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Eight action packed days of wonder, fun and unforgettable memories was what the 6th Winter Escapade tour (January 28 to February 4, 2019) came to be for some 250 lucky Canadians and Filipino-Canadians. Culture, Heritage, History of old Batangas and the Wonders of El Nido Palawan, to be more specific, were the  highlights of the tour.

Hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), produced by the “mother-of-grand-tours” Rajah Tours and co-sponsored by the Asian Journal Media Group among others, this tour was an offshoot of the highly popular and very successful Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour of the Philippines (ACGTDT). Targeting this time, the mainstream Canadians and Filipino Canadians, the Philippine DOT, teamed up with its seasoned tour specialist Rajah Tours, The Asian Journal Publishing Group and the Philippine Tourism stakeholders from Manila, Batangas Province and Palawan to entice the fast growing Canadian Market not only to visit and experience the culture and heritage of new travel destinations but also to expose them to investment opportunities in the Philippines.

In Manila, they experienced the vibrance of the second fastest growing economy in Asia as they visited the ultra-modern and huge shopping malls at BGC and Makati City.

In Batangas, they were hosted by Governor Dodo Mandanas of Batangas province and Mayor Pong Mercado of historic and old Taal  town (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to a sumptuous lunch on Day 3 of the Tour. Here the Governor proudly announced to the visitors the province’s aggressive but balanced economic development thrust – Tourism Development via the township real estate development of the beautiful Montemaria estate that hosts the tallest structure in Asia, the Montemaria Virgin Mary statue, off the Verde Strait. Verde Strait is home to the richest marine biodiversity and sanctuary in the world. This is in addition to Batangas’ other popular tourism spots in Nasugbu (Pico de Loro, etc., Matabungkay beaches) and the religious tourism sites in Lipa, Taal, Balayan and other towns. One noteworthy development that was presented at the Taal Bistro luncheon was the Lombard By the Bay development of Premier Asia Pacific Real Estate Development company, right at the back of the imposing Virgin Mary statue. It is the first of the township development projects in the Montemaria site to provide amenities and facilities to the growing Marian devotees and visitors of the site.

Then there are the serene and quiet beaches of El Nido in Palawan. The lucky visitors were treated to island hopping, in addition to shopping trips in the famed and enchanting resort island of El Nido, Palawan.

Like all good things, the tour had to end, of course back to awesome Shangrila for their farewell parties and dinner. Thus, in eight short days, the 6th Winter Escapade renewed old ties for the older visitors, created new ones for the younger ones and first-time visitors and created unforgettable memories for all participants. We could not find a better way of promoting the Philippines as a fun place to visit and retire perhaps, and a great place to invest.

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