Wooden scooters from Benguet, copies of Juan Luna’s moustache from Paoay, higantes from Angono, colorful costumes from Mindanao, and Eastwood City’s famous baskets—think you’ve seen them all?
If not, then head to the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart—ongoing till August 12 (Sunday) at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City and have a look at the best of the Philippines.
Dubbed as the biggest travel trade show in the country, more than 10,000 visitors showed up during opening day on August 10, Friday. The the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart gathers tour operators, hotels, restaurant, airlines and other travel-related industries to showcase and promote Philippine tourism. With this, everything you need to travel is there in one go.
The travel trade show, which occupies all four halls of the SMX, features the beauty of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. One way to open the doors of famous tourist spots in the country is through Sale ng Bayan a promo designed by PHILTOA to attract families, groups of friends, balikbayan, etc. into taking a vacation together. This year, Sale ng Bayan launched “Philippine Island Fun Caravan Getaways”—joint group tours covering different destinations in the country.
Among the places featured this year are Batanes, Cagayan, and Central Visayas.
One of the highlights of this year’s newest tour programs is the Cordilleras Cultural Weekend Warrior Caravan. The said tour is focused on the rehabilitation of the rice terraces in Batad, Ifugao province. Here, tourists not only get to see the famed terraces, voted as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but join in the spirit of bachang, the Cordillera term for bayanihan. As a volunteer, a tourist can participate in stonewalling damaged areas of the terraces. Call it ‘voluntourism,’ a term that can be attributed to photographer John Chua, who first thought of the volunteer/tourism project.
According to PJ Enriquez, a Manila-based photographer taking part in Chua’s Batad project, the weekend Batad tour starts by leaving for Banaue on Friday night and arriving morning of the following day. Upon arrival, volunteers proceed to Batad and work all day there, with labor ranging from carrying stones uphill, digging, to arranging the stone walls of the terraces. At night, they get to interact with the Ifugao tribesmen, who will perform an ethnic dance for the visitors. The next day, they may choose to continue working or go on an hour and half trek to Tappiya falls, which is one of the hidden gemstones of Batad.
According to PHILTOA president Cesar Cruz, “We realized that Ifugao is just one of the provinces of Cordillera with its heritage and culture is as colorful as of the other provinces of the Cordillera. We did the caravan run, and the aftermath of that is that in order to preserve and continue our advocacy, we decided to finance two Ifugao heritage huts.”