On February 24th, 2007, mountaineers, artists, environmentalists, musicians, and photographers got together to increase awareness about nature, indigenous people, art, music and culture. Sining Dagway: Kultura, Kalikasan, Musika was a unique event where participants climbed to the top of Mount Gulugod Baboy (Pig’s Spine) in Mabini, Batangas for a weekend full of art, poetry reading, music, dance and communing with nature. It was organized by the Katilingban Ilonggo Kalinag Kalikasan Mountaineers Inc. For this trip, I chose to focus on capturing the landscapes of this beautiful area.

The climb was not easy for me. Although they said that this was a relatively easy mountain, my lack of training and general state of health (fatness) made the 2-hour climb seem to last forever. Fortunately, my friends from Lakbay Lahi were there to help me keep going. As I dragged my feet up to the summit, a surprising thing happened. The sun was going down and the light was just beautiful over the whole landscape. It was a whole other world – a world that only those who conquer the mountain are worthy to see. I’m not sure if it was second wind or just pure adrenaline, but all my fatigue disappeared. I grabbed my camera and took pictures until the sun went down. When it was dark and we set up camp, the fatigue from the climb kicked in again and I ended up missing most of the night’s art and music activities. However, I was up again at the crack of dawn taking pictures, breathing in the crisp mountain air and enjoying nature. Although I missed the dancing and poetry reading, I feel like I made a connection with nature by pushing myself to climb the mountain and I was rewarded with breathtaking views that you just can’t see anywhere else. It was a great experience and I definitely believe that Sining Dagway was a success.


And a few more fun photos:

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Photographer’s corner… Here are the lessons I learned from this trip:

1. Mountains provide unique landscape photography opportunities that you can’t get anywhere else. Check the weather conditions and always go with a group.

2. Pack light. For this trip, I brought a Canon 350D with no grip, a Sigma 18-125mm f3.5-5.6, and an extra battery. That’s it. I know there’s an infinite number of gear combinations, but for climbing, just bring a kit that will allow for wide and telephoto shots. My bag was an small, easy-to-carry Tamrac Velocity 7. If you want to do long exposures, bring a light tripod and remote trigger.

3. Stay healthy! Your health is one of the most important assets as a photographer. It’s something we always hear and often take for granted, but I truly felt it on this trip. Keep yourself strong and healthy so you will be able to go out and make pictures, especially in hard-to-reach locations.

Oh, and did I mention that there was a TV crew covering this trip? I was interviewed and some of my photos were featured in the segment. It was definitely a nice bonus. 🙂

International readers, please note that about half of this video is in Tagalog. If you want to see the rest of the segment, part 1 is here.

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Roy Cruz

Roy Cruz

Photographer at Roy Cruz Photo
Roy Cruz is a freelance photographer based in Tongyeong, South Korea specializing in travel and documentary photography. He started shooting professionally in 2007 and has worked all over the Philippines and South Korea. He is also a dedicated husband, bass player, and father.