When I hear “San Pablo,” I think of lush pineapple fields in the semi-cool weather, the many mystical lakes, the antique Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant, warm biscuits and bread from local bakeries, and my grandmother and her accent.
After the pandemic, one of the places I’d like to visit is this rustic city at the foot of the mysterious Mt. San Cristobal. Not only because it’s been a long time since I last visited my cousins there, or it’s relatively near my residence in Laguna — I want to experience firsthand its underrated charm that inspires many artists and artisans to stay there for good.
For now, the closest thing would be a video call with my friends and relatives there and enjoying a travel subscription box curated by Hijos Tours.
The box contains VR glasses for a virtual tour of San Pablo, local food delicacies, souvenir items like soaps, and fun educational games. To experience is to use all the five senses and that’s simply what subscribers can expect from the wonderful box.
What makes it one-of-a-kind is that it was created with the tourism community in mind, including the tour guides and suppliers severely affected by the lockdowns.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we certainly knew that tourism will be hit greatly. We had to be proactive and think of innovative ways to continue our mandate of providing a meaningful travel experience to our travelers while still assisting the local community engaged in our company,” said Hijos Tours president Marilyn Manila.
Part of every subscribed box will go to the local communities who rely on Hijos’ tour programs, thus subscribers of the travel box will be able to support cultural growth and encourage development to these local communities.
Hijos Tours started in 2013 as a tour program of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), a group of company that aims to eradicate poverty. In 2017, Hijos was officially registered as a tour company.
“If you miss many of your 2020 travel goals because of the crisis, we offer our tour boxes and virtual tours in San Pablo City and Iloilo City. We are currently crafting our tour boxes for Samar and Leyte, Davao, and Baguio, which will be soon offered to the public,” said Manila.
“Clients can spend quality time with their family as they find beautiful scenery to these places, and learn their history, culture, and tradition through our 360-degree videos and our customized games in a more cost-efficient way,” she added.
Living in Laguna since birth and hopping from Biñan to San Pedro or Los Baños from time to time, I personally wish more towns and cities in this province can take pride in their own travel boxes. A surprise buko pie, puto, sampaguita soaps or paper mache in a box will always be a pleasure to receive and share with friends in Manila.
To learn more about Hijos Tours and its products and services, its official Facebook page is www.facebook.com/HijosToursOfficial.
Main photo courtesy of Sulyap Gallery Café, Boutique Hotels & Restaurant/Facebook