Damselfly Love!

Just a photo to show the sweet side of nature. Being predators damselflies and dragonflies are ruthless killers of other insects, even their own kind. But when in love
they let you know by making the heart symbol! How sweet!

This damselfly species, Pseudagrion pilidorsum, is commonly found in streams and rivers in the Philippines and in Borneo. The red one on top is the male.

Tryke - Beijing Style!

How does this compare to the trykes (motor tricycles) we see on the roads in the Philippines? Or the becak of Indonesia or the tuk-tuk of Thailand for that matter? Well this is the Beijing style. It's all covered up because I guess it would simply be too cold to travel in an open tricycle during the severe Northern Chinese winter. 
Another big difference is of course the lack of colours, slogans and decorations that must inevitably adorn every Pinoy vehicle!

Strange Filipino Festival

The Binalbal Festival is a unique celebration to welcome in the New Year for the townsfolk of Tudela, a town in Misamis Occidental in Mindanao, Philippines. On January 1st people come out wearing strange masks and outrageous outfits to represent what they think BALBAL look like. Balbal in the Bisaya language, are supernatural beings - ghosts, imps, fairy, witches, vampires, ogres if you like,  so this celebration is something like Halloween on New Year Day! Why they celebrate these beings on this day, I don't know and am not able to find out!
Mud People

Posting of recent pictures and videos of the Binalbal (derived from the word Balbal) Festival on Youtube, Flickr and other websites reminded me that I had witnessed this festival way back on the first day of 2004. Here are some of the photos I took then.

Painted Faces

Wild Rabbits

For a change from my usual tropical Asian subjects, in this post (written at 8 minutes after Valentine's Day) I have uploaded two photos of a temperate European animal. Nevertheless it is an animal every Southeast Asian child knows even though it's not a native of our region. The Rabbit. Or to be more precise the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) from which all domestic breeds of rabbits originate. Well, it is the first time in my life that I have seen and photographed rabbits in the wild. That was in late November of 2004 in the English countryside and it was quite an experience as rabbits are nocturnal and with a torchlight thats not so bright on a cold winter night it's quite a wonder that I managed to take any pictures at all!
What an exciting sight it was to see tens of these fluffy creatures running around in the moonlit field as I shone a light at them. To shoot them I had to balance my camera fitted with a heavy tele-lens and flash in one hand and a torch light in the other.
For Ken who was born in the year of the rabbit :)


Another post about the unique forms of public transport in the Philippines...
You may think that a tricycle is a three-wheeled bicycle, but in the Philippines a tricycle or tryke is a motorcycle with an oversized side-car, designed for carrying passengers (and goods) from residential areas to towns or major thoroughfares where the passengers can subsequently board a jeep. Unlike the tuk-tuk of Thailand or the Indonesian becak, the passenger-carrying car is on the side of motorcycle, rather than behind it, making the tricycle almost as wide as a car.

Passengers ride not only in the sidecar, but also behind the driver ("backride"), legs dangling into oncoming traffic. Often the driver will have 3 people behind him in addition to the 4-6 in the side-car and be forced to steer his motorcycle while sitting on the tank. Incredibly he still manages to smoke and banter with the passengers while driving like this. Goods, luggage and even items of furniture are often lashed to the roof or a shelf at the back of the side-car.

Like the famous jeepneys trykes are also often elaborately decorated with designs, slogans, prayers and the names of the owner and his family.

Travellers will find that the designs of the tricycles are different in different towns or cities. My photos show the upward-slanting ("rocket") side-cars design unique to Pagadian City! 


First time visitors to the Philippines would be much bewildered by the many different forms and styles of transport on the roads! Besides the famed jeepneys with their colourful paint and many adornments and embellishments which most foreigners would have heard or read about before stepping on Pinoy soil, and the equally colourful motor tricycles or trykes, they would drop their jaws at the sight of motorbikes carrying 3, 4, 5 or even more passengers! And with their passengers, both male and female, young and old, clutching bags full of vegetables, rice and live chickens ... wow it's better than watching the circus, dude! To Singaporeans and Malaysians who in their own countries would be totally scandalised by helmetless riders, what a shock this is! Apa macam ini!

Most would think a much-laden motorcycle is a family on an outing, few would know that they are in fact the taxis of the Filipino countryside where the roads are so bad that only motorbikes can pass through. And that the passengers are indeed paying passengers and not likely related to the guy (who considers himself a driver not rider) driving (never say riding) the bike! And they have a name for these rough-riding machines that rarely travel at less than full speed... habal-habal.

Even the word habal-habal, I was told comes from the term for canine sex! Well with imagination, I believe the passengers do look like they are doing that ??!! And even such a word gets accepted and in fact becomes changed to mean a thrilling motor ride losing its original insinuation of intercourse between dogs well... this is the Phillipines!

My photo is a very mild example as it shows a brand-new machine driven (not ridden) by a teenager (unlicensed) with his three young pasajeros (passengers) in town.

Lakbayan Map - Where the dragonfly has landed

My Lakbayan grade is C-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.