ski Trip. Coming from a tropical country, I would always wonder what it would be like to glide off cold snowy mountains. It seems so much fun!

So a month after my family and I arrived in Ontario, my sister's in-laws invited us to go on a Skiing Trip. We initially wanted to go to Blue Mountain Ski Resort, the most famous and largest Ski Amusement Park in Ontario. We settled for Snow Valley in Barrie however because they offered more affordable rates.

A First Time package includes rental equipment plus an hour of beginners lesson. The instructors are highly experienced, very kind and incredibly patient. I had too many falls on my first try but I took everything in stride, injured pride and all. Even the awkward tumbles were fun!

I really wonder how professional skiers do it. They make it look so easy on television and in the movies, but this is a sport that is extremely difficult to master. For one, the boots are huge and they weigh a ton. Finding your balance, as you move left and right, also takes rigorous practice. I had to remove my jacket as I was sweating profusely. Yes, in that snow.

That was such a fun experience though my body got tired too easily I couldn't even finish my lesson. My butt had enough of the abuse from my all too frequent falls.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Toronto in Black and White

"To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul." - Andri Cauldwell
Yesterday, I went out to brave the snow storm in Downtown Toronto. I had two sets, one taken in color (please click here) and one in black and white.

I walked on slippery snow filled walkways, covering my face from the snow and wind chill but always on the lookout on the beauty that the condition projects.

After staying in Asia for so long and getting used to Typhoons, i am now faced with another set of challenges. Snow Storm! What better way to experience and photograph something that is entirely new to me.

Alone in the Cold 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Storm, Downtown Toronto

Photos of the Day:

Here are some of my photos taken this morning at Downtown Toronto.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Mamapasano Massacre and the Long-standing Conflict in Mindanao

Contributed by my sister Pearl Dans, an alumna of the University of the Philippines Visayas. Her response to recent events surrounding the Mamapasano massacre in Maguindanao, Philippines. 

When I first read this, I cried in tears because I couldn't agree more with her sentiments. Somehow, she found the right words to express my feelings that I could not have expressed any better.

This has been shared and reposted on other people's timeline as well. I would appreciate it very much if you could take time to read this. 

To all my friends who have posted their sentiments on Facebook regarding the Mamapasano massacre, before anything else, please know that I respect your opinions and I wish to thank you sincerely for your honesty. Only when we are able to fully express our stand regarding issues without limitations, censure or fear of retaliation, are we able to fully appreciate democracy in our country.

A former schoolmate noted an observation that the Muslim community has been questionably silent over the brutal killings of 44 police officers in Maguindanao. As a "half-breed Moro", I think I might just have been the target of that insinuation.

It seems that my decision to keep my opinion to myself have resulted in some erroneously inferring that I am biased towards a certain party.

My apologies to you, as it seems that wary caution has heightened your emotional state of resentment. Please be assured it does not mean I do not care, or that my outrage over this are less than yours. By no means does it equate that I feel no anger or pain. In truth, I fear whether there may be too much of it that sometimes I wonder whether so much negativity may have permanently taken root in this heart that is more conflicted than yours. I have to step back at times and remind myself, again and again, that I have to be circumspect with my thoughts in order to stay rationale.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh, Sentimental Home!

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
In my 35 years, I have had the privilege of living in a few places away from home. First, was in Manila where, shortly after graduation from college, I grabbed an opportunity to work there. Then I moved to Singapore, where i lived for 8 years, and where my husband and I started our own family. Finally, I relocated to Canada where I now live with of course my husband and our son, Pico, who grows up too fast by the minute.

Love and Sunrise at Juara Beach

Back in 2010, my then new husband and I spent one of our most memorable vacations with a favorite cousin and her family at Tioman Island, Malaysia.

Below are some photos of our sojourn taken in Juara Beach on the Island of Tioman.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Travel to Bintan, Indonesia

It was in 2007 when we first went to Bintan, Indonesia to celebrate our 5th year anniversary at Bintan Lagoon Resort. 

The place was perfect for us who wanted to get away from the bustling city life and experience the peace and quiet. And yes, it almost felt like we had the beach by ourselves! We read our books at the beach while enjoying the windy sea breeze and fresh air. 

It was paradise. 

If you're looking for a place where you can relax, de-stress and have the beach to your own, Bintan is the place for you! 

You can get to Bintan from Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The trip will take you about an hour. For more detailed schedule and info, please click here. 

As always, I do advice to just get any promo fares from an agency, rather than doing everything by yourself from booking your ferry, to booking your hotel. I am one who doesn't want to sweat the small stuff. 

There are a lot of Resorts in Bintan. Prices varies as well. The choice is yours. There's Nirwana Gardens,  Angsana Bintan, Bintan Lodge for those on budget, Club Med, Banyan Tree

Enjoy your holidays and do let me know what you think about the place. 

Sunrise at Bintan Lagoon Resort

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Live and Love in Photos

That feeling of wonder when confronted by beauty as we chase a lovely sunrise or sunset. That sentimentalism that comes with throwback photographs of a memorable event. That learning fulfillment that comes from technical and creative growth and learning.

What is photography? The answer varies depending on whom we ask.

Friday, January 23, 2015

King of the Road

I was inspired to do a shot just like Joe Mcnally's on the cyclist "Some Flashes and a Cup of Water". That was just a beautifully executed shot. What do you expect, we're talking about the great, Joe Mcnally here.

Though I know I wouldn't stand a chance at being even close to that picture, I know that I just have to do it my way. The way i feel and look at it. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pulau Ubin: The last surviving Kampong in Singapore

What's you favorite place in Singapore?

Mine is Pulau Ubin. The last surviving "kampong" and the only place that has retained its original landscape. It is remarkable that the government has protected this from development, and I truly hope they keep it that way. 

This place is my escape from the concrete jungle of working in the city and the pressure it brings. Riding the bicycle, the smell of fresh air, the disorder of things is totally gratifying! It is the most relaxing place to be. At least for me. 

It is only 30 minutes by bumboats from Changi Village. Take the ferry and enjoy nature! :) 

Our rented bike in one of the Quarries in the Island

Monday, January 19, 2015

Discover Sta Cruz Island: One of the Top Beaches in the Philppines

Somebody said, do not be a stranger in your own place.

That is exactly how i felt after reading on Yahoo news that the top 7 beaches in the Philippines includes the pink sand Sta. Cruz Island in my hometown Zamboanga City.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HTO Park in Winter

Just because you do not get that beautiful play of colors, the ones that seems like the sky is on fire, doesn't mean you won't be able to get your shot for the day.

Think outside of the box. No, do not think. FEEL! Look around you. Be inspired. The world is beautiful. 
"Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up. There's nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day." - Rachel Boston

HTO Park during the Winter. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Theory of Everything

My husband and I share one thing in common, and that is our love for movies. When we moved here in Canada, somehow we have stopped watching movies. We are too consumed with starting our life here, and still we are clueless as to where to start. We are literally putting up the pieces of the puzzle until we can finally say we have settled down. 

Last night however, I finally had the chance to watch a movie "The Theory of Everything", story of physicist Stephen Hawking. This movie, while it is moving and deeply inspiring, is more of a movie of hope for me - that's on a personal note.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Train types in Toronto, Canada

This shot was taken at the Clarkson GO Train Station in Mississauga. And this is where we learned about the transport system here. 

Am i glad i brought my camera with me. I always try to bring my camera with me though wherever i go because you just don't know what awaits you. Your perfect shot may come in a very unusual place or situation. 

Tips for a beautiful Sunset

Are you one of those who chase Sunset, and time and time again gets disappointed because after travelling for hours and carrying your heavy bag to get to your destination, you see nothing?  I am one of those.

For years, I would rely on my luck. Until i got here in Canada and noticed the one thing that would change on how i look at it. You don't need luck, after all. All you need to do, is wake up very early and wait for the sunrise. If you wake up to this - a beautiful play of colors in the sky, expect the same for the Sunset!

Before Sunrise 

Singapore is Shopping

If there's one thing i miss about Singapore, apart from the food, are the malls! If you love shopping, Singapore is the to-go place! The whole 2.2km stretch of Orchard road are malls. It is the shopping mecca of Singapore. This place is so vibrant and bustling....there are restaurants, pubs, entertainment everywhere. Ion is the most iconic shopping mall you'll see in that stretch, but that's my opinion. Sounds crazy? It is. But, that's the thing, and this is what you will love about this place, people are behaved. There are no crackheads on the streets. You also won't, not for a second, fear for your bag or your wallet getting stolen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Toronto Sunrise

By now, you should know just how much i adore Sunrise and Sunsets. Most of my photos will be taken around this time.

Nathan Square in Winter

You must be wondering what you can do during the Winter in Toronto. For most of the locals, that wouldn't be a question i guess. But for people like me, who just moved in the city, these are stuff i'd like to know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WTA Champions 2014 in Singapore

When i learned that the WTA Champions 2014 will be in Singapore, i knew i had to watch it! I was in high school when i started playing tennis. Since then, it has always been my dream to be able to watch the great players in the world play live! At 35 years old, finally i had the chance, so i am not letting this go. It took so many years before i can have my dream come true. But dreams after all, comes true. Sometimes, it just takes a lot of patience.

Serena Williams is my all time favorite. It's not about how strong she can hit a ball, or just how perfectly she can execute her serve, it is her passion for the game! When i watched her play against Caroline Wozniacki, i saw why she is a champion. She raises her game to the highest level! It was such a nerve-wracking, heart pounding match, that even i who was seated was feeling all the nerves. And when she wins a point, i jump from my seat in a growling YEAAAAAH!!! I can't imagine how they feel on court, must be even worst.
"Being so close and still losing, it really stinks," Wozniacki said. "It was just small things, but that is why champions are champions. All of them step up when it matters."

CN Tower in Toronto

Every country has a landmark that it will be known for. Singapore has its Merlion. Kuala Lumpur has its Petronas Towers. Paris has its Eiffel Tower, and Canada has the CN Tower. It used to be the world's tallest tower until Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower overtook its ranking.

CN means Canadian National, but is popularly known as the CN Tower. If you ever get to visit Toronto, Canada, go and visit the CN Tower. It is 553.33 meters high. 

There are also quite a number of attractions and activities to do in CN Tower. The famous one being the Edge Walk - the world's highest hands-free walk. They also offer the 360 Dining experience. You can check out in detail at CN Tower's website. 

You know what they say, you have not really been there if you have not seen their landmark, it is their distinction among others.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunset at its loveliest

“There's a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they're absolutely free. Don't miss so many of them.” Jo Walton
Sunsets are a constant in my pursuit of photography. Anytime I find myself in a new place, I make it a point to capture the sun at its loveliest hour. And if you've been following some of our great photographers, they would tell you that the best time to take photographs are Sunrise and Sunset. Cliche as it may sound, but that's just the way it is. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter's Unsung Heroes

So previously, I DID SAY I wanted to go back to the harbour front for the perfect sunset. Guess what happened? I did not get to have my perfect sunset.

However, I had the pleasure of witnessing three extraordinary men performing the highly unusual, most astonishing feat of swimming in frozen Lake Ontario. Yep, you read me right.

At depressing -19degC cold weather with the wind velocity of 45kph, i ran from the Boardwalk at York Quay to the waterfront trail to get a closer look at these people who, I thought, were seriously out of their minds! These men certainly knew how to catch my attention! And how!

Do you see them?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Travel to Dumaguete City, Philippines

My father and his family is not foreign to this beautiful city otherwise known as the "City of the Gentle People". Most of my Uncles and Aunties graduated from Siliman University, the country's first Protestant University and the first American University in Asia. It was only in 2011 though that I got to visit the beautiful city of Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. And I was in love.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Frozen Lake Ontario

Yesterday, i noticed that the Lake Ontario is starting to ice. I told myself that i needed to have a picture of this. I have not seen any frozen lake or river before as i come from Asia. So yeah, it's a big deal to me. This morning when i woke up looking at the lake, I told my my husband that i'm going to the harbour in the afternoon to take a snap shot of the lake, no matter how cold it can get. That's what we do right? We capture moments - no matter what it takes! Though i didn't really get the shot i wanted as i was hoping there can be some seagulls, or maybe an airplane or a boat or a blazing sunset and a blue sky. But i'm just as happy with this one i'm sharing with you. I'd probably try it tomorrow again. I don't stop until i am fully satisfied, really.

Anyway, this week has been horribly cold. They say it's going to last for the whole week. Am i not glad today is Thursday? 3 more days and the week is done. Phew!

So i braved the freezing weather at -11, with a wind velocity of 52kph which sums up to a feeling of -24. Do you know how strong that wind is? With my size and my weight, i could barely walk easily as the wind just blows me a step backwards. When i came home, my face was all red. If i was in Asia, they'd call it Sun Burn. I don't know what they call it over here in Canada. Cold Burn, maybe?

Lake Ontario is one of the great lakes in Northern America. It's so huge at 19,000 sq mtrs, i thought it was an ocean, until somebody of course corrected me.

I didn't use any tripod for this shot, as i wouldn't be able to carry it by myself with the strong winds and shivering feeling.

Tennis, be your own fan!

I started playing tennis since i was 15 years old. Most of the time since then, i was often out of school practicing for division meet, regional meet and ultimately, the Palarong Pambansa. I always remember with fondness those days...the nerve we had, the friends we met, the accommodations in schools, the ghost stories, and the FUN we had travelling to play and represent our city and region.

Last year, i thought of taking a video of me playing so i can have a remembrance of my tennis years. Though quite late, taking it at 35, i'm still happy with what i've came up with.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Road Trip..Wow Philippines!

Go on a road trip. Carry your camera with you. Stop. Breath. Enjoy. And thank God for the beautiful world you live in. 

Don't forget to shoot raw... :P 

Taken while on a road trip in Ilocos. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Quebec

I thought i knew the word grandeur. I've used it many times to describe something i thought was grand. According to Webster's Dictionary, gran-deur means: a great and impressive quality. But not until i saw the Basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal. My jaw dropped to the floor in awe. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life, it made me want to cry. That feeling you get when you see something new and so beautiful is immaculate. It was like giving birth.

The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal or La Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal is a Gothic Revival Architecture. It is considered one of the most dramatic in the world. The intricate wood carvings is amazing. One would wonder how they have done it during those times. Don't you find it ironic that today's architecture, despite the technology where everything is possible opts for a modern minimalist approach of clean lines?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Travel to Montreal, Quebec

When my sister asked me if i wanted to go to Montreal, without a blink of an eye, i said yes! Who wouldn't? Who doesn't love vacations, short trips? I would love to go on vacation my whole life....

So on December 19, 2014 we travelled to Montreal via the VIA Rail Train. The 5 hour train experience was wonderful. The stewards/stewardess were really nice. They have a wi-fi on board too, so it's not going to bore you. But come on, are you really going to do that? You gotta see the picturesque landscape's beautiful!

Inside VIA Rail Train