by Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN News
The Winter Escapade is the annual tour that takes visitors from different parts of Canada and the United States to the Philippines.
“I can’t blame people who are wanting to get out of Canada in the middle of winter,” laughed John Holmes, from the office of Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines.
“I think any initiatives that help promote people to people contact helps both countries, and its good for everybody. I’m very excited about it.”
This year’s itinerary took participants around the capital of Manila, to the center of heritage in Laoag, Vigan; the sandy shores of Pagudpud, and the beaches of Coron, Palawan.
“There is nothing more beautiful place than our homeland the Philippines,” says Fr. Nilo Macapinlac. “We go to Ilocandia, the Vigan. Coron has a very special part for me… but above all here in the Philippines, you can see our bonding, our fellowship.”
The heart of the Winter Escapade tour is for participants to experience the roots of Filipino history.
The trip pays homage to iconic sites such as Rizal Park and Fort Ilocandia, to name a few.
The Filipino culture is also exhibited through the cuisine, arts and crafts, and the well-known Philippine hospitality guests experience throughout their trip.
“I liked what I’ve seen in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur,” said traveler Manny Yero, from Calgary, Alberta. “Ilocos has a lot of history when it comes to the churches, compared to where I came from.”
Tourism contributes largely to the Philippine economy.
Travels from Canada alone have attributed to a 12.5% increase in tourism, during the months of January to September 2016, according to the PH Dept. of Tourism.
“Winter Escapade is, gave me a real opportunity to go to the other places in the Philippines that I haven’t been, like Coron, Ilocos region,” said tourist Edna Oblepias. “Mostly the thing I have enjoyed most is the warm welcome of the people that we encountered. They are so nice.”
The 2017 Winter Escapade is the fourth successful run of the ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ tours.