The quiet town of Burgos, 56km north of General Luna, has an unhurried charm that convinced designer Mark Pintucan and online editor Iris Aroa to settle in the municipality three years ago. To give back to the community, the digital nomads founded the social enterprise Lokal (lokalsiargao.com), which has since opened a farmer’s market, a farm-to-table café and an art residency guesthouse.
For Lokal, art plays a big role in enriching the community. “The people here deserve a space they can enjoy,” says Mark, who laments how unchecked tourism can either exploit or exclude local communities.
Last October, the social enterprise collaborated with street artist Archie Oclos, who brought in other Manila-based creatives to spend a week in Burgos and paint murals on private residences.
“[Street art] can raise awareness about issues in society. It can empower the locals and boost creativity in the community,” explains Archie, whose murals often depict socio-political issues.
In Burgos, his orange-hued portrait of a villager, entitled Lokal, graces the facade of the farmer’s market; while Kabataang Mulat advocates HIV awareness on an inconspicuous perimeter wall. “It’s exciting to see these murals beautify the town and catch the attention of tourists,” says Jey Marr Virtudazo, whose home across the fish market has been painted with a vivid mural of a hermit crab and a nautilus. With his residence now attracting travelers, he’s thinking of opening an eatery covered with more artwork. Fortunately, Lokal plans to make this artistic initiative an annual event, painting a brighter future for the town and its residents.
Offering an opportunity to soak up the laid-back lifestyle of Burgos, Lokal runs Lokal Stay with three eco-friendly villas that combine native architecture and modern minimalism, set in lush tropical gardens. The accommodations double as venues for creatives to share their talent and skills with the community through an artist-in-residence program. lokalsiargao.com