Canadians invited to escape their winter by holidaying in PH

Cely and Andy Lapuz (seen here with Consul General Rosalita Prospero, center), drove four hours from Windsor, Ontario to attend the launch. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

TORONTO, Ontario — What could possibly draw Filipino Canadians to make long road trips–a couple drove all the way from Windsor, Ontario, four hours away through Friday afternoon traffic– to Toronto?   Winter Escapade 6, of course.

The formal launch of WE6 was held Friday, August 24, 2018 at the Philippine Consulate General offices in midtown Toronto.  Emailed invitations were sent to previous participants and those who had expressed interest in the now-annual program sponsored by the Philippine government through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).

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Local snowbirds-to-be heeded the call of the homeland and flocked to attend the launch of WE6.  Consul General Rosalita Prospero welcomed the attendees and Consul Edna May Lazaro presented the offerings of the current tour, which will cover Manila, Batangas, and El Nido in Palawan.  Slated to run from January 29 to February 4, 2019, WE6 offers participants access to venues not ordinarily open or available to regular tourists.

Accommodations are first class, yet offered at discounted rates for the participants, who are treated as dignitaries.  Participants are welcomed officially by representatives of the DOT’s Tourist Promotions Board (TPB), and ferried by private air-conditioned vehicles during the tours. There are English-speaking accredited DOT guides, police escorts on motorcycles for security and traffic flow, and medical personnel for any health issues that may occur.

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Consul Lazaro gave an overview of the highlights of each location included in WE6.  “We conduct briefing and orientation at Makati Shangri-La, then wreath laying ceremony at Rizal Monument, then lunch.  The participants will then split into groups depending on the tours they choose– ‘Charms of Old Manila’ also called the Intramuros Tour, the ‘Museum Tour’ covering UST Museum, Metropolitan Museum, and possibly a tour of the Malacanang Museum,” she explained.

PAL GTA manager Monet Trespeses. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

The other two legs of the tour cover Batangas, with a heritage tour of Taal, and on to El Nido in Palawan, with an island-hopping tour of Bacuit Bay.  “El Nido is number 4 on Conde Nast’s list of most beautiful places in the world.  It is also a marine sanctuary,” Consul Lazaro added.

There were several “repeat customers” of previous Winter Escapades, and two participants–Erlinda Insigne and Cecile Mojica–of the most recent WE5 gave testimonials about their trip.

“Best bang for your travel buck– unbeatable food, fun, and shopping,” said Ms. Insigne, and “New friendships formed and lasting memories,” shared Ms. Mojica.  Both participants expressed wonder at just how beautiful the Philippines is, and how convenient the travel arrangements were, with all the participants’ needs anticipated and met.

Monet Trespeses, Greater Toronto Area manager of Philippine Airlines, spoke of the “Ultimate Seat Sale” that participants can book up to September 9, 2018, for travel to the Philippines.  Air travel to and from the Philippines is shouldered separately by each participant.

“Toronto-Manila all-in economy roundtrip fare is as low as C$1,039 and all-in business class roundtrip fare is as low as C$4,099.  The flight on PAL’s new 777 planes is nonstop,” Ms. Trespeses said.  “To book, please visit philippineairlines.com, call 1-800-435-9725, or your travel agent,” she added.

Atty. Alejandra Clemente, founder of Rajah Tours, answers questions from launch guests. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Registration started August 24 and ends on September 15, 2018, at which time full payment for the tour is required for each participant.  The tour is open to all residents of Canada and the United States.  Rajah Tours handles roundtrip airport/hotel transfers with meet/greet assistance by Rajah Tours’ coordinators in Manila and El Nido.  Domestic air travel is via Air Swift and included in the tour price.

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For more details, go to the official website at winterescapadeph.com or contact the Philippine Consulate General at (416) 355-2783.  Interested persons may also email [email protected]  Online registration is also available. Rates for the tour and the registration form may be viewed online on the official website.

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TAGS: Marisa Roque, Philippine holiday, travel, winter destinations, Winter Escapade 6, winter vacation
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