P R O F I L E S
We are all wanderers, but with different names. Tourists. Adventurers. Backpackers. We trek, we ride, we fly, and go different ways in many styles and reasons. We brave the tall mountains, explore the deepest of oceans, go places for food, adventure, or work. One day, we help build communities, and another day, we get to know a different culture. We stumble on treasures, learn lessons, find ourselves, and if we’re lucky, we find someone else. To the many kinds of vagabonds, this section is for you.
Why waterfalls? I asked the guy point blank. He looked at me with his small eyes, and then after a sip of strawberry cheesecake, started talking. Because I get darker in the beach, he declared.
His answer rendered me speechless for a moment. I was expecting him to talk about his undying admiration of seeing gargling, rustling, roaring water make its way from the cliff to the river, or that day he jumped off from bed and told himself he wanted to see 100 waterfalls in one year. But no.
“It’s not saltwater,” he continued. “You can dry up without getting sticky. Waterfalls are usually found in the greens, behind trees and mountains, unlike the beach where it’s open space. And that means more adventure in hiking.” Of course, he followed up, “you probably won’t need sunblock at all”.
Abbie Ruiz, who sprinkles his Instagram feed with photos of waterfalls, is one of the mini bloggers I follow on social media. We both happen to live in Cebu City, which has plenty of waterfalls from north to south, so I asked him for some getting-to-know-session over his favorite strawberry cheesecake at Seattle’s Best.
Abbie started traveling on February 2015 after having read somewhere on the necessity of memories and experiences. That’s what will matter later on in life, he said, so I made it my New Year’s Resolution.
What’s the best waterfalls you’ve seen, I asked. He kept talking. Didn’t really answer my question, so after a few minutes, I insisted. What’s the best waterfalls you’ve visited? It’s a difficult question, he said. Each waterfall has their own unique appeal. And then he started showing me photos from his phone, telling me what he liked about each of them.
How do you travel?
I do a little research about the place. Before I go, I look up photos on Google for comparison. That gives me an idea what kind of shot I’ll take. I always want to make it different from what’s already out there. Then, when I get to the place, I ask a lot of questions, what’s there to see, what else to see, is there a river, is there a stream.
Do you have a style? Where do you get the creativity?
I make sure the angle is different. The concept, it just comes. I don’t think about them with a lot of effort. I believe it comes with experience and the things I come across online.
And then he went back to his Instagram feed and showed me a photo of a hundred peso bill superimposed on Mt Mayon. It was terrific, a really creative shot. He got the idea from a photo he saw years back, a 10-peso bill with the image of Barasoain Church, and on the other half, the real church in the background.
What’s your take on post-processing?
It’s necessary. Sometimes the camera doesn’t get what you actually see. For example, the lighting, sometimes it’s dark in the photo, so I’ll increase the brightness. I usually just alter contrast, brightness, and saturation. I’m not a fan of extreme manipulation like others who would go to great lengths to make their photos perfect.
I’ve seen you on several photos doing the yoga pose. What’s special about it?
It’s now all over the place. It started with colleagues who were into yoga. On days that were not busy, my colleagues did yoga on the production floor. It started there, I realized, why not make that as my pose!
Cool. Was that how you got about nine thousand followers on Instagram?
Well, I have one post that got 4, 000 likes in a matter of four hours. Getting featured in other feeds has also helped a lot. But I think it’s all about the concept and the drama. For example, my photo in Osmena Peak. One follower told me, you set the bar so high in the highest peak of Cebu. I didn’t do anything extraordinary, but I think the way they see the drama, that’s what catches them.
Do you really have to show the abs?
(He laughed.) No, not all the time! (And then he scrambled on his photos to show some proof.) Here, I’m dressed and not facing the cam. (I think that settles it.)
A few more sips of strawberry cheesecake. The whole coffee shop was getting noisier, but Abbie pushed on talking. He shared how to perfect a flat lay shot, talked about Snapseed, and the perfect time to post on Instagram. We ended the night rating his photos, and here’s how he played favorites.
Tips On Chasing Waterfalls
1. Wear appropriate footwear.
No flip flops! Trails can be wet, slippery, steep, rocky, and strenuous. Wear hiking shoes to avoid twisted ankle and not go home barefoot because your flip flops gave up.
2. Google the place.
Make sure you have enough time to travel and hike before the sun goes down. Bring enough cash because mountains don’t have ATMs.
3. Check the weather.
Hours of rainfall can cause rivers to rise rapidly and create flash flood. High temperature and humidity can also cause people to pass out.
Bring enough water. Based on research, 16 oz of water (preferably with ions, cold one) is advised per mile of hiking.
5. Bring your first-aid kit.
Accidents can happen unintentionally, so bring adhesive bandage, cotton, alcohol, paracetamol, flash light among others. Don’t spray perfume when trekking because it attracts bees and insects that might harm you.
6. Pack light.
All your hiking essentials–water, towel, gadgets, food, plastic bags for your trash–are best placed in a backpack instead of a sling bag. Bring lightweight clothes, no jeans, thick towels, heavy jackets. Those gallons of water, just take enough, leave that on the main road or in your car.
7. Don’t get drunk.
You don’t want to suddenly fall on a cliff or slip badly on a muddy trail. Swimming while drunk can be dangerous. Skip that until you get back home.
8. Capture the moments.
Don’t forget your camera. Capture the moments and the scenic view and share them to your family and friends. If you don’t have a DSLR or GoPro, your mobile phone will still be perfect. Just explore your creative side.