New on Sidetracked:

The Philippines: A Photo Journal

Garrett Grove

The idea to travel through the Philippines with my wife Bridget wasn’t on our life long list of places to go and see, it was more a situation of happenstance.

We had been planning to spend some time travelling and had a few ideas of where we wanted to go. Norway and Iceland were on the top of the list, but a cold and rainy June left us less than enthusiastic with the idea of heading to a country with such a similar climate to Washington, so we started dreaming of tropical alternatives. The Philippines moved to the top of the list almost overnight after talking with a couple of friends who were going to be in the country at the same time that we were. We conjured up some plans a few weeks prior, but deliberately kept things vague in order to see what the country had to offer.

We arrived in the Philippines pretty naive of what the country would really be like, so when we headed into Manilla and wandered its streets alongside the 17 million residents I was a bit shellshocked. People drove like mad, honked all the more and lived in conditions I didn’t think were possible. Their day in day out living would probably have me sick, lost or dead within a few weeks yet they manage it year round. I am not much of a city person, preferring the quiet sanctuaries of wilderness, but I was enthralled with this place and its people. Much of our time in Manilla was spent aimlessly exploring the streets, markets and slums.
The next part of our journey was quite the opposite; villages replaced slums and open expanses of water engulfed the traffic jammed highways. We took a plane, cab and ferry to make it to the small Island of Malapascua, a sleepy dive island well known for its almost guaranteed encounters with Thresher Sharks. 3 days of dive classes, a day spent circumnavigating the island on foot, talking with the locals and having our fair share of Rum/Coke had us in a state of nirvana. The local hospitality was incredible. We were even invited to watch a families butchering of a pig in preparations for the village birthday pig roast that evening.
The final leg of our adventure took us via overnight freight boat, ferry and scooter to Siargao Island. One of the eastern most islands in the Philippines which claims the best surf in the country. With a small bungalow, scooter and surfboards we were set. July is typically the smallest swell of the year so it kept us contained primarily to Cloud 9, the most well known break on the island. Luckily, due to the small swell crowds weren’t over bearing and it left the other breaks nearly vacant. We had heard rumors about hiring a small fishing boat that would you out a few miles to reef breaks which were completely empty. So on the last night a local approached us and offered to captain us out to the empty breaks for a final sunset session. Sure enough it was the best surf of the week and not a sole was in site. A nearly perfect ending until our boats engine flooded and wouldn’t start leaving our mechanically minded friend Tucker to try and save the day as we drifted in closer to the break. After 45 minutes of rowing, using planks the were originally our seats, another boat kindly towed us in to shore just before dark.

Garrett Grove

Garrett Grove is making his mark in the adventure photography world with his ability to create and share moments, and then from these moments tell stories. He is an avid traveller and his work has taken him across the globe shooting for clients such as, Black Diamond, Ski Canada, National Geographic Adventure, Outside and Patagonia to name a few.

All photos shot with a Sony RX1 35mm fixed camera
Twitter: @grovephoto
Facebook: Garrettgrovephoto