• Oct 222009

    Dispatch From Typhoon Country

    One day this summer, on the island of Masbate, I watched a tricycle chug down the highway carrying 20 people. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I may not have believed it. Fortunately, my journalist colleague Rowena Paraan saw it, too, and she confirmed my count.

    For my American friends: what people here call a tricycle is a small motorcycle with a covered sidecar. In Manila, tricycle drivers taxi people between neighborhoods; in the provinces, between towns and villages. Tricycles are ubiquitous in the Philippines.

  • Sep 252009

    Dispatch From Manila

    I am an American journalist here in the Philippines to work on a ground-breaking media project involving the poorest of the poor. I’d like to tell you about it. But I’d be lying if I said I was here only as an altruist. I’m also here for selfish reasons: to experience life in the country where I was born.

  • Aug 202009

    Dispatch From Dipolog

    I was expecting a city of shanties. A sprawling ghetto. A legion of beggars stumbling around a sagging town square. But I found none of these things in Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, said to be the poorest province in the Philippines.

    What I found instead during a recent visit to this city of 120,000 in western Mindanao was a prim, progressive place, full of bustle and ambition and a fair number of residents mystified by their province's number-one ranking on the poverty list.

    "Yes we are poor but not that poor," I heard over and over again.

  • Aug 172009

    A Visit to the Middle of Nowhere

    This past week I traveled to the geographic center of the Philippines, Masbate, one of the wildest and poorest places in this poor and unruly nation. I met with widows of murder victims, with fish-less fisherfolk and destitute gold miners. I met with a governor who, though nice enough, seemed to take pride in being clueless. “I’m not even from Masbate,” said Governor Elisa Kho. “I’m from Marikina!”

    Sad, rugged, dusty place, Masbate. But a handful of individuals there gave me hope for the province, the country. They inspired me. All were journalists.

  • Jun 192009

    First days in the Philippines

    Hello all. My name is Alex Tizon. I’m the new Knight Fellow in Manila, Philippines, and I arrived here May 21, after a 21-hour voyage, late on a muggy Thursday night. I guess all days and nights are muggy here. It only took me a few days to remember that.