Days before the Holy Week, George and I had our early penitence when we trekked our way to Mt. Pinatubo for an incredible, gutsy fashion adventure assignment for the Dubai-based, Pinoy publication ILLUSTRADO MAGAZINE. Here's the challenge: conquer the rocky and dusty terrain with a staggering two-hour walk to the summit, and hold a a stylized ethic global Pinoy shoot at the mouth of the phenomenal crater-lake of the currently sleeping, but active stratovolcano.
That's us in one of the two 4x4 ride shot from afar, against a spectacular view of the valley of lahar deposits, and the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain Range where Mt.Pinatubo lies hidden.
FAR AND AWAY. The conquest to Mt. Pinatubo started with the preferred route through Barangay Santa Juliana in Capas, Tarlac.
MORNING BEAUTY. My partner George posed gamely for the camera while still looking morning fresh.
NOWHERELAND. This portion of the vast flat land looked totally dry and inhabitable.
ROCKY ROAD. Our driver said that it would take at most 2 hours of bumpy ride to reach the outskirts of the mountain range, and that wasn't Pinatubo yet! Shown here was the red 4x4 ridden by the other half of our team.
ROUGH RIDER. While in the middle of desertland, a carabao being ridden by a local braved the dusty, dry road and the searing sun.
LAND OF FURY. The aftermath of Pinatubo's eruption in 1991 is still strongly evident in these unbelievable land formations.
PICHUR! PICHUR! The Illustrado conquistadors stopped for an intermission for that special "Kodak" moment.
MINORITY REPORT. A group of young Aetas greeted the whole team.
GRETA'S EXPECTATIONS. La Greta (I mean Geo, hahaha) and the other kindred spirits must be enjoying the view.
AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH. "Somewhere within those slopes must be Mt. Pinatubo", I wondered while posing on my own.
MASKED PROPORTION. The team as pictured getting back into action for yet another hour of a more thrilling, mountainous, dust-ier ride.
INTO THE TRIBE. Along the high slopes, we passed by a community of Aetas. According to history, the Aetas fled to the mountains from the lowlands during the protracted Spanish conquest of the Philippines which began in 1565.
THE TROOPS HAVE ARRIVED. At long last, our ride had ended when we reached a certain high point. But the hardest part of the adventure was still to come - trekking!
GAME ON! The other half of the Blackfox Photography team, Glenn Peter Perez, was psyche-ing himself for a longggg, nasty walk ahead. Love those checkered scarf, aviators and fedora!
TOO STEEP. First part of the journey: walk down this dreadful, almost 45-degree slope that was scary enough to create a landslide!
ANOTHER WORLD. A magnificent view awaited us on our way down the slope. It almost felt like in a Lord Of the Rings movie set.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Mama Gretch as the Savage Queen! Take note of the scarf, the shades and the oversized hat - all trekking fashion necessities!
ROCK FORMATION. Oh my, I wanna shoot another fashion story here! Say, Valley of the Voodoo Dolls?
MODEL BEHAVIOR. We're glad that we had one of our fave Pinoy male models, Carlo Adorador, who had no qualms during the entire trip (not like the other guy who was scared to go topless and be drenched under the sun - naka-glutha kasi!)
TOUR DE FORCE. The road is long, with many winding, sloping, rocky turns - Geo and I being shot from a far, how twit!
GO FILBERT GO! Photographer Filbert Kung crossing the stream with his stylishly embellished black baton. Yaya, at the back, was tickled fuchsia pink!
BLOOD IN THE WATER. Rocks have turned red probably because of rich iron deposits. Parang planet Mars lang ang peg!
A VIEW FROM THE TOP. Finally, we've reached our destination! Here's the majestic view of the crater-lake of Mt. Pinatubo.
LA CALDERA. According to reports, before the catastrophic eruption of 1991, Pinatubo was an inconspicuous volcano, unknown to most people in the surrounding areas. It was then covered in dense forest and surrounding peaks.
BIG MOUTH. The whole team went down to the crater grounds. It was said that this large caldera was filled with water by monsoon rains several months after the climatic eruption.
TOURIST ATTRACTION. A group of foreigners plunged into the waters of Lake Pinatubo after a gruelling and sweaty two-hour trek to the crater.
WOW PHILIPPINES. Is this still our country or what? Looks like our version of the Swedish Alps.
ALIEN ALERT! I thought a UFO has landed in Pinatubo. It was a shiny, shimmery metallic silver hat worn by ate pala!
MAD, MAD WORLD. According to ate, wearing pekpek shorts in Mt. Pinatubo should be a fierce fashion statement. Fierce ba or mad?
CAUSE OF COMMOTION. So glad that Pinatubo did not erupt upon the sight of this dud of a woman wearing camouflage shorts over a pair of patterned leggings!
READY FOR ACTION. The Illustrado team while preparing and organizing stuff for the shoot.
GROOMING STATE. Nanan Villalba while prepping up Carlo Adorador - guys, baka may snake diyan!
SHOOT ME! Glenn gets down on his feet while shooting Carlo in a modern rendition of something Pinoy, something ethnic and a little folkloric.
DATU'S PRIDE. It was Filbert's turn to shoot Carlo (who looked like a datu prince) while a wasted Geo stood by to check if the styling was OK.
IT'S A WRAP! Cutie Glenn and sizzling-hot Carlo were thumbs up after finishing the final layout of the shoot.
A JOB WELL DONE. Finally, we present you the product of our long, hard work. Here's the cover of Illustrado for May-June issue - indeed, a beautiful Philippines!
We thank the whole Illustrado team, especially Filbert Kung, for such unforgettable life-reckoning experience. Thanks also to Ms. Lalaine Chu-Benitez, editor-in-chief, as we look forward to another great voyage, pero no trekking muna please! Now that we are 100lb-sexier, guys please grab copies of the said magazine as soon as they land at Powerbooks.
Photography: Filbert Kung & Glenn Peter Perez (Blackfox)
Styling: Mike de Guzman & George Palmiano (MGP)
Grooming: Nanan Villalba
Model: Carlo Ian Adorador
NOTE: Some behind-the-scene pictures were from Nanan V. and Glenn P.