Monday, 17 December 2012

The Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas...

Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It's hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning.

The southeast Asian island nation has the world's longest festive season -- and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.

One of the most populous nations in Asia, the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Approximately 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 80% of those are Catholic, an influence gleaned from the country's period as a Spanish colony from the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth.

As a result, while many countries concentrate on the commercial side of Christmas, Filipinos attend several masses throughout the Christmas season and faith forms an intrinsic part of celebrations.
A traditionally Filipino event is Simbang Gabi, a series of masses held over nine nights culminating in Christmas Eve. It is believed that if you make a wish after completing the nine masses, it will come true.

As early as September, when the dark nights come, it is not unusual to see a series of spectacular Christmas displays popping up in malls, parks and open spaces across the country.

Student Christian Ian V. Bordo from Laguna province in the Philippines loves the beautiful 'parols', lights created by artisan Francisco Estanislao in 1928 and originally made of bamboo and paper that are hung up throughout towns and villages.

"[The parols are] as important to Filipinos as the Christmas tree to Western culture -- without parols Christmas wouldn't be complete," he declared.

"The lanterns were used by people to light their paths during the ritual Yuletide dawn masses called 'Misa de Gallo' [midnight mass], because electricity was unavailable at the time in many rural areas."

Such lanterns are now more likely to glow with electronic lights, but the ethos remains the same -- a guiding light in the darkness for worshippers wanting to congregate and pray. 

To Stephanie Masalta, the striking lanterns are a comforting indication that Christmas is on its way and a fond reminder of how her community comes together every year to string up the beautiful lights.

"Even I cannot help myself from smiling whenever I pass by that street and think of how devoted Filipinos are in celebrating Christmas," said Masalta, who lives in San Pedro, Laguna.
"This happens only once a year, so residents combine their efforts to put them up."

Student Martin Jarmin from Los Baños, Laguna, says the light displays in his town's local gardens regularly dazzle residents.

"The lighting of the park during the Christmas season is done yearly and now became a huge attraction to people not only from my area, but from the outside, too," he said.

Decorations can also inspire a competitive spirit. Student Miaflor Tatlonghari said that in some local villages, they organize contests for the most beautiful Christmas decorations. The tree set up by her home in Santa Rosa City was at least 30 ft tall - and larger ones are not uncommon.

Martin Jarmin also mentioned another Christmas tradition of which Philippines residents are fond -- gathering together to make and enjoy food specifically made for the Christmas season.
For example, Christmas Eve, or Noche Buena, is traditionally when families come together to host a large festive meal. The celebration is well known in Spain and Latin America and stems from the nation's colonial past.

In addition to the aforementioned Christmas Eve dinner, scores of delicious, and often highly unusual, dishes are prepared for Filipinos to gorge themselves on. These include puto bumbong, glutinous purple rice stuffed into bamboo tubes with butter, sugar and coconut, and keso de bola, balls of cheese with red waxy coverings.

iReporter Mae Anne Alejandrino from Cabuyao in Laguna province loves the mouth-watering Christmas delicacies from food stall sellers who set up beside an enormous display of Christmas lights, showcasing the dizzying breadth and variety of Filipino cuisine.

"At Christmas, we cook our own barbeque and hotdogs and buy several kinds of rice cake called 'bibingka'," she said.

"We Filipinos would always decorate our center table with colorful fruits and rice cakes. We would also prepare fruit or 'buko' [a type of young coconut] salads for dessert.

But amidst the festivities, some iReporters felt it important to send in reminders of those who face a more austere Christmas.

iReporter Janoah Ami Soriano's poignant images showed the plight of children forced to leave their homes after a series of deadly typhoons caused severe flooding in August in some parts of the country.

Having lost most of their belongings, many relied on Catholic charities to provide them with some Christmas spirit.

"I saw that the parents were more excited to receive presents than the kids and the moment was heart-melting," he said. "Helping others is a tradition in the Philippines at Christmas, especially those who are really in need."

His touching iReport is a reminder for those celebrating Christmas -- in the Philippines and beyond -- that many of us have much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Original Source - CNN
CNN Reports that the Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Farm, Batangas, Wins Again...

To add to its already extensive list of prestigious international awards, this year, The Farm at San Benito has topped the best spa cuisine awards once again.
The Farm was voted "Best Eco-Spa and Best Spa Cuisine" by 2012 SpaFinder Reader's Choice Awards, in the U.S. and Spa Cuisine of the Year in recent AsiaSpa Awards in Hong Kong. 
With 50 organic hectares, 32 luxury suites and villas, 150 caring staff, The Farm prides itself on its outstanding commitment towards empowering its guest to achieve their optimum potential through healthy and mindful living.

Read More Here...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Here's a Great Gift Idea that Helps Others...

When you give someone a Kiva Card, you give them the opportunity to help other people achieve their dreams.
Available in intervals of $25, Kiva Cards enable recipients to make loans of their own to borrowers of their choice.
And when these borrowers repay, they get the money back to support even more people again and again!

Find all the info you need at

Help Kiva by tweeting! Just this simple tweet makes a big difference:

Give the #gift that keeps giving this #holiday season with @Kiva Cards

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Vigan awarded: "Best Management Practice in World Heritage"...

Vigan in the Philippines has been awarded: "Best Management Practice in World Heritage".

The beautiful Spanish colonial city of Vigan in Northern Luzon Island (Philippines) has been acknowledged  by UNESCO as a model of best practices in World Heritage site management. A proud achievement for the small city, one of Southeast Asia’s most charming historical places...

Read more about this fine achievement HERE... 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Philippines Promoted at World Travel Market Once Again...

What a great day we had yesterday at the World Travel Market in London. This is an annual event that we very much enjoy attending.

Monday is Press Day, and generally by invitation only. It was good to catch up with friends from the Philippines Department of Tourism, as well as suppliers who had made the journey from Manila to be on the Philippines stand.

Here's to a successful few days for everyone concerned!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Travellers say Boracay is THE Best Island in the World...

The tiny tropical island of Boracay in the Philippines is making a big splash. After debuting at No. 4 in the World’s Best Awards last year, Boracay has now taken the top prize, appealing to travellers with its natural beauty and still-under-the-radar status...

Read more:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Philippine Trails M.D., Nigel Sutherland was recently invited to contribute an article to GotSaga.

Here's what he came up with!

Top 10 Destinations in the Philippines...

See the full article HERE...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Philippines Most Northerly Islands of Batanes

The wind swept northerly islands of Batanes are as beautiful as they are enchanting, and quite unlike any other in the Philippines. Its native Ivatans are descended from Austronesians who migrated here 4000 years ago.
The Batanes ladscape is quite distinct from any other part of the Philippines with steep cliffs, rolling hills, deep canyons and boulder-lined shores. Here you really are at one with nature.
Compared to the rest of the country, the Batanes weather is rather pleasant, and it has an almost temperate climate from December to February.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Beauty of the Philippines in 50 Stunning Photos...

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is the home of heavenly landscapes, exotic flora and fauna and a relaxed people, who love festivals and tourists.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Boracay is ‘World’s Best Overall Island’...

The island of Boracay romped away with one of the World’s Best Overall awards as Top Island at last week’s Travel+Leisure’s 17th World’s Best Awards held at the Conrad Hotel. 
Boracay received a score of 93.1, followed by Bali, Indonesia, which ranked second in the category, with 90.41. Galapagos (Ecuador), Maui (Hawaii) and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) complete the top five.
“We’re so happy. Boracay is eager and ready to get that prominence and status. Hopefully, with these awards, more and more tourists would come to the country,” said Vernie Velarde-Morales, Department of Tourism’s director in Chicago and concurrently Officer-in-Charge of the DOT Office in New York.
Boracay was also named the Top Island in Asia, while one of the island’s more popular luxury resorts, Discovery Shores, was named Asia’s Top Hotel Spa.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Philippines is getting down…down the Underground!

Yes, you heard that right! The Philippines Department of Tourism (PDOT) in London has gone down!…to the Underground! This momentous occasion was celebrated by the PDOT with a FUN bus ride around central London on the first day of May. The double decker bus sported the new designs of the Philippines tourist board with a huge “IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPINES” written on it. The London cab with the same livery was also present for the photo shoot with the Philippine Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo and the PDOT London led by Ms. Chit Afuang.

The bus was filled with guests from the travel trade, media, officers of the Embassy of the Philippines, PDOT team and Lahing Kayumanggi (Brown Race) Dance Company wearing beautiful Filipiñana gowns and Filipino Barong who also provided the entertainment on the go. PDOT staff also conducted fun games, gave away lots of prizes and serenaded everyone during the thirty-five minute joyride. The Philippines double decker bus went around Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the Strand, Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Regent Street and then back to Piccadilly. “Everyone had a blast during the bus ride as we asked people to sing, wave their fun flags and participate in the games while we give away prizes,” exclaimed Ms. Afuang of PDOT London. Onlookers were delighted to watch the hullabaloo and laughter happening in the bus as it went around the full streets of Central London. The whole entourage led by PDOT staff also went down at Oxford Circus to give away bracelets and other treats to shoppers who were very happy to receive such surprises! 

Reymund Enteria and Steven Cheung, two Filipinos Olympic Torch bearers also joined the fun bus ride with other guests. 

The event ended at the Embassy of the Philippines in Piccadilly with a short video presentation and flowing cocktails. Ambassador Manalo welcomed everyone before another batch of fun and surprises unfolded. “This is just a sample of what you will experience when you visit our country. A culture of FUN, beauty and excitement await every visitor. With 7,107 islands, guests are sure to find islands that will suit their adventure. And with more than 90 million hosts, you are definitely going to have more fun in the Philippines,” said Ambassador Manalo. 

The UK is a very important market for the Philippines as it ranks 1st in Europe in number of tourist arrivals to our country, and 10th overall. It is a growing and expanding market, with over 100,000 British tourists travelling to the Philippines in 2011 alone – an all-time high.

Now, the PDOT has set its eyes on higher goals, therefore will be more aggressive with its marketing and promotional campaigns. Previously, we have seen the Philippine eagle land on the panels of the London buses while the London Cabs transported many to the beautiful beaches, underwater and mountains of the Philippines. Now, we will see the different smiling and welcoming people of this beautiful country grace the cover of the buses and taxis. Meanwhile, the Philippine version of the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, a title holder as one of the new 7 wonders of nature award, adorns the London Underground; reminding people that being in the “underground” can be so much fun…in the Philippines! 

“I was impressed with the energy of the Filipinos during the short motorcade,” expressed Simon Beck of Orbital Communications. Iain Webb of Fulham Football Club seconded as saying, “the most ‘fun’ time I ever had on board a London bus!”

This advertising hype in the UK is a synchronized effort with PDOT Manila as they launch a worldwide advertising campaign with CNN International that broke on 30 April. The UK publicity with the London cabs will stay to capture the millions of visitors attending the Queen’s Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics. 

PDOT London office is in charge of promoting the Philippines to the UK market as well as 15 other countries in North and South Europe including the Baltic region, Israel and Turkey.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Toughest Place to be a Bus Driver...

In the UK, yesterday, the BBC once again showed the programme, "Toughest Place to be a Bus Driver", featuring London bus driver, Josh West, experiencing the traffic of Manila.

To recap... Josh West is a bus driver of the 148 London route. His bus is a high tech, shiny, red, double decker which he drives through the centre of London every day, passing historic and famous buildings.

Leaving his bus behind, Josh travelled to Manila in the Philippines to take up his new job as a Jeepney driver on some of the most congested streets in the world.

His host was Jeepney owner and driver Rogelio Castro. Rogelio lent Josh his converted Jeep to drive and offered him a bed in his family home. And the two men became good friends.

They discovered they share the same values and believe in working hard, caring for their families and behaving responsibly. And they both earn a living driving members of the public around their country's capital city.

But though they have similar jobs, the rewards are very different. Josh departed the Philippines determined to help the poorer children stuck in a cycle of poverty, and deprivation. Anyone who saw the programme, and who was touched by Josh's experience, can now donate to a project he has thrown his weight behind...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Ultimate Philippines Luxury - Pamalican Island...

Pamalican Luxury Island

The exclusive Pamalican Island is secluded, being private, and offers a variety of sea, sand and tropical island retreat pleasures, in exclusive comfort and in traditionally styled accommodation.
Pamalican IslandThe island is part of the Cuyo island group in the Sulu Sea, between Palawan and Panay.
The 40 Beach, Hillside and Treetop Casitas are modelled on authentic bahay kubo dwellings, each with its own golf cart for island exploration.
This romantic, remote island caters for those who wish to ‘hammock’ and beach comb their days in paradise, and for those who seek a more active agenda, there are maritime adventures as well as tennis, a high-tec air conditioned gym, and 30m swimming pool. Open-air Garden and Beach Salas are discreetly secluded for pleasurable holistic body treatments. The resort has been nominated as one of the best island resorts in the world.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

It's More Fun in the Philippines!

The new promotional video for the Philippines is launched...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Holidays Closer to Home...

Although we specialise in the Philippines, the fact that the country is on the other side of the world to the UK, means that many people may not be able to travel there as often as they like.

For those that are looking for closer destinations, whether that be for weekend breaks, or shorter stay holidays, or who simply want a change of scenery, our sister website, caters for them.

Being members of the Travel Trust Associations allows us to assist customers with all kinds of holidays, not just to the Philippines, (although that will always remain our specialist area). And the beauty of is that most searches and bookings can be made there and then, directly from the website, with some real bargains often available.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Touching Relationship between a Filipino Fisherman and a Very Sociable Whale Shark

Like giant goldfish, these massive whale sharks don't mind being fed hand to mouth by their fishermen friends.

Photographed near Oslob in the Philippines, the groundbreaking images show close relationship previously not thought possible.

Captured by conservationist Shawn Heinrichs, the once-in-a-lifetime behaviour of the half dozen whale sharks up to 25ft long and the 12 or so fishermen draws gasps of disbelief from casual observers.
The food-based friendship centres around the brine shrimp the fishermen are catching and the trust between man and the world's largest fish is evident to see.

At Philippine Trails, we run holidays where you can share in this wonderful experience, visiting Donsol, where the whale sharks are prevalent between December and May.

Read more of the article:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year Fireworks in Metro Manila...

An exciting start to the New Year - fireworks going off in Metro Manila...

Happy New Year to all our followers and clients!