Enjoying Ifugao at the Mall of Asia PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 August 2012 00:00

If there is one place that my wife and I desire to visit, it is the Mountain Province of Ifugao. It is where one of the seventh wonders of the world is found – the Banaue Rice Terraces. This mesmerizing place is declared as a natural heritage by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). It must be protected and preserved as a national treasure for the future generation and for the world to enjoy.

Going there is not “easy”, one has to consider the travel time (10 hours travel from Manila), the financial budget, and allocate at least 2 days of stay to enjoy every nook of the place. But from what I heard from the Zamboanga Tzu Chi Foundation and Camera Club of Zamboanga City it is worth all the efforts.

They were there last year during the call of Ifugao Voluntourism (Volunteer Tourism) Campaign of John “Uncle John” Chua our country’s ace photographer.  Voluntourism encourages tourist to help the place they visit. In this case, donate and help preserve the rice terraces which has been affected by natural calamities and unfortunately abandoned by the locals and authority in the past years. Chua, an adopted son of Ifugao, is using his talent and connections to do this noble and challenging task – preserve and promote Ifugao Mountain Province through his Bachang Program which means “bayanihan” in the Ifugao word.

And Uncle John did it again during the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart at the SM Mall of Asia last August 10 to 12, 2012. Organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), it is the biggest and the longest running travel trade exhibition dedicated to the promotion and marketing of our country’s inbound and domestic tourism.

Anchored on the theme, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” the 3-day tourism event was supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Tourism Authority, including Philippine Island Fun Caravan Getaways and the Sale Ng Bayan, and participated by local government units (LGUs) from different provinces, cities and municipalities nationwide. Heavily-discounted tour packages of the most diversified products, ­ sports adventure, ecotours, heritage, culinary, folklore, leisure, and shopping destinations were promoted and marketed.

Thanks to the intervention of Uncle John and his supporters, an exhibit booth of the wonders and culture of Ifugao Province was presented and shown to the visitors at this exhibit fair. It even won second place in the People’s Choice Category. They had the most fun interactive booth. People took pictures while mounting the famous Ifugao wooden scooters which were all sold out (former Philippines First Lady Imelda bought one), danced to the rhythm of the Ifugao culture, and asked how to get there. The people and local as well foreign visitors of Manila had a brief “taste” of Ifugao Province.

The best treat also according to Uncle John was the Ifugao representatives were given a free mall tour of MOA by SM Cares VP Bien C. Mateo with the assistance  Nona Reyes of the SM Tourism Committee and Rheybie C. Nipas of SM Volunteerism. It was a memorable experience for these mountain people.

Watch out, Ifugao, here we come!

By Dante Corteza

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 10:35