In this issue, we get some fresh perspectives on familiar themes and places. We discover fresh creative energy in our second look at Cebu, look past the pristine beaches of Negros’ Danjugan Island, and ask some uncomfortable questions surrounding the new wave of voluntourism.
On the cover: Mark Mabang, Elaine Abonal, Ziggie Gonzales, & Bea Vega
Photographed by: Fransico Guerrero
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When we set out to make a travel magazine about the Philippines, and only about the Philippines, we were told over and over that we were “going to run out of stories.” There isn’t enough about the Philippines worth writing about and photographing, it is implied, or that there’s only one way to tell the story. We are famous for having—at last count, anyway—7,641 islands, and we’ve bet this magazine’s entire existence on their being countless stories on each of these islands, and infinite ways to tell these stories.
In this issue, we revisit some familiar themes and places, but we look at them in new ways, or deeper ways. We sent Fruhlein Econar back to her hometown in Cebu, first of all, because homecomings are always a rich mine for experiences and insights. Fruhlein was surprised at the new spirit of the city, born out of the new places that have sprung up, inevitably, over the years, and which in turn were the creation of a new generation pushing for change. As long as people consider themselves citizens and stakeholders of a place, there will always be innovation; and where there is innovation, places and stories will always thrive.
Next we look at the story of Danjugan Island which, at the outset, may sound like another take on the familiar old trope of finding a paradisical resort on one of our many beautiful island beaches. But this one yields yet another surprise underneath the surface. Danjugan, once a privately owned island, is now a resort, but more than that, it is an environmental reserve and a classroom. Its considerable natural treasures are protected, not to lure in tourists, but to educate the next generation of scientists and advocates for the environment. If there are any other resorts like these, there aren’t many, and we certainly need more.
We also take a good, hard look at volunteerism, and in doing so, we face the uncomfortable but necessary questions that arise: We mean well all the time, but are we actually doing any good at all, or are we just stoking our own egos? The truth is that doing good isn’t all about intention, and that we are all expected to put in hard work and apply high standards of intellectual rigor to examining its foundations. That doesn’t mean the process can’t be rewarding, but as with everything worthwhile, we do have to work for it.
So it is with all the stories here that abound in our country. There are many truths, many gems, many insights; there is infinite inspiration and beauty everywhere. We just need a little love and a little work to be able to find them.