Philippine tour offers ‘acts of kindness’ to participants

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – It’s an excitement-packed visit to the Philippines and for the participants of the Island Hopping Adventure Philippines or IHAP, it’s more than a trip, it’s an experience of a lifetime.

San Francisco Bay Area-based best friends Julius Calvin Santos and Sedi Win founded IHAP in 2011 to promote the Philippines’ more than 7,000 islands.

Win, a Chinese American who visited more than 30 countries worldwide, said nothing could compare to the Philippines. He expressed, “It’s the most adventurous, beautiful and the friendliest people on the planet, even the dogs are friendly. If you tell me to go to Hawaii, I would go to the Philippines instead in a heartbeat.”

Santos, who was born in Manila, is a travel writer who wanted to share his passion for the Philippines and its people. “We don’t want to be similar to other tourism groups so we decided to come up with an organization that gets to explore the country but leaves something behind and that’s how IHAP came about.”

Beyond visiting beautiful locations, IHAP allows participants to engage with locals in the communities through goodwill projects. So besides swimming with the whale sharks of Oslob, or canyoneering in the blue canyon of Matutinao River in Badian, participants get to take part in acts of kindness, such as giving toys to the patients of the Tim Tebow Children’s Hospital in Davao.

Santos stated, “You get to immerse in the local culture. You get to give back. You get leave something behind. So overall, when they come back to the U.S., the experience is more pleasurable and there’s more reason for them to come back because they get so attached with the local community.”

Geng Giminski, an IHAP participant shared, “I loved it. I think just being able to connect with people and just doing goodwill, I think that adds a lot to the trip.”

Giminski said his first visit to the Philippines was a life-changing experience. He said, “I’m thinking about spending more time in the Philippines now, just because I love it there so much.”

IHAP is planning a few more trips to the Philippines this year, hoping that more people would get to explore its beautiful islands and do more good things for its wonderful people as well.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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