December 17, 2010

Batanes by Mandy Navasero

December 15, 2010

More than Photography

It is more than just the unique thrill of gaining new insights and learning new tricks in the art of photography from the guru herself, Mandy Navasero, for both professionals and enthusiasts joining the annual Batanes Photo Safari. They also experience the joy of giving the gift of knowledge when they distribute books and read aloud to the Ivatan children, in line with the learning advocacy program by the Gig and the Amazing Sampaguita Foundation Inc. (GASFI) and the Books Across the Seas (BATS). The reading aloud activity is done in memory of Gig Oca Robles, a teenage photography lover who loved books and Sampaguitas.

Last year, Anne Nicorlay from Australia read aloud to the pupils of Sabtang Elementary School a title from the newly published Gig Seafarer Children's Book series "See, I Am Holding Daddy's Hand." The children were all eyes on Anne, and so were the photo safari participants. It was a sad story of a young boy whose father is away at sea as a seafarer, but always felt he was holding Daddy's hand. Anne read slowly for the Ivatan youth to understand every word she said. At the end, she asked the children, what was the boy holding? In chorus, they answered Anne, "Daddy’s hand!"
Mandy always encourages the children to read, because reading is the best form of education. “It gives you a wealth of information and when you read, you get ahead of the pack. No one will overtake you especially when you read voraciously, no matter how poor you are, knowledge is the leveling field,” Mandy enthuses. The children are told to encourage their mother, or father, or brothers and sisters to read to them 20 minutes before bedtime with the packs of books GASFI distributes.

The Batanes Photo Safari Season begins soon.  Learn portraiture, fashion, naturescape,  architectural and macro photography in three full days while having fun with the master photographer herself, Mandy Navasero, in the ultimate destination of a lifetime, Batanes. Schedule for 2011 Photo Safari is: 18-21 (5 seats available)  and 25-28 February (9 seats available) ; 12-14 (25 seats sold)  18-21 (9 seats available) and 25-28 March (25 seats sold); 1-4 (2 seats available  and  19-24  April (Holy Week includes Itbayat - 6D/5N, P30,000); and 6-9 May 10 seats available, 4D/3 (P26,000). Email or call 8991767, 8963209, 09152200104  to register.  Pay immediately.  No refund. Non transferrable.  Visit and for details.

GASFI Reading Advocacy

Ms. Marissa Oca (in purple shirt), a Batanes Photo Safari participant, established GIG AND THE AMAZING SAMPAGUITA FOUNDATION INC. (GASFI) in honor of her only son, Gig, who loved books and Sampaguita, and died when he was only 17. These are photos taken  during the GASFI  READ ALOUD at Baseco, with 500 children divided into clusters, organized by  Bureau of Customs' Mimel Talusan, another participant in the Photo Safari.  Mimel had hot soup and candies prepared for the children. The children were behaved. We enjoyed sharing  knowledge and GASFI will sustain the reading program in months to come. Those who wish to contribute books may call 8991767 or 8993208 for pick up, together with old clothes and whatever they may wish to share.

December 11, 2010

Mandy Navasero’s Batanes Photo Safari Begins Feb 2011

Some rave reviews from the participants:

“We were awed and breathless with scenic wonders -  high and ragged cliffs, splashing waves, huge rock formations, verdant green meadows and deep blue ocean,”  began Therese Tuvilla-Borromeo . “Co-travellers and photographers met with Mandy at the airport for the SEAIR flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes.  Our group of eleven was composed of couple William and Joyce  from Canada; William, Nanci, Ronald, Janine, and Donna, all  from Manila,  Joy from Cagayan de Oro; Yvette from Davao and yours truly from Bacolod.  Although we came from different walks of life, we shared a common bond: love for photography and adventure.” 

“Mandy made sure we filled all our days  with activities.  We only had 3 days to explore so it was go, go, go from day 1 to day 3,” Therese’s thoughts were surely echoed by others. “Our visit to picturesque  Basco Lighthouse  was a highlight. From the upper deck of the lioghthouse  was an awesome view of mountains and sea.”

To Nanci Labares, the three day trek and photo shoots  were an experience of a lifetime.  Natural beauty and magnificent scenery,  rolling hills, deep blue sea, vernacular stone houses, cobbled stoned pavements and most importantly, the Ivatans,  have made BATANES truly memorable.  One touching moment was the GASFI READ- ALOUD program. The program really overwhelmed me as we personally delivered and handed books to the children, they were overjoyed with the gift of books,” Nanci  added. 
“The HONESTY STORE  was a highlight,” Nanci thought. “The coffee break is a bit surreal as no “tindera” was inside the store and payment is placed inside a  box, receipt written by the buyers themselves on a ledger.  It is really fantastic as store lives up to its name.  Post inside the store - GOD IS YOUR CONSCIENCE – could have made the difference. I guess Ivatans do have a way to handle things.”

As  Dr. Yvette Barez sums it up. “As I looked back a month after that wonderful and memorable escapade, I realized the spelunking trip at Gig Rock in the Fountain of Youth  not only boosted my courage from the trek. The whole Batanes experience gave me a new meaning of unblemished beauty from hospitality of island locals, to its magnificent and refreshing sceneries. I have not only discovered a real destination but  found new friends as well. To  Batanes 11 and Ms. Mandy,  thanks for such a wonderful and meaningful experience.”

The amazing Mandy Navasero Batanes Photo Safari begins on Feb. 18-21 and 25-28; Mar. 18-21 and 25-28; Apr. 1-4 and Holy Week will include Itbayat, 19-24; and May 6-9.  Email or call 8991767.  

Beautiful Batanes Isles by Dr. William Rodriguez

There are so many things  I wanted to say about my experiences on our  “Photo Safari” running through my head.I wanted to describe everything in detail and not leave anything out. So  that whoever reads this,  may   feel and experience the greatness of our trip;  the beauty and splendour of Batanes Isles. It’s landscape,  food and people.

I thought I already saw the real pure beauty of the Philippines when I visited  Caramoan Island,Camarines Sur, or  Chocolate Hills,Bohol. Serenity and friendliness of Camiguin Islands. The greatness of Mt. Apo, Davao.The paradise feeling of Panglao Island in Bohol or Palawan, Boracay in the early 1980’s, till I saw Batanes.

On the first day we arrived,  scenery and landscape of Batanes  is so unique, refreshing, awesome and beautiful, it leaves a permanent mark in my heart of a place I will always cherish.

Words are not enough to describe the beauty that the Batanes Isles have. The pictures we took can paint a thousand words far better than I can fill each adjective to match each different location. Although 12 pictures out of more than a thousand pictures are not enough, it will at least give you a teaser or preview of what one can look forward to, so as to entice you to see  Beautiful Batanes Isles with your own eyes and to capture each moment with your own lens. You have to be there to experience the uniqueness of everything from it’s architecture of stone houses to the mountains and the rolling hills to the pounding sea on the shore, be it rocks or sand, from the misty sunrise, to the calming mellow sunset and the glow of a full moon on a clear night. From the freshness and simplicity of the food to the kindness and honesty of the people that planted and harvested from it’s fertile soil and fished them from its vast oceans to those that prepared and served the food, nothing compares to that of  beautiful Batanes Isles. It’s the simple things in life yet the greatest experience one can have. It puts you back into perspective. It’s being there at the right time at the right place with the right people. I was fortunate to capture and enjoyed  that all.

The Batanes Photo Safari is a first in so many ways. It was the first time we met the person who organized everything behind this magnificent tour, Ms. Mandy Navasero. It was also the very first time that we met the participants of this Photo Safari whom I will mention by their first names according to whom I met first at the airport - being the first to arrive. Nanci, Ronald, William, Donna, Dr. Yvette, Dr. Joy, Therese and Janine. A wonderful group of people each one lovely and in their own unique way and each one adding spice and life to the tour thus making this tour a very memorable one to the point that we have coined our group the Batanes 11 which Mandy added as the Batanes Beautiful 11. Thank you ladies and gentlemen for sharing your kindness and unselfishness in everything that we did even if it was so short. It’s as if we have known each other for years. Thank you Mandy for your great idea of creating such a wonderful Photo Safari. I have learned so much from you and I now have a greater respect, appreciation and admiration for any photograph taken and an even greater respect for the subject in our photo be it human or inanimate. You have taught us how much detail goes into capturing each shot.More power to you and the work you do for the children of Batanes particularly the GASFI READ-ALOUD Program.  The youth is the future of this wonderful Batanes Isles.

The feeling of euphoria when I speak about Batanes still lingers in my heart up to this day and will always do. It’s as if it was home to me despite the very short time that we spent there. It’s true what they say about Batanes, that once you’ve experienced Batanes, it will haunt you to come back.

Dr. William Rodriguez and his wife Joyce live in Brampton, Canada.  William is a dentist and operates SMILE CENTER with a staff of over fifteen.  Meanwhile his wife. Joyce, is president of Brampton Philippine Federation and does medical and mission work in remote areas in the Philippines.  Putting up libraries among poorest of the poor schools in remote areas
Please contact Mandy Navasero
09152200104   8991767    8963208

A Safari to Wholeness by Gloria Jumamil – Mercado

The Batanes trip last April 29 – May 1, 2010 was indeed serendipity to me.  
My second daughter Krista Gem made all the connections with “the” Mandy Navasero and next thing I knew I was driving out in my house dress to an orientation and walked into a studio full of unfamiliar faces.  I could not even discern what they are up to in their lives except the fact that all of them have really fancy (expensive) cameras.  Anyways, listening to the sharing of their reasons for being there, I realized “why not?” … after all, the movie of 1994 Batanes in my mind (I joined a turnaround medical mission as a Colonel in the Philippine Marines Reserve Corps) could be different.
The trip was a journey to wholeness after the introspection at “Boulder Beach” as our solicitous tour guide Manong Roger explained that 100 years back, the huge stones and rocks were spewed out by a volcano.  Sitting on one of the boulders as I cradled my soul to the soothing sound of the waves with the sun just setting off, leaving its golden hues and oh the dusk is so calm … wow, for the longest time, the serenity of my childhood by the sea was so real that I missed my Tatay.  The lessons of the boulders that used to be comfortable in the heart and heat of the volcano, they too found its beauty and solace in an extremely different environment of being in the cold and sea water.  They were scarred, but they became beautiful … and so I am.  
            Yes Mandy Navasero, as I say that “gratitude is a memory of the heart”, I cannot thank you enough for the most fascinating weekend I have in Batanes.  I can never forget the “spelunking” (read: rock climbing) at Gig Rock  where I have to follow all your maneuvers through the nook and tight allay of the rock-cave (oh yah the phallic symbol and Filipino indeed), as we race with the high tide.  Salamat for the opportunity to look inside amidst the privilege beauty of Batanes which reminded me of rural South of France.  And thank you for giving me new friends - “Uyugan 31" and above all, to learn the skills to look through the beauty of the Philippines and the Filipinos through the lens … again.
 Gloria Jumamil – Mercado is currently the Dean of the Development Academy of the Philippines - Graduate School of Public and Development Management (DAP-GSPDM).  She also works as Senior Advisor of the National Security Council and a Professor in all the Senior Military Schools in the country and the Ateneo de Manila Chinese Study Center.  She holds a PhD in Mainland China Studies from National Sun Yat Sen University and a Master in National Security Administration at National Defense College of the Philippines where she is Chairman of the Board/President of its Alumni Association.  She is an advocate of women in national development and security, bringing the agenda to the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She is a member of the Global Network of Women in Peace Building.  Glo to friends, she is a parent to her three successful children – Dawn Marie an environmentalist working in a pre-school; Krista Gem a Summa Cum Laude graduate in MA Asia Pacific Studies now working in the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; and Ernest Lex a social entrepreneur.

The Mandy Navasero Photo Safari begins Feb. 18-21 and 25-28; Mar. 18-21 and 25-28; Apr1-4 and Holy Week 19-24 includes Itbayat; and May 6-9.  Email or call 8991767.

Get in touch with Mandy

Gig and The Amazing Sampaguita Foundation Inc. (GASFI)

The petals are white, small, and delicately soft. Its scent is strongly sweet, heady, lingering. It could mean so many things to the Filipino. It could be love, sympathy, pleasure, goodbye, or a broken promise. A national heritage-- this is the Sampaguita, the Philppines' national flower, and the inspiration behind the GIG AND THE AMAZING SAMPAGUITA FOUNDATION INC. (GASFI), founded by Ms. Marissa Oca (in purple shirt) in memory of her son, Gig, who loved books and Sampaguita, and passed away at only 17 y.o.

It is the tradition of the Batanes Photo Safari to immerse in reading the children in its various destinations, the GASFI Read-Aloud way, as well as give books to children in collaboration with GASFI and Books Across the Seas.