24 Hours in Unisan

We all needed a break (or two) to wind down from all stressful work. With my last moments using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, I decided to join a trip with my high school buddies (whom I haven’t seen for more than a year) down to a farther part of the south in the Philippines’ biggest island.

Quite an unprepared trip

Our original plan back in June 2021 was to go to a beach resort in Nasugbu, Batangas — then something happened.

Heavy rains poured a week before our reservation date, but that wasn’t the main reason why we changed course. The infamous Taal Volcano seen from the popular City of Tagaytay had a phreatomagmatic eruption in the last week of June. Since then, the Alert Level quickly went from 2 to 3. It was hazardous and dangerous considering the amount of Sulfur Dioxide in the air.

Not wanting to risk ourselves being exposed to air contaminants, we decided to look for another location that isn’t that strict and is readily available. An unheard place in Quezon was the only choice. Being first-time travelers to Unisan, we didn’t know what to expect.

We weren’t fully prepared. After packing all of our stuff, we all met then let Waze (plus my map literacy) do the job to help us reach the farther part of Quezon.

It took over five hours traveling from Calamba, Laguna to our intended destination. Naturally, these included traffic, fast food, convenience store, and restroom breaks. There was also lack of internet data connection and direction confusion along the latter part of Lucena City. But we persevered and reached our destination.

Star-studded sky, literally

Touchdown, Unisan! Frankly, none of us expected that it’ll be a great place to stay. But the moment the stars showed up (including shooting stars or meteors in their scientific term), I was already astounded.

The water felt so cool to touch but it also looked clear even if it was pitch-black. The only thing that buzzed us was the series of lights seen from a distance. We just thought it was a shore-based plant/factory. After all, we’re looking at the other part of Marinduque — which is another province in a secluded island not directly connected to the part of Luzon.

A morning of cool breeze

While some of my friends had an early morning sleep after drinking all-night, I decided to just stay awake since I wasn’t feeling sleepy.

Funny thing was, some of my friends asked us to wake them up for the “sunrise” but as far as I know, the sunrise won’t be visible in this area since it’s facing west — and I was right.

While they were disappointed that there was no “sunrise” view, seeing the early morning view made my eyes and heart.

I also decided to take an early morning walk. Through the telephoto and wide lens of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, I was able to take the shots above. I didn’t fully soak the device though due to my fear of having water-resistance issues even if it has an IP68 rating. It still protected the phone while shooting an almost soaked shot of the boat to capture its reflection on the water.

…then it felt like it was a hot summer

After being awake for 36 hours straight, my mind and body decided to rest. Then, the scorching heat outside — alongside their loud noises and smell of hotdogs and grilled fish being cooked — woke me up.

To my surprise, my friends were able to visit the nearest market — which was several kilometers away — and cooked-up a feast for lunch. It felt more refreshing with a fresh Buko Juice (Coconut Juice). For dessert, there were some classic Pinipig and Cheese popsicles being sold by a vendor nearby.

But all before that, I ate some classic Pancit Canton with hard-boiled egg on top for early breakfast. My friends also gave me spoonfuls of their Tapsilog — a combination of Tapa and Itlog (sunny side-up egg). Even though I’m not a huge fan of pork, I still enjoyed it — especially because they’re free food. 😅

As obvious as it gets, I wasn’t really prepared for this set of groufies but for the sake of making memories, I had to show my face anyway.

My other three friends from the early morning shoot decided to sleep. This time, I decided to tag along since I was already energized to walk along the sandy shore again (after heavy rain poured for around 10 to 15 minutes).

Nothing’s too early for some photoshoot

I clearly know my main role in this group — to shoot lots (I mean lots) of photos. I was lazy to lug around my heavy DSLR so I decided to just shoot with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Three of my high school friends and I decided to take an early morning walk to discover what’s on the other part of the shore.

I was stoked upon seeing how clear the water was up close. From that point, my mind told me to take some photos of them along the sea. I was just as glad with how the Galaxy S21 Ultra performed as how my friends were with the results.

Of course, I had to ask a friend to take some photos of me, too. While I wasn’t certain about my friend’s photography skills, I just directed her to do the same style of shot I did for them. Fortunately, she managed to take a couple of Instagrammable portraits (that I never posted because I don’t have that beach-perfect body).

Let the splashing begin!

After our satisfying lunch and some walk along with two of my friends, we decided to call the rest for the shoot they all have been waiting for.

The fast AF (autofocus) and shutter speed of the Galaxy S21 Ultra did the shot and was able to take these studio-grade shots. Instructing my friends to just do their thing like the camera wasn’t there, I was able to take candid shots that also perfectly captured the motion of water.

With some color adjustments, I made the shots look more dramatic. The unedited shots were a little bit on the underexposed side since they’re all facing against the bright sky. Still, I was able to adjust the exposure without ruining the shots — even if they’re just photos with a JPG file format.

Unexpected breathtaking views

As the old saying goes, don’t judge the book by its cover. Upon seeing more breathtaking views, I immediately regretted how I underestimated what Unisan, Quezon had to offer.

My favorite pair of lenses are obviously the 3x and 10x telephoto lenses of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to capture these photographs (that I casually apply as my phone’s wallpaper). The iPhone I’ve been using for quite a while only has a single camera anyway.

Even these tropical-looking shots I captured above were taken from the zoom cameras of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If you’re still not amazed, scroll below to see more.

Sunset straight out of a dream

It was this time of day when Unisan, Quezon truly looked magical. I tried color-grading it to depict how it really looked like in real life.

The color balance and saturation of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s cameras were kind of inaccurate to begin with due to the environment.

The shots — taken using different lenses — perfectly preserved my memory of the sunset at Unisan. It looked surreal; as if I was dreaming. I almost cried since couldn’t believe I was there the whole time. Surely, no matter what type of lens you use, you can never go wrong with them.

I managed to take some transitioning shots too. From the pre-sunset phase to where the sun has fully set, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera superiority still reigned all throughout. The last shot was taken with Night Mode on. Using regular mode already displayed bits of grain all around.

As the day came to an end, I quickly set up my tripod and mounted the Galaxy S21 Ultra. We made sure to preserve the memories of our quick beach getaway with silhouette shots along with the sunset.

All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and were post-processed using Adobe Lightroom and VSCO.

Quick note

Before our trip, we made sure all of us were safe and  COVID-19 negative. We submitted all of the required documents needed. Some of us were already vaccinated prior to the travel date, which was held last July 2021. Face masks during the trip were only removed for the sake of the photoshoot. Social distancing protocols were still followed.


24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.

The post 24 Hours in Unisan appeared first on GadgetMatch.

24 Hours in Unisan 24 Hours in Unisan Reviewed by Telenor Editorial on August 30, 2021 Rating: 5

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