Wake Up, Philippines!

A new high in Tagaytay

Posted in Luzon, Places, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
A one-stop weekend getaway
July 4, 2009, 4:27pm

Who doesn’t love Tagaytay? Its cool weather, stunning view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, the long stretch of fruit stalls along the road, and it’s just a short drive from Manila.

Another great thing to look forward to in Tagaytay is staying in its long list of hotel resorts, bed and breakfast establishments and country clubs. The latest addition to the city’s string of hotels is Summit Ridge Hotel, a mountain resort getaway nestled on the highest point of the city that promises the best view of Tagaytay.

Owned and operated by Robinsons Land Corporation, Summit Ridge Tagaytay promises to boost leisure experience to greater heights. The fresh air with the occasional morning mist and mid morning fog compliments the hotel’s first class accommodations and amenities – making it an ideal place for celebrations or to simply have a much-needed respite from the hurly-burly of city life.

“Only in Summit Ridge will guests experience the best view of Taal while enjoying the luxurious feel of a world-class hotel. This is also the only hotel resort property in Tagaytay that offers a whole range of training, seminar, banquet and event facilities complemented with a state of the art audio, video and free Wi-Fi facilities,” said Cora Ang Ley, Summit Ridge Hotel general manager.

Communing with nature

For those who love the outdoors, the hotel allows guests to have an opportunity to bask in the sights, sounds and smell of nature, an experience totally lacking in the city life

“All our rooms — from the ballrooms and function rooms, to standard rooms and apartelles — open up to a balcony because we want our guests to get most out of Tagaytay’s irresistible weather. We want to give that non-claustrophobic feel and a homey ambiance at the same time,” said Ang Ley.

Designed by master architect and planner Felino A. Palafox Jr., the hotel blends harmoniously with its surrounding and makes the most of Tagaytay’s natural attractions and scenery. Even the hotel interiors give out an environmental feel with its “Asia Tropical ” concept. The ground floor and hallways are non-air-conditioned so that the whole hotel is engulfed with Tagaytay’s morning mist and evening fog.

Amenities and facilities

Aside from room accommodations, the hotel also boasts of health and recreational facilities such as an infinity pool overlooking the ridge, gym, and indoor badminton and basketball courts. Summit Ridge also offers multi-purpose convention facilities for any kind of business meetings, conventions and events. From its ballrooms, function and training rooms to the state-of-the-art Summit Learning Center, a separate structure from the hotel with a reception lobby, water feature and direct access to the hotel, Summit Ridge promises to provide multiple venue options that are tailor-made to meet the needs of organizers and attendees.

For dining and entertainment, there’s Truffles Bar & Café, a cozy al fresco  restaurant overlooking the lawn and pool. It has a 404 sq.m. area where guests can hold receptions and parties.

However, according to Frederick Go, Robinsons Land president and COO, Summit Ridge Hotel’s main attraction is still the breathtaking view of Tagaytay.

“First of all, we have the best view in all of Tagaytay, I don’t think there’s any hotel here that can say they have a better view than we do. During the day you can see so clearly across the ridge and you can see, down to the boats, is Taal Lake. Secondly, I think we have the best climate because we are in the highest and coldest point of the city that’s why even in the afternoon there’s fog all over,” said Go.

According to Go, they intend to have tie-ups with lake tour operators and golf courses with the hotel so their  guests can avail of tour packages aside from their in line facilities.

“It’s part of our goal to make people appreciate Tagaytay as a serious vacation destination. The problem in Tagaytay now is that most people usually come here in the morning and then drive back at night or, at the very least, stay overnight. So what we want is to create enough activities for them to stay two to three nights or even an entire week. So we really need to make all this options for them to play golf, to go boating, go hiking,” Go added.

Summit Ridge Tagaytay is on Km. 58, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations visit www.summitridgehotel.com


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Seeing stars in Singapore

Posted in Asia, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
July 11, 2009, 2:49pm
Esplanade at night (Photo by RONALD JAYME)
Esplanade at night (Photo by RONALD JAYME)

Singapore is indeed one of Asia’s fine cities and a favored destination of most travelers from across the globe.  Though small in terms of land area, this island city state offers a distinct world of boundless possibilities and experiences touted as “Uniquely Singapore.”

More than the shopping experience along the stretch of Orchard Road, the island resort getaway in Sentosa,   exploring the wildlife even at dusk with the famous Night Safari, or grooving the night in Clark Quay’s urbane and trendy nightspots, Singapore also brings its visitors closer to the stars.  Its year-round colorful line-up of festivals and other events make it a favorite performance venue of big names in the local and international entertainment circuit.

Just recently, this writer and a host of media correspondents from various countries in the Asia Pacific region had the chance to see Lee Min Jung in person, one of the lead stars of the hit Korean telenovela “Boys Over Flowers” which enamored most Filipinos, young and old  alike.  She was in Singapore to grace Sony Ericsson’s launch event of its Asia Pacific strategy as a Communication Entertainment Brand with its new mobile phones that blend the best in imaging, music, videos, and gaming.

“The Sony Ericsson C903 is perfect where I can take photos of my family, friends, and fans anytime, anywhere,” shares Lee Min Jung.  “I also know that there is Facebook application where you can easily upload your photos.  I can’t wait for Facebook to come to Korea.”

Another star in the event was Japan’s most worshipped, winsome street magician, Cyril.  We were mesmerized by this French-Japanese street illusionist as he flaunted his seamless tricks and marvels of his magic that made him the top winner of the famous Olympics of Magic.  He is also known as the world’s first “cyber-magician” as he gained international popularity by becoming the most downloaded illusionist on the Internet.  With his upcoming TV Special on AXN this November, he will surely fascinate unsuspecting passers-by around Asia with his incredible illusions and spellbinding, fun character.

“I am delighted to blend my unique brand of story-telling to entertain audiences in Asia Pacific at the event,” discloses Cyril.  “I’m delighted to be able to collaborate my magic with Sony Ericsson today to show off the ultimate best-in-class experience for the consumers.”

In the same breadth that these two Asian stars are trying to convey to make their loyal supporters be entertained as they communicate through their extraordinary flair and charming personalities, it is also Sony Ericsson’s strategic approach to delight its consumers with the objective: “Anything that you can imagine can be made real.”  With this, three new mobile phones are to be showcased, packed with extensive content for the Asia Pacific market, and will be available in the fourth quarter of this year: Satio, the first phone to offer ninth High Definition (nHD) gaming, 12.1-megapixel phone camera, 3.5-inch screen and 16:9 widescreen format; Aino, where users can transfer videos, play, and all organize their music, photos, videos, and podcasts from the computer to their phone via Wi-Fi; and Yari, which debuts gesture gaming without pushing the buttons to make the moves in front of the screen, nothing to hold or twist, except the body.

“The fusion of Sony Ericsson communication technology and entertainment will deliver the ultimate user experience for consumers in Asia Pacific,” says Hirokazu Ishizuka, Sony Ericsson’s corporate vice president and head of Asia Pacific Region.

Bringing stars together in one venue made for what we all considered a “dazzling” travel experience in uniquely Singapore.


It’s the wild, wild East!

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009

Ocean Park HK introduces new animal attractions and rides

July 11, 2009, 3:06pm
The Whiskers Harbour unleashes the kids in you.(Photo by MA. GLAIZA LEE)
The Whiskers Harbour unleashes the kids in you.(Photo by MA. GLAIZA LEE)

Where can you go to chill out via a grand polar adventure, shoot the rapids and discover the lushness of the rainforest, shrill to your heart’s delight in a peak that’s called Thrill Mountain, watch a colorful display of jellyfishes and other aquatic resources, and an integrated animal exhibit all in one place? The Ocean Park Hong Kong!

The park recently unveiled part of its redevelopment efforts to the tune of HK$ 5.5 billion (US$750 million) that is expected to double the number of animal attractions and rides upon its completion in 2012.

“As a tourist destination, Ocean Park relies heavily on the massive influx of tourists. It is the reason why we introduce a critical mass of offerings. We believe that we have to give them more things to do to make them stay longer and spend more money,” said Ocean Park Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Tom Mehrmann.

Changing with the times

As part of the redevelopment project, the Headland will be transformed into the Summit where guests can have a grand Polar Adventure and feel the chill of the North and South Poles, journey down the river rapids to discover the beautiful Rainforest, or go for a unique voyage in the Thrill Mountain.

Of course, dolphins and sea lions which are the trademarks of Ocean Park will continue to delight guests at the Marine World. Then, there’s also the Sea Jelly Spectacular where over a thousand jellyfishes are sheltered, set against stunning music and multimedia displays.

The Lowland, on the other hand, will be changed into the Waterfront. It will house the exclusive themed resort Aqua City which features the Grand Aquarium with a three-level viewing galleries, four times the size of the Atoll Reef; the Amazing Asian Animals Park which incorporates the Giant Panda Adventure, and the Whiskers Harbour, which is a redeveloped children’s area.

An integrated animal exhibit, the Amazing Asia Animals Parks, is composed of eight attractions such as the flagship attraction Giant Panda Adventure, Gator Marsh, Panda Village, Goldfish Treasures, and Amazing Asian Animals Ed-venture, among others.

The park will have a tasteful blend of traditional Chinese architecture and modern technology, lush greenery and rock walls reminiscent of ancient Chinese structures. Its exterior is made of a “large span tuss system,” coupled with Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) which enables the sun to shine through without the nuisance of heat.

The Giant Panda Adventure is home to four red pandas from Chengdu, China as well as the breeding pair of giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le. The Chinese salamander, alligators, Asian small-clawed otters and other animals will share the habitat.

The Goldfish Treasures features more than 300 varieties of goldfish, making it the world’s largest goldfish collection in a theme park.

Finally, there’s the Sky Fair, a huge helium balloon, almost 22 meters in diameter, that takes guests 100 meters into the clouds amidst a lively carnival setting, and the Whiskers Harbour, an area made especially for children with large kid-oriented rides and live shows at the Whiskers Theater which provides a sneak peek at the day in the life of sea lions.

To connect the Summit and the Waterfront, Ocean Park will build a high-speed funicular express train, dubbed the Ocean Express. It is a useful passageway in exploring the Summit and the Waterfront, especially when the aerial cable cars are not available for use.

The design of the train was inspired by the Jules Verne’s 19th century submarine explorer. Each station combines new technology and old-world futuristic retrospective. Through its glass-paned parts, guests can watch various marine animals, combined with multimedia action, inside their train cabin which gives an amazing underwater experience. The Ocean Express’ maiden voyage will be in the fall of 2009.

Tourism and nature preservation

Going hand in hand with its consistent redevelopment projects, Ocean Park boasts of its numerous achievements and efforts in animal conservation. The park commits itself in protecting and preserving the animal kingdom through its breeding programs which are undertaken for its unique collection of fishes, birds, and marine mammals.

Since its opening in 1977, Ocean Park has entertained and educated over 85 million guests, an average of five million annually, about the habitats of animals and demonstrated ways to conserve the environment where these animals live.

Park officials agreed that tourism continues to play an important role in the overall economic situation of any country. This is not surprising since it perks up domestic consumption and becomes a source of livelihood. A substantial influx of tourists into any country requires considerable services and these translate into more job opportunities.

In Hong Kong, the total expenditure associated with inbound tourism in 2008 has reached HK$ 158.95 billion or an 11.7 percent increase over the previous year’s figure. The average per capita spending of overnight visitors amounted to HK$ 5,439, while the same-day in-town visitors surged to HK$1,498.


It’s ‘Camsur’–and it rocks

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 16, 2009

By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:55:00 06/27/2009

THE TRUTH is, in many respects, Camarines Sur is just like any rice-producing province with decent beaches and mountainous landscapes. Most foreign visitors will opt to visit Boracay, Bohol or Cebu before considering this little-known province in the southern tip of Luzon.

But when the name is shortened, suddenly Camsur rocks!

What’s all the fuss about Camsur? It seems one dynamic man has put his province on the world map of wakeboarding. Camsur Governor LRay Villafuerte built the Camsur Watersports Complex, the world’s most modern, six-point cable ski system designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing – and things have not been the same.

Coupled with restaurants, sand bars, a spa, pro-shop, watersports park and a new skateboard park, Camsur is now among our Top 10 local tourist destinations. CWC offers wakeboarding for beginner riders to professional wakeboarders who come from all over the world. Riders can even enjoy the park at night, thanks to bright spotlights that keep the action going until late.

One of my summer highlights was joining the Tour of Hope Bike Festival’s last leg in Camsur. To raise awareness for cervical cancer, I completed the 90K bike tour around the different cities of Camarines Sur, ending in CWC with a shower of flowers from family and supporters.

Since my kids were invited to check out the new skateboard park at CWC, we timed our vacation to coincide with the bike tour. We took PAL Express from the new Naia 3 terminal, so even the flight started off as a pleasant experience. PAL Express’ Marivic Agustin was very helpful in finding an additional seat for my nephew Francis Fernandez, since the flight was quite full.

Governor LRay was also with us on the flight, so we got the fiesta welcome once we landed. A stream of banners, including one for me, was on display at the entrance of CWC.

The park was alive with activity because of the week-long Kaogma Festival. After settling in, the young boys went to the skateboard park while the rest headed to Lago del Rey, a giant, manmade lake with wholesome family watersports entertainment including giant water slides, aqua wall climbing, water polo, water volleyball, kayaking, aqua obstacle course, paddle surfing, boat-towed wakeboarding and skiing, dragon boating and, of course, pure and simple swimming.

And when the kids are done with the water, there’s WiFi to keep them connected.

Fun park, fun ride

The ultra-fun water park was the perfect relaxation activity before my 90-K bike tour, using my new, custom-made, pink bike that Bike Town Cyclery made for me. With generous pledges that totaled over P200,000, I was determined to finish the fun bike ride in my signature pink tutu. The ride was organized by Bravehearts and Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Alliance of the Philippines (Cecap).

Tour of Hope 2009 spanned 500 kilometers from Muntinlupa to Camarines Sur. This year’s theme is “XXX: Dare to Be Bold.” The triple X has nothing to do with the sex, lies and videotape scandal. It stands for “Xpose the truth, Xceed your Limit and Xclaim Your Right to Life.”

Major sponsors were GlaxoSmithKline, Bravehearts, SM, Maldita, David’s Salon, Personi-fi, Cecap, Cancer Institute Foundation (CIF), Creative Juice, Campaigns PR and Gold’s Gym.

I was more focused on the lens of master photographer Jun de Leon. He was covering from the start with his hunk nephew Miguel de Leon, who charmed all the lady bikers including Veron Medina of GSK.

Photo exhibit

Jun de Leon’s exhibit, “Hope for the Flowers,” will showcase the photos he took throughout the tour and of some cancer survivors. The opening will be this July 15 at the SM Mall of Asia. Do try to catch the exhibit, which runs until July 20.

My biking skills are totally mediocre, so David Charlton was helpful enough to allow me to draft behind him. Since it was not a race, we took breaks for photo sessions and regrouping.

The locals were so friendly cheering us on. Some even recognized me from “Celebrity Duets.” We passed some beautiful old churches and beaches. The views were quite panoramic, like an Amorsolo painting.

At the awarding party, Doctor Cecilia Llave, program director of Cecap, thanked all who participated and invited them for next year. She stated the many women who benefited through the five-day workshops and clinics.

Check out http://www.thetourofhope2009.multiply.com for all the details.

Governor LRay also invited me to be a judge at the Miss Kaogma beauty pageant, where we selected Miss Camsur. The contestants were not only gorgeous but also quite intelligent. Maybe the First Lady of Camsur, Lara Villafuerte, helped polish the contestants’ skills.

I was so impressed with the beautiful gowns by their local designers. After the pageant, I purchased the second runner-up’s gown, a winning pink, voluminous number by Rommel del Valle of Iriga City.

Just when we had our fill of Bicol’s specialty, laing, we were headed back home. We brought home loads of candied sesame seeds, pili nuts, abaca bags and frozen laing. Aside from all the activities inside CWC, we will surely go back to visit the deer farm and hot water springs.

Ironman competition

That return trip is just around the corner, as the Cobra Ironman 70.3K is being held at the CWC on Aug. 23. Sponsored by Cobra Energy Drink, Timex, Oakley, Globe and the Department of Tourism, the event is causing great buzz among local triathletes.

Over 300 participants from 20 countries are expected to try and finish the 1.9K swim, 90K bike and 21K run, the first full-fledged, half-Ironman to be held in our country.

Local heartthrob Fred Uytengsu, who is CEO of Alaska in his spare time, will be leading the charge for the locals. My hubby Dennis and I will be joining, too. I’m already deep in training for the event, while poor hubby doesn’t have a bike or running shoes, so he will just do the swim leg among 25 teams joined in the team competition.

But the real names to watch out for are international tri stars like Chris McCormick of Australia and Lisa Bentley of Canada. Those are the guys who will put Camsur on the Ironman world map.

E-mail the author at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph


Paradise on a hillside

Posted in Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel, Visayas by Erineus on June 17, 2009

By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:13:00 06/14/2009

IT IS a rare thing when an experience matches the hype it has generated. How often are we told about the next great restaurant or the best hotel ever, only to find our visits… well, just okay. It’s the ultimate letdown, isn’t it?

Imagine then the mixture of anticipation and fear I had coming to the Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa, touted as the ultimate Boracay experience. On the one hand, I was truly excited to get there. On the other, I had the fear of meeting the mundane.

But all is well and there’s naught to dread. Breathtakingly beautiful indeed is Shangri-La Boracay, because it is paradise on a hillside, ’nuff said.

Shang Bora recently opened over the summer, offering an unrivaled experience of comfort and exclusivity, as the first five-star resort on the island. Walking around its 219 rooms, suites and villas makes one proud that our country has all this to offer the world’s jaded and well-traveled tourists.

Our pampering started upon arrival from our Seair flight, arguably the smartest, crowd-free way to get to the island these days. The resort’s staff immediately brought us to the private lounge at the Caticlan pier, from where we caught the resort’s Diwata speedboat on a 10-minute zippy ride to the Shang Bora.

We were met by Maggie Garcia, the resort’s resident manager, who introduced us to our personal butler, Joyce Caballero, who would be our 24/7 resource for planning the rest of our stay. Over the weekend, Joyce would produce such minor miracles as producing a band-aid at midnight when my little Athena got a tiny boo-boo, and arranging a quick parasailing escapade for my tweens, Annika and Tyrone, on the same morning as our flight home. Now that’s the sort of service that gets the family to squeeze in everything imaginable over the weekend!

The Shang’s kitchens are ruled by Aussie chefs headed by Geoff Simmons. I’m not much of a foodie, but for our poolside lunch with Andre Kretschmann, the Shang’s general manager, the staff outdid themselves. Between the prosciutto sticks, spring rolls, breaded prawns and calamari, I had a tough time finding space for my favorite dish, a veggie pizza with extra thin crust.

The Shang Bora is located over 12 hectares in the northern part of the island, with its own 350-m of private beachfront. Developed by the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (www.shangri-la.com), Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group, the Bora resort is one of 62 hotels under the deluxe Shangri-La brand, with hotels and resorts all over the world, from Austria to the United Kingdom and almost every letter in between.

More impressive

Even more impressive to me is that this group has five hotels in our country, a testament to their faith in the Filipino.

Getting world-class developers to invest in our country is no mean feat and it is remarkable when they bring their international expertise and mix it with Filipino savoir-faire to create a fantastic experience. From the planning phase alone, great care was taken to ensure that the island’s bat caves would not be harmed, and that the ground’s natural terrain would be respected.

Thus, the Shang Bora has an Eco Center, the first one in all of Shangri-La. The Center provides an edutainment venue where guests can learn about the local flora and fauna through a series of displays and activities. More Eco Centers are planned for Shang’s resorts in Mactan and the Maldives.

At the Eco Center, I learned about the Shang’s efforts in managing and restoring the Punta Bunga Reef and Bunyugan Reef marine parks. I also got to see this up close and personal when I had the chance to go scuba diving with Melissa Ledesma, Shang’s director of sales and marketing. The scuba facilities at the resort are first-rate, provided by Scotty’s, who also manages the water sports at Shang Mactan.

The eco theme extends to the management of the resort itself. The Shang has over 300 solar water heaters and is installing a sewage treatment plant to support its water needs. It already recycles 100 cubic meters of water daily but will eventually be able to reuse 10 times that amount. As environmental issues are a key worry in Boracay’s overall development, it was great to learn all this at the Eco Centre.

Of course, my kids were in no mood for education but were up for the other “E” Center in the resort—the Entertainment Center. This center, with the adjoining Adventure Zone, is an ideal vacation spot for families. GM Andre explained that since Bora does get one or two rainy days a year, they wanted to make sure that kids would always find something to do in the resort. Thus, the Entertainment Center has everything imaginable from Wii rooms to billiard tables.

Of course, the Shang Bora also has a Chi Spa, the signature sanctuary of the brand, for those looking for even more indulgence and pampering. And various restaurants and bars throughout the resort already make it one of the island’s foremost dining destinations.

The best part of any new resort, of course, is that there are always various promos for the early triers. Until September 30, their “Kids On Us” offer allows children under 12 to eat, play and stay for free. Parents can bring up to two kids at no additional cost and with compli breakfast, lunch and dinner from the Shang’s children’s menu.

Various recreational facilities such as the Adventure Zone, trapeze, jet skiing, horseback riding and nature trail walking can also be enjoyed at no charge. Guests are also rewarded with a complimentary room for a night for future stay at any participating Shangri-La Resort within one year. What a way to get to know Shangri-La’s exceptional luxury!

(Find out more about the Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa by calling 036-2884988.)

So is the experience really up to the hype? Is Shang Bora the best resort in Boracay? Find out tomorrow at 7:25 p.m., when QTV’s “House Life” features Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa.

E-mail the author at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph


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Rediscover Manila–aboard a Pasig River cruise

Posted in Manila, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Transportation, Travel by Erineus on June 17, 2009

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.


New Mindanao flight route to boost tourism

Posted in Mindanao, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Transportation, Travel by Erineus on May 18, 2009

By Ryan Rosauro
Inquirer Mindanao
First Posted 17:24:00 05/17/2009

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—Northern Mindanao’s tourism industry could get a boost with budget carrier Cebu Pacific’s opening of its Davao-Cagayan de Oro route, a local tourism official said Saturday.

The new route is a “good connection” for international flights to Davao City, which is fast becoming Mindanao’s international hub, with direct flights from Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore, said Catalino Chan, tourism director for Northern Mindanao.

Davao City is also the country’s main link to the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), he said.

Chan said the expected increase in tourist arrivals would also spur the economies of nearby tourism service-providing localities in Northern Mindanao such as Camiguin, Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.

The Gokongwei-owned carrier opened the 50-minute Davao-Cagayan de Oro route last Thursday, with flights every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Using a 72-seater ATR aircraft, the flight leaves Davao City at 6 p.m., and returns to the city at 7:10 p.m.

Before Cebu Pacific opened the route, tourists going to Northern Mindanao have to fly to Manila or Cebu before flying to either Butuan or this city.

For those flying into the country via the Davao Airport, the only option then was land transport, which takes about eight hours to this city.

In Ozamiz city, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. said Cebu Pacific also announced that it would open a Manila-Ozamiz flight.

Cebu Pacific’s vice-president for marketing and distribution, Candice Iyog, confirmed this, saying the new route would start on June 16, with an Airbus A319 aircraft.

The route will likely be serviced four times a week, she said.

The Manila-Ozamiz route is currently served only by Air Philippines, another budget airliner.