Humans of the North series celebrates the northern spirit and culture

What has encouraged you to travel lately? Perhaps the destinations, which you have sorely missed due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe the food, especially from those sites which offer their cuisine to lure tourists to visit. Or the festivals or events, which are being held physically only now after more than two years of hiatus.

Whatever the reasons, these days are the best time to travel, and people are flocking to tourist spots, old and new, in droves, which the industry has termed “revenge travel.”

NLEX Corp., a concessionaire of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), the two tollways that connect Metro Manila to Northern and Central Luzon, wants travelers to find more meaning in their journey, and share these meaningful experiences to others. With this, the tollway operator wishes that this would encourage people to travel more, thereby helping the communities to prosper as they try to bounce back from the effects of the global health crisis.

In celebration of the narratives that lend vibrancy to Philippine destinations, NLEX Corp. is launching Humans of the North, a mini-documentary series that showcases the indomitable human spirit, traditions, and cultures of the north.

During the first season, “Humans of the North” will unfold over six parts, beginning October 2022. Each month, it will feature a unique story of an everyday man or woman from a Northern Luzon province. The series was directed by Miko Dela Cruz.

“Wherever we go, people leave a significant mark in our remembrance of destinations. Often it is the hospitality of locals and unique traditions that make us want to visit or return to places. Through Humans of the North, we hope not only to instill local pride, but also create conversations that will engage travelers to look beyond the appearance of a place, and look inward to its people and to themselves,” said NLEX Corp. president and general manager J. Luigi L. Bautista.

Grace L. Ayento, assistant vice president for customer experience and marketing of NLEX Corp., shares that behind every destination that we go to, there are people and communities whose stories make travel experience more meaningful, colorful, and worth talking about.

“This is why Humans of the North is so special to us. Humans of the North puts the spotlight on ordinary people whose authentic human stories and experiences make a compelling narrative. Humans of the North is a video series featuring stories about northern life, lighthearted mini-documentaries style, [which] harness the stories of the people, communities, and destinations which very much align with the story of NLEX, that of enabling one’s journey towards self and cultural discovery through authentic experiences and travel. We want to eventually spark travel interest through these compelling narratives,” Ayento adds.

She says that Humans of the North was inspired by Humans of New York, which is very successful because of its powerful storytelling of social realities. “[They said], a great brand story is engaging, short, and evokes emotion. That is what we want to achieve for Humans of the North project,” she shares.

“Through this collection of stories that embraces the northern cultural spirit, we hope to provoke an emotional response that will lead people to share their stories and travel up north. We want to instill local pride and create that sense of connection with the community,” she stresses.

Humanity through strength

What makes “Humans of the North” a standout is its ability to provide viewers a lens into Northern Luzon through the accounts of day-to-day heroes and workers.

The first part of the series features Ditas Gonzalo, a 46-year-old kutsera (coachwoman) from Vigan, Ilocos Sur. She left her hometown in search of a better life in the city. As fate would have it, her hopes would be crushed with the sudden death of her husband, forcing her to return to the historic cobblestone streets of Ilocos Sur to single-handedly raise her children.

Belonging to a family of horse-drawn carriage drivers and guides, Ditas found herself returning to her roots to sustain the household. Today, Ditas is one of only six female kutseras among a group of 150 coachmen in the city and is beloved by customers and fellow drivers for her fortitude and colorful life story.

Anchored on the beauty of the northern spirit, these stories are part of several others that are guaranteed to reignite interest in the real heart of travel: the humans that make a place and culture come alive.

You can watch the first installment of Humans of the North at its official Facebook page