On the Radar

Wanna roam?

JAPONISTA - Chiara Castañeda -

On a typical magazine stand in Japanese konbini, one would see at least 40 local titles — and that excludes the multitude of manga lining the shelves. To see so many magazines in a small retail space such as a 7-Eleven is something that I have gotten used to, but did not expect to see when I visited home.

At National Book Store, Katipunan, I saw the usual suspects wrapped in plastic. However, alongside the Previews, Megas and FHMs, I also saw several new magazines, like Tsuper and Ketchup, most of which were maiden issues. At a time when publishers the world over have pulled the plug on very good magazines (the demise of beloved Domino comes to mind), why is magazine publishing becoming dynamic in Manila?

To dig deeper into this phenomenon, I asked Jake Versoza, renowned photographer and now executive editor of a new travel publication called Roam, what’s behind the magazine boom in the Philippines and what his magazine is all about.

PHILIPPINE STAR: Do Filipinos need a new travel magazine?

JAKE VERSOZA: A lot of Filipinos are diehard travel junkies. They’re the type who’d love to spend their weekends on an adventurous out-of-town joyride or if time won’t permit, a day trip. At the same time, there are those who would prefer into just lock themselves up at home, dig on their gaming consoles, or spend the whole day in the malls. We don’t want that. We encourage everyone, most especially the youth, to go out and have a blast. We at Roam think it’s high time all of us explored more places, appreciated our culture and loved our country even more.

Lots of magazines closed in 2009, why put up a new title?

We believe that the difficult times shouldn’t hinder people from traveling; there should always be time to relax and enjoy what you worked hard for.

What was the shift from photographer to executive editor like?

It’s a totally different and exciting challenge. With complete creative license from the layouts to photo editing etc., I can now create what I envisioned a magazine to be.

Before, the job ended with photography and sometimes what you expected to see in the final output isn’t exactly what you wanted.

Also, photography is usually a personal endeavor but now I’m working with a fun and enthusiastic group to come up with something we all wanted. In Roam, I set the direction but the four other members — EIC Upper Viceo, senior editorial assistant Diane Reyes, editorial assistant Nat Laforteza, and layout artist Yodel Pe — end up doing a lot of the detail work. 

How challenging was putting out the maiden issue?

Putting out a magazine and this global crisis are like oil and water. We took risks and jumped into things we had no idea whether they’d click or mark the end of what we thought would be the greatest thing on earth.

We were also wondering whether the Filipino public will dig the far-out concept/layout and if “alternative” travelers do exist. At one point, we even asked ourselves if this magazine even makes sense.

But nonetheless, our own desire to cover the things we wanted to do, places we were dying to go to, adventures we wanted to experience and the people we were thrilled to meet got this all together. Roam is an outlet for all our travel frustrations and fantasies turned into one glossy that everyone can share.

What is Roam’s goal as a publication?

Traveling for us isn’t just about the glitz and dough. It is about the passion of traveling. This means experiencing both the frills and basics to loving the eyesore (factor) of a certain destination. We say, “Learn what’s ours; Value who we are.” That’s what we advocate.

Who is the Roam reader?

Roam is for all kinds of travelers. They include the planners, adventure seekers, backpackers, nature trippers — basically everyone who’s got the itch to travel. They are always on the go and ready to try something new.










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