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New and improved FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES!

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It’s official: starting today, my age is no longer included in the calendar…

Boo!

Whatever.

Anyways, welcome to the new and improved FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES!

Yehey! (clap! clap! clap! clap!)

So, as a shameless birthday gift to my fabulous self, I have decided to change the theme of my blog. The WordPress theme/design that you now see is called Liquorice. True to the themes’ stated deliverables, Liquorice waxes a bit “poetical” with its nostalgic light “sand-brown” mood with a clean motiff, thus making the text easy to read. The pictures appear bigger and the captions are no longer stressed. Even quoted texts appear to have a life of their own.

But wait! There’s more!

Not only have I changed the design of this blog. I also had the header personalized!

The header is designed by blogger and fellow hispanista David Salcedo Sánchez of Ciudad de Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental.

Due to a sorry lack of technological know-how, I initially commissioned my best friend Arnaldo Arnáiz of WITH ONE’S PAST to make one for me. For those of you who may not know yet, Arnaldo was the one who designed the banner of my other blog, ALAS FILIPINAS, more than three years ago. He did make a header for FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish it due to his busy schedule. And since I made today —my thirty-second birthday and this blog’s second anniversary— as my self-imposed schedule (told ya: I’m so finicky with special dates), I thought it best to seek David’s assistance whose header in his own blog FILIPINAS ¡QUÉ HERMOSA ERES! is as impressive and creative as it can be!

The images that David used for this blog’s header are a combination of Spanish and indigenous images. Truth be told, these icons are just perfect for my blog’s chosen theme: Philippine Identity and History (or —like what I always brag— true Philippine History). The mixture of Spanish and indigenous cultures is what makes up our identity as Filipinos.

David is but one of a handful of young Filipinos today who had take off the blindfold of ignorance. This is what he has to say regarding our national identity:

Indigenous Culture + Spanish Culture = Hispanic

In the case of our country:

Malay/Indigenous Culture + Spanish Culture = Hispanic Filipino/Filipino Culture

Sample:

La mano = The hand

PagLAMANOhay = to shake hands with

In Latin America:

Aztec, Mayan, Incan, Moche, Taino, Arawak etc. (Indigenous Culture) + Spanish Culture = Hispanic

Mexicans are as hispanic as Venezuelans, Argentines, Puerto Ricans, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Guatemalans, Cubans etc. Hispanic as Filipinos? Yes! =p

Although Hispanicity was also derived from something Spanish, it’s a different identity.

So with whom you share culture & history with?

Being mestizo is not something bound with genes alone. Our country is mestizo. Our culture and history is mestizo. It’s not only in our languages but it’s almost everywhere! Why hate that part? It made it whole after all.

It’s really that simple. At di dapat icagalit ni icahiyâ ang parteng yaón ng ating nacaraán. :-)

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you (conti lang namán cayó, eh, ¡hehehe!) who regularly visit this humble site of mine. I want all of you to know that I do read all of your comments, and sorry if I’m unable to answer all of them; I’m a second-rate, trying-hard married historian with four kids to feed and raise, thus my day usually ends with drained and saturated energy. But I am hoping to one day buy my whole time from capitalist enslavement in order for me to write full-time.

My apologies, too, if sometimes I sound too cranky and proud on some of my replies. I’m trying my best to avoid it. It is unnecessary and unfriendly, I know.

Once more, thank you for the visits, the comments, and the criticisms. May God bless us all!

GGR’s angels

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José Miguel García, yo, y Arnaldo Arnáiz -- los últimos filipinos que luchan contra una realidad enroscada.

The three of us, together with our leader, GGR (Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera), have been planning this filipinista website for months. We have already consolidated our ideas and other plans regarding it. But where the heck is the website?

We need funds first, LOL!!!

Somebody out there with deep pockets (and who believes in our humble cause), please — have mercy, hahaha!

Incredible longevity for a “Filipina at heart”

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Jessie Lichauco at 98: Feasting by the Pásig, dances with memories

When someone asked the “Birthday Girl” to dance, her fair skin almost blushed and a dreamy look came over her gray-green eyes. She said, “thank you, but I am dancing with my memories.”

Together with a hundred guests of all ages and from all corners of life, Jessie Lichauco celebrated her 98th birthday last Jan. 10.

Talented 7-year-old Hannah sang the Philippine National Anthem in the garden of an ancient home along the Pasig River. Tita Jessie then personally greeted each guest with an energetic smile and spry movements, her ageless body moving in rhythm with the live big-band music provided by The Executives, whose selection of music from days gone by provided backdrop to the ever-flowing conversation.

Each friend or relative was there because this lady had left an unforgettable imprint on their lives.

Larry Henares recounts, “When my wife Cecilia died of a sudden heart attack while we were in Paris, I was so devastated that I could not bear the thought of telling my children about their mother’s death. The first thing I did was call Tita Jessie—I knew she would know the best way to tell them and comfort them at the same time.”

Jessie Lichauco with her granddaughter Sunshine de León (standing). Jessie is the wife of the late diplomat and historian Marcial Lichauco. She can be a good source of oral history because, despite her age, her memory is still sharp!

Curiosity, adventure, love

When Jessie Lichauco, my grandmother, first came to the Philippines in 1933, she was 18 years old. The population of the country was 8 million, and many people still traveled in horse-drawn carriages.

She became the wife, and later the widow, of lawyer-diplomat Marcial P. Lichauco. Her life during the past 76 years has allowed Jessie to witness and interact with people, places and events that make up a large part of Philippine history. She has seen the country at its best and worst. And although she is part Irish-Scottish-Cuban-Spanish on the outside, her heart is unquestionably Filipino.

Why did she embark on that 28-day ship voyage from America to the Philippines? She has always answered, “Curiosity, adventure and love.”

Watching her celebrate with the people she has befriended since her life’s journey began 8 decades ago, there is no doubt she continues to live with those three ideals in mind. Age has never prevented her from engaging every adventurous moment life offers her.

Many people have asked her what the “secret recipe” is to living long and appearing so much younger than she is. The answer is less likely found in following a particular diet or health program (other than fresh buko juice daily, very little meat or chicken, and no coffee, alcohol or smoking) than on certain guidelines for living.

The secret is simply in the way she views the world and lives her life, which allows her to remain so actively involved in it.

“I am at the age of self-preservation,” my grandmother says. “I don’t worry about things over which I have no control.”

She points out that stress of any kind goes through your mind and can affect your body. “You always have a choice—to be a grouchy old person or take life as it comes. I often tell young people that having a sense of humor is very important. Sometimes you think things are insurmountable. There is nothing you can do but accept it and move forward.”

Click here for more.

Related link:
Down the River (WITH ONE’S PAST)

Is it true that our history is not true?

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Is it true that much of what is written in Philippine history is not true?

Our unified answer: a resounding YES.

Read what we have to say about this controversial issue in our respective blogs:

1.) Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera in FILHISPÁNICO.
2.) José Miguel García in PATRIA.
3.) Me in ALAS FILIPINAS.
4.) Arnaldo Arnáiz in WITH ONE’S PAST.

As a Filipino with dignity and self-respect and who values his self-worth, what are you going to do about these treacherous lies?

Watch out for the launching of our website SOON.

The battle lines will soon be drawn…

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I’ve been thinking a lot about launching a party list group to advocate for the full return of the Spanish language. Not just in schools, but in the national government. However, comrade Arnaldo Arnáiz‘s skepticism toward something political is beginning to discourage me as well. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it will not push through.

Admittedly, it’s going to be a tough ride to achieve such a feat. We’re virtual unknowns, we neither have the political machinery (i.e., funds) nor enough number of supporters, and we’re beholden to wage slavery which eats up our time. And worse, I even fear that there could only be three of us (with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera) who share the same line of thinking; we’re not very much sure with José Miguel García yet because, although we’re readers of his PATRIA, we really haven’t talked to him nor seen him in person. We still have to consolidate our thoughts. And we think that Traveler On Foot (who recently pledged support to our advocacy via email) still needs to be “lectured” more on what Filipino identity is all about (this popular blogger’s got full potential).

This lonely war that we’re waging is not merely confined to the struggle for the Spanish language cause in the Philippines. That is just the tip of the iceberg. We consider ourselves as iconoclasts. We go against bigoted and twisted versions of Philippine History, originating particularly from hispanophobic UP professors and instructors (including US-centric walking tour guides who are trying to distort the way you look at Manila — one step at a time), from what Arnaldo calls the “Agoncillo standard” (taken from Teodoro Agoncillo’s myopic and infantile viewpoints on Philippine history). And I even go a step further to declare that –despite Fernando Ziálcita’s objection to it– Christianity and the study of Philippine History should go together, that they are inseparable, that the other one could not go against the other.

In the long run, we would end up going against those who attack our faith no matter how hard we try to distance ourselves from it. As written in my Spanish blog

…Filipinas es, en realidad, una creación española… una gran creación española. Y me atrevo a decir que la reunión entre España y Filipinas es una fuerza mayor increíble. Una obra milagrosa de Dios

He may be our national hero (and I have the highest respect for my tocayo), but his views weren't always rational. And he himself admitted to that.

The greatest paradox this side of the nationalist cosmos would be to defend our Spanish past while assaulting the Catholic Church (which I erroneously did from 2003 to 2004) at the same time. Now, what is hilariously upsetting is to find people on the internet parading the legacy of our national hero, José Rizal, to simply suit to their pseudo-intellectual braggadocio without even knowing who Rizal really was or what he was fighting for. These individuals proudly appear in dailies and radio shows harping about “rationality” here and “godlessness/agnosticism” there, implying that it is “cool to be a freethinker”, and alleging that the Catholic Church is a “destructive force” that needed to be brought down. They take pride being tagged as the “new Filibusters”, wittingly or unwittingly pretending to be the noble saviors of those who are still “wallowing in ignorance” wrought about by an alleged Catholic despotism. I may cry.

These irrational filibusteros keep on whining about Catholic faults and failures. But Arnaldo wisely observed that they are exactly the fruits of what they claim to be as Catholic errors.

Something’s gotta give. They’re looking for war. We’ll give ‘em one.

This we swear: the battle lines will soon be drawn. Just wait and see…

The mist is rising.

It’s Time To Go Back To The War…

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I publish here a communication between me and blogger José Miguel García of the patriotic blog PATRIA. You may view the original intercourse in the comments section of my blogpost The Filipino Identity (posted on 08/18/09; my response below is already edited). García shares the same ideals and aspirations that I have for the mother country.

Here it is…

*******

José Miguel wrote on 2009/10/06 at 10:46pm:

I met a Spaniard several years ago who I think was connected with the Spanish embassy in the Philippines. His name is Fernando Palanco. He gave an informal talk about Filipino Identity which I missed. So I asked for a written copy of what he talked about. He said he does not have a copy at that moment but told me he may be able to provide me with one if I can come back the following day. Unfortunately I told him I was not sure I could still spare another day to come back due to other concerns which were serious and needed my close attention. I was not able to come back. A year later, I tried to get in touch with him thru an email address (fernandopalanco@yahoo.es) he gave me but failed to reach him. He wrote about “Diego Silang’s Revolt: A New Approach” for Philippine Studies Volume 50 (2002): 512-537 Fourth Quarter, Ateneo de Manila University Press. It was translated by José S. Arcilla, S.J. This could be quite an interesting information coming from a Spaniard and from someone who based on his “Diego Silang…” work, has plenty of documented sources as basis.

Another good source of information on Filipino Identity is Elizabeth Ann Medina Santiago who now I guess is based in Chile.

I hope some of us with means of contact can get in touch with them which might be a big help in consolidating and synthesizing a framework for an authentic, biological, historical and organic based Filipino Identity.

Oh yes the report of Guillermo Gómez Rivera is quite extensive and valid. Valid even by just inspecting the relationship of our deteriorating situation with the cause as provided in his report. By logic of cause and effect, his report is valid.

My answer to the last question is, it is not enough that majority of us Filipinos be presented with the truth. The truth should be packaged to: be convincingly the truth; be relevant to the personal life of each one of the majority of us Filipinos; be the only solution to our problem even if the result would take a long time; replicatable in disemination.

This is still a long journey. That is why we need teamwork and pooling of resources.

PATRIA

My reply to him, published earlier, 2009/10/08 at 5:54am

Sir, Arnaldo Arnáiz and I have reviewed your website many times already. It appears that you share the same ideals and aspirations that we both have with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. I invite you then to join us in this struggle to help our fellow Filipinos realize their true roots.

For the past decade, I’ve been looking for someone to help me in continuing Señor Gómez’s noble cause. We have to accept the fact that the good scholar is not getting any younger. And unfortunately, I do not have the same intellectual capacity which he has (being educated by heavy metal poetry and had pro-wrestling for my physical education class), thus the reason why I’ve been looking for like-minded people (besides, I’m already a family man; I cannot fully focus on this struggle). Many times I’ve failed in my search; other people even thought that I was going crazy with all this talk of Filipino identity and this leyenda negra against our Spanish past. But I really have to look for a partner who shares the same advocacy. I cannot do it alone although old man Gómez believes in me. I could not even speak the way I write. That is why I am thankful to God that I’ve met Arnaldo two years ago. I didn’t know that he’s been searching for like-minded people as well.

Señor Gómez, Elizabeth Medina, and I are pioneer members of the online group Círculo Hispanofilipino (Fr. Arcilla used to be in our mailing list, but he declined membership). Many members are Spanish professors, scholars, authors, historians, linguists/polyglots, artists, and cultural conservationists from our country and other Spanish-speaking countries as well (acó lang marahil ang cute sa organización namin, ¡hehehe!). Unfortunately, the group focuses more on the conservation of the Spanish language in our country; rarely does it promote nor talk about Filipino identity. Alas, they’re even losing focus themselves — nowadays, they talk about topics unrelated to the círculo’s cause. I tried many times to convince members to take physical action of our mission and not to just sit down in front of their PCs and enage others in a payabañgán contest of what they know about the Spanish language (and other unrelated languages) and the Philippines’ Spanish past. But it seemed to me like I’m writing letters to ancient Greek statues. That is why many times, I find that group virtually useless.

But now we found you, at last. There’s another one who has potential — his name is Glenn Martínez. But he’s mostly into travels. And recently, Typhoon Ondoy rendered him helpless at the moment.

I invite you, then, to join me, Señor Gómez, and Arnaldo. We have frequent meetings in Señor Gómez’s house in Ciudad de Macati and we travel a lot. I fervently hope that you could join us in some of our discussions. I am 100% sure that the old man will be delighted to have you in our team. My mobile phone number is in my Facebook account.

By the way, Señora Medina is a good friend of Señor Gómez. And she’s been communicating online with Arnaldo for many months now. When I meet up with Señor, I’ll ask if he knows Fernando Palanco. I bet he does.

It is a lonely war out there. Señor Gómez and I used to be alone. Now we’re gaining numbers. Our heroes –José Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Antonio Luna, Claro M. Recto, Manuel Bernabé, Luis Rodríguez Varela, Simón de Anda, etc.– would have been proud of us.

I hope that Glenn “Traveler On Foot” Martínez would be able to join us soon. This is a long journey, indeed. And to be frank with you, we might not even win (or be victorious in our lifetime). But the ever optimistic and happy Señor Gómez once told me: if we don’t win, then let’s do this for the simple pleasure of struggling (against infamy). And yes, we’re fighting the good fight! Not all will be lost!

At the very least, our children’s children will truly and proudly say that “nobody slept during the time of our forefathers…”

Hope to hear from you soon,

Un abrazo desde La Laguna, Filipinas,

José Mario “Pepe” Alas

*******

Arnold’s right. I’m losing focus lately. Too bad for the fun-loving me, but this is my destiny.

It’s now time to go back to the war…

“M0+he®fu©K Uncle Sam! Stand back, I KNOW WHO I AM!!!”

WordPress Connectivity Problem?

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I had a momentary scare just a few minutes ago. It’s because I wasn’t able to access this English-language blog of mine. Darn, I’ve already posted more than 30 blogposts, and even included unpublished essays and some poems!

This connectivity problem lasted for almost 10 minutes or so. Surely, it wasn’t an internet connectivity issue because I was surfing the net when it happened. I was able to access other websites without any hassle. But just to make sure, I sent my friend April Katigbak (through the chat application in Facebook) the link for FILIPINO SCRIBBLES just to check if the connection problem is on my laptop. But moments later, she replied and told me that she couldn’t access the page as well (the infamous “page cannot be displayed” also appeared on her screen).

I tried visiting WITH ONE’S PAST, TRAVELER ON FOOT, and FLESH ASIA DAILY (FAD 3.0). I also tried accessing WORDPRESS itself — but I couldn’t. I suddenly felt weak, ready to puke out the late lunch I was eating. The problem reminded me of what happened to Arnold’s WITH ONE’S PAST last year; it somehow got deleted while he was tweaking it. But I wasn’t tweaking mine!

I tried connecting to these WORDPRESS sites several times. Finally, I was able to get hold of FAD 3.0 but with much difficulty. I was still alarmed, though, because although FAD 3.0 is powered by WORDPRESS, the domain is already owned by JB Lazarte whereas WITH ONE’S PAST and TRAVELER ON FOOT are still hosted for free.

My wife was getting concerned, too, because she knows how important my writings are to me. She even thought that maybe the IT people of Malacañang did something to close it down (haha!) Too bad, I don’t have copies of what I wrote anymore. So I started to write fear-filled messages on my Facebook account’s Wall (https://filipinoscribbles.wordpress.com is missing…” and “Holy smokes! WordPress cannot be accessed! I’m visiting other wordpress weblogs — THEY COULD NOT BE ACCESSED!!!”)

Then, before I thought of banging my face across my laptop monitor, I was finally able to connect to FILIPINO SCRIBBLES and to other WORDPRESS sites. April also replied to one of my Facebook posts, confirming that she can already access my blog.

Whew! Talk about scary.

WORDPRESS, what in blue blazes happened? Could you please explain???!!!

Wordpress has just scared the hell out of me!

Wordpress has just scared the hell out of me!

And to other bloggers who read this, I have a friendly reminder: make sure that you have an extra copy of each and every article that you plan to post in your respective blogs, so just in case something like this happens, there won’t be any suicidal thoughts.

Philippine Travel Blogs: The Best Way To Promote The Country Online!

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This photo was taken from Ivan About Town, one of the most popular and widely known travel blogs in the Philippines.

Ivan About Town, one of the most popular and widely known travel blogs in the country.

Among the achievements that wasn’t given much limelight in Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s recently concluded State of the Nation Address (SONA) was the success story of Philippine tourism.

Arroyo mentioned it briefly yet powerfully:

“In the last four years tourism almost doubled. It is now a $5 billion industry.”

Many critics of Arroyo are still in doubt over the accuracy of the economic figures she mentioned in her SONA. But observers, especially in the travel and tourism sector, could never deny the sudden growth and liveliness of Philippine Tourism these past few years. This is due to an aggressive and relentless advertising campaign by the Department of Tourism, led by Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, to promote the country not only to foreigners but to Filipinos as well. It is because the DOT is knowledgeable of the fact that thousands of Filipinos are themselves foreigners in their own country.

Many years ago, it was the dream of countless Filipinos to travel abroad not really for work but just for the sake of traveling. Nowadays, however, Filipinos have already set their eyes at home. Why travel to other parts of the world when there are as many breathtaking sights to discover as there are in other countries? Besides, there are still many scenic spots left unphotographed nor visited by the mainstream public.

Take the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan or the white coastlines of Caramóan, Camarines Sur, for instance. These two, now a favorite of many locals as well as foreigners, were virtual unknowns as compared to the mammoth popularity of, say, Mayón Volcano of Albay and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. The previous decade, Palawan’s underground river and Caramóan’s beaches were almost unknown. But now both places are in the mainstream of public consciousness.

Aside from the laudable projects of the Mr. Durano and the Department of Tourism, the local tourism sector has several anonymous people to thank for. And these are the online advocates of tourism (not to mention patriotism), the webloggers!

Travel writer and heritage advocate Ivan Henares and his hugely popular website IVAN ABOUT TOWN leads this online group of travel freaks who relentessly walk the endless mile of Philippine paradise. The website won The Best Travel Blog for 2007 in the inaugural The Philippine Blog Awards which I and my daughter were fortunate enough to witness. But unfortunately, Ivan wasn’t there to collect his trophy (he was out traveling! LOL!).

There’s no need for further introductions for Mr. Henares (he is also a member of the Heritage Conservation Society); all he needs to do is to take a bow and do some more traveling here in the Philippines because recently, I began to notice that he has included foreign trips in his blog as well. In my point of view, I don’t find it appropriate for a Philippine travel blog (especially since a rabid nationalism has been rubbed off on me by works of nationalist writers I follow). But of course, it’s his prerogative to do that and I have no right to meddle. He’s still doing a fantastic job for the local tourism sector as well as heritage conservation.

Next is PINOY TRAVEL BLOG, another popular travel blog which also focuses on local travel and tourism destinations. It is maintained by some of the best young writers/bloggers in the country today: Palanca Awardee and netrepreneur Abe Olandrés (popularly known as “Yuga” in the local internet scene), Marc “Hoop” Avellana, Arnold Zafra, and a host of others.

PHILIPPINE TRAVEL BLOG, much like PINOY TRAVEL BLOG, is also maintained by a host of contributors who have made traveling the archipelago their passion. Some of the contributors are Melo Villareal (travel photojournalist and online publisher), Jocelyn Dimaculangan, and Enrico Dee (who also contributes for PINOY TRAVEL BLOG).

We also have TRAVELER ON FOOT which also has a strong following. I had the pleasure of meeting this rather “mysterious traveler” last year. I said mysterious because, up to now, he still refuses to show himself up in his website! Instead, Mr. Traveler usually brings his son along with him and takes pictures of the latter in front of any scenic spot on hand. Quite unique and intriguing.

And of course, there’s WITH ONE’S PAST by my dear friend and fellow hispanista Arnold Arnáiz. Although his blog deals mainly with Philippine history and occasional socio-political commentary, “Arnaldo” is also using it as a platform to familiarize his readers with a rich historico-travel information on Philippine provinces. He’s currently based in Cebú and has already traveled to many Visayan provinces.

One of my favorites is PINOY MOUNTAINEER (especially since I’m a mountaineer myself). Although not exactly a travel blog, it somehow falls under this category because it’s proprietor, Gideon Lasco, travels, climbs, and documents almost every mountain there is in the Philippines. As of this writing, he has climbed over 50 mountains in the Philippines. This website (launched with the help of Ivan Henares) is a gold mine of information about Philippine mountains, popular or not, as well as a rich source of mountaineering knowledge.

LAKWATSERA DE PRIMERA (and it’s true… it’s not just another travel blog!) is another interesting online travel diary. This one is highly recommended since it contains awesome and much larger photographs of the places featured in it. You’ll also enjoy reading this particular blog post taken from the said travel blog: 100 THINGS I AM PROUD ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES.

My own, ALAS FILIPINAS, tries to become a travel blog, too. But due to time constraints, it remains mainly as my angst bin, hahaha! But seriously speaking, whenever I have time, I travel to different places and blog about it for the reading consumption of the Spanish-speaking netizens. Try this link, for instance.

I am sure there are still lots of local travel blogs around. And there will be many more to come. Wittingly or unwittingly, they should now be cognizant of the fact that they have made themselves Philippine online heroes because they have featured many places, cultures, and other aspects about the Philippines that have never been shown to the world before. Furthermore, travel advocacy promotes ecotourism and environmentalism, two very important attributes in Philippine tourism.

To all of you out there, thank you very much your travel advocacies and for patronizing our own. Helping out Philippine tourism is tantamount to saving the country as well.

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