The Philippines in 35mm

Words & Pictures: Jesse Reed

January 03 2016

Your options to travel through the Philippines are limitless. A close friend of mine had been living in and around Manila as a way to escape New York City for a few months (which turned into more than a year). While she was there, her father recommended she take a trip called Tao Philippines. This consisted of a five day boat expedition from Coron to El Nido, each night sleeping on a different small island (five out of the more than 7,000 that make up the country). You eat fresh fish caught from the boat, snorkel over shipwrecks, cliff jump in the middle of the ocean, meet the people of Palawan, and sleep in bamboo huts on the beach. Myself and three other friends joined her.

While the sea is an incredible place to experience, it became more meditative than observational. The towns of Coron and El Nido suggested a better sense of the social dynamic within the Palawan region. These photographs were taken in and between both locations. They do not tell a story, they simply show a place and time.

Tao is more than an island-hopping boat ride. It’s centered around community—exploring sustainable ways of farming, providing jobs and education to the local population (particularly woman), and encouraging visitors to interact with the environment rather than see it from the sidelines. No, this isn’t a sponsored post, but consider it a personal endorsement.

Jesse Reed is a designer and photographer in New York City. You can read our interview with Jesse and his coworker Hamish on their campaign to reissue the New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual on the blog.