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Winter Escapaders from Canada, US get warm start in Manila

The main reception hall of the Ayuntamiento transformed into an elegant dining room.  Susan del Mundo, Tourism Attache New York (standing) welcome participants. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Winter Escapaders from Canada, US get first-class start in Manila

MANILA –To a first-time participant, Winter Escapade is a spectacular extravaganza, a dream of a lifetime trip.  Now on its fifth round, the annual Filipino Canadian “supervacation” to the Motherland has acquired a certain cachet–participants enjoy top level treatment from transportation, to accommodation, to meals and entertainment.

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And Winter Escapade 5, held February 3 to 11, 2018, did not disappoint.

Two hundred and thirty-five people converged at the Makati Shangri-La for the tour’s briefing and orientation.  Edmonton had the largest contingent of Balikbayans, 94, followed by Toronto’s 48, Vancouver’s 35, Ottawa’s 18, Quebec’s seven, Halifax’s two, and Calgary’s three.

Edmonton holds the honor of having the largest number of delegates to Winter Escapade 5. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

There were 16 participants from various cities in the United States.  There were ten members of Filipino Canadian media and two government staff members, one from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the other from the New York office of the Department of Tourism.

Six luxury tour buses ferried the participants to the first event, the wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal monument in Luneta.  Policemen mounted on motorcycles cleared traffic for the tour buses, and motorists and pedestrians alike craned their necks to see which celebrities or dignitaries were in their midst.

Intricately carved wooden door of San Agustin Church in Intramuros.  This is the oldest stone church in the Philippines.  Plans were approved in 1586, construction begun in 1507 and completed in 1607.  San Agustin Church was designated a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Petronila Garcia, Philippine ambassador to Canada, laid the wreath.  After the ceremony and subsequent souvenir photo taking, the participants went for lunch at the Ayuntamiento in Intramuros.  This historic building served as the residence of Spanish governor generals during the period of colonization.  Now owned by the Department of Finance, it has since been refurbished and used for special occasions, like the recently completed ASEAN meet.  For Winter Escapade 5, the Department of Foreign Affairs was able to secure the venue for an elegant luncheon that featured signature Filipino dishes catered by Via Mare.

Cobblestone courtyard of typical ilustrado home in Intramuros, now part of the Casa Manila Museum.  Check out that azotea on upper left portion of the photo. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

The participants went on their choice of tour after lunch.  Some went on the Millenial Tour, which featured visits to Bahay Tsinoy in Intramuros, the National Museum, and the UST Museum.  Others chose Charms of Old Manila that took them to Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Casa Manila, and Bahay Tsinoy.  The third tour, the Museum Tour, offered the Malacanang Museum, the National Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum.

Upon return from the day tours, the participants enjoyed a free day to get ready for early breakfast and checkout to catch the flight to the tour’s next leg–Bacolod, the Land of Smiles.

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TAGS: Bahay Tsinoy in Intramuros, Casa Manila, Charms of Old Manila, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, special winter Philippines tour, the National Museum, tourism, travel, UST Museum, Winter Escapade
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