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

I can't believe I did this for work - get drunk on untold shots of Ginebra while interviewing these guys. They're the surfing legends of Baler - possibly the country's first local surfers. On assignment for Smile Magazine, I met up with them to hear their stories on how surfing got started in this town. They told me all about it, of course, with equal parts exaggeration and swagger.


More importantly, they confirmed that long-standing rumor about Baler's first surfboard: yes, it was that single-finned longboard left behind by film crew of that classic war movie, Apocalypse Now.


I always try to be back in the Philippines every Holy Week - it's an immensely interesting time when age-old traditions rule. In 2010, I covered the Makati Senakulo for the second straight year. This was the biblical story of salvation, presented onstage in all its folksy glory. That week, from 9PM till midnight, the back-alleys of Evangelista came alive with the sounds of the tagulaylay and the ablada - lines spoken in very old Tagalog. Backstage was a community event, with visitors arriving to offer food and greetings to the actors. Despite the curtain calls, no character was too busy to stop for a quick chit-chat and photo-op with a guest.


And yeah, I got to share a cigarette with the main man himself :)


I was in Java, not Bali, yet on this eve of Nyepi the sights, the sounds and smells around me were distinctly Balinese. This was the night before the HIndu new year, a time to erase all past misdeeds and renew oneself for the coming year. The locals did this with the help of the ogoh ogoh - a monstrous effigy that symbolized all the evil deeds done in the past year.


At sundown the ritual began. Guided by fire breathers and shrieking villagers, the ogoh ogoh was paraded around the streets. At every crossing it was wildly spun around in an effort to confuse it and keep it from coming back. Somewhere in front, a gamelan troupe furiously played its brass percussions. At the back, the village women sang hymns in Balinese.

The night ended with the ogoh ogoh in flames. All evil deeds were erased. For these villagers, the new year started with a clean slate.

Posted By Lester V Ledesma
That's the sight of a surfer gliding effortlessly over the waves of Sabang Beach.


Nalds, the long-haired surfer dude who introduced me to the board, describes the action at Baler's world-class surfing bay as a "24-hour TV - I can sit here and watch it all day!"

Posted By Lester V Ledesma
The grownups of Baler are busy earning a living so that their kids can concentrate on more important things. Like surfing... :P


Posted By Lester V Ledesma
The kids of Baler, Aurora, have a whole shoreline of surf to play on - and boy do they have fun from sunup to sundown:





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