SOME ends you can see from a distance. Others are as abrupt as turning a blind corner, walking straight into a solid stone wall.
This was a little bit of both.
Twenty two years is a long time to be doing something.
Too long to even tell you the precise moment this Travel section came under my wing. Much like asking, exactly when did I become wife, mother, daughter to an aging parent? It was a gradual process, of this I am sure.
If dusty yellowed clippings are to be believed, best bet it began in 2002.
Coming aboard as assistant editor, this was a proud little four-page Thursday pullout with its own identity separate from the Lifestyle section— logo, masthead and all. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays it provided a breather for the Lifestyle team who would encode, edit, layout and proof material for two pages instead of the daily six. This meant double duty for me, functioning primarily as assistant editor to Lifestyle pillar Pura L. Kintanar, and secondly to then Travel editor H.B. Gapud. So as dear Ma’am Pura, constantly quarreled with but loved ever as much, rode home to precious Argao, Lifestyle material would be swapped for Travel, a thick file of faxes and printouts tagged by pink Post-its and margin notes covered in Bimbo’s clean, beautiful, polished script.
Time flew, things changed. Family life trumped Lifestyle life. The internet exploded. And in its honeymoon phase, when faster and reliable connection could do no wrong, a weekly standing date with Travel was made possible. What a wonderful tool it was. Creating a work from home or phone environment even before #wfh was a thing. Building bridges between spaces where birthing-a-business-bouncing-back-from-postpartum-rearing-a-family lived and where inspiration, bucket lists and expression thrived.
The best thing about the Travel section? Traveling. Ha ha. Surprise, surprise. But as years passed, it evolved beyond the thrill of jetting off for work. It is discipline and mindset, honed on assignment, turned second skin that can’t be shed. About getting the most out of each moment, drawing on thorough research and meticulous note-taking, so that the DIY traveler doesn’t get lost on the subway to Grand Central station, or the budget conscious can spend wisely on local ice cream versus some overrated commercial tomahawk.
Perhaps the printed page is moseying on towards pasture. What with blogs, vlogs and online editions capable of updates up to a fraction of a second, feeding our insatiable need to consume, consume, consume. But as this pandemic continues to lock us down with nothing but our devices for company, we might find ourselves sick from scroll speeds way past what our guts and repetitive strain injuries can endure. Perhaps only then will we have time to digest this magnificent collaboration of talent under pressure yet again— that embraces the soulful voice of a writer, trained ear of an editor, visual instincts of a photographer and skilled hands of an artist— one leisurely flip of a page at a time.
As the travel industry wades through this uncertain sea of airline and hospitality struggles, infection upticks, social distancing norms and quarantine protocols, the Travel section will take a rest. Be it not a period of isolation when we draw last breath, but rather of hibernation— to gather bearings and come back strong. To where we write for the love of writing, for the need to get feelings down on paper lest we burst. To where likes, shares and subscribes are flattering afterthoughts rather than reasons for being.
So have faith. Somewhere, in a calm blue sea devoid of Jet Skis, banana boats and sunblock-lathered tourists, hope floats.