In a 1997 workshop I attended, I wrote down 100 goals and dreams. One of them was to visit all the islands of the Philippines.
The actual decision to do it came when we literally fell into the tourism business in 2002. We were invited to join a public transportation group and I became a Cebu Pacific Ticketing Agent. The prospect of getting to fly off to a destination of our choice for free was too tempting to miss. At the same, Ed and I discovered a line of work which we both enjoyed together and would benefit our clients greatly – caregiving… or to be exact, taking care of our guests on tour.
Our first tour as a guide and driver tandem was in November of that year, for a group of doctors who were in town for a convention and they wanted to go to Camiguin. Their sales agent didn’t know where to start so we took over. Mind you, the last time I had set foot in Camiguin was in 1985. Even though I was uncertain of what I was saying all the way there, I enjoyed every minute of it, because the trip turned out to be the turning point in our career.
It was also around that time that I discovered a website: Lakbayan (www.forge.codegraphic.com/lakbayan), which asks the user how familiar they are with the provinces in the country. You just click on the choices: I live/have lived here, I often go here, Been here once to a few times, Just passing through, and Never set foot here — and then you are given a grade when you were done. My first grade was C+.
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” – Diana Scharf Hunt
“The first step in achieving your dream is to set a goal.” – Unknown
Every year, I set three provinces as the short-term goal. If I or both of us are able to visit all three, then our efforts were a complete success. Two out of three is acceptable, though still success. But one out of three is failure. There was a year, though, that we hit zero. As in, none at all. However, we WERE able to visit and explore a province which wasn’t on the list – my own province of Bukidnon, of all places – and this was in 2008, the year when the movie LOVE ME AGAIN starring Ms. Angel Locsin and Mr. Piolo Pascual, was filmed. For 30 days we were ensconced in Malaybalay City, the Municipalities of Impasug-ong and Manolo Fortich and Barangay Dalwangan along with the cast, staff and crew of Star Cinema, shooting the various Bukidnon scenes seen in the movie. It was during this time that I realized, “Why am I worried about not being able to go abroad to see other countries, when I have not exhausted my own?”
So where have we been so far? Listed below are only the destinations we visited for the first time since we began promoting tourism in the Philippines. I won’t mention return visits anymore.
2002 – ALBAY: Tiwi – Self-Drive from Manila via Camarines Norte; CAMIGUIN: Islands
2003 – BULACAN: Pulilan; CAVITE: Bacoor; PAMPANGA: Apalit/San Fernando/Clark Airbase
2004 – CDO: White Water Rafting Adventure; LANAO DEL NORTE: Iligan City/Linamon
2005 – SURIGAO DEL NORTE: Siargao Island-Cloud 9/Dako Island
2006 – BENGUET: Baguio City; BUKIDNON: Kaamulan Festival; DAVAO CITY: Island Garden City of Samal; NUEVA ECIJA: Gapan; ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE: Dapitan City
2007 – BOHOL: Tagbilaran/Loboc/Carmen/Panglao; CAVITE: Indang; CEBU: Cebu City; NORTH COTABATO: Cabacan/Midsayap; MAGUINDANAO: Shariff Aguak; MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL: Ozamiz City/Oroquieta City/Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP); SOUTH COTABATO: General Santos City; SULTAN KUDARAT: Isulan; ZAMBALES: Subic Bay Freeport Zone
2008 – BUKIDNON: Malaybalay City/Impasug-ong/Lantapan; PALAWAN: El Nido Resorts
2009 – SOUTH COTABATO: Koronadal City/Lake Sebu/Polomolok; SULTAN KUDARAT: Tacurong City; SURIGAO DEL SUR: Lanuza/Tandag
2010 – BATANGAS: Talisay; CAMARINES SUR: Land Trip from Cagayan de Oro via Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Leyte, Samar, Sorsogon, and Albay; ILOCOS SUR: Vigan; LA UNION: San Fernando/San Juan; SURIGAO DEL NORTE: Bucas Grande Island/Siargao Island-General Luna
This year, 2011, we’ve set our goals to PALAWAN: Puerto Princesa (DONE!); AKLAN: Boracay (maybe); and NEGROS OCCIDENTAL: Bacolod (I don’t know).
Next year, we are looking towards Luzon – PAMPANGA: Mt. Pinatubo; ILOCOS NORTE: Laoag; MOUNTAIN PROVINCE: Sagada; BATANES ISLANDS. We still have so much more to go, but definitely looking forward to it!