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Islands Insider takes less traveled route in NatGeo

A secret cove in Coron

It’s there, six places quite popular with tourists. We can almost see Batad’s amazing rice terraces (plus a blog worthy experience) and majestic Tappiyah Falls, Coron’s stunning Lake Kayangan, Taal’s heritage houses, Anilao’s marine gardens, Siquijor’s mystics and mysteries as well as the sea of clouds up in Mt. Pulag in Benguet. But what we often see, read and hear are just skin deep. Stories and images that have been repeated oft times that it becomes boring and trite. A cliche.

But let’s cut to the chase…

A mumbaki preparing for a ritual

There’s Islands Insider, a new program that will start airing its first episode on Batad at THE prestigious NATGEO channel tomorrow, 23 June, 2030H. Yes. That channel famed for its iconic yellow borders that we all love. A Philippine first, as the producers proudly claim, its a different kind of travel documentary, a 6-part series showcasing the distinct travel and cultural travel destination in the Philippines.

And what is different?

Think of something more in depth that touches not only on the visual but the very soul of these places. Where the Batad Rice Terraces is not just another UNESCO World Heritage Site with its amphitheater like steps but as a very important part of the Ifugao cultural fabric and identity governed by the seasons and belief systems through rituals and gods/guardians like the bul-ol.

Where Coron Island, especially its two famous lakes (Kayangan and Barracuda) off Busuanga is not just another item to be ticked off in most tourist’s checklist but a place for the sacred and divine, where the ancestors of the Tagbanua, the local tribe are stewards, inhabit. It’s not just the unprecedented access that the production team was given, thus showcasing the unexplored parts of these sliver of an island but a glimpse to these rather shy tribe often encountered only when paying the fee enroute to Kayangan Lake that makes the Coron episode really worth while.

At the peak of Mt. Pulag

It just doesn’t end there. Two things:

First, the team believes that tourist destinations are not static, evolving or deteriorating in time, and require intervention and attention to be sustained for future generations. Thus, a stress on preservation and conservation.

Second, the Islands Insider title is no gimmick as the viewer hears the stories, the significance and background right from locals, the insiders to these beautiful places. The host, Ginggay Hontiveros is just there as a guide and sometimes articulating for the viewers how, as a visitor, she is experiencing it.

Though I’ve just seen two episodes during the media preview, I do like how it is treated. Cinematography is adroitly done by Gawad Urian nominee Takeyuki Onishi and, hearing the lines of Ginggay while narrating, I can’t help but think of Gab Malvar (the director and one of the writers) speaking. Just rich and descriptive prose that one can just expect of reading from his Viajero Chronicles on print. Palanca Awardee Froilan Medina is also there. Islands Insider is produced by Extra Mile Productions.

Visit the Islands Insider Facebook page.

Island Insiders episodes are replayed on Sundays 11am and Thursdays 4:35pm. New episodes on Saturdays 8:30PM.

All images from Islands Insider

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

9 Comments

  1. Ding | The Pinoy Explorer
    June 23, 2012 @ 22:28

    missed it! dang! do they have re-runs?

  2. Adelle
    June 24, 2012 @ 0:05

    yes, same question…i hate myself for missing this…

  3. estancabigas
    June 24, 2012 @ 19:55

    ding, I have tweeted it and updated my fb for the replays 🙂

    estan

  4. paul | walkflypinoy
    June 25, 2012 @ 10:58

    i’m abroad and i don’t have a natgeo channel on my tv. how do i get a hold of this show, i wonder. hmmmm.

  5. estancabigas
    June 25, 2012 @ 11:28

    you have twitter? maybe you can ask @GinggayHontiver?

    Estan

  6. Bulgarikuno
    July 11, 2012 @ 19:58

    Oh, well …. overrated show

  7. Hectorlover
    July 11, 2012 @ 20:00

    Ay, same comment. The host is a bore and not credible at all. Sorry

  8. Phila
    July 11, 2012 @ 20:04

    Poor Gabby. How naive.

  9. Kulasa84
    July 13, 2012 @ 19:45

    In fairness, it was well-written. Congrats to the writer. But the show would have been better if only thr locals talked. Di na sana ipinakita yung host. Siya lang talaga ang nakasira.

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