Front of Book

Catching Up With Old Friends

The hello’s and how-are-you’s: we check in with our partners to see what they’ve been up to.

  • By Team GRID

In the last few months, travel and tourism have slowed to a halt. A lot has changed, even now as the world slowly begins to reopen. It’s all the more reason to check in.

While we aren’t traveling, there are still ways we can support local businesses. We caught up with some of our partners to find out what they’ve been up to, what we can do, and how we can all make up for lost time.

  • By Team GRID
JP Alipio, Cordillera Conservation Trust
Benguet
 
Following travel and mobility restrictions, the Cordillera Conservation Trust had to cancel all events for 2020. While keeping a lean team has helped soften the blow, the cancellations have caused significant financial setback, leaving the organization with no source of income until 2021. “Right now, I am only really hoping to survive all this physically, emotionally, and just with enough to be able start over when this is all done,” said founder JP Alipio. 
 
Still, JP says he’s ready for whatever’s coming next. 
 
“I am not afraid to start from scratch; I‘ve done it so many times in the last ten years. […] There is so much uncertainty now that everything we have learned is out the window, but there is also so much opportunity to innovate and do something new. And that is what excites me.”
 
Over the community quarantine period, JP has been hard at work on his latest passion project: The Wildcast, a podcast where he talks to ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Find him on Spotify, with new episodes released every Wednesday.  
Kiddo Cosio, El Union Coffee 
San Juan, La Union
 
When businesses halted operations, El Union owners Kiddo and Amy Cosio created a ‘humans first’ survival plan that prioritized helping and protecting their employees. They set universal wages and offered various kinds of assistance to their workers, with full transparency on how they were managing the company resources. “Reopening, while important, was never above the needs of the people who work [here],” Kiddo said.
 
In addition to full-time parenting, Kiddo also spent his time learning permaculture and regenerative farming.
 
“The idea of gardening offers a light at the end of the tunnel for me, a punk answer to deep questions brought about by an underperforming government in the face of this pandemic. In short, if things go to shit, I need to know how to use shit to make food—and in farming and gardening, that is a literal statement!
 
Since reopening in May, El Union has continued its nationwide delivery of ethically produced specialty coffee from the Philippines, roasted right in surftown. For more information, visit elunioncoffee.com and @elunion on Instagram.
Ann & Billie Dumaliang, Masungi Georeserve
Baras, Rizal
 
While most of us were stuck at home, Ann and Billie Dumaliang have been hard at work taking care of the Masungi Georeserve and keeping it safe from threats of quarrying, forest fires, grazing, and illegal occupation. The pair have also been active in assisting park rangers, community members, and indigenous elders in the area with Covid-19 relief. 
 
Over the past three months, we’ve had zero trail visitors. We’ve always opened up to limited tourism to support our conservation activities and hire park rangers. The lockdowns have definitely impacted us financially, but we also maximized the opportunity to do improvements on-site. […] More than tourism, we look forward to bringing people back to Masungi so we can forge a stronger community that will continue to protect it.
 
With concerned environmentalists, Ann and Billie are working to launch online campaigns on environmental issues happening around the country. They’ve also launched Visita, an app and web platform that aims to empower ecotourist managers and travelers. Recently, Ann has also been shortlisted for the United Nations Environment Program’s Young Champions of the Earth prize.
Carmel Laurino, Kalsada Coffee
Benguet / Escolta
 
When the lockdown took effect, Benguet-based enterprise Kalsada Coffee decided to stop operations to prioritize the safety of its team. When they realized it would be possible to slowly reopen the business, Carmel Laurino and the rest of the team shifted focus to delivering coffee to individual consumers in NCR. Still, with 70% of the company’s production for the export market, it’s been an anxious few months trying to smooth out operations.
 
At farm level though, our farmers are doing well […] the closures and operation shutdowns that affected our roasted brand did not trickle down to the farms (thank goodness!). I just hope we can continue to support and sustain our work with Philippine coffee producers in the midst of all of what’s happening.”
 
Fresh from the highlands of Benguet, Kalsada Coffee offers locally produced specialty coffee, delivered straight to your home. For more information, visit @kalsadacoffee on Instagram
Jordy & May Navarra, Toyo Eatery
Makati
 
Toyo Eatery owners Jordy and May Navarra kept themselves busy with a feeding program for Covid-19 relief, and fun online conferences for their employees. When it became clear that things wouldn’t go back to normal for a while, however, the pair decided to rethink their operations. They’ve begun accommodating take-out orders, and refining their product offerings at both Toyo Eatery and Panaderya Toyo.
 
“The world is going through a lot of changes, and the pandemic has forced all of us to look at what we have and decide [on] certain things that are important to us. […] Our team has definitely missed our work and each other, so I’m hopeful [that] we will get through and learn from this pandemic.”
 
With the reopening of dine-in establishments, Toyo Eatery is once again open to receive diners at a limited capacity. For reservations and more information, visit @toyoeatery on Instagram.
 

Originally published in
 
GRID-Vol_09-One Day in the Philippines