When traveling is more than what’s ‘Instagrammable’

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AirAsia’s web series Red Talks seeks to present the idea of travelling in a different light. The pilot episode brings the audience to a chocolate farm in Davao City. Screenshot from AIRASIA/FACEBOOK

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In the book “In Motion: The Experience of Travel,” author Tony Hiss coined a term called “Deep Travel,” which is a sense of consciousness and interconnectedness amplified by travelling.

Outwardly, “Deep Travel” sounds like a New Age philosophy employed by people who can afford to travel regularly, but Hiss argues that the concept can also work in a familiar setting. In an interview with The New Yorker, he says that “in a well-known place, it’s also a matter of remembering (at least for the moment) how much more we could find out about things we’ve seen and used a thousand times before … ”

Traveling in the Philippines, for instance, can be repetitive — same white beaches, same friendly people. But often, even when you go to the same beach and see the same people, there can be subtle differences in the shade of meaning or experience; one just needs to consciously catch these nuances.

People who travel outside of the Philippines or even outside of Asia do so to experience a culture that is vastly more different than what we’re accustomed to. The people look different, language is automatically a challenge, and so we’re suddenly more aware of this new environment, which makes us more mindful on how to react to it.

When we have this sensibility when going into a new place, the allure of travelling becomes more than the novelty of the place, but rather, the connection one can build with a place. In AirAsia’s travel web series, Red Talks, nurturing this sensibility is paramount.

Photo-3 (4).jpg For the first episode of Red Talks' new season, host Daphne Oseña-Paez takes the audience to Malagos, a farm in Davao whose chocolate produce has won awards across the globe. Screenshot from AIRASIA/FACEBOOK  

For instance, in the first episode of their new season, Daphne Oseña-Paez takes the audience to Malagos, a farm in Davao whose chocolate produce has won awards across the globe. The episode was not only about presenting a new “must-visit” place, as it was more about showing the interconnectedness among the farmers, the produce, and the people within the community.

“[There is] a deeper connection not just with people, but with food and the culture and the character of the different places that we're going to,” Oseña-Paez says.

During this episode, chef JP Anglo also joined the team in Malagos to whip up a dish that has Malagos chocolates in it. Known for his edgy take on Filipino dishes, Anglo says that it wasn’t so much of a challenge to create something new, especially when he’s out of his usual cooking nook.

“As a chef, as a creative, as an artist, when you see new things, you get stimulated, you get inspired,” he says. “[When you’re] travelling, of course, … when you stop out of your box, when you're out of your comfort zone, then you get to create.”

In line with the Red Talks theme of presenting stories that are beyond just showing the most current destinations, AirAsia also dedicated an episode revealing one of the the biggest humanitarian issues in the ASEAN region: human trafficking.

According to a 2017 study published on ASEAN Briefs, Asia Pacific has the largest number of human trafficking cases, and in 2015, 25 percent of global human trafficking victims who were assisted by the International Organization for Migration came from ASEAN countries. Forced labor is also prevalent in Southeast Asia, and according to the International Labor Organization, the majority of forced labor is carried out by private entities and individuals.

In this Red Talks episode, Oseña-Paez will interview experts on how they are training AirAsia’s staff in preventing human trafficking from happening within the airline industry.

Photo-6 (4).jpg The pilot episode was not only about presenting a new “must-visit” place, as it was more about showing the interconnectedness among the farmers, the produce, and the people within the community. Screenshot from AIRASIA/FACEBOOK

“Traffickers are likely to use airlines because it's fast, it's convenient,” says Yap Mun Ching, executive director of AirAsia Foundation. “We want to play a part. Not only governments and civil society, but private sectors as well.”

Ching adds, “What we want to do is provide a net as well. Sometimes, the last friendly face someone who's trafficked will see will be our ground staff or our cabin crew.”

For the final episode of Red Talks, the story will revolve around the nonprofit organization called Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) in Phnom Penh. This organization has been supporting arts education and emerging artists, and much like the other episodes, this will highlight the importance of building a sense of community and belonging in order to create a more sustainable environment for people.  

As apparent in the episodes, Oseña-Paez says that this season’s Red Talks really seeks to present the idea of travelling in a different light. “We aim to raise the level of discussion and cover a wide range of topics to engage our audience and inspire them to have meaningful connections.”

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Watch Red Talks on the AirAsia Facebook page.