Kindness in the Philippines

This item appears on page 16 of the January 2012 issue.
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My wife, Jane, and I took a two-week private tour of the Philippines in May ’11 with Marsman Drysdale Travel (19F Robinsons Summit Center, 6783 Ayala Ave., Makati City 1227, Philippines; phone +632 8870000, ext. 302, 303 or 305, fax +632 8880228, e-mail reservations@marsmandrysdale.com). The tour price was $2,045 per person, including one internal flight, daily lunch and one dinner.

I have taken many tours with a guide and driver, but this was one of the best-organized, most enjoyable tours I have ever taken.

While planning our trip, I was in constant communication with both Ednalyn and C.J. of Marsman Drysdale. I made several changes based on things we really wanted to see and do, and Ednalyn and C.J. were so accommodating, designing the perfect itinerary.

In Manila we stayed at the Traders Hotel, which had the best buffet breakfast I have ever had anywhere. In my opinion, this was a six-star hotel. It had every amenity, including slippers and robes in the room; a flashlight in the drawer; four computers with unlimited Internet access, and a great pool, plus the most accommodating, friendly staff imaginable.

We spent five days in Manila at this hotel and after six days in the north came back for our last two nights. It was like coming home.

We visited several Catholic churches in the city. Our guide, a lector in the church, took us to see the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The faith of the people was truly inspiring.

With Manila as our base, we took several day trips. One was to the volcano area of Lake Taal, where we had lunch in a ridge-top restaurant overlooking the lake with Taal Volcano in the middle of it.

Our other excursions involved festivals, as April and May are big months for festivals in the Philippines. In Lucban we went to the Pahiyas Festival, famous for the decoration of houses with colorful rice paper and vegetables. There is a contest for the best house decoration as well as a Mass and procession through the streets with a statue of San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

During our visit the heat was stifling — May is the hottest month in the Philippines — but our guide, Jun (short for Jose Junior), made sure we could take bicycle taxis (the only way to get around) whenever Jane was too hot to walk anymore.

Jun went out of his way to please us. One day he took us to several stores searching for ceramic soup spoons that Jane wanted. Jun didn’t give up until we found them.

He also was nice enough to accompany us on our visit to see a child we sponsor through the Christian Foundation for Children & Aging. This was beyond his responsibilities, but he was happy that we were sponsoring a child from the remote Alabat Island.

A must-see site in Manila is the American Cemetery. The grounds were beautiful and immaculately kept.

The traffic in the city can be chaotic, but our expert driver, Robert, never lost his patience or became upset. He was a joy to be with.

Our tour was entirely on the island of Luzon. After seeing Manila and the festivals, we spent several days in the north. One of the highlights was the Cordillera mountain region.

This is the land of several indigenous tribes known collectively as the Igorot. The Bontoc Museum has an interesting display of artifacts from several of the tribes and is worth a visit.

This area is famous for its rice terraces, dating back more than 2,000 years — an incredible sight.

The most impressive thing we found in the Philippines was the hospitality of the people. Their kindness was something I will always remember. Communication was easy, since English is learned by all in school.

We encourage more Americans to visit the Philippines. It may not have the museums and palaces of other countries, but it has a unique character and spirit which make it one of our favorite destinations of the 104 countries we have visited.

KEVIN O’BRIEN
Savannah, GA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My wife, Jane, and I took a two-week private tour of the Philippines in May ’11 with Marsman Drysdale Travel (19F Robinsons Summit Center, 6783 Ayala Ave., Makati City 1227, Philippines; phone +632 8870000, ext. 302, 303 or 305, fax +632 8880228, e-mail reservations@marsmandrysdale.com). The tour price was $2,045 per person, including one internal flight, daily lunch and one dinner.

I have taken many tours with a guide and driver, but this was one of the best-organized, most enjoyable tours I have ever taken.

While planning our trip, I was in constant communication with both Ednalyn and C.J. of Marsman Drysdale. I made several changes based on things we really wanted to see and do, and Ednalyn and C.J. were so accommodating, designing the perfect itinerary.

In Manila we stayed at the Traders Hotel, which had the best buffet breakfast I have ever had anywhere. In my opinion, this was a six-star hotel. It had every amenity, including slippers and robes in the room; a flashlight in the drawer; four computers with unlimited Internet access, and a great pool, plus the most accommodating, friendly staff imaginable.

We spent five days in Manila at this hotel and after six days in the north came back for our last two nights. It was like coming home.

We visited several Catholic churches in the city. Our guide, a lector in the church, took us to see the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The faith of the people was truly inspiring.

With Manila as our base, we took several day trips. One was to the volcano area of Lake Taal, where we had lunch in a ridge-top restaurant overlooking the lake with Taal Volcano in the middle of it.

Our other excursions involved festivals, as April and May are big months for festivals in the Philippines. In Lucban we went to the Pahiyas Festival, famous for the decoration of houses with colorful rice paper and vegetables. There is a contest for the best house decoration as well as a Mass and procession through the streets with a statue of San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

During our visit the heat was stifling — May is the hottest month in the Philippines — but our guide, Jun (short for Jose Junior), made sure we could take bicycle taxis (the only way to get around) whenever Jane was too hot to walk anymore.

Jun went out of his way to please us. One day he took us to several stores searching for ceramic soup spoons that Jane wanted. Jun didn’t give up until we found them.

He also was nice enough to accompany us on our visit to see a child we sponsor through the Christian Foundation for Children & Aging. This was beyond his responsibilities, but he was happy that we were sponsoring a child from the remote Alabat Island.

A must-see site in Manila is the American Cemetery. The grounds were beautiful and immaculately kept.

The traffic in the city can be chaotic, but our expert driver, Robert, never lost his patience or became upset. He was a joy to be with.

Our tour was entirely on the island of Luzon. After seeing Manila and the festivals, we spent several days in the north. One of the highlights was the Cordillera mountain region.

This is the land of several indigenous tribes known collectively as the Igorot. The Bontoc Museum has an interesting display of artifacts from several of the tribes and is worth a visit.

This area is famous for its rice terraces, dating back more than 2,000 years — an incredible sight.

The most impressive thing we found in the Philippines was the hospitality of the people. Their kindness was something I will always remember. Communication was easy, since English is learned by all in school.

We encourage more Americans to visit the Philippines. It may not have the museums and palaces of other countries, but it has a unique character and spirit which make it one of our favorite destinations of the 104 countries we have visited.

KEVIN O’BRIEN
Savannah, GA