Bataan
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I have a circle of friends who for some reason plan trips on Instagram. Of all the group messaging options out there, Instagram isn't at the top of the class in my mind when it comes to planning trips. And yet, we've gone as up north as Ilocos Norte and as down south as Negros since 2014 when we first came together to do a Labor Day weekend not in the usual Boracays and the like but rather a retreat beach complex in Zambales away from the young and hip Nagsasa Cove-goers.

This time around, our whims brought us to Bataan.

We stayed at the enchantingly classic rest home of the Valdez family.  I gathered that the patriarch was the former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican and Japan. (For respect and privacy sake, I did not photograph nor film in the house.)

For the most part, my friends and I stayed on the beach. A small walk down the property already brings you to the beachfront. It was quite lovely. The sand, despite being scorching hot, didn't kill our feet via rocks and coral so moving around was not a pain. We had the beach practically to ourselves sans the occasional shorewalker. It was a little private reclusion for my friends and I.

I'm not as confident shooting video in the water yet as my SLR isn't waterproof so I have limited footage. You can watch some of our happy moments in the video and the photos below.

 

Quite honestly, we didn't have much planned specifically while we were there. Talks and laughs were shared, we found our bliss riding the tiny waves. Hell, even my friend Vince turned a profit just by swimming. He found P50 floating along the waters.

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Some of us could only stay either the day or sleep just overnight. It eventually came down to 5 of us left. That's when my lazy self took over. While there was no WiFi at the property and my phone had horrid reception, I took it as an opportunity to really reconnect with these people whose lives have branched out further and further from where we began all those years ago. I gave up my streaming sites for board games, story-telling and general catching up.

On our last night, I stayed up and tried to shoot the Milky Way. Our surroundings were dark enough, we were still in the time period so might as well.

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When you're stuck in a rut, a change of surroundings can really help. I quite honestly had felt like I was simply going through the motions with a generally fixed and rigid, unchanging schedule for the past few months. This little reprieve from the city tremendously helped me out. I worked on these portraits with a very bright inner happiness because 1.) this is a shake-up of subjects, away from the work material I really am expected to do and 2.) that the subjects were very much people that have brought me much happiness in the past.

I'm back home feeling refreshed, recharged and quite ready to keep going. I have a few more escapes planned out in the very near future but until then, cheers to the sunsets we've yet to see.

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I would like to thank the Valdez family for welcoming us in their home for the long weekend. If any of you are reading this, please feel my gratitude to its full expression. Thank you as well to Javier and Lexa for once again rounding us little weirdos up for a beautiful time together.