Known as a beach haven and spa paradise for celebrities and those in “the know,” the Philippines has unveiled plans to showcase its unique tourism offerings and many UNESCO World Heritage sites to a wider audience through participation in a series of 2009 events beginning with The New York Times Travel Show, Feb. 6-8, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on New York City’s West Side.
Residents of the New York metropolitan area can get a sneak peak of the Philippines and first-hand experience of some of the tropical paradise’s more alluring qualities - such as its delectable cuisine and soothing spa treatments at booth number 352 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.Renowned for unique spa treatments that combine indigenous techniques and elements of spirituality, the Philippines is most famous for hilot, a traditional Filipino-style deep tissue massage performed by an authentic manghihilot who uses mysticism and incantations while kneading the muscles to remove aches and pains. An ancient Filipino art of healing, Hilot employs chiropractic manipulation and massage for the diagnosis and treatment of musculoligamentous and musculoskeletal ailments. Those who stop by the Philippine booth will be treated to a very special demonstration by a New York licensed masseur and masseuse.
Award-winning chefs and cookbook authors Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon Restaurant in New York will be giving a talk on Philippine cuisine at 11:30am on Saturday, February 7. Food tasting with ube pan-de-sal filled with sumptuous pork & chicken adobo and the native ensaymadas will be available immediately after the presentation. Entrance to this session is on a “first-come-first served” basis. The popular San Miguel beer and juices from the local mangoes, guyabano and kalamansi (tiny lemon-lime-like fruit rich in Vitamin C) will be available for tasting after the cooking demonstration.
The Philippine Department of Tourism will also be offering samples of “mangorind” - a candied puree of mango and tamarind - from booth 352. It is a special treat considering the world’s best-tasting mangoes are found in the Philippines.
Travel agents in attendance at The New York Times Travel Show need only identify themselves at the Philippines booth to receive a special gift.
“Our unique cultural background has given us an opportunity to excel in service-oriented areas,” said Emma Ruth Yulo, Director of the Philippine Department of Tourism in New York, noting that most cruise lines and many international five-star hotels and restaurants favor Filipino workers to ensure their discerning guests’ satisfaction with personable hospitality and superior attention to detail.
“Nowhere is this more true than in the pampering one receives at our luxury spas where soothing treatments blend with our tranquil atmosphere to create pure bliss and relaxation,” added Yulo, encouraging attendees from throughout the US and Canada to experience the Filipino philosophy on hospitality first-hand in the paradise where it originated.
Culture is an important element to any Philippine vacation as architectural marvels such as the Banaue Rice Terraces (pictured left), still preserved by the same indigenous Ifugao rice farmers who built it by hand more than 2,000 years ago, provide fascinating insight into the spirituality, pride and dedication of the Filipino character.
“The rice terraces are but one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in our the country,” noted Yulo, urging visitors to include some of country’s historical treasures in their journey.
The Philippines is home to many luxury hotels and resorts throughout cosmopolitan Manila and many of its smaller tropical islands such as the beach-lined Panglao and Boracay, as well as Cebu, the Philippines’ oldest city where one can seek plantation-style accommodations with ultra attentive pampering at Plantation Bay Resort.
All luxury hotels within the Philippines offer exceptional spa services, including beachside huts in many cases for the ultimate relaxation.
Five Shangri-La properties in Manila, Cebu and Boracay offer special Filipino treatments at the Chi Spa (first image in press release), while others, such as Panglao Island Nature Resort on the southwestern tip of Bohol, utilize locally-gathered ingredients to rejuvenate the skin and muscles while relaxing the body.
Private-island resort paradises abound in the Philippines with some of the most notable being El Nido Resorts (pictured left) and Amanpulo Resort in Palawan, and Badian Island Resort & Spa (bottom right image) on the southwestern coast of Cebu. These resorts offer an assortment of blissful and holistic spa packages, as well as other serenity-inducing programs such as yoga and meditation sessions for mental well being.
For the adventurous, the Philippines is home to the eerily beautiful Mount Pinatubo, site of the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, where both hot and cold springs are a gateway to euphoria and spa treatments utilize mineral-rich volcanic ash from the crater. Of particular interest is the mud-spa skillfully administered at the Mr. Pinatubo Spa Town in Clark, Pampanga (location of the former US Air Base).