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

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. “
 

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“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. “

 

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“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.

 

 

 

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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.


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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.

 

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


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


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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.


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma

A young boxer trains at the PacMan's old school, the Golingan Gym in General Santos City.

 

The sign on the right reads as follows:

 

The 10 Qualities of a Good Boxer

 

1. Prayerful

2. Brave

3. Fast

4. Disciplined

5. Hardworking

6. Good

7. Obedient

8. Humble

9. Helpful

10. Cares for his fellowmen

 

Not surprisingly, Pacquiao these words have been used to describe Manny Pacquiao.

 

 

GSPacman

 

Did a story on the man and his hometown, back in 2010. Check it out in the online version of Smile Magazine.


 
Posted By Lester V Ledesma
These are kids that you don't want to mess with. They smile at each other at the start of the match, yet the moment the bell rings they become hell-bent on destruction:

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Yesterday's muay thai exhibition matches at Amphawa, Samut Songkhram Province in Thailand saw a handful of kids slug it out for a one-thousand-baht winner's prize.

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Coaches shouted instructions and cornermen watched as these kids pummeled each other with elbows, knees, fists and feet. At one point a kids takes a massive kick to the stomach and stops to wince in pain. The coach shouts at him to continue fighting.

And continue they do.

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A final round sees both coaches going to their charges. The moment is so intense they neglect to go to their corners. They often look down the fighter's groin, perhaps checking for damage.

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Jab, cross, leg kick! Another coach tells his fighter to continue with his combo. This kid will end his match with a knockout punch to his opponent's face. He will look on with concern as the boy is carried out of the ring.

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The next fighter awaits his turn on the ring, and the matches continue throughout the night.

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Posted By Lester V Ledesma
A kitesurfer quietly greets the morning at Bulabog Beach, on Boracay's east coast:

Bulabog


 


 
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