Stephen Craton

  • Canon C100

Sierra Madre

Oct 26, 2014 Luzon, Philippines 3 min read

Shortly after doing the video on southern Indiana, I was eager to start putting together one for the Philippines. I kept bugging my officemates, “what’s a scenic spot close to Manila?”

I got various suggestions, but none I could easily get to. I should say, none I felt particularly safe going to on my own. One of my coworkers in particular, though, suggested driving through Sierra Madre. Not only did he say it was beautiful, but he’d drive me there himself…for free!

Well, that sold me.

We met up at the crack of dawn one Saturday morning, before the sun had even completely risen. “Bless his heart for being willing to do this for me,” I thought.

As we drove out of Manila and into the hills of Antipolo, the sun began to rise. Long rays of sunlight peaked through the trees. “You might want to grab your camera now,” my friend advised me.

We were entering into provincial territory. Jeepneys shuttled around the curvey roads with people hanging on to whatever they could. Cars turned into motorbikes and trikes. You could start to hear the roosters again, too.

My friend’s car inched along the road, making various twists and turns along the mountain roads. And then suddenly we were at our first stop. Overlooking this serene, nearly untouched valley. The morning fog still yet to be lifted, making for a stunning shot.

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  • Canon C100

“Man, why didn’t I bring my still camera for this!?” I remarked to my friend.

“That huge thing doesn’t take photos?”

“Nah, it’s just for video…oh well, I can grab stills from the video.”

I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Another one of those “is this a painting or real life?” moments. But this time I had video proof. Not only was this real, but I was capturing it to finally share it with all my friends and family back home.

I could have stayed there, overlooking the valley for hours. But my friend insisted it got better.

We hopped back in the car and sped around a few more twisty curves.

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  • Canon C100

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the scenery anymore. As it turns out, this stretch of road is popular to motorcyclists and bicyclists for the enjoyable twists and turns.

Goats, chickens, and even turkeys adorned the side of the road as well. Farmers had taken over the land and just let their livestock roam free.

“Turkeys?? You have turkeys here?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Must be so you Americans have something to eat for Thanksgiving.”

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  • Canon C100

We arrived at a spot that was simply perfect to me. The way the two trees framed the shot. The mountains playing with the whispy clouds. The true, abundant green just flowing across the whole scene.

“It simply doesn’t get much better than this.”

As much as I wanted to stay, we had to keep moving. A storm was predicted to roll in soon, and we couldn’t stay out in the open for long.

My friend took me to our final destination, and I decided to put away my camera and just enjoy the companionship. At the end of the road sat a small little resort, catering to the cyclists journeying across the mountains. There we got some little sandwiches and coffee, chatting about life in Manila, life in America, and the various going-ons of the day.

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  • iPhone 5

“So what do you think of our mountains?” my friend asked, as we walked back to his car.

I was speechless. And I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone back home.

Written October 29, 2019