Philippines cultivates farm tours and puts faith in pilgrimage packages

Malagos Chocolate Tree to Bar experience (photo credit: Facebook/malagos.garden.resort)

The Philippines is broadening its tourism offering with the launch of farm and faith-based tourism.

While Davao is the launching pad for farm tourism because of its vast cacao, banana, durian, pomelo and other fruit farms, the template will be replicated all over the Philippines, said tourism regional director Roberto Alabado III.

Malagos Chocolate Tree to Bar experience (photo credit: Facebook/malagos.garden.resort)

He said provinces like Guimaras and Zambales already have existing mango tours while some of the best farm tourism models are in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon, where farm-to-table and organic farm concepts are starting to get noticed.

With the foreign market for farm tours being promising, several farms have already incorporated accommodations and related facilities.

Alabado said durian tours have a strong market from China and Japan, while Hermie Tabanag, general manager of Malagos Garden Resort, noted increasing tourist traffic as the resort’s cacao and chocolate products gain awards in Europe, leading them to add a new attraction, the Chocolate Museum, in March.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, assistant tourism secretary Eden David said a workshop encouraging tour operators to come up with pilgrimage tour packages will be organised.

Existing pilgrimage sites include the Spanish-era Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu and San Agustin Church in Intramuros, but new shrines have sprouted in recent years including the Divine Mercy in Cagayan de Oro, Padre Pio in Santo Tomas in Batangas and the Miraculous Shrine of Our Lady of Piat in Cagayan.

Faith-based tourism also offers pilgrims immersion and volunteerism opportunities in different communities. For instance, Sister Eva Maamo, president and general surgeon of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, said the foundation needs volunteers for the numerous indigenous communities that it takes care of, including the Aetas in Subic and its hospital in Paranaque City.

The Nueva Segovia Consortium of Cooperatives also offers the same community immersion in the Ilocos region.

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