05 February 2020 – On 27 January to 02 February 2020, a Familiarization Tour organized by the Department of Tourism and Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv to Negros Island (Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Bacolod City) for Israeli travel agencies who are already marketing the Philippine but are seeking new destinations for family and incentive tours. Journalists and content writers for leading news platforms such as The Jerusalem Post and Walla News, and travel magazines, as well as professional and multi-awarded photographers also took active part in the tour. Third Secretary and Vice Consul Judy Razon, head of the Embassy’s Economic Section, joined the familiarization tour as part of the Embassy’s promotion of Philippine tourism.


The tour started with a visit to historic Manila providing a glimpse of life during the Spanish colonization, covering the Walled City of Intramuros, shrine of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, the iconic Manila Hotel, and the newly-renovated Rizal Park Hotel, formerly the Army and Navy Club during the American occupation. Lakbay Museo provided the group with instagrammable and colorful presentation of the festivals and food of the Philippines.

In the second leg of the tour, the participants visited “The City of the Gentle People, Dumaguete” and had a once in a lifetime experience swimming with sea turtles (Pawikan) in Apo Island. A hike to the top of Apo Island provided a spectacular view of the sea and nearby islands. The group also visited luxurious and world-class diving resorts off the coast of Dauin, Negros Oriental, known as a haven for international divers. Their excitement showed as they tasted local delicacies and Philippine fruits at the city market of Dumaguete.


In Siquijor, the participants discovered the stories behind the island’s mystique. They met two local faith healers, swam in “Little Boracay” beach, dipped their feet for a natural foot spa at the site of the century-old Balete Tree, and pretended to be Tarzan and Jane as they dived into the clear and sparkling natural pools of the Cambugahay Falls.

The last leg of the tour was in Bacolod City where the participants spent time learning about the history, culture, and life of the people in the “City of Smiles” by visiting the Negros Museum and Balay Negrense. They were greeted with warm smiles by the residents of Bacolod had the chance to taste native dishes and were introduced to the booming farm-to-market restaurants in the city. The participants had the chance to bake their own “Piyaya”, the featured delicacy of Bacolod City. A visit to the studio of Mr. Jojo Vito showcased the colorful and festive spirit of the Masskara festival held every October and attended by thousands of foreign tourists. Before departing for Tel Aviv, the participants had time to shop at the Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world.


The participants appreciated most their interactions with the local communities, aside from seeing the natural beauty of the Philippines. They also expressed their appreciation for the chance to be the first batch of familiarization tour participants to see these new destinations which are appealing to Israeli travelers. With this familiarization, tour packages for different Israeli travel categories, particularly divers, family, and incentive groups, will be introduced featuring new destinations in Negros Island. – END-  


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The Familiarization Tour participants with Vice Consul Judy Razon and Mr. Edmund EJ Tecson of the Department of Tourism enjoy snorkeling at Apo Island.


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The Familiarization Tour participants make their way into Baluarte de San Diego, one of the hidden sites within the Walled City of Intramuros.



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The group with what was left of the Campanario de Dumaguete built in the 1760s.


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Mr. Jojo Vito, masks and costume designer for the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, welcomed the Israeli tour participants to his studio.



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A colorful presentation of the history and culture of the Philippines and the Filipino people kicked-off the island tour of the participants at Lakbay Museo..


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The participants had their own taste of making the famous Bacolod delicacy, “Piyaya”.


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At Siquijor, the participants learned about the mystic behind faith healing for which this island is known for.


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The familiarization tour participants received a warm welcome during their call on Atty. John Orola, City Administrator of Bacolod City.



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The participants to the familiarization tour at the gates of Fort Santiago in Intramuros.


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The tour participants enjoyed clear and sparkling waters of Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor.


Photos from the archive of the Philippine Embassy in Israel