Tag: The Philippines

The Philippines

The Philippines - Michelle Alcaraz Dunlop
The Philippines – Michelle Alcaraz Dunlop

So this is a pretty crazy story, and a cool one, and one that is pretty amazing. So, as you know Michelle and I are husband and wife, and Michelle is 100 percent Filipina. She was born and raised in the Cavite area in the Philippines. Michelle and I dated for about three years all via Viber and Skype, with some emails smattered in there. When we first started talking Michelle was living in Brunei where she was working in a department store I swear I was in, but in the mid 90’s when I was in Brunei with the Canadian Navy. I have always said it’s a small world, and I seem to prove it time and time again.

Southeast Asia

I have had the honor of living in a few different countries in Southeast Asia. I have been on Sibu Island Malaysia managing a dive center at a resort called the Cabanas. I also spent time in Johor Buru, which I remember fondly. Then a couple of weeks in Kuala Lumper, which was fantastic!! I then spent time living in Pattaya, Thailand, and to this point it was one of the most favorite stays. For no other reason  then the fantastic people I met there and I am contact with to this day! Then I did two stints in Sihanoukville in Cambodia managing two different dive centers, and Cambodia always felt like home to me.

But then, Michelle and Bacolod City came into my life, and things have not been the same ever since.   There are no words that come to mind to describe Michelle. When I say she is beautiful, it’s a strong word, but when

The Philippines - Bamboo in Patag Silay
The Philippines – Bamboo in Patag Silay

you see Michelle flash that smile of hers when she laughs at something silly I have done, beautiful is certainly not strong enough. Elegant, she is very much that for sure, she has this air of proper around her when she is out in the public. Though I know the Michelle at home, when she lets her hair down so to speak and starts teasing and laughing and joking around.

Bacolod City is unique unto it’s own. It is affectionately known as the city of smiles, and when I first was there I would have said I did not see it, but then I was only there for a couple of weeks, and it would not be fair of me to judge that sort of thing. But now, after living there for 6 months solid, the people I have met in Bacolod City are easily the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met, and I have been in 250 different cities around the world, so I have some experience to draw upon.

People are very honest as well. I once paid a tricycle driver 1000 pesos, for a 100 peso ride, an honest accident, and I certainly didn’t notice the mistake I had made when I paid the driver, but he quickly showed me I was making a mistake and went on his way. Standing in SM mall and I dropped a 300 peso phone card out of my pocket, and a gentleman picked it up for me and hand it to me, saying I had dropped it.   I think if there was one thing I learned about Filipinos it is that they are a very hard working, honest, god fearing, strong, determined people, who no matter what is happening they try to find the happy things in everything. I spent a day at Mambukal with a group of Michelle’s work peers, and they did nothing other then laugh and have a good time. No one was trying to be better or out do anyone else. It was genuinely a fun day. I spoke to a woman who was there tonight, and we were talking about how much Michelle and I love one another, and our conversation turned to the day out together, and she said everyone was concerned I would feel left out because I don’t understand their language, and I said, I was honored to be included, and I loved trying to follow what was being said. I have never felt so included in an event with a group of people in my life.

Rice Fields in the Mountains
The Philippines – Rice Fields in the Mountains

I am sitting in a hotel this evening in Manila, waiting for my flight back to Canada, and I feel lost. I have all my life gone places, and after so long had to leave, and I have been despondent and quiet about leaving for the next chapter in my life. Tonight however, I feel lost like I have never felt before. There are a couple of big reasons for this, and the main one, is that I have had to leave Michelle in Bacolod City, to wait for her Permanent Residence application to be processed, which is widely known to take 17 months. During that time, I maybe allowed to try to get Michelle a tourist visa so we can be together, but that is only if she qualifies. To qualify, I have had it explained to me that she needs to prove that she has ties to the Philippines. Her being a citizen of the Philippines does not count. Her having children does not county. Her having a job does not count, unless she is the owner of the business. The things my country wants, is proof of ownership of land, business or a home, plus 4000 Canadian, or 144,000 pesos in the bank. The fact her husband is a Canadian, is actually a hindrance, and we were actually directed by one Immigration Consultant to lie about our relationship.

Here is the strength of a Filipina, Michelle said, she loves me, she will wait no matter how long it takes, because she loves me. She then through both of our tears said, think about how soon we will be together again.

The Philippines

This country has so much beauty to share with you. Whether you are an Ocean person, scuba diver, photographer, explorer there is so much that is beautiful for you to see and do.   A word to the wise though, I have heard it said that the Philippines is pretty cheap to visit and live, and I am afraid I would have to disagree. Rent is certainly cheap. The cost of our apartment is about $155.00 Canadian and Electricity, water and our internet this month totaled about 1500 pesos, or $40 Canadian.   However, shopping for food is close to the same amount. Need clothes, and you shop at SM, it is as expensive if not more so. I had to scan some documents the other day, and I was told 20 pesos a page which is about $0.80 cents, and when you say 40 pages, that is pricy. You really need to pay attention to costs otherwise it will surprise you.

The Land of the SPA

I have never seen so many different Massage, SPA kinds of businesses in my life. Michelle works at Spa Natura

The Philippines - Spa Natura at Mambukal
The Philippines – Spa Natura at Mambukal

and The Blade as well, and both places are so professional and give a fantastic service to the public. Spa Natura has figured out that service plus ambiance will give the customer that dreamy experience. The layout and decor is beautiful there. The therapists are professional and give a fantastic service.

Vacation Time

I know the first thing Canadian’s thing when it’s January and you want to head to the fun and sun, you say Mexico. What!! Mexico…it’s like a warm Canada or United States. Seriously even if you only have 7 days, go to the Philippines. It is so worth it. The People are fantastic! Scenery puts Mexico to shame, and the dollar is still pretty strong even though, I said the Philippines is not as cheap to live in as people let on….visiting for a vacation is not all that bad, and there is so much to see and do, with beautiful fun people!!

Keep good thoughts for Michelle and I, as we tackle CIC in Canadian, hopefully my government will allow me to spend time with my lovely wife. Mommy please can I have a friend over!!!

Circle Inn

To be honest I was tired of the heat, and need to find a place to stay for a couple of days that had aircon so I could get some sleep.  I was thinking of returning to the Bacolod Pension House, and though the place was ok…I wanted a little more.  So I thought I would give the Circle Inn and try, and I was very pleased with the two days I spent there.

Front Desk
Front Desk

Aircon and the Circle Inn

My main purpose behind finding a place to say was needing a couple of cool evening so I could catch up with some very much needed sleep.  I was exhausted from not sleeping in the heat, and with how hot it was during the day, I found it even more difficult to deal with the days with the loss of sleep.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the heat.  But since I am kind of land locked here in Bacolod City, and not teaching diving every day and missing being in the water every day, I find the heat of all the concrete in the city very difficult to deal with everyday.

The Circle Inn was chosen on a simple Google Search and a list of about 10 hotels came up.  When I checked out the website on my phone, that room cost was listed for the deluxe room as PhP1480, and of course Expedia had it listed as less expensive,  which was not true, since Expedia listed the room before taxes and once you added those in it was the same price that was being offered through the hotel itself.  I find it interesting how misleading the cheap websites are, and I know now in Canada, its against the law when you do not advertise the real price.  Just a thought.

Part of Town


I have just recently ventured into the part of town where the Circle Inn is located.  It took me a few minutes to work out the Jeepneys needed in order to get downtown which by the way Shopping La Salle Libertad will do it, and it was very easy to make it to Lacson street so I could do my daily coffee at Starbucks.  I would certainly decide to stay at the Circle Inn again since the rooms were very clean, the Front Desk staff polite and very helpful.  The Restaurant on site had good food and not too badly priced compared to other places I have stayed.  The pool though cool, very clean and refreshing.  There are rooms that open directly onto the pool which would have been very very cool, though all of those were booked.

Circle Inn

If you are in town, and in need of a place to stay, I would select this hotel in a heart beat.  I really have nothing negative to say about the place.

Have a Great day!!


Bacolod City


Over the past two months or so I have been working on my first Time-lapse video and I decided I wanted to do one of Bacolod City, on Negros Occidental.  Bacolod City is a pretty busy place.  Not any where as busy as Manila or as large but it’s busy compared to what I know back in Vancouver BC, Canada.  Though I find it interesting how friendly everyone is here in Bacolod City.  I am one who will say good morning to strangers on the street as I walk it always amazes me how everyone here that I speak too will speak back, no matter what language barrier there is, young and old, woman or male, if you attempt to speak they will respond, or even vice versa.  In the morning when I walk to the Jeepney many will say Good Morning Joe to me, I love

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines from Ken Dunlop on Vimeo.

Having lived in Vancouver BC the past three years, I slowly stopped speaking to people on the street, as most people look at you as if you are a leper, scowl on their face, they will clutch their bag that much tighter because obviously you are going to attack them.  I was always left with my mouth hanging open at peoples cold responses.  I have to laugh, so many post on Facebook about the warm temperatures so early in the winter though the city especially Vancouver is easily one of the coldest places on earth. The scenery is beautiful but the people have a lot left to be desired.  I was always told it was because it was a big city, but why is it only in Vancouver that I find this to be the case.  I have been to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Toronto, Halifax, and Montreal but it is nothing as crazy and cold as Vancouver.

So here is a Time-lapse Video shot in Bacolod City, see the hustle and bustle of this place, the number of people on the streets, in the stores and coffee shops.  Bacolod City the city of smiles!!

Buenos Aires

Drying Rice
Drying Rice

On Monday, Michelle and I traveled to mountains above Buenos Aires, to see what was described as beautiful waterfalls.  I have been wanting to shoot as many waterfalls pictures as possible so bang I am in.  We travelled on a bus to Mao Mao, and then grabbed a tricycle for the afternoon which Michelle was able to talk down to PhP700, which is bargin.  The driver we had was a really nice guy, so much so, I took his name and number and I plan on using him again very soon.

Buenos Aires is a beautiful resort area right on the river which is cascading down from the mountains. Though, other than stopping there for lunch, I never really had an opportunity to see as I was far more keen on traveling up the mountain.  The area was breath taking, very clean and everyone seemed very helpful and friendly.  Some of the road is rocky and gravel and other areas is paved, it depends on where you are planning on heading.  We turned back earlier than I had planned, but I had a mishap when I slide into the river with camera and all, which ended up being a pretty expensive day trip, but I was able to save some pictures.

Rice Fields in the Mountains
Rice Fields in the Mountains

I forget the name of the one village we travelled through, but I was very impressed with a bunch of signs that had been placed on the side of the road, asking locals as well as tourists to help preserve the planet, to recycle, don’t smoke, save nature, it was very refreshing to see.  I plan on returning again to the Buenos Aires area to explore more of the countryside, more waterfalls, and villages as well as nature.  If you are in the area and have a day, I would definitely recommend you going to the Buenos Aires area, it’s about 1 hour or so from Bacolod City.



The Lagoon

The Lagoon, Bacolod City
The Lagoon, Bacolod City

The Lagoon here in Bacolod City is easily one of the busiest places in the whole city.  I was there the other day at 7:30 am, and there were people jogging around the lagoon, kids playing on the swings, and some skateboarders.  The Lagoon, is a beautiful area, though I would not call it peaceful, it is still a must see.  I shot a couple of night/sunset images of the area, which is well worth the time.

I am working on a Hyper/timelapse video on the City and The Lagoon will definitely be a part of the video.  If you are there for the afternoon, you are well within walking distances of the 7-11, Chowking, Jollybee and the McDonalds, plus the locals with various food carts.  Hope to see you down there.

The Ruins – Talisay

The Ruins - Talisay
The Ruins – Talisay

RunAway Prop had the opportunity to spend last Monday afternoon and early evening at The Ruins – Talisay, and what a fantastic time we had there.  I must say, it was such a relaxing atmosphere there, and I found it so enjoyable.

Some history about The Ruins – Talisay, ” The wealthy sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built the mansion in 1900’s for Maria Braga, his portuguese wife.  He made sure the mansion was furnished with imported luxurious items.  The Mansion’s structure resembles that of the Italian architecture with neoclassical columns.  The facades of the mansion is comparable to the ones in Carnegie Hall. The belvedere facing west enables one to view the beautiful sunset through the bay window.  The garden of the mansion was tended by Don Mariano’s daughter Angelina.  Imported lilies filled the garden and around the fountain.  A Japanese gardner was hired to maintain the gardens until he disappeared just before the war.  It was found out later on that the gardner they hired was an informant to the Japanese Military.  When World War 2 broke out, the guerrillas burned down the mansion to prevent the Japanese from occupying the area.  The mansion burned down leaving behind the concrete structure that still stands to this day.  There is no current plans of getting the ruins restored back to its glorious

THe Gardens at The Ruins
THe Gardens at The Ruins


The Ruins – Talisay is easy to get to, if you take the Bata Jeepney from downtown Bacolod, and get off in Bata, there is a Bike waiting to take you out to The Ruins – Talisay.  Cost to enter is PhP 95.00, and there is a restaurant there for you to have something to eat.  I would recommend going later in the day so you can enjoy the beauty of the area in the early evening as the lights are turned on and the the skies slowly darken!!  Great time!!