By Sunshine Lichauco de Leon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:06:00 06/14/2009
MANILA, Philippines – “The state of the Pasig River today mirrors the state of the country. And the potential of the river mirrors the potential of the country. It might take a generation to make it happen, but the river, and the country, can be transformed,” said Tourism Secretary Ace Durano as he observed the view from the deck of the Pasig River Ferry.
Durano recently took the ferry as part of the launch of a new tourism program. Thanks to a partnership between Philcoa, an association of tour operators that exclusively promotes in-bound and domestic tourism, and Department of Tourism and ABS-CBN’s “Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig” project, visitors can now use the Pasig River “to see and explore Manila.”
Providing an alternative to the more conventional tour package trips to Luneta, the National Museum or Intramuros, this new program is centered on the concept of “Beyond the Usual.” Its first tour, “Pasig Ferry Cruise and Binondo Culinary Walking Tour” is just the beginning.
The ferryboat cruise will start at the station in Mandaluyong and end in Escolta. En route, the air-conditioned, 150-passenger boat passes historical areas such as Malacañang Palace and Sta. Ana. An outside deck is also available for those who want fresh air and a glimpse of water lilies floating by.
Starting in September, pre-taped audio-visual presentations will be shown onboard on all ferries with tours, with historical facts and stories shared as each particular area of interest is passed by the ferry.
A guide from the Mabuhay Guides group, the DOT’s highly-trained team of tourist guides, will meet the group at Escolta and conduct a three-hour walking tour of the highlights of Binondo.
The tour provides historical information and insights on what life was like in a bygone era, with visits to streets such as Escolta, Tomas Pinpin, Quintin Paredes, Ongpin, Condesa, and Enrique Yuchengco.
A visit to a local Philippine-Chinese temple is also included. To provide a break from experiencing the sights and sounds of this bustling area of little streets and alleys, stops are made at different eateries where participants can try things such as delicious dumplings and fresh Chinese lumpia.
Although walking tours of Binondo exist, this program is unique in that it uses the Pasig River as a means to transport local and foreign tourists to the heart of what was once “Chinatown.”
Walking tours emanating from other Pasig River Ferry stations will be launched in September.
Within the next two years, tourists will be able to disembark at the Mexico station for a walking tour of Intramuros; the Sta. Ana station for a heritage tour of Sta. Ana; and Guadalupe for shopping at nearby Shangri-La Plaza, and SM Megamall.
Sense of pride
As Clang Garcia, owner of Jeepney Tours and Philcoa member, says, “It gives me a sense of pride to rediscover the richness of Philippine history. Seeing it through such an unusual experience of traveling on the Pasig River only heightens that affect. It made me feel connected to my real identity as a Filipino.”
According to Durano, the Pasig River tour program is important because everything begins with building appreciation of this vital waterway.
“We just need more people to appreciate it and to not continue the mind-set of past generations, which have neglected what we have. It can dramatically improve the quality of life of residents of Metro Manila,” he says.
The Pasig Ferry Cruise, along with its peripheral tours, is just one example of the “Beyond the Usual” tour packages that have been created by Philtoa. The rest will be officially launched at the Philippine Travel Mart on Sept. 4. The fair is open to the public.
For more information on the Pasig River tours, call 812-4513 or visit www.philtoa.ph.
You can’t say that you’ve been to Manila if you haven’t had the chance to ride the cultural icon of the Philippines, the jeepney!
The Jeepney is a unique transportation that can only be found in the Philippines. It was originally made from the US military jeeps that were left to the Filipinos after World War II, giving it the powerful engine of an army jeep. With great Filipino ingenuity, the body was remodeled by adding some metal roofs and decorating it with vibrant colors. It has rapidly emerged as a creative and popular means of public transportation. Tagged as the “King of the Road,” it has become an enduring symbol of Philippine pop culture.
We are proud to introduce the concept of “Jeepney ours”, a breakthrough in Philippine tourism that offers a convenient and daily sightseeing tour to travelers staying in five star hotels who wish to explore the best of Manila. Its main objective is to leave a positive image of the Philippines with every single ride.
The jeepney tours will take the travelers on a fascinating tour of the historical and vibrant city of Manila onboard a custom-built air-conditioned jumbo jeepney which can easily seat 20 people. A tour facilitator will join the passengers for the whole duration of the tour to point out interesting landmarks and give you brief backgrounds on the places that will be visited.
Stuck in Manila traffic? Fret not! There is a videoke system onboard to keep the guests entertained on the way back. The jeepney has a cooler for storing cold bottled drinks to keep the guests refreshed and hydrated at all times.
The Jeepney Tours is an essential introduction to Manila in a fun and informative way and it links the travelers to the main attractions of the city. It is a perfect gift that can be offered to visiting friends and colleagues to experience all the magical sights and sounds of Manila in an entertaining, comfortable and secure environment.
“The Jeepney Tours is a tourism breakthrough that we are extremely proud of. Despite all the challenges, our profound commitment to the tourism industry fueled us to develop a major tourism infrastructure that transports the tourists to a day filled with fascinating experiences, a day packed with cultural learning and beautiful memories that will make them remember the Philippines at its best.” Clang Garcia, Managing Director of Jeepney Tours.
The Jeepney Tours can be booked at major five stars hotel with Thematic Tours to choose from.
Intramuros: A Cultural Heritage Tour
Metro Manila is the urban capital of the Philippines. Comprised of several bustling cities, it is the country’s bastion of modernity and cosmopolitan appeal. Manila is the premier gateway to any destination in the country. It serves its own menu of attractions and activities. Visit Manila and walk the walls of the old historical town of Intramuros and find out for yourself why it is hailed as one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world.
Spa and Shopping Spree
Travelers can indulge in purely pleasurable activities as they treat themselves to one fine day in Manila – one of the greatest spa and shopping destinations in Asia! From power spending down to flea market bargaining, one will never run out of options while exploring the malls of Manila, the uncontested shopper’s paradise. Tourists can pamper their body after a day of discoveries as they unwind and get the treatment they deserve amidst a relaxing atmosphere of a serene spa. What an exciting way to spend a day in the city!
Sunset Cocktail Cruise
Manila Bay is known for its captivating sunset. An extraordinary sight to behold because of the different play of colors decorating the sky, the Manila Bay sunset is a truly pleasurable experience in the city. Locals and tourists are known to hangout and spend their lazy afternoons by the bay along the historical Roxas Boulevard; however, a far better treat is to seize the moment while riding on to the sunset with a cocktail cruise. Before sailing away to the cruise, tourists will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Manila en route to the Manila Bay harbor where they will board a yacht to experience a memorable ride with their loved ones. Onboard, guests may explore the wide docks of the yacht, and after watching the sun go down, different wines and beverages will be served as guests enjoy the sea breeze of the cool night. Perfect for couples looking for a special romantic setting, the Sunset Cocktail Cruise is an ideal affair to remember.
Pampanga Escapade: Fly, Dine and Spa!
Just a short ride away to the north is the charming province of Pampanga. It is a place mixed with a proud cultural heritage and fast developing sites that cater to the international community. It is also a haven for people who want to experience the leisurely pace of the countryside. Start off your day with an English breakfast followed by a tour of a wine cellar. Then enjoy an Ultra-Light Flying experience, a sumptuous lunch and a rejuvenating spa treatment. Welcome and have a good day! Makusuelong pamagbisita keni Pampanga.
The Charm of Tagaytay
Tagaytay is the perfect day trip destination outside Manila. A scenic drive to the countryside treats the traveler’s eye to sights of pineapple plantations, colorful fruit stands, flowers in bloom, ridges and mountains swathed in green and a breathtaking view of the famous Taal Volcano – the world’s smallest volcano. Tour this extraordinary city onboard our jeepney and get to enjoy the superb food of Sonya’s English Garden, a walk around and great buys of natural products from the charming honeybee farm and a relaxing treatment at Nurture Spa offering Asian and Filipino healing traditions in native Ifugao huts from the Cordillera province.
For more info about the Jeepney Tours, please contact:
WORLD War II broke out in the Pacific on December 7, 1941. A few days later, Japanese planes attacked the Philippines and the other Allied countries in the Pacific. On January 2, 1942, the Japanese occupied Manila and began three years of harsh existence for the Filipino people.
The Battle of the Coral Sea in May 4-8, 1942, began the Allied reconquest of the Philippines. Landing in Leyte in October 20, 1944, followed. On February 3, 1945, the Battle for Manila began. When the battle ended on March 3, 1945, Manila, the “Gem of the Pearl of the Orient,’’ was destroyed; ten percent of its one million population were dead.
Personal accounts by those who survived the carnage describe the pathos and pain that accompanied the death and destruction of the city. “We live from moment to moment,’’ wrote one survivor. “There is nothing to hope for, nothing to comfort us. Many of the dead remain unburied.’’
The Filipino people lost countless cultural and historical treasures. All government buildings, educational institutions, convents and churches, as well as their priceless treasures were destroyed. The destruction of Manila was one of the greatest tragedies of World War II. Manila was the “Warsaw, Stalingrad, and Nanking of World War II in the Pacific.’’
The Memorare Manila Monument at Plaza Santa Isabel (also known as Plaza Sinampalukan) at General Luna and Anda Streets in Intramuros, Manila, was erected on February 18, 1995, as a memorial to all those who perished in the Battle for Manila.