A traveler's wish come true
TRAVEL UPDATE - Marlinda Angbetic Tan (The Freeman) - July 17, 2014 - 12:00am

The 1st Cebu International Travel Festival held last weekend in Ayala Center was undoubtedly a big success.  I was there for the first day Friday to check out the participating booths and the event was impressive! Owners of travel agencies manned the booths themselves -- I saw Zenaida Chua of Worldwide Travel happily announcing she passed way above the one million peso benchmark -- successfully filling up the slots of her South America package on Sept 23 - Oct 11 -- and it was only early afternoon! Next to her was Alan Carvajal of Travelways who properly greeted me (Chinese style) despite the brisk business going on in his booth. Baby Dy of Grand Hope had two booths at both sides of the festival area.  She was all smiles. (Wink, wink!) My goddaughter Cookie Chan of Southwind Travel could not even smile at me (she sent me an invitation to visit her booth) because she was overwhelmed with customer demands. I passed by my Malaysian friend Fazdila Mansour of Tourism Malaysia. She shared the 3 days/2 nights Putrajaya Formula E Race package October 17 - 19, the world's first fully-electric racing series through 10 top cities of the world. Next year, she further announced, will be Malaysia's Year of Festivals. And my Malaysia travel mate Kaye Araw-araw of Travelite, who also texted an invitation to visit her booth, was with her bosses Tim Tio and Matt Poonin attending to numerous customers.

The Philippine Airlines booth -- the only international airline with a booth -- was deluged with long queues, so I muscled in to my connections and took my time in choosing the destinations offered on sale.  I finally chose Melbourne, as my Australian visa is still valid till January 2015. The last time I was granted a year-long Australian visa, I made a later trip to Tasmania which was in my bucket list. However, I had to wait for PAL Manila to open the seats on sale for Australia before my booking was confirmed. Late Saturday evening,  I was advised that my flight was confirmed and to pay anytime on Sunday, the last day of the festival. Which I did and I paid only US$873.56 including the Cebu-Manila-Cebu sector, checked through luggage arrangement both ways.

There's the hitch:  you must book and buy any ticket or tour package on offer within those three days.  Otherwise, you won't get the big discounts.  Hence, you must be pretty sure of the windows in your schedule as to when to get a flight to Palawan or a short trip to Myanmar, the latest exotic Asian destination still filled with possibilities as it has just opened itself to the world. (6 days/5 nights at US$1,280.00, min. of 2 pax, without airfare, until October -- Travelite) Or visit Russia for 8 days/7 nights (without airfare, min. of 2 pax) at US$1,420.00 -- Travelite. Offer good until December, 2014.

Travelways, on the other hand, offered all-in fares via Asiana, from Cebu to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle for US$941.00; to Chicago or New York for US$1,071.00; to London for US$1,163.00; and Paris for US$1,095.00. All US routes till December 2014; Europe until March 2015.

In the festival, I got the info from Skyjet Airlines that plans are afoot for a Cebu-Batanes direct flight.  Isn't this great? Right now, they are flying to Batanes, Busuanga and Kalibo (Boracay) from Manila. Nearer home was the offer of Panglao Island Nature Resort for a superior room good for 2 at P5,400nett per night, inclusive of breakfast, in-room fruits &cookies, airport/seaport transfers. and a visit to Cambagat Cave. Offer was until March 31, 2015.

There were provinces that took pains to prepare a proper press kit for media, like the Northern Mindanao and the Negros Oriental booths. I find the well-done glossy flyers made by DOT very helpful: Misamis Occ. -- Ozamis City, Oroquieta City, Gingoog City,Tangub City, Lanao del Norte; Misamis Or. -- Cagayan de Oro City, El Salvador City, Valencia City, Bukidnon, Malaybalay City, Camiguin, Iligan City. A beautiful brochure on the Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato. All neatly stacked together for easy reference with guide on points of interest, DOT-accredited places to stay and to eat, how to get there. While the Seda Hotel group offered P3,000 nett with breakfast for 2 at SedaCentrio in Cagayan de Oro, and P3,500 nett with breakfast for 2 at SedaAbreeza in Davao City.

Star Cruises had a booth with ongoing offering on cruises from Singapore to PulauTioman/Malacca- Singapore for US$888, inclusive of Mnl-Sin-Mnl airfare, airport transfers, overnight stay at Resorts World Sentosa, free Universal Studios pass, 2-night cruise inside stateroom. Booking till July 30, with departures up to end of October. From Penang (Malaysia) to Phuket (Thailand)-Krabe/Lankawi-Penang also for US$888.00 inclusive of Mnl-Hkg-Pen-Hkg-Mnl airfare with allowable return-trip Hkg stopover, ground transfers, 3-night cruise, one night before & after cruise hotel accommodations in Penang with breakfast. Booking till August 30 with departures up to end of March 2015 (except departures within Dec 21 until Jan 01, 2015).  But for the festival, all cruise rates were 40% off so the inside stateroom was just as low as US$210.00 for the 2-night cruise and $327.00 for the 3-night cruise! Local general sales agent is Destination Specialists of Marget& Chichi Villarica.

So, wise up and look forward to next year's 2nd Cebu International Travel Festival. Get to the venue early, check out the booths with good offers, finalize your windows for travel, save up well so you can book and buy your dream adventure.  BPI Credit Card was giving away pretty bags for customers who used their cards in purchasing travel arrangements. Of course, they also entice you with their installment plan.

Travel safely and travel well.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with