Biri Island, Day 2

Waves pounding against Magsapad.


I got up very early the next day for the intended sunrise shoot among the baby mangroves.  We had to get to the spot by 5 am and so, Orlando picked me up at the ungodly hour of 4 am.  The major mistake I made was to intentionally leave my tripod in my room.  It was one of those silly decisions one makes when one is not accustomed to waking up that early.

What happened was that basic photography hit me.  See, in low light situations, one has to slow down the shutter speed in order for enough exposure to seep in to create the image.  However, once you do that, you run the risk of blurring because every bit of movement in really slow shutter speeds would affect the resulting image.  That’s where the tripod comes in, it stabilizes the body to minimize any blurring.  Of course, I could have raised ISO to the maximum of 1600, but I didn’t want to risk having too much noise in the resulting image.

an earlier effort at a sunrise shot

The first shots were definitely bad.  Even Orlando said so.  What made things worse was that there were clouds on the horizon, so the sun and its reddish hues just wont come out.

So I strategized.  I knew that the red hues won’t come out on their own so I tinkered with the white balance and jacked up the color temperature (red and magenta).  Then to deal with the blurring, I actually waited for the sun to “rise” further up the horizon.  So that with all the ambient daylight, I wouldn’t need to slow down the shutter speed.  In fact, I would need to speed it up.  And so, after a number of shots, I finally got it right:

the effort was worth it

Sunrise shoot: mission accomplished.


Since it would still be a few hours before we were to pick up Aisa from the port, I decided to make a return visit to Macadlao which was just nearby to see if I can get more good shots of the many formations.  Unfortunately, the morning sun didn’t really blend well with the position of the nice formations.  We did however had an interesting encounter with a day-old kid (a goat’s kid,  that is) that seemingly got separated from its herd.

this kid

It was alone underneath a shelter at the base of Macadlao and crying out for its mother.  The rest of the herd were grazing on the grass at the slope.  Orlando and I decided that we needed to bring the presumably hungry kid to its mama, and so he carried it as we climbed Macadlao again.  When the goats saw us, they naturally dispersed and ran away, making the task of returning the kid to its mother more difficult than we thought.

What we were forced to do was to leave the kid in one spot in the grass.  We were hoping that its cries were enough to coax the mother goat to approach it.  This was also difficult because the kid was in that confused state of whether to be scared of us because we don’t look like goats, or actually believe that we’re both his mothers.  And so we ran away as far as we can so that the kid won’t go after us.  Luckily another young kid who was a bit more mature got curious and came running towards it.  They seemed to recognize each other (siblings perhaps?) and we left it at that.

“hiding” from the kid

After that, I took just a few pictures before going back to the lodging house to have breakfast and prepare to coordinate with Aisa for her arrival.


Magsapad as seen from Magasang on a rainy atfternoon.

So Aisa finally arrived and we welcomed her with inihaw na bangus for lunch.  On her boat ride going to Biri Island, she made friends with a Belgian couple, Julien and Marjorie who were backpacking around the Philippines at the time.  Since they did not have a guide yet, we got them in touch with Orlando and they then decided to join us when we tour Magasang and Magsapad in the afternoon.

a Biri fisherman oblivous to the waves and impending rain

We actually had time to have a little bit of siesta after lunch because the plan was to leave at around 2pm.  It’s unfortunate that in this same afternoon it began to drizzle.  I was hoping that since Magasang was reputedly more breathtaking than Macadlao, I would be able to capture more beautiful shots.  As it is, skies had a different idea and chose to really pour at the same moment that we arrived at Magasang.

cows grazing on Magsapad’s slope

Magasang and Magsapad are the northernmost rock formations and are near enough from each other to be classified as just one destination in most itineraries.  The two are separated from each other by a natural saltwater pool.  Magsapad has a more defined shape (see the first and fifth photos of this post) resembling a slab of the earth’s crust jutting out from the surface.

Magasang, on the other hand, is more irregularly shaped.  It has varying types of surfaces that range from “regular”-looking limestone to porous volcanic rock.  The latter surface type makes up the path that leads up to the higher areas of the formation.

Magasang’s path of porous volcanic rock

There was already a group of people in the area when we arrived.  Judging by their young ages, they must be students on vacation.

Because of the rain, it was near impossible to shoot Magasang’s surroundings using a DSLR with satisfactory results.  At some point, I just gave up and descended the path after I’ve gotten my fill of the view from above.  The saltwater pool looked inviting enough for a dip, even with the rain, and so I jumped in and joined Orlando who was already there.  Aisa, Marjorie and Julien however, didn’t feel like taking a dip and so they spent the rest of the afternoon conversing under shelter.

The annoying thing about it all was that at the moment we decided to get back to the town, that was the time the skies chose to stop raining.

Biri Island as viewed from Magasang in the pouring rain.

On the way back, we again passed by the market to buy our dinner.  We settled for slices of pork chop, and instant noodles with egg.  Orlando is an animated storyteller with an irreverent sense of humor and he certainly livened up dinner with his stories of past guiding jobs with other tourists.

We retired to our rooms with the sincere hope that the next day will bring much better weather.

= = = = = = = = = =

This entry is part of the Biri Island series dated April 8-10, 2011:

1. Biri Island, Day 1
2. Biri Island, Day 2
3. Biri Island, Day 3
4. Biri Island Travel Tips
5. Biri Island Sample Itinerary



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