I hate traveling, all those hours you spend onboard a bus or a plane is just too tiring! I hate going to festivals, too many people crowding your favorite street and you have to exert effort to weave through that maze of spectators just to get away from everyone and have your piece of quiet and convenience. If you know me or you ask me the things i hate ten years ago these would’ve been my answers.

You’ll Never Know Where Life Will Take You

The thought of traveling beyond La Union never crossed my mind let alone travel outside of the Philippines. I have already came at peace with the possible fact that the farthest i would be traveling would be up to Ilocos Norte and that involved only land travel. But that would not be the case as in 2012 destiny intervened and I got the opportunity to travel abroad. Imagine that my first travel on a plane was a vacation in Singapore. That trip taught me a lot about how Singapore value their tourists and how their government are investing in the tourism industry. You see, Singapore doesn’t really have any natural attraction that is worth visiting but because of their efforts they were able to construct mega buildings that are worthy of tourist visits, like the majestic domes at the Gardens by the Bay among others. I learned from our tour guide that tourism is their third largest source of revenue giving jobs and income to thousands of people.

Home in Singapore

Destiny Wasn’t Done

So after i got back from my vacation i thought to myself well it was good while it lasted and that those were rare moments, in fact once in a lifetime chances. However, destiny wasn’t done, several months after, May of 2013 I was given the chance to travel again this time locally to Puerto Princesa Palawan. When we arrived at from our flight to Puerto Princesa, i traveled with my wife and daughter for a speaking engagement, I thought that it was just another place that looked good in the magazines but was disappointing when you actually visit the place, a thought that proved me wrong the next morning. We hired a tricycle for a tour of the City and we were lucky enough to have hired Kuya Bert. Kuya Bert gave us a tour of the city and we got to visit the different places that tourists usually visit within Puerto Princesa for a half-day tour, he was very kind and warm he told us about how tourism died in Palawan when the news about the kidnapping of the tourists in Dos Palmas happened sometime ago. He also told me how stakeholders became united and helped each other out to encourage tourists to once again visit Palawan. Today Palawan is considered as a must place to visit when you are in the Philippines.

View From Mitra Ranch

The Tie That Binds

Yes, Destiny wasn’t done, it was September of 2013 when we traveled to this place and by that time I already have a fair idea about the importance of tourism in the economy of the residents of certain places. The trip to Bacolod was no different but what struck me the most is how Bacolod City reminded me of Baguio City. First I realized how Bacolod and Baguio have the same architect in the person of Daniel Burnham and how the area of City Hall to Burnham park is similar to the area of Bacolod’s City Hall and the Park in front of it. You might say well that’s just because the design came from the mind of one person so he must have that certain style. But what sent chills to my spine is the origins of both our festivals. I learned from my friend in Bacolod that the Masskara Festival originated from a tragic event and that was the sinking of the MV Don Juan where many Negrense died, amidst this tragic event the government, with the purpose of lifting the spirits of the people, organized the festival of smiles, where the smiling masks were the symbol of hiding the pain that they were feeling during that time. The Panagbenga Festival on the other hand, although known as the season of blooming the history of this festival also rooted from a tragic event, the 1990 killer earthquake which killed thousands of people in Baguio City. The Panagbenga is a celebration, a celebration of life that Baguio City was likened to a phoenix that rose from the ashes, in this case rubbles.

The Panagbenga Festival

Realizations and Conclusions

My travels did not stop there, I was able to travel twice abroad last year and several time on local soil. Indeed you do not know where life might take you however I am very happy that life took me to these different destinations that made me realize how important tourism is in the economy and how tourists even for just a fleeting moment can touch the lives of the locals and vice versa, Kuya Bert made me realize that by touring Puerto Princesa I did not only get the opportunity to see the beauty of this part of the Philippines but also I was given the opportunity to “invest” in their tourism industry. Today, through this blog I have shown how much I appreciate the Panagbenga Festival, how I appreciated the volume of people who came to Baguio City to witness the Grand Street Dancing and Float Parade, you will also notice how I covered the festival for one month from beginning to end. So what if there were a lot of people in Baguio City for the festival? That would also mean that the Hotels in Baguio are full which means more jobs for the residents. So if you ask me today about the things I hate? Definitely travels and festivals would not be on the list.


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