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Inside GRID Vol. 3

GRID Expedition 2

As the centerpiece of this issue, this year’s GRID Expedition in the Visayas tells the story of our country’s marine protected areas. How its introduction in the late 1970s has led to the proliferation of our fisheries, and how its success ultimately hinges on the involvement of the communities directly affected by it. It is this same principle that has nonprofit organization Balyena.org returning to the Babuyan Islands year in and year out; that their mission to protect the marine species is interdependent on the well-being of the local residents.

Moving on to higher altitudes, we visit The Last Mambabatok in Kalinga and question the narrative, the romanticism, that surrounds our traditional tattoos. We ask: Can we truly earn our tattoos? Finally, in Maguindanao, a datu takes us through the province’s history and customs to offer a textured understanding of a place often reduced to a single story.

Cover by Sonny Thakur

Like the definitive signature on a Picasso, [The three-dotted signature] signifies “made in Kalinga.”
– Whang-Od Loves Coco Martin

I personally believe that when you talk about fisheries, you’re not just talking about fish. You’re talking about people. You’re talking about communities. There’s a bisaya term for it actually: kinabuhi.
– Sing For The Moment


In his book, SIGNOS, Veejay Villafranca reexamines the word “resilience” in light of displacement.

News and notes from the field, plus anything and everything on our radar.

Illustration Jap Mikel. Local game-makers take inspiration from Philippine myth, folklore and pop culture.

A roundup of where we’ve been, and where you should go next.

From trail mix to an airbed, how much can you take on a seven-day SUP expedition?

Can fashion truly be sustainable? Monica Vivar of Denuo would like us to think so.

So what makes a bar of chocolate so damn good?

In between sets with the reserved rockstar

Nicola Sebastian is this issue’s Guest on the Grid.

Agu Paiso and Miguel Nacianceno take the new ‘Tuner on a 500 kilometer drive around Leyte.

Our team dives deep into the importance of the country’s Marine Protected Areas.

A visit to Kalinga has Nina Unlay reflecting on our relationship with traditional tattoos.

In pursuit of humpback whales in the Babuyan Islands with Balyena.org.

A datu goes to his hometown with food history on his mind, and returns with more.

Photography Carmen del Prado. A new generation of characters strut in local threads through Manila’s oldest street.

Taking the disaster kit out from the back of your closet to the top of your priority list

A Look Inside

Take It To The Streets

Take It To The Streets

Many of photography’s greats started their careers the very same way you have—by picking up a camera and roaming the streets. And if they can do it, why can’t you?

Shoot First: SIGNOS

Shoot First: SIGNOS

In his book, SIGNOS, Veejay Villafranca reexamines the word "resilience" in light of displacement.

GRID Expedition 2 | Conservation

GRID Expedition 2 | Conservation

Conservation lies at the heart of every GRID Expedition. This time, we dive deep into the waters of Dumaguete, Apo Island, and Siquijor, figuratively and literally.

From The Editors


Photograph by Francisco Guerrero

As part of an introduction to a collection of difficult and beautiful poems, a poet wrote about bewilderment, and how it is essentially a mystical experience. Literally, to be bewildered is to be lost in the wilderness, to be left where there is nothing familiar, to be cast into the strange.

Putting together this issue, we spoke about the concept of being Lost, since the idea is universally appealing to travelers (see the concept of “lost paradise”; see the book Lost Horizon; think of El Dorado, or Atlantis, or any number of fabled lost civilizations). But instead we ended up tackling the idea from a number of different angles, sometimes serendipitously. Nina Unlay’s trip to get a tattoo from Whang-Od was supposed to be fairly straightforward, but events conspired to bewilder her. Having to abandon her trip not even halfway, the journey turned out to be far more interesting. Instead of an overland trip, she had to confront an idea instead: How is it, she asks, that Whang-Od is more real as a concept than flesh-and-blood reality to most of us? Why do so many people feel a familiarity with her, why do we feel like we own her?

In another story, we visit Maguindanao, a province lost to popular consciousness, and perhaps lost to the rest of the country in terms of politics, too. Throw back the covers, we are urged, and see how its complex, proud (and sometimes violent) history can shape both its people and its foodways.

The centerpiece of this issue, of course, is the story of the second GRID Expedition, which we have also released as a series of videos. If last year’s Expedition sought to showcase the Cordilleras and the incredible athletes on its trails, this year we’ve decided to go deeper, figuratively and literally. Going to the Tañon Strait, we take a hard look at the many threats facing the waters here and elsewhere—but more importantly, we met the people who are making a difference in humanity’s fight for survival. “Landwalkers,” one of our Expedition crew members would call us jokingly, poking fun at our laughable tendency to think that the only things worth anything happen on dry land. But no: to go underwater is to be thrust into an alien environment—perhaps the most bewildering thing of all.

The thing about being well and truly lost is that, in this state of utter bewilderment, our minds make space: for wonder, for awe, for all possibilities. In bewilderment, we can make space for hope.



Veejay Villafranca

Veejay has tackled issues such as changing Filipino cultural and religious practices, the transformation of Filipino gang members, and climate displacement and other environmental issues. In 2008, he was awarded the Ian Parry Scholarship and a residency at Visa Pour l’Image for his project on the lives of former gang members in Manila, and in 2013 attended the prestigious Joop Swart Masterclass program of the World Press Photo Foundation.


Nicola Sebastian

Born in Hong Kong, from the Philippines, and currently living in New York, Nicola writes about family, the ocean, and the (non)fiction that is the Philippine postcolonial identity. She is a graduate teaching fellow for the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University.


Carmen del Prado

Dumaguete was and is Carmen del Prado’s playground. Inspired by the creative energy of the Visayas, this outdoorsy visual storyteller regularly infuses elements of nature in her work, a mix of documentary, fashion, and adventure. As the co-director of the second GRID Expedition, the filmmaker and photographer goes home to document the value of marine protected areas in our waters.


Jap Mikel

Jap is a Philippine-based freelance illustrator and designer. He has illustrated for local books and magazine editorials. His illustration style utillizes shapes and colors subtly arranged to create impressions of light and shadow, combined with lines and texture. His works are inspired by Philippine history, folklore, and pop culture.


Datu Shariff Pendatun III

Shariff is a culinary consultant and lecturer by training and profession. He traces his roots to the pre-Islamic rulers of Buayan in Mindanao. Food and heritage are common themes in his writing, as seen in his contribution to Rays of the Invisible Light, a collection of works by young Moro writers; FOOD Magazine; Spot.ph; and the Madrid Fusión Manila conference books.