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8 Reasons Why Every Travel Blogger In The Philippines Should Be An Explora Volunteer Edit

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Maria Rona Beltran  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

“Living the dream” used to be just a dream, but because of travel blogging and social media it became a reality to a lot of people. When the Internet started booming, so are the lives of those who travel, write about it, and post it online changed for good. Many found opportunities in the form of ex-deals they call: travel for free in exchange of a write-up. Travel bloggers are now considered as part of the new media. They are often the most tapped to blog about a destination or review a brand because they are very approachable, low maintenance, and very active online.

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What is Explora?

The truth is, there are a lot of travel startups hoping they become the next AirBnb or Uber perhaps. The competition in tourism sector is stiffer that’s why every brand should have its own story to tell, if not it is going to be “same - same” like everyone else. That’s where Explora is going to come in. It connects travelers, tour packages, and local government units (LGU’s) in the country. Adding LGU’s in the picture is an unprecedented milestone - something that has never done before by any travel brands. Sure, you can always promote tourism with travelers and tour operators alone but without the participation of local officials who are decision-makers of their towns, there would be no chance to correct mistakes brought by ignorance or plane mistakes that harm the tourism side. 

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Here is a list of 8 reasons why every travel blogger in the Philippines should be an Explora volunteer.

1. Explora is set to conquer all 81 Philippine provinces

The goal is to document all tourism aspects of every province in the country. In return, Explora builds the official tourism website of each of the provinces visited. All contents in the form of text, photos, and videos will be supplied on that website. Cavite, Pangasinan, Oriental Mindoro, and Quezon websites are already live. Next provinces on the list are Sorsogon, Subic Bay, Boracay, Metro Manila, Palawan (El Nido & Puerto Princesa), and Baguio. They’ll be visiting Ilocos, Batanes, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Pampanga, Masbate, Iloilo, Laguna, and Batangas, South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos city

soon.

2. Explora values every town in the country including those that are never heard of.

Travel and tourism in the Philippines are often represented by world-class beaches in touristy areas only. The country doesn’t have a shortage of so many spots that are full of potentials to be the next prime destination. How about the other provinces that don’t have any natural wonders to share and those that are never heard of? One perfect example is Santo Tomas, the smallest town in terms of land area in Pangasinan. There’s nothing to see if we talk about tourism molded by nature here. This ‘small but terrible’ town is previously a holder of 2008 Guinness world record for longest barbecue made of 93, 540 corn ears, a totally drug-free municipality and the warmth we felt when we were welcomed by their people is another story to share. Just recently, they made another attempt to be the home of the world’s longest picnic line where they cooked 3, 600 kilos of vegetables. They are just waiting for the official confirmation from Guinness.


An average millennial who is hunting for Instagram-perfect adventure may never set his foot here, but if we are talking about a place you can roam safely even in the middle of the night and just getting lost in a province that best describe what a true Filipino hospitality is, this could be the perfect place.

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3. Explora is a strong advocate of heritage by supporting unknown local festivals

What are the festivals do you know in the country? Perhaps you’ll say Panagbenga in Baguio, Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Sinulog in Cebu, and Pahiyas in Quezon. It’s quite sad that there are only a handful of festivals we know. For a country made of 7, 641 islands, festivities happen in every corner. In Ilocos Norte, particularly in Paoay, they celebrate a 200-year old tradition called Guling Guling Festival. It is done a day before Ash Wednesday where the Mayor smears the head of everyone using a damp white flour powder to signify a day of merriment before the Lenten season starts which means fasting.


The local government’s efforts are really huge just to make sure that this tradition will be passed on to the next generation. Guling-Guling Festival is all about that sinful boodle fight, street dancers wearing flamboyant Spanish-inspired attires, eating dudul (a glutinous cake made of rice) paired with basi (sugarcane wine) and the rich history of Paoay Church - a UNESCO heritage site. The best thing that travel bloggers can do is to spread the word online and same thing with other least-known festivals in the country.

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Guling Guling Festival : Paoay, Ilocos Norte's 400 year old tradition

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Guling-guling may be the only Fat Tuesday festivity in the Philippines

4. Explora gathers a team of volunteers from different backgrounds that a blogger can learn so much.

For every trip of Explora, there’s a bunch of creatives that they bring: researchers (writers & bloggers), videographers / drone operators, and photographers. It is a group composed of amateurs, veterans, and in betweens.This is a great time to meet and network with them. All volunteers follow a buddy system to make sure the distribution of tasks is fair to everyone. A blogger is usually paired with a traditional writer to learn at each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The day-to-day tasks can be overwhelming from waking up early in the morning to sleeping late in the evening so this trip is for those whose reasons for joining is to help without asking anything in return. 

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5. Explora’s trip is spontaneous and covers off-the-beaten paths.

This is a gentle reminder to future Explora blogger participants: do not expect a PR document to be given during or after the trip. Unlike other press trips that are spoon-feeding style when it comes to providing information, Explora volunteers are required to bring pens and audio recorder for them to be able to gather all the information they need to write an article that is unique, complete, and truly helpful. You’re blogging skills will be put to the test! A blogger’s task is to research and document information. Sometimes, that particular place has never been mentioned on Google so without your notes, you may not be able to write about it well.

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10-peso entrance, 100% effort not to die lol. We survived the trek to Antong Falls!
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6. Explora’s trip includes paying courtesy visits in every municipal hall of the town that’s part of the itinerary.

A typical trip with Explora means dealing with the entire entourage of LGU officials, locals, tourism officers, and the town’s Mayor. Lunch and meriendas are mostly eaten inside the municipal hall. Forget the word “diet” because they serve their local dishes in buffet style like there’s a fiesta. This is going to happen every single day while you are with them. That’s how Explora’s team is welcomed in every province they visit.

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At the ruins of Mataguisi Church, Pudtol, Apayao.

7. Explora trip’s added bonus: bringing freebies and goodies back home

Because why not? One of Explora’s main objectives is to highlight a town’s local product. Of course no one goes home empty-handed after visiting a farm, factory, store, and a local market without being able to bring home samples. It could be sacks of corns, bottles of dragonfruit wine, handcrafted bags made of corn husks, and boxes of different types of glutinous rice cakes.

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Everything organically grown. From mouth watering native banana, sweetened langka and freshly picked lettuce with mango dressing
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A not so ordinary Tboli breakfast experience. Nelut anok (native chicken cooked in bamboo), Native chicken tinola, eggs and kamote.
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8. Explora ends the night with a debriefing session

Every evening of Explora’s trips, there's a debriefing session - more of an informal roundtable discussion to evaluate each other's experiences, accomplishments, and mishaps. Everyone is given a chance to share what happened from the day that just finished. This is the time to vent out, to brainstorm for the next day, what went wrong, and what went right. Bring a few pieces of tissue paper, it could be an emotional moment when you see your buddies getting teary eyed.

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Post debriefing with some of the officers and members of Kabugao, Apayao Local Government Units

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Post debriefing day 3. So many stories to learn. With TO Maen of LGU Tourism Malasiqui, Pangasinan

If you are a travel blogger who shares the same burning passion with Explora which is to promote the Philippines to the world, get in touch with them to know how you can join their next trip. After all, the Philippines is a naturally rich and beautiful country. It’s about time more people know about it.

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Be a Volunteer Explorer. Sign up here.

The Chief Editor & owner of "Travel With Maria", a 7-year old travel blog. She has been to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hk, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. She has been featured in a tv show, women's magazine and guested in a radio station for her blog. She was a volunteer for Explora during the Pangasinan and Ilocos documentation. 


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