Before we start, I’d like to welcome readers from the Philippine Explorer section of Inquirer.net’s Global Nation, which had a short feature on Vista Pinas. Hope you enjoy the site!
A few months back, Migs asked in a comment how I managed to find Erap’s rest house in Tanay, Rizal. Well, I did not specifically search for the place inasmuch as I stumbled onto it while searching for places to feature here in Vista Pinas. So I’d like to explain now some of the methods and websites I use to look for sights.
- WaypointsDotPH. This is the web’s largest collection of GPS-referenced locations in the Philippines. I often go to their website to look for interesting locations (like churches and National Shrines) and simply plug-in the coordinates from the website into Google Maps to find the location. Often, many locations there have narratives and photos to help me jumpstart my research. An example sight I featured using WayPointsDotPH is the entrance to Palawan’s underground river. (See the WaypointsDotPH page.)
- Wikimapia. Wikimapia aims to be a wiki-style Google-Maps-annotation website. Users of the site can mark places on the map and add descriptions, while other users can then provide comments. While the signal-to-noise ratio here is low (there are tons of “my house!” places there), there are quite a few gems. (And you really have to cross-research to verify that the marked place is indeed the correct one.) For Vista Pinas, I found Erap’s Tanay rest house from Wikimapia (see their page).
- mapCentral. This is the only website I’ve seen that has a comprehensive road map of the Philippines. I usually use this website to verify the location of a candidate site, especially if there’s an approximate address or street. But occasionally, I use it to actually find places, instead of just as a cross-checking tool, like I did with Xavier University (check out mapCentral’s result page).
- Google Earth and the Google Earth Community. Nothing beats roof-surfing in Google Earth and using its Google Earth Community (formerly the Keyhole BBS) layer. Lots of people post placemarks to the online forum and a selection of those is added as a data layer in Google Earth. That’s how I found out about Lignon Hill (view the forum thread about it).
- Photo forensics. Things look quite strange and unfamiliar from way up in space. That’s why I often search for pictures on Flickr and Google Image Search to verify if the place I’m looking at in Google Maps is correct. Possibly the most ambitious sight I did “photographic forensics” on is the location of two of the Bells of Balangiga in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Read that post to learn how I located the bell memorial.
Well, was that too geeky for you? Hehehe.