Rediscovering Filipino Jewelry via PAL
“Travel is a whim in childhood,” our national hero Jose Rizal once said. It is “a passion in youth, a necessity in manhood and an elegy in old age”. What better advice to follow than to rediscover the beauty of the Philippines that emerges as if by magic?
Our diamonds are right in our backyard; no need to dig deep to find them. They are simply waiting to be rediscovered.
Picture tropical palm trees swaying as you sip an icy glass of piña colada or a fruity margarita. Azure waves ripple across your skin as you feel this heavenly haven pulsating in paradise.
Take a relaxing cruise as the sunset can be seen on the horizon and the blustery breeze kisses your skin. Take a walk on the Transcentral Highway in Cebu. Leap nonchalantly from steep cliffs as you are captivated by majestic islands, blue waters and limestone cliffs.
All of these sights and sounds of the vibrant Philippine archipelago can be seen in Boracay, Cebu and Coron. On the 81st anniversary of the country’s first airline, Philippine Airlines, together with the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (an agency attached to the Ministry of Tourism), assures travelers that the travel industry is ready to accept visitors. This is also in partnership with PAL’s advertising arm, Eon.
“We are very excited to celebrate PAL’s 81st anniversary and to show that we have become a renewed airline that can carry passengers to the best destinations in the country and around the world,” said Ria Domingo, vice president of marketing for PAL. PAL. “Another exciting development is the new Dear PAL eGift Card, a digital gift card that allows people to gift flights and share the joy of traveling with friends and family. The gift card can be used to purchase PAL flights or travel supplements through the Philippine Airlines website, mobile app, ticketing and reservations hotline.
Whoever tires of Boracay tires of life. Boracay brings the tired soul back to life, and no matter how many times you’ve seen the Boracay sunset or walked on the powdery white sands of the beach, it’s always like the first time. Boracay seduces the senses. Every time you bury your feet or your toes in that sand, you are borrowing happy times from God. And God willingly gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the bounty that is Boracay.
For example, at Henann Crystal Sands Resort, where we spent two nights, we were pampered beyond compare. We started with taste treats: pocket-wrapped pork sisig with calamari, chicken binakol, smoked salmon salad, lechon manok, steamed white rice and assorted Filipino delicacies.
Treatments continued in my suite, which was warmly furnished and enjoyed a beachfront location. The hotel also offers superb restaurants, a gym and three swimming pools as blue as the sky.
Boracay is also a paradise for foodies. What’s a trip to the island without sampling the best restaurants in Dos Mestizos? We had croquetas with bechamel sauce, Valencian paella and en su tinta or a la negra, among many other savory dishes and flan de leche for dessert.
Many thanks to Malaysian Mayor Floribar Bautista, who hosted us along with DOT Western Visayas Regional Manager, Cristine Mansinares, who treated us to the sweetest mangoes ever.
We said goodbye to Boracay, which meant hello to Cebu. It was only a comfortable one hour journey to the queen city of the south via Philippine Airlines. By “comfortable” I mean it was like being pampered in business class. The cabin was optimally hygienic but not to the point of becoming antiseptic; it smelled fresh like spring. Our hearts skipped a beat knowing we were traveling on Asia’s oldest airline. Kindness and hospitality were on point as the flight attendants made sure we were comfortably seated.
And when the island of Cebu beckoned to me from the air, my heart raced – another island had to be rediscovered. As the Philippines are really beautiful.
The ever-trustworthy Shangri-La Mactan was our luxurious home away from home. We were greeted by the general manager of the hotel, Dave Junker. This chic and well-located hotel offers exquisite accommodations with warm and attentive service. That evening, under the canopy of stars, we celebrated in what seemed like a magical wedding setup. The full buffet was so extensive. That night there was a marriage between the beauty of the country and the intensity of people’s desire to travel again.
Central Visayas Department of Tourism Regional Director Shahlimar Tamano explained how difficult it was during the pandemic. They thought the challenges they faced would not be overcome, but they overcame them and turned them into opportunities to help and bring smiles to the people who relied on them.
Cebu City vibrates. One must visit Alegre Guitars, one of the oldest guitar shops in Abuno, in Lapu-Lapu town. Shop owner and manager Fernando “Bebot” Alegre still plays great music at age 72. We dined at Pig and Palm in the MSY building, the first restaurant in the Philippines by Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton and his wife, Irha Atherton. This is perhaps the most opulent restaurant in Cebu and we contented ourselves with gustatory delights prepared especially for our group. It was simply divine to savor their seaweed crackers, wasabi with calamansi mayo and cauliflower salad. Their Korean chicken was so tender and crispy with a sweet and tangy poached grouper with a gruyere cheese crust with adlai parsley; and for the sweet ending we had the banoffee soufflé.
We also visited one of the oldest and most historic mansions named after the Yap-Sandiego family. We learned that the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is a museum that highlights the city’s Chinese settlements.
We also had the opportunity to meet the very passionate and beautiful Raquel Choa, known as Cebu’s Chocolate Queen. She shared her cocoa journey and all the challenges and opportunities she overcame. Together with his children and the most reliable marketing manager, Edu Pantino, we tasted their most precious chocolate products.
One of the highlights of our trip to Cebu was a walk around Bulwakan ni Alexandra, a famous 700 square meter garden that is home to nearly 200 species of plants and flowers located along Cebu’s Transcentral Highway. It might not be for the weary, but I guarantee the view from here is heavenly. The flowers reminded me of European flower farms.
Just when beautiful memories of Cebu were still being celebrated, we flew again to the paradise island of Coron in Palawan. Palawan never fails to amaze the senses. The island is an alliance between man and God, a union of sand, sea and sky. From the view of our Philippine Airlines plane, one could see what looked like a strand of pearls floating on emerald moss. The pristine sky witnessed such heavenly beauty. It was simply an artist’s canvas with the anointing of God.
Coron Westown Resort was our cozy place on the island. We went island hopping and discovered turquoise colored lagoons with cool water relaxing our body heat. We also hiked 300 steps above the cliffs to witness stunning views that seemed to point to the sky above.
Not to mention Kayangan Lake in Coron, one of the highlights of the island, where steep cliffs, limestone and cerulean waters embody the atmosphere.
After all, Jose Rizal was so right when he declared his passion for travel that today more than ever reflects our deepest desire. Philippine Airlines shines through these destination gems and more.
* * *
For more information, visit Philippine Airlines at https://www.philippineairlines.com/ or call the Tourism Promotions Board at 8525-9318 at 27 ([email protected]).