Travel Mart 2022: The art and heart of Philippine Travel

Travelling-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller — Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta was called the Islamic Marco Polo even though he has surpassed the Venetian explorer. Beyond his exploration were his scholarly pursuits. Although not all travellers become scholars, almost all become storytellers.


I started as a backpacker then trained as a tour guide before I finally organized my own tours. I tried teaching tourism in a university but found the academe too stifling. I remember telling my students that if I have money, I travel and if I don’t have money, I read. The pandemic didn’t only force me to read, it also encouraged me to write. The exploration continued and the writing improved. And the tours flourished. They were unique and creative.

Before the internet age, my main source of information were newspaper clippings. The only other source was the Travel Mart. I would go home with loads of brochures, handouts and freebies.

After two years of pandemic, the Philippine Travel Mart is back with a vengeance. For the past three decades, I have religiously attended this event. I now have more reason to attend because I was invited by the Tourism Promotions Board to a product presentation of Davao in relation to a familiarization tour in November and December which includes a climb to Mt. Apo. What excites me more than the hike to the highest peak in the country is the trek to Mt. Hamiguitan which is the latest World Heritage Site. It is located in Davao Oriental.

After the Davao product orientation, I decided to roam around to get more information. I was specifically interested in Misamis Occidental and Davao which I intend to visit soon. As usual, the most colorful and exotic booths were from Mindanao with their kulintang, sayaf, malongs and other fabrics. Although I have been to Tawi-tawi a couple of times, I long to visit Basilan and Jolo.

Manila Walks

Of course, I did not miss Metro Manila because, after all, I conduct Manila Walking Tours under Manilakad. I will have to pore over the Parañaque and Muntinlupa brochures before I organize a walk. There were many tour operators offering Palawan tours, especially El Nido and Coron. I’m glad to know Mt. Data Hotel has reopened. Scuba diving and free-diving destinations were well represented.

Moalboal Scuba Diving

Dolores, Quezon

After visiting all the booths, I, together with my travel buddy Joseph, sat in front of a stage where a presentation was done by Dolores representatives. Dolores is a town in Quezon which is found in the foothills of Mt. Banahaw. It is a holy mountain often visited by pilgrims and mountaineers. We were amazed at the passion of the townspeople of Dolores in promoting their town. We have been to Dolores at least four times, twice on exploration trips, twice with tourists. The people of Dolores serve as inspiration that you don’t have to be a big region or province to succeed in tourism promotion. With the support of local officials and its residents, any effort, no matter how small, if done with heart, will surely succeed.

Note: Special thanks to Alberto Gadia, Marketing Specialist, of the Tourism Promotions Board, for inviting us to the Davao Product Presentation and the Travel Mart. The Philippine Travel Mart was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.

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JP Ordoña (Manilakad) leads Manilakad Walks in Intramuros, Binondo, Quiapo and more. In between, he writes, climbs, dives and more. Let him guide you to several walking destinations in Manila. Manilakad (JP Ordoña) can be reached on Facebook Messenger or through text at 0916-3597888.