Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016 Contest

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016 photo contest is part of AirAsia’s continuous effort to inspire, engage and empower the youth to chase their goals by traveling and sharing their stories through stunning images and photographs. More than 500 participants joined this year’s search, but only six young aspiring and well-deserving photographers were selected. From the 6 finalists, my personal bet is Neil Cardano from Palawan. Let's get to know more about him in this interview we had.

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

1. Who is Neil Cardano?

I’m a 20 year old fresh graduate from Puerto Princesa City. After I finished studying last April, I decided to move to El Nido, Palawan for work. I now work as a Front Desk Officer in a Hostel. Growing up in an island province where going in and out by flying costs so much, I had this mentality that travelling is a luxury. That visiting other countries are only for the wealthy.

I am a fresh graduate, young and broke. While studying, I fund my travels through part time projects. As I become a fan of airline seat sales, I started to learn how to plan and travel cheaply with the help of the blogs and online articles, I started to believe that you don’t need much money to travel, you don’t need to pay for a 5-star hotel or a full course meal. Making friends with your hostel mates and strolling around and exploring the city and eating local food with them is more than valuable than a VIP Tour Package.

I see travelling as a human necessity, a good opportunity to learn, take risks and have fun.

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

2. How did you start traveling and photography?

I first traveled solo when I got a cheap domestic flight ticket going to Cebu when I was 17 years old. It was my first time flying and no one was with me, only my bag and point and shoot camera. I am always excited to explore new places, new environment. Since then, I got really interested with travel. I always look for seat sales to visit other provinces and paid only 1,200 pesos for my first international round-trip flight to an Asian destination. I hike up mountains, visit local beaches and trek long hours for virgin waterfalls. I always bring my smartphone with me. Camera for me is a perfect buddy for travel and adventure.

3. What are your most favorite travel destinations and why?

I haven’t traveled a lot. But with all the places I've been to, I would say Linapacan Island in Northern Palawan is my most favorite. I was amazed how simple living is there. Unspoiled beaches, pristine clear waters, breathtaking underwater views. It is a perfect place to unwind.

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

4. Suppose a friend asks you: "Take me to the most beautiful place in the Philippines." Where will you take him/her? Why?

I have seen the best of El Nido. From towering cliffs, white sand beaches to stunning sunsets, I must say it is the most beautiful place I have been to.

5. What is the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling and taking photos?

Just because I haven't tried riding a speed boat before, I joined my friends who are on a one way ride going to a remote part of Sitio Sabang in Puerto Princesa. And the consequence? I need to go back to Sabang Wharf all by myself just by walking. The walk going back was terrifying and I was laughing at myself for doing it, I did a hike over a hill. No one was there aside from few monkeys strolling. I need to go back to Sabang Wharf before sunset, or I will be walking in the complete darkness.

And while on my way. I saw these fascinating views of an unspoiled beach. It was a very rewarding moment.

6. What camera do you use in your travels?

When I first traveled solo, I took photos using my point-and-shoot camera. But when I had my first smartphone a couple of years ago, I think I don’t need that camera anymore. Built in Smartphone camera is enough. If convenience is a factor, smartphone is good choice, with just one device you can already do everything from shooting to editing and sharing photos to social media.

I also sometimes use DSLR camera whenever I have a chance to borrow from my friends.

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

7. What are your favorite subjects when taking photos?

I really love sunrise’ and sunsets. You only have few minutes a day to capture these everyday wonders which makes taking photos of it exciting and challenging at the same time.

I also start to like food streets and local areas. One best way to learn about local culture is observing people doing things the “local way.”

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

8. Can you give us some tips in travel photography?

Read blogs and articles on the internet on how to compose a photograph. As long as you make interesting compositions and can tell stories through photographs, the device you use to take photos will never matter.

9. What are your advice to aspiring travel photographers?

As an amateur photographer myself. I always make myself inspired about travel and photography and I want aspiring photographers to do the same. How? Look for airline seat sales, plan trips you can look forward to. Read blogs about the place you are going. Walk, walk, walk, wandering will take you to places where locals usually go and these places can be a good subject for photography, follow social media pages about travel, learn from them and be more inspired by their travels.

Neil Cardano for AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016

10. If you win this year's AirAsia Travel Photographer Contest, what will you do with the prize?

It’s always been a dream to do a solo backpacking travel around Myanmar, Laos and India, I'm turning 21 this coming October, that would be a perfect birthday gift to myself.

I’m also looking forward to our first trip as a family. I would be very happy to travel with my loved ones.

Top 6 finalists of AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016 contest revealed

Let's vote for Neil Cardano!

And get the chance to win 50,000 AirAsia BIG points!

Let's help Neil Cardano win the AirAsia Travel Photographer 2016 – People’s Choice Award. All you have to do is visit www.airasiatp.com, proceed to the voting page, log-in using your Facebook account and VOTE!

[Click Here to VOTE for Neil Cardano]

By voting, you also get the chance to win 50,000 AirAsia BIG points and other exciting prizes!

You can vote once every day. Contest will run from August 15 to September 8, 2016.


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Pinoy Adventurista is one of the Top Travel Blogs in the Philippines and the World. In 2013, he visited all the 81 provinces in the Philippines.