“To inspire others, through writing, to experience the magic of global travel.” That was Brad Newsham’s self-assigned mission back in 1983 and he’s followed through. Newsham has written numerous articles plus two great round-the-world memoirs since then, and it was one of his novels that inspired Sally Arnold to pack herself off to the Philippines…
“The Philippines was a place I’d never really thought about as a holiday destination. I knew very little about it except stories of the Marcos years and of course Imelda’s shoe collection. That was until I read Take Me with You, by Brad Newsham.
Mr Newsham is a San Francisco taxi driver who has a passion for travel and people. The premise of his book was to go on a one hundred day journey with the aim of meeting someone to bring back to his country for a holiday. He had always been inspired by the generosity of people ‘less fortunate’ than himself and wanted to be generous, in some way, in return.
His first destination was the Philippines, primarily an area in North Luzon around the villages of Banaue and Batard. Here we meet Tony, a local guide who had suffered at the hands of local thugs and as a result had lost an eye, teeth and almost his life.
Banaue and Batard are declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, famous for the beautiful rice terraces, described so well in Brad’s book that it made me want to go there! Two weeks after I read the book I was on a plane to The Philippines!
The day I arrived in Banaue was, by luck, the first day of a 3-day festival held once every 3 years – magical… everyone was out in traditional costumes and looking fabulous! I thought I might try and ask around to see if anyone knew Tony, the guide and main character from the book. It didn’t take long! The first person I spoke to knew him and pointed out his cousin in the crowd. Within half an hour I was having a beer with Tony. I told him that his story and Brad’s book were what had inspired me to come to his beautiful country in the first place and I wanted to thank him.
He made a phone call to his wife, and then invited me for dinner. Their house is in an area about 30 minutes out of town, where tourists go to see the rice terraces – awe-inspiring! At dinner he invited me to stay with them for the next few days. Tony and his family were extremely generous to me while I was there – I went trekking with his older son and was invited to the birthday party of his youngest son. It was a little strange meeting real life characters from a book!
When I returned I emailed Brad Newsham to tell him how I was inspired to go to the Philippines and meet Tony by reading his book. He replied and I now get regular updates about the various projects he is involved in. So my advice is – read Take Me with You, go to the Philippines and say “Hi” to Tony from me!”
Tour the Philippines with Intrepid on trips like this great small group adventure:
Philippine Discovery – 15 days
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* photo by Heather Corkhill – Intrepid Photography Competition