By Harvey I. Barkin
SAN FRANCISCO – The Philippine Consulate General recently announced the launching of the 12th Ambassador’s Tour set for July 9–15 with Manila, Cebu and Bohol as this year’s destinations.
To fully appreciate the Ambassador’s Tour, you should first experience a multi-city tour in Europe.
Do you remember being herded like cattle into mini-buses and being prodded for “wee-wee” breaks like dogs? Can you recall or even pronounce the cities that whizzed past your train window? Did you ever really feel the charm of the old world or even fully digest the flavor of the food before your tour guide told you to hurry up or miss your connection? And, by the way, did you only get breakfast free because lunch and dinner were on you and you had to fall back on Mickey D’s because your usually almighty dollar is not so against the Euro?
If these about sum up your grand experience in Europe, you should make the Ambassador’s Tour your next grand experience.
Pacific Air Leisure Services Manager Lyn Abad said the Philippine Consulate ambassadors from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Hawaii will be the actual tour guides (Consul Gen. Henry Bensurto says, “we will be your dakilang servants.”) This means, your tour guides on each bus will be actual statesmen, not just some wise guys off the streets. Expect the banter to be the finer cultural points, not the tired culture clash jokes.
And, Abad says, if you consider that you’ll be getting hotel accommodations where you can find the bathroom and three square meals a day, the cost for the 12th Ambassador’s Tour is well worth it.
You will feel like the boss at the wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park. You’ll also get to visit the Metropolitan Museum and the museum at University of Santo Tomas, the oldest still operating university in Asia. Older than even Harvard or Georgetown Universities.
When you hit Cebu, you get to see Magellan’s cross, planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the Basilica housing the Sto. Nino.
The next day you have the option to join Suroy-suroy where you can get your paws and jaws into authentic Cebu lechon and get lost exploring Carcar, Argao and Sibonga. Or you can swim with whale sharks at Oslob. It’s not as if the option is to eat or be eaten – shark is a misnomer, they are friendly and you’ll have a blast snorkeling.
When you reach Bohol, option 1 will be a rolling countryside tour of the baroque-neo-classical Baclayon Church which is the final resting place of saintly Alonso de Humanes, the famed 1,286 Chocolate Hills perfectly formed thousands of years ago from coral and coralline algae, and the river bank vegetation of the Loboc River with its water-borne restaurants and motorized banca. You will be serenaded at lunch at the Loboc River cruise. For the history buffs, a worthwhile side trip is the Blood Compact Shrine, site of the truce made by Datu Sikatuna with Conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
Deadline for registration is April 2. Call tour operator Rajah Tours International at 415-397-0303 or email [email protected]