There is a Filipino saying, “Huwag Maging Dayuhan sa Sariling Bayan” (Don’t be a foreigner in your own country) that should be hold dear by every Filipino travel junkie. I know that the Philippines might look like a pretty intimidating place–and I won’t be lying–and for a newbie, it really is. Thing is, usually the intimidating part of the country, the beautiful chaos and the rhythmic noise, is concentrated in the country’s capital, Manila.
But Philippine travel is beyond Manila. In fact, this country has 7,000 plus islands to explore and love! This is the premise behind this year’s “Philippine Travel Mart” organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT).
With a renewed vigor in the Philippine travel industry courtesy of a new department rallying cry, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”, the latest edition of the travel mart saw a full house of visitors during the three day affair.
As you can see, anything that would entail me to pack my bags is a serious matter to me. Somehow, my past travels to some of the cities in the Philippines is still not enough since I still have a lot of ground to cover (*see: 7,000 islands). So far, if my memory serves me right, here are the places I’ve been to: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur (Vigan), a few provinces in Central Luzon (Pampanga, Quezon, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan), Laguna, Batangas, Baguio, Palawan, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Boracay (Aklan), Roxas City (Capiz), Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Mizamis. But I haven’t been to Bohol (and saw the Chocolate Hills) and even my paternal side of the family’s birth province, Bicol (been there as a baby so that doesn’t count!)
Went around the exhibit areas and was impressed with the beautiful booths from the Southern Tagalog Region and Ilocos. There were a lot of must-sees: the aforementioned Bohol and their beautiful Chocolate Hills; the Rice Terraces and Sagada in Mt. Province; the waves of Siargao. This country has so much to offer!
I love the booth from Southern Tagalog. They featured an old lady who was creative miniature flowers and birds from a banig strip. It was so pretty and the old lady was so skilled and her hands so dexterous that I spent a few minutes just watching. When my nosy self couldn’t help it anymore, I asked for one of the miniature birds and she gave me one! Score!
I didn’t buy any travel package this time because my family and I are HK-bound in October, and planning another trip–even if domestic–is already out of our budget. However, got vacation and birthday ideas for next year. Like maybe a leisurely trip in Corregidor, Bataan or finally the much-awaited Sagada trip?
Anyway, the exhibit made me realize that the Philippines have too much to offer, and too much beauty to share. I hope our foreign friends can give us a chance and look beyond the chaos of the capital. You will love it here, I promise. 🙂