Trikes of El Nido
Project info

Is there more to paradise than palm trees and white beaches? In Trikes of El Nido, photographer Oleg Tolstoy captures an unexpected side to an island nicknamed ‘heaven on earth’: a world of dazzling neon dream machines that only reveals itself when the sun goes down.
Pools of artificial candy-bright colour fight the black night. From within luminous shells, drivers-for-hire in worn clothing gaze at the camera, shy half-smiles flickering on their faces. Trikes of El Nido is a series with contrast at its core: at first glance, this could be the set of the new Blade Runner, but the unpaved roads and corrugated iron fences tell a different story. “El Nido is a remote town on the Philippine island of Palawan. There’s not much of a nightlife so the drivers need to compete for business, but only a few have gone to this much effort,” the photographer explains. “When I learned that LED lights only became available in the town in 2016, I realised that their customisations are a creative outlet as much as a commercial decision. I thought it was time to show the world that El Nido is more than its natural scenery. This is innovation, Palawan-style.”