Culture & Entertainment

Travellers with Heart: The Philippines

By: Doug O'Neill
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Travellers with Heart: The Philippines

By: Doug O'Neill
Canadian travellers dig deep to help the recovery efforts in the Philippines The downside of so much media coverage of a natural disaster like Typhoon Haiyan, which has killed thousands and left millions homeless throughout the Philippines, is that we begin to associate the horrific images of the tragedy with the destination that has suffered. That's why it's so important, I think, to keep in mind the beauty that is the Philippines, and to appreciate that once the immediate crisis of food, water, housing and medicine are addressed, the real road to recovery begins. And for the Philippines, that recovery will also rely on the travel and tourism industry. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council,  travel and tourism  in the Philippines accounts for more than 3.5 million jobs. That's a lot of people, a lot of families who at this moment are facing an uncertain future. Of these four photos below, I'll bet  you've seen the top two–or ones just like them–in the last week or so on Twitter, Facebook, or on your bookmarked news site.   PHILIPPINES-TACLOBAN-TYPHOON HAIYAN G Adventures Typhoon Haiyan Recovery 2 But take a look at these next two images. The beauty of the archipelago of 7,100 islands captured in these photos brings home for me, with searing acuity, the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan. We get a glimpse of the incredible landscape and scenic islands before they fell under Haiyan's path.   The Philippines “It will take months, even years to rebuild the Philippines,” says Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, which has operated budget-friendly, small-group excursions to farflung, off-the-beaten path places like the Philippines for years. "Many relief agencies worldwide are currently working to provide the food, shelter and medicine to those impacted by Haiyan," says Poon Tip. "Once the immediate needs are addressed, there will still be much left to do." Poon Tip, a lifelong traveller and forward-thinking entrepreneur whose first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World By Reinventing Business, was just released, knows all too well the reliance of struggling countries on tourists and visitors. Not only has he covered the globe in his travels, but he's encouraged a brand of sustainable tourism that puts the local economies first. That's why G Adventures, through its not-for-profit foundation Planeterra,  launched just last week a $25,000 aid appeal to support the long-term recovery of the communities in the Philippines slammed by Typhoon Haiyan. The tour operator announced it would match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000 (at a maximum of $5,000 per donation). And travellers, Canadian travellers, have responded. At time of writing donations surpassed the original target of $25,000: $39,400 have been raised. You can still make donations on the Planeterra Foundation web site. And if your first question is: what about administration costs? No sweat. G Adventures is absorbing all administration costs so every dollar donated goes directly to recovery efforts in the Philippines. I remember visiting Grenada a couple years after Hurricane Ivan and being treated to two images: the first was the lingering effects of the hurricane – upturned trees, some boarded-up cottages – but also the determination of the Grenadians and their upbeat attitude. While Grenada and the Philippines can't be compared in terms of human loss, both gave birth to a shared impression: hope. Have you ever visited a destination after it was wrought by a natural tragedy? What did you see? What moved you the most?  
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Travellers with Heart: The Philippines

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