TRAVEL AND TRUTH

Esquire (Philippines) - - A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR - —KRISTINE FONACIER

THE IRONY OF TRAVEL is that it’s an ac­tiv­ity that teaches us to live in the mo­ment, to fully in­habit the present—but it is also some­thing we ex­pe­ri­ence with the ex­pec­ta­tion of re­liv­ing it in the past, as mem­ory. We travel so we can ex­plore, rest, en­joy; but mod­ern travel is also about doc­u­men­ta­tion, so that we can in­vent the story and share it. Travel can be an op­por­tu­nity for us to re-ex­am­ine our re­la­tion­ship with the present and with the past, with truth and with mem­ory.

Our travel is­sue takes us to all sorts of places, and through all sorts of mem­o­ries. Au­drey N. Car­pio takes us on the trail of the old grunge gods (“Yes­ter­days,” p.76) and touches on our in­sis­tence on hold­ing on to ephe­meral things, like mu­sic and our youth. Christo­pher Puhm takes a cruise from Sin­ga­pore to Viet­nam and to Hong Kong (“In­do­chine Rev­erie,” p. 72), leap­ing from mo­ment to mo­ment, and deal­ing with ex­pec­ta­tion af­ter ex­pec­ta­tion. Kara Or­tiga talks about the Casig­u­ran of her grand­mother’s mem­o­ries, and about the Casig­u­ran that is strug­gling with very real is­sues with progress (“Par­adise Waits,” p. 64). Raymond Ang’s trip with David Medalla is a trip in­side au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal mem­ory as much as a night out in Venice (“Per­sis­tence of Mem­ory,” p. 80).

The theme of mem­ory and doc­u­men­ta­tion runs strongly in another fea­ture that I’d like to fo­cus at­ten­tion on for a bit. A cou­ple of months ago, we called up some of our friends—who, as it hap­pens, are also some of the coun­try’s top pho­to­jour­nal­ists. The con­ver­sa­tion, which we recorded and which we tran­scribe in “The Shoot­ers” (p. 48), was part panel in­ter­view, part self-ex­am­i­na­tion, and part ther­apy. Their work is stress­ful enough, as you might imag­ine, but in to­day’s deeply dis­turb­ing post-truth world, there are ad­di­tional stres­sors that we would never have dreamt up just a few years ago: the ac­cu­sa­tions of fak­ery, of bribery, and the gen­eral dis­mis­sive­ness to­ward ev­i­dence, com­mon sense, and ba­sic de­cency. We held th­ese things dear, but we also took them for granted; and now we’re all find­ing out that the truth is not as im­per­vi­ous to cor­rup­tion as we thought. One of our pan­elists, Carsten Stormer (who pro­duced the re­cent doc­u­men­tary “When a Pres­i­dent Says, ‘I’ll Kill You’” for the New York Times) raised the idea of our own com­plic­ity in cre­at­ing a so­ci­ety that can­not rec­og­nize the com­plex­ity of truth and can­not deal with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing ac­tive con­sumers of news.

It’s a long read, as th­ese round­table dis­cus­sions have to be, but it’s an im­por­tant one. In this age of so­cial me­dia, all of us flirt with the dual roles of pro­ducer and con­sumer, but per­haps we need to be more pre­pared to take on both roles. There needs to be more ed­u­ca­tion, per­haps. There needs to be more re­flec­tion, cer­tainly.

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