Motoring across the heart of Mindanao from Cagayan de Oro City to Davao City basically involves crossing over one big province – the Province of Bukidnon.

Thanks to modern satellite technology and the internet, the straight line distance between Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City has been computed at about 186 kilometers. The actual road distance, however,  is anywhere between 240 to 320 kilometers. And that takes about 4 hours driving by private car or 5 -6 hours by bus.

Though Bukidnon is oftentimes described as an extensive plateau, the southern and eastern boundaries are mountainous areas. You are driving through areas with an average elevation of 915 meters above sea level.

Halfway through the road trip, about 160 km from Cagayan de Oro (140 km more to go to reach Davao City), is the traveler’s pit stop -  the Ver Overview Nature & Culture Park located at an elevated point at Kipolot, Brgy Palaopao of the Municipality of Quezon, Bukidnon.

The Ver Overview Nature & Culture Park has a viewing deck which provides travelers with an elevated, panoramic view of Bukidnon’s beautiful rolling hills and mountains.

It’s a great stop over for motorists needing to stretch out while taking in the vast and scenic surroundings.

Here are a couple of shots taken one late afternoon…

[source: wikipedia, google earth]

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Ever since I started posting photos of Kalanggaman Island here in my photoblog, I’ve received a steady stream of inquiries and, on some instances, requests from close acquaintances to accompany them to the exotic islet of Kalanggaman in Palompon, Leyte.

Last week was what exactly happened. A friend’s friend was home for a vacation from work in the Middle East, and goes, how about a quick trip to Kalanggaman before he heads back to work in a far away land?

Noting they were childhood friends, and, more interestingly, two recently got new DSLR’s and were now sharing new passions – it was something that perked my attention. Besides, a previous engagement cancelled out leaving me free for the weekend. Suddenly I felt the urge to get away from the madding crowd and seek solace in a secluded island. Unspoiled beach, pristine waters and camping out with cold beer – gee,  I needed no further urging!

Although summer’s officially over and the weather was quite windy, we nevertheless enjoyed the pristine beauty, serenity and solace the island graciously provides.

Thanks to Mark Doctolero, Bobbie Alota and Archie Omega for the hospitality! Photos taken August 5 & 6, 2011.

View better image quality photos >>>

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“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

I first came across this odd statement printed as a caption on a Christmas poster when I was in first year college.

Who’s Virginia? And what’s the connect between her and Santa Claus?

Yesterday, I asked our son and daughters if they knew the story behind “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Or if they ever came across such an expression.

No, never, was their reply.

Gosh. They don’t read the papers and books anymore!

So for those who do not know it, specially most of the younger generation, let me share with you the poignant story behind this…

On September 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editors of now defunct New York Sun newspaper asking if there really was a Santa Claus.

That letter, along with the reply from the newspaper’s editor, written 113 years ago has become legendary and has been reprinted and shared countless of times all over the globe.

It has become an annual staple come Christmastime:

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

A  joyous and most meaningful Christmas to one and all!!!

CHEERS!!!

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The gerryruiz photoblog was accorded the 2010 Best Photoblog Award (National Level) by the Philippine Blog Awards in awarding ceremonies held last night, December 12, 2010 at the RCBC Plaza in Makati, Philippines.

Coming close to the heels of being bestowed Best Photoblog Award for the Visayas region last November 27, 2010 in Iloilo City, I cannot help but feel humbled by such additional recognition granted by peers most of whom I have never met in my entire life!

Allow me then to express my utmost gratitude to the Philippine Blog Awards and to my co-bloggers for this wonderful gift of recognition.  Thank you all for the likes and the kind comments (mostly at Facebook and elsewhere).

The gerryruiz photoblog has always subscribed to the notion that, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal!” Unselfish and noble actions are, after all,  the most radiant pages one can aspire for in the biography of souls. We may not be able to singularly do great things for the Earth, but we can certainly do small things with love and passion!

The award really goes to the photoblog’s readers as well without whom the author would be devoid of the inspiration that fuels it all. :)

I raise my glass to you all! Cheers!!!

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