This online shoebox contains random pictures, notes, whatever. I've been a professional writer-photographer for so many years now. It's a damn good excuse to carry a camera around.

Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Boating, actually.

First to my kickass holiday in Maldives, then to Lanao in the Philippines for a quick cover shoot. Next was Thailand, where I criss-crossed the Mae Nam Chao Phraya on a boat.

Ferry
 

Afterwards, I headed off to Sukhothai in Central Thailand, a place I haven't revisited since '09. That was on two wheels, my favorite mode of transport:

Sukhobike
 

.... and this was only in January. Feb and March have their own stories too... 


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Cruise ship, Halong Bay:

VNship

Rice farmers, Hanoi:

VNricefield
 

Buyers and sellers, Hanoi:

Dong Xuan
 


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

8) What’s in Basilan?

January 22, 2013: “Is there someone waiting for you at the pier?” a smiling passenger asked. The question, however innocent, sounded strangely foreboding. We were on a ferry en route to Basilan –the fabled hometown of the terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf – where (the locals joked) an “extended holiday” could easily cost a million dollars. Thankfully our contact met us at the dock. With a hint of dread lingering in my mind, my companions and I set out to explore this notorious isle.

 

08

The capital, Isabela, felt just like any other Mindanao town. At the market, porters looked at my cameras with suspicion at first, but then later lined up to have their Facebook pics taken. A laughing burkha-clad lady served us coffee at a carinderia. Further inland (past the army checkpoints), we photographed local kids at a waterfall, and rubber harvesters on the job. My last taste of Basilan was at a pristine beach called Malamawi, where we kicked back on bamboo benches with a squad of Marines. No gunfire, no kidnappers – this was just a day well-spent.

 

7) Malacca at Dawn

May 18, 2013: The problem with the heritage city of Melaka was that it became too busy at times. Sure, it’s got those lovingly preserved buildings along its narrow walkways, but all too often the nostalgia was lost in the massive crush of weekend visitors. I had an idea though: go out early to shoot these streets, after the night markets have packed up and all those funny tourists have gone to bed.

07

 

The neighborhood was quiet at 4AM, with only haze keeping me company as I sauntered down the avenues. Jonker street was deserted, with nothing at all – neither cars nor people – on the pavement. The antique shophouses basked in the warm light of streetlamps. Chinese lanterns adorned their facades, the paper spheres adding hints of red to the timeless scene before me. An old man on a rusty bike pedaled by, and I was brought back in time. There it was; the Malacca of old, no longer obscured.

 Want to know more about Melaka? Check out my article, A Malacca Memoir


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

4) The Heartbeat of Iloilo

January 27, 2013: Fourteen years after I last covered the Dinagyang Festival, I got the chance to see it one more time. Taken from my article on Smile Magazine:

 “The warriors groove in unison to the mighty drumbeats. They shake and they bake - one step to the left, one step to the right, they raise their shields and brandish their spears. But all this is just a warm-up, for as the tom-toms pound out a more frenzied rhythm the atis stretch their hands outward to do their own version of.... bump n’ grind! The crowd roars out its approval. I howl out mine. “
 

04

“Thirteen tribes later my ears are numb from all the merry mayhem that had just occurred. As I think about this weekend I realize that Dinagyang is more than just a display of mindless revelry. To me it now represents the unique character of the Ilonggo people - artistic, fun loving, deeply religious and sometimes crazy. This was really a weekend to remember. When next year comes, you’ll see me back in Iloilo. “

“No, I won’t be watching the revelers. I’ll be one of them!”

 Read the rest of this story here.


3)The River Wild

August 5, 2013: On assignment for Smile Magazine:

“You've saved the best for your last day in Cagayan de Oro. Rise and shine early and get ready for an action-packed morning. You are again heading to the boonies to try out this region's signature attraction – white water rafting. “

 

03

“The course takes you through a 12-kilometer stretch dotted with over a dozen class II and III rapids (class I is easy, class 6 is suicidal). Each gurgling, foaming obstacle has its own challenges; Makabundol Rapids has a rock wall on one side that needs to be paddled against, while The Rodeo is so chaotic you'll have to hold on to stay aboard. And don't even think about chatting up your guide when you tackle the “I'm Busy” Rapids. There's also The Twister, so named because you all have to paddle through it standing up – making everyone look like dancers on a boat!”

“By the end of it all (that's a good 4 hours later), you'll be tired and wet – and yes, once again exhilarated by this adrenaline-pumping excursion. Not many weekends can compare to the one you just had. A weekend in Cagayan de Oro, you realize, is never enough.”

To find out what else a weekend in Cagayan de Oro can bring, take a look at my article on the CDO Gold Rush.


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

Singaporeans regard Tanjung Pinang, the capital of Bintan Island, as the gritty city that they need to get through on the way to a squeaky-clean beach resort. They're missing a lot.

 

 

 

TP04

 

Located two hours away by ferry, this city once hosted the Malay empire's seat of government, before the Dutch and the British arrived to dismember it.


TP05

Traditional culture remains strong; Locals at Penyengat Island (off the coast) indulge in a game of sepak takraw in front of the ancient Raya Mosque.

 

TP06

 

Sunset at Jalan Merdeka, where the seaside promenade becomes host to a bustling night food market.


TP07

 

Early morning finds rowboats ferrying folks from the nearby kampung air  - water villages on stilts - to shore.


TP08

A familiar scene anywhere: a kids runs after resident pigeons, this time at a local Buddhist temple serving the city's large Chinese population.

 

Just a two-hour ferry ride from Singapore, Tanjung Pinang is an easy getaway from the sterile, hectic Lion City.


 


 
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