The Great Escape

dreaming of a simple life in Palawan

The Land Where I Was Born 015

Random photos and thoughts about the Philippines

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for thought-provoking images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.

My family

Happily Ever After?

When Rowena Festin leaves her job as a congressional aide in Quezon City, Metro Manila each day, she returns home to three children and a husband. But her marriage, like many others in the Philippines, exists in name only. “My husband wants another person,” she says. “We are living in the same house but both decided to live our own life.” Although both have long wanted to legally end their marriage, the government will not allow them to do so. The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from Vatican City, which lacks divorce laws. ~ The fight to make divorce legal in the Philippines, CNN, October 6, 2014


Good-Bye Sari-Sari Store.

When a bakery shut down in a prime location in central Manila earlier this year, there was little doubt that a convenience store would open in its place. Chains such as 7-Eleven, Mini Stop and FamilyMart are spreading over the capital and other cities in the Philippines—where people have typically shopped at basic neighborhood stores—as retailers bet on a largely untapped market with fast-rising disposable incomes. ~ Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2014

typical 8 am rush at the MRT

Peak Time Hell

Manila’s creaking train network means a miserable 3-hour work commute for salesman Gerard Galang – just one example of major infrastructure woes that analysts say threaten to cool the Philippines’ red-hot economy. Peak-hour hell comes in many forms in the city of 12 million people, with commuters experiencing a sweaty, stinky crush on dilapidated trains and giant queues to buy tickets. “I pity myself and my fellow commuters but I don’t have any other option than the train,” said Galang, 29, who inhales antiseptic rubbed on to his hands to help negate the stench on the train. “It gets so crowded our faces get pressed against each other and on doors and windows.” ~ Urban decay threatens hot Philippine economy, Rappler, October 12, 2014


WPC: Cover Art


From the time he left Canada to go back to his native Germany, this tall, lanky teenager knew he would be back. Canada with its wild, natural beauty had left an indelible impression on this young, soon to be chef.

This love of nature is something we share. In the early days of our relationship, “the Chef” and I would jump in his van and drive north on ambiguously planned road trips to the nether reaches of Northern Ontario. Driving for hours, he would regale me with incredulous stories of his youth, his life and the antics that go on in the kitchens of restaurants.

Sometimes the stories were so incredible I wouldn’t believe him but they always proved true. I always tell him he should write a book.

To see how others interpret the word ‘cover art” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

I’m Canadian, Eh? 015

Random photos and thoughts about Canada.

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for thought-provoking images about Canada, the country I grew up in.

Toronto Garbage Strike

Something stinks

A small mountain of Vancouver garbage rotting on the Manila waterfront has morphed into a diplomatic row as Philippine authorities demand Canada repatriate its “junk.”…..”I will not tolerate this matter sitting down,” said Leah Paquiz, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, in a statement last week……”Pick up your garbage Canada, and show us the decency that we so rightfully deserve as a nation. My motherland is not a garbage bin of Canada,” she said. ~ National Post, October 15, 2014

rotary phone

You can ring my Bell

Unless they use a rotary phone, Bell customers with a landline can check out the charge on their bill: $2.80 a month. With 2.6 million customers across the country, Marketplace calculated that this fee brought in more than $80 million in 2013. ~ Canada’s Dumbest Charge: The 5 most frustrating fees,

No parking... or else!

“I’m really getting tired of feeling like a fugitive.”

Wendy Hook’s lifestyle changed dramatically when Dennis, her 14-kilogram pet raccoon, joined her family a year and a half ago……She and her husband, Ron, don’t leave the house unless Dennis can come with them. They’ve attached childproof locks to the cupboards and put breakable decorations in storage. Even their newest furniture looks tattered and worn. ~ Saskatoon couple fighting to keep pet raccoon, Toronto Star, October 19, 2014


WPC: Refraction


Hike one hour on a moss-covered trail and you’ll reach a narrow canyon where Grouse Creek spills 35 metres over Mouls Falls. The roar of the water is seductive, drawing me in and encouraging me to follow a path that disappears behind the falls. Before continuing I stop to snap a photo of my friend’s son as the fall’s cool mist gently covers my face.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is in British Columbia and is known as the land of waterfalls. I was there in August 2013.

To see how others interpret the word ‘refraction” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

ABANDON PARADISE: Camping in Palawan

Luke emerged from the darkness. He was excited. “You’ve got to see this.” We put down our glasses of ‘Filipino style’ pina coladas and followed him to the edge of the water giddy with excitement. To put it politely, he had been making a golden arch to the sea when he got something more than he bargained for. He kicked sand into the water and the sea lit up with a subdued neon glow. “Wow!” Everyone’s inner child came out and soon everyone was kicking sand to activate the water’s bioluminescence.

Our Bangka

Our Bangka. Let’s Get This Trip Started.

We were on the last night of our 3 day, 2 night island hopping expedition with Don the owner of Abandon Paradise. Three of our friends from Canada and two of Don’s friends joined us on this adventure. With only our small knapsacks, snorkelling gear and sense of wonder, we left the town of Coron and made our way to the western side of Busuanga passing beautiful scenery along the way.

Coral Garden. Time to Snorkel.

Our first stop was an amazing coral garden.

I’m floating on the sea with the sun on my back letting the current take me slowly back towards the bangka. Below the surface of the water, my ears fill with the sounds of crackles and pops. My eyes focus down and I spy multi-coloured parrot fish zigzagging between the coral. As I look up I gasp with surprise. Small needle nosed fish are inches from my mask. I’m in a joyful place and tingling with anticipation of what I’ll see next.

The Sun Sets on Tear Drop Island

The Sun Sets on Tear Drop Island

I’ve seen the sun set on the Himalayas, watched a dramatic display play out over the Arabian Sea, sat on the edge of Lake Superior as an orange hue took over the sky but I hadn’t experienced a sunset quite like the one on Tear Drop Island. As the sun began it’s daily decent the light had an extraordinary, almost enchanted quality. This sunset, this island and all it’s beauty was ours. Four tents. One bonfire. Seven happy campers.

Hiking Through the Fields

Hiking Through the Fields

The following days we visited a picturesque fishermen’s village, hiked through tall grasses and derelict ruins to get a scenic view of Black Island, failed hilariously at skim boarding and cruised through breathtaking lagoons of Coron Island. We even managed to chase down the illusive dugong.


Just Chilling.

“The Chef” and I had been in Coron for four weeks on a fact-finding, research mission to see if we really want to move here. We thought it would be prudent to end our trip doing something we love to do. There’s nothing better than the wind in your hair, the sun on your face wandering  the sea without a care in the world. One day we hope this will be our backyard.

Don. A Man and His Guitar

Don. A Man and His Guitar

If you are looking for a real “Robinson Crusoe” adventure and want to learn more about Abandon Paradise Expeditions you can visit their website at

WPC: Signs


For this photo challenge I dug deep into my box of travel photos. It was November 1990, the fourth day of our overland trip from Kathmandu when we arrived in Xigaze, Tibet. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this sign that so beautifully butchers the English language.

To see how others interpret the word ‘signs” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: HUMANITY


“Maria! Maria!”

‘The Captain’s’ wife turns towards me smiling and points to the row of pineapple plants. Her excitement is obvious. I trudge gingerly between the spiked leaves and try to keep up with her. She really wants to show me the bounty of this farm.

‘The Chef’ and I are in Coron, Palawan on a mission to find a property to start the next phase in our lives. The farm happens to be for sale. It’s not her farm but I can guess she is imagining it being hers. I can feel her happiness.

Is this what it means to be human? To find happiness in the simple joys of life?

To see how others interpret the word ‘humanity’ visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.


p.s. This photo was originally published in my post ‘Beautiful Busuanga


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