MANILA, Philippines - It's one thing to get practical information about travel from supposedly well-meaning "real people" online that claim to have "been there and done that," and another to get advice straight from a pal who'd say upfront if you should go there or elsewhere.
In hosting GMA News TV's new travel, Drew Arellano promised to tell it like it is based on his own travel experiences, having been exploring various towns and cities in the Philippines every weekend since 2005. Every episode of "Biyahe ni Drew" will have him talking straight to the camera in a casual tone versus mouthing lines from a script.
"Yan ang edge ng show over researching about travel online. 'Yung amin, may humor at interactive," he told Bulletin Entertainment.
"Biyahe ni Drew" is more for backpackers than brand-conscious jetsetters. After all, Drew has had no problem staying in "affordable" hotels, eating in hole-in-the-wall restos, and shopping for pasalubong from the cheapest sources and so these are the things viewers would hear from him.
More, he'll reveal the hidden gems he has uncovered throughout the country; that aside from coves, caves, adventure parks and trails, beaches, Drew will show places and do things not off radar. He'll even draw an itemized travel budget for the destinations he visits.
"It's all about giving people options. Anyone can travel without spending too much," he said.
Asked to name three of his favorite local destinations, Drew cited Batanes, Sagada and Mindanao.
"I like Batanes because of its hidden charms. It's raw and bare kaya pag hindi ka creative, wala kang masyadong magawa pero if you know where to go, andami mong madiscover.
"Sagada naman is the type of place na pupuntahan mo if you want to find time to find yourself, while Mindanao is, well, simply the best---and it's not just for the fruits and the relatively consistent weather," he said.
"Biyahe ni Drew" will also feature "man on the street" resource persons such as tricycle and jeepney drivers, students, etc. all of whom, he said, are quite reliable for "authentic" advice since they have no interest to protect.
The host revealed the hardest part in doing the show: resist redundancy.
"Kasi nga I've been to many of these places several times na. Minsan iniisip ko, 'What else is there to see?' But the Philippines just keeps surprising me. Laging merong bago, laging merong nakaligtaan from the last travel na worth it palang malaman," he said to that effect.
On a personal note, Drew said that hosting a travel show requires discipline. Since he's away from Manila every Thursday and Friday, he has to schedule his other commitments on the remaining days of the week. While on the road, he has to make time for exercise and be more conscious of eating healthy.
And, of course, he has to make sure that his girlfriend, TV host Iya Villaniya, doesn't feel neglected when he's away. Drew said that he's fortunate she supports and understands his need to fulfill wanderlust.
In the next episodes of "Biyahe ni Drew," the biyahero will feature Sagada (Feb. 8) and Iloilo (Feb. 15). The show airs every Friday from 10 to 11 p.m.