Backpacking, cultural heritage and advocacies; what do these terms have in common? They can all be found in one corner of the Philippine blogosphere; Ivan About Town. Another Travel blog that has been selected to become one of the Finalists for the Philippine Blog Awards and the focus of this edition of The Road to the Philippine Blog Awards: Finalists’ Spotlight, a blog series here on The Four-eyed Journal.
Who is Ivan?
Ivan is a travel freak, frustrated historian and heritage activist. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Conservation Society, he is a feisty advocate for the preservation of Philippine architectural heritage. The heritage conservation and cultural revival program he spearheaded in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga was among the Top Ten Best Practices of the League of Cities of the Philippines and a Trailblazing Project of the Gawad Galing Pook in 2004.
He also serves as a trustee of the San Fernando, Pampanga Heritage Foundation and director of the Ateneo Alumni Association.
What does Ivan do?
Ivan backpacks his way around the exotic places in Asia and focuses more on the Philippine heritage sites with driven by an advocacy; for backpacking and heritage conservation. He clearly explains this in an earlier interview of him by Manila Bulletin’s Annalyn S. Jusay:
People often think that to travel, you need a lot of money. Yes, you need funds to go places but it need not be a hefty amount. And backpacking is one way for you to see the sights without creating a big hole in your pockets. Once people know how cheap travelling can be, backpacking will definitely take off.
On heritage, we have to fight to preserve our heritage primarily for future generations of Filipinos. We must preserve our national identity for our children and their children. Second, for crying out loud, cultural and natural heritage is what foreign tourists come here to see! And when we destroy our heritage, we are bringing down our market value in the multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
Many of our local officials and priests destroy heritage in the name of modernization and progress. Heritage creates local identity. Local identity is a very strong rallying point towards progress. Little do our local officials know that they are actually lowering the standard of living in their area by converting it into an ordinary, nondescript place. As the Filipino proverb goes, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinaggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” You actually think that salawikain would survive this long if it weren’t true?
You’d find it extremely difficult to disagree with him on the points and observations he has raised, blogged and continues to blog about in Ivan About Town. A blog that’s well deserving to be included in the Finalists for the Travel Blog category in the Philippine Blog Awards. A blog that speaks for itself, would take you places and see things in a new perspective. Heck, it would even motivate you to pack up and head on out to visit the places he’s been to or the places you’ve been meaning to go to. He even encourages others to blog about their adventures, thoughts and opinions on the things they see and the places they visit.
The interview that follows sheds light on his thoughts about being a finalist for the Philippine Blog Awards.
1. How does it feel to be nominated for the PBA?
Ivan Henares: I’m honored. Being selected a finalist is recognition enough. My appreciation goes to the panel for considering this blog.
2. Do you know who nominated you?
Ivan Henares: Yes, I think I have an idea.
3. Why do you think your blog was nominated?
Ivan Henares: Maybe because I’m meticulous about the details of the places I visit so they say the blog is informative. Add to the fact that I’ve covered a lot of ground. I’ve visited 40 out of the 81 provinces in the Philippines to date and several countries around Asia which are very accessible to Filipinos.
4. Who do you think will win in your category?
Ivan Henares: It’s hard to tell since all the blogs have their own strengths.
5. Why do you think you should win?
Ivan Henares: I put my heart into the blog. I try to update it regularly even though traveling on my own funds can exhaust my resources at times. It’s part of my advocacy, to promote traveling around the country and increase the appreciation of Filipinos to the richness of our cultural and natural heritage and the need to preserve and protect it.
6. What would you do if you win?
Ivan Henares: I’d endeavor to give my readers even better and more exciting travel accounts especially since I’ll be put in the spotlight. But even now that I’m a finalist, more people will be reading what I have to say about our country and its attractions.
7. What do you think of the Philippine blog awards?
Ivan Henares: It’s a great way to recognize Philippine bloggers who more often than not, volunteer their time and even resources to maintain them. Many do it just for fun and not really to earn money. Which is why awards like these give the needed pat on the back to outstanding bloggers.
8. Is there a blog that’s not nominated but deserves to be nominated in the PBA?
Ivan Henares: I’m sure there are a lot of deserving blogs who were not nominated. The list would be endless.
9. Would you join the next Philippine blog awards?
Ivan Henares: If I’m nominated again, why not.
10. Any messages to your fellow nominees?
Ivan Henares: Good luck to all of us. I’d be happy if any of us win. Let’s continue to keep our readers happy and have fun in the process too.