IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES

Travel

IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES

No Comments 06 January 2012

That’s the new slogan that will brand the new Philippine tourism campaign to be rolled out in international markets starting April this year. The new slogan answers the fundamental question, “Why the Philippines?” READ FULL STORY

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PICTURE-PERFECT PALAWAN MOMENT

Travel

PICTURE-PERFECT PALAWAN MOMENT

1 Comment 20 December 2011

Filipino travel photographer George Tapan’s “picture-perfect” shot of Onok Island in Balabac, Palawan, won the Places category of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2011. READ FULL STORY

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THE BICOL EXPRESS CHUGS BACK TO LIFE

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THE BICOL EXPRESS CHUGS BACK TO LIFE

No Comments 05 November 2011

The Bicol Express is back. After years of absence, the legendary railway line is once again operating the Tutuban-Naga route, its refurbished train cars speeding their way through the tracks every night since a quiet re-relaunch September this year. READ FULL STORY

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12 SIGHTS IN BATANES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS

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12 SIGHTS IN BATANES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS

No Comments 23 June 2011

By Carmela G. Lapeña

Everywhere in Batanes is a pretty picture. Everyone who visits the northernmost part of the Philippines is prepared with a camera; it doesn’t matter much what you’ve got, because Batanes is that beautiful. Here are twelve sights you’d be sorry to miss. READ FULL STORY

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DESTINATION WEDDING BOOSTS PH TOURISM

Travel

DESTINATION WEDDING BOOSTS PH TOURISM

No Comments 05 June 2011

By KC M. Abalos

The recipe for the perfect wedding—warm weather, a lovely sunset, and really good food—where to find these?

According to a study by the Department of Tourism, within the period of 2007 and 2008, there was a 14% growth rate for foreign nationals choosing to get married here in the Philippines. And based on the increase of the total number of inbound visitors for January and February 2011, which reached 668,625 and showing a 17.88% growth compared to the arrivals for the same period in 2010, the industry of “destination weddings” becomes even more promising.

The popularity of destination weddings has risen globally, totally in keeping with the rise of travelling in general. There is a growing number of couples worldwide who wish to have a unique celebration of their union in some exotic destination. These, along with the number of young Filipino professionals who work abroad, fall in love, and who come home just to get married, make destination weddings a blossoming aspect of the travel industry that the Philippine government really has to take seriously.

The DOT is aware of the potential of this opportunity and has since been active in “assisting the private sector of the tourism industry in marketing tour packages and/or in collaborating with international travel companies for the promotion of the Philippines as a perfect wedding and romantic honeymoon destination in the Asia-Pacific.”

The DOT has taken steps in marketing various Philippine destinations as venues or locales for pre-nuptial shoots, wedding proper, reception, and honeymoon sites. Each purpose interconnected with each other but at the same time demands a different approach in terms of promotion and advertising.  This is where the private sector comes in, meaning the travel and wedding industry has been vigilant in this regard.

The Philippine Tour Operators Association, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association and the Philippine Association of Wedding Planners all work together in ensuring that the Philippines enjoys its generous share of the market. With travel exhibits crossing over to wedding expos and vice versa, these industry organizations are making certain that the Philippines remains a viable option for couples who are searching for where they will hold their ideal wedding.

The DOT cites the Kasal Pilipinas as an example. Kasal Pilipinas is a registered business in San Francisco, USA, which held a wedding forum and exhibit in the area, making it possible for the Filipino community to keep in touch with the latest trends in the industry.

Wedding shows also abound. Handled by Themes and Motifs, the biggest is the Wedding Expo which is on its 18th year. This June 18 & 19, the Wedding Summit will also commence just in time to usher in the bridal month.

Engaged couples who are in the throes of panic due to overwhelming planning can be assured that their day will be perfect because they can easily choose and hire professional suppliers who can deliver the best services.

A note about the rise in professionalism in the Philippine wedding industry needs to be mentioned at this point. From events coordination to flower arranging, cake artistry to creative photo and video coverage, the staggering quantity of choices is insurance enough for quality services. Brides can now join online forums, compare prices, and discuss with other brides whom they will hire to get their money’s worth.

Planet Philippines lists down the top 10 reasons why you should marry in the Philippines. These are based on the unique and wonderful things that make the country stand out.

1. Fabulous food – With the Filipinos’ ability to absorb culinary tastes from far-off lands, engaged couples can choose to feed their guests with a wide array of flavors. From original Filipino dishes to food that is closer to your hearts and tummies, ask and it shall be sautéed, broiled, and delivered.

2. Bells a-ringing – With over thousands of beautiful churches (and not just Catholic ones, mind you), there is no other place in the world where the sacrament of matrimony is taken as seriously as here.

3. Beaches galore – Is it a beach, blanket, bingo beginning you’re wishing for? We have 7, 100 beautiful islands with all kinds of beaches—sandy or stony, white or black, even pink ones to choose from!

4. Flowery speech – A country known for its diverse variety of flora (and fauna), we warn that bees bothering your walk down the aisle is a strong possibility because of the amount of blossoms you can splurge on.

5. Animal love – Speaking of fauna, our four-footed or winged pals have always been welcome guests in a Filipino wedding. Doves kissing, butterflies flitting, and cows delivering a bride to her groom is not unheard of.

6.  Honeymoon check! – Where else can you hold a wedding ceremony and then move on to your honeymoon that is only a banca or a tricycle ride away?

7. For a song – The Pinoy’s love for music is equal only for their love of food. Book a band or a DJ. Hire a string quartet or an entire choir. Ask them to sing you a kundiman (traditional Filipino love song) or an Iron Maiden cover and they will indulge.

8. Monique Lhuillier, et al – US-based top bridal gown designer Monique Lhuillier is Pinay and even if you can’t afford her, rest assured her other Filipino colleagues can sew, bead, and dress you to your liking.

9. Quirky indulgence – If your tastes tend to lean on the quirkier side, our islands are ready to pander to them. Hot air balloons, skydiving, zip lining, and other adventures are readily available.

10. Tradition to a T – Offer eggs for a sunny wedding day. Throw rice onto the newly married couple for luck. Make sure ceremonial candles don’t get blown out by the wind. This weird country has a hundred and one wedding traditions and beliefs that will ensure wedded bliss.

Thousands of church bells are ready to ring for anyone who wants to get married in the Philippines. From the windy hills of Tagaytay to the white sandy beaches of Boracay, the country’s varied topography would fit anyone’s idea of an exotic destination.

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THIS PARADISE CALLED TUBBATAHA

Travel

THIS PARADISE CALLED TUBBATAHA

No Comments 22 May 2011

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is one of the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Philippines and the only pure marine World Heritage Site in Southeast Asia. Most of us know it as a unique paradise for divers. But it has more to offer: it contains two small islets situated on the rim of atolls, both of which represent one of the last intact habitats in the Philippines for seabird breeding colonies. READ FULL STORY

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PALAWAN IN TRAVEL MAG’S BEST 20 TRIPS OF 2011

Travel

PALAWAN IN TRAVEL MAG’S BEST 20 TRIPS OF 2011

No Comments 06 January 2011

Palawan made it to National Geographic Traveler’s list of 20 best travel destinations in the world this year.

National Geographic Traveler said Palawan’s limestone karst cliffs, coral atolls, mangrove forests, sugar-white sandy beaches, and extensive fringing reefs create one of the Philippines’ most biodiverse terrestrial and marine environments. READ FULL STORY

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PHILIPPINE RESORT & SPA AMONG WORLD’S BEST

Travel

PHILIPPINE RESORT & SPA AMONG WORLD’S BEST

No Comments 24 October 2010

Pamalican island, more popularly known as Amanpulo, is one of the world’s most romantic islands, according to Travel and Leisure Magazine. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal said The Farm at San Benito, Batangas is one of Asia’s top spas for foodies. READ FULL STORY

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WALK THIS WAY AND SEE MANILA DIFFERENTLY

Travel

WALK THIS WAY AND SEE MANILA DIFFERENTLY

No Comments 27 August 2010

“Walk this way,” the man in a hat says, and everyone follows. Carlos Celdran has been touring groups around Intramuros for years. At the end of the tour, he tells the group, “We can’t change Manila, but we can change the way we see it.” READ FULL STORY

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MEMORABLE RESORTS

Travel

MEMORABLE RESORTS

No Comments 16 August 2010

By Amadís Ma. Guerrero

Of the countless resorts that I have been stayed in – from budget to luxurious, from the 1990s to 2010 – there have been a few (around ten) that have stayed in my mind, for some reason or another: impressive architecture, upscale amenities, surrounding natural beauty, environmental consciousness and, in a few instances, excellent cuisine.

caylabne bay resort550

Of those in the honor roll, the resort nearest to Manila would be Caylabne Bay in Ternate, Cavite, overlooking Manila Bay. It was not the kind of high-end rest-and-recreation center that you would expect to find in that area. After the flat lands and narrow streets of the province, which is now urbanized, the route became fascinating.

There was a mild ascent, the air grew a bit cooler. More trees became evident, the scene more pastoral and you left the poblaciones (town centers) behind. Then you enter a sprawling, thickly-forested area, and are informed that this is actually a 1,000-hectare naval reservation.

Then the vehicle reaches the lookout point and you gaze down at the resort, 300 feet below, with its elegant lampposts, picnic huts, swimming pool, beach cove, and other amenities.

Hidden Valley550

Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna (Calauan via Alaminos) is one of my favorite resorts not just in Luzon but in all over the Philippines. The name hidden is well-deserved for the resort is nestled within a ten-hectare rainforest. From the Alaminos Plaza you pass through very ordinary landscape and reach the entrance, which is in itself not extraordinary.

But as you pass by the attractive cottages and walk through the foot trails and promenade area, you will traverse a bridge and gaze down at the Warm Pool and its cascading waters, tall and massive amlang trees, thick forest canopy, Soda Pools, a so-called Lovers’ Pool, and finally the spectacular Hidden Falls.

farm san benito550

In Lipa, Batangas, near the foothills of Mt. Malarayat, is The Farm at San Benito, another wonderland of green, and with excellent facilities. But what makes the resort unique is that it is a healing and health facility, with meditation areas, a comprehensive health and medical program, and vegetarian meals.

In the upland areas of Orani, Bataan, is a cozy and cool resort near Mt. Matib called Le Petit Baguio with a refreshing ambience, and native-style cottages where you don’t need air conditioning. It is owned by a Frenchman, Jean-Paul Chambouleyron and his wife Lucie, who is from Samal, Bataan. The cuisine is French and quite delicious.

plantation bay cebu2-550

Now let’s go over to the Visayas, specifically Cebu, where some of the best resorts in the country are located. The best bet for me, although it is not the most luxurious, would be Plantation Bay in Mactan Island. This resort has character, a distinctive one. The 7-hectare resort is built in the style of a Caribbean plantation, with man-made lagoons, waterfalls, mini-beaches with white sand, and conference rooms with a view deck.

Best of all, the rooms evoke 19th century Philippines, with quaint four-poster beds, capiz-shell windows, and wooden louvre screens.

Now, if you go for grandeur and scale, there’s always Shangri-La Cebu, also in Mactan (where there are so many 5-star resorts) and Badian Island Resort & Spa, a two-hour-and-a-half bus ride south of Cebu, with its big and junior suites and flower-strewn marble bathtubs.

chocholTE HILLS BOHOL550

Even more interesting than Cebu is neighboring Bohol, with its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers. And even more fascinating than Mactan, which is becoming congested (like Boracay) is Panglao Island, which is connected to the capital city of Tagbilaran by a bridge. The place to stay here is Panglao Island Nature Resort, which has luxurious cottages with a mini-pool outside your door, swimming pool which seems to cascade down into the ravine, and a nearby white-sand beach.

Goodbye Visayas, hello Palawan. This province, especially its northern part, is the most beautiful in the country. And one of the most attractive of these resorts, rivaling the upscale clubs in El Nido, is Club Noah Isabelle facing Taytay Bay in northeast Palawan. The resort has deluxe cottages above water, made of cement and nipa, and borne on stilts. The Island boasts of a 10-meter white-sand beach cove and a bigger (350 meters) west end beach, a Honeymooners Cave, and a natural rock formation which strikingly looks like St. Joseph as we imagine him.

Club Noah is ringed by jagged yet imposing black marble cliffs topped by a giant cross which is lighted at night.

Of all the resorts in Mindanao that I have stayed in, the most impressive is the Pansukian Tropical Resort in Siargao Island, an international surfing center, in Surigao del Norte. It is owned by a Frenchman, Nicolas Rambeau, and his Filipino partners. (Pansukian means a sandbar in the local language.)

The resort is located within an abundance of mangroves and a big lagoon. Its architecture is proudly Asian, a melange of Thai, Indonesian and Philippine influences, with sharp, pointed arches, nipa roofs and bamboo structures.

The cottages and rooms have queen-size beds, verandas with hammocks, T’boli finery, rice baskets from Ifugao and Palawan, and wood carvings by local sculptors.

Yet another attraction of Pansukian (as in Le Petit Baguio) is its cuisine, for its cooks have been trained by Rambeau, and they can create concoctions with French-Philippine flavors like chicken, fish, prawns and vegetables with spices and other condiments.

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