From Bohol’s journey of rising above the rubble, to the new generation that is reinventing Culion, we celebrate the people and spirit behind every destination.
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This month, our features are about disaster, disease, and warfare.
What place does that have in a travel magazine? Well, linguists point out that travel and travail come from the same ancestor: travailen, travelen— which means to journey and to strive, but, tellingly, also to torment, and to labor. Writer Simon Winchester says that their root may go even deeper than that, and that the original word may have been the Latin tripalium, a weapon for torture. And so etymology shows that travel was never meant to be easy.
GRID has never been just about the pretty places and the “postcard-worthy” destinations. We’ve always promised our readers, and ourselves, that GRID was going to be about, well, love—love for places, yes, and also love for the people, and for the spirit and the story behind every destination. Love means looking deeper; it means not turning away.
Simon Winchester, himself an Oxford- educated geologist who has written about some of history’s most powerful disasters, would’ve appreciated the reason why we went to Bohol for our cover story. It is still an incredibly beautiful place, as Paco Guerrero’s photos will show. But the story there isn’t only about the gorgeous beaches and tourist spots of Bohol; Lou Albano’s story is very much about the earthquake that tore the very land apart, and how the province has put itself back together. One gets the sense that even the Boholanos are as amazed as they are relieved: Bohol and its people have come out of 2013 with a lot of strength (of course) and a lot more compassion (who saw that coming?). The geological fault now rises across the very landscape of the province like a scar, but somehow that scar has only made everyone softer and kinder.
That said, when Sonny Thakur and I went to Culion for our other feature, we thought we knew what the story was going to be about—that it was (obviously!) going to be about the island’s dark past as a leper colony. In our minds, it was going to be a story of hope and reinvention, but it was necessarily going to be about the darkness, too. Every story about Culion seems to dwell on its past.
As we spent more and more time with our hosts, however, we realized that we were somewhat off-track. While its history continues very much to be part of what the island is to this day, the story can’t be told the same way any more. There is another story here, about the island’s young people, and what they’re doing to transform the very fabric of their culture.
The past is still very much with them, but we also understood that it was a disservice to them and to the story itself if we went the easy way and wrote only about its past. But we hope that we are able to tell not just the easy story, but the truthful story.
There is a great deal of beauty in this issue, as you will see. These stories will make you understand what Leonard Cohen meant when he sang: Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light comes in.
Editor at Large