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Edition:  þ FLORIDA   o  METRO (DC-MD-VA-NY)



It's all systems go for many Americans and Canadians on their group and family visits to the Philippines throughout the first quarter of 2007. "Based on recent information from the Philippine Department of Tourism's (PDOT) Overseas Offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, several golf, retiree, business, and medical groups have confirmed their bookings for the first quarter of 2007," said Maria Corazon G. Jorda-Apo, Head of Team North America of the Philippine Department of Tourism.

"These travelers have chosen the Philippines as their tropical escape from the harsh winter in Canada and the United States," added Jorda-Apo. "December is traditionally a busy time for the arrival of North American travelers to the Philippines, but the large number of tour groups anticipated for the first quarter of 2007 is an indication that we have remained a preferred holiday destination among North Americans."

In line with the Department's "Out-of-the-Box" promotion, the second phase of "The Philippines: Explore. Experience. Return." (PEER) program, visitors from the US and Canada are encouraged to visit to learn about exciting tour packages and how one can win fabulous prizes including a condo unit at St. Francis Towers in Ortigas Center. The promotion runs until December 31, 2007 .

According to Tourism Attaché Rene de los Santos of PDOT's San Francisco office, more than 1,000 Filipino-American military retirees from all over the U.S. will have a week sojourn to pay homage to their departed comrades in the military shrines of Luzon with an overnight stay on historic Corregidor Island.

The month of February 2007 will see groups of businessmen like the members of the newly-formed Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon on their vacation in Metro Manila, Subic and Baguio.

Golfers are headed to the top golf courses of the Philippines to practice their swing. In the first three months of 2007, golf aficionados from cities all across North America will congregate on the greens of Metro Manila, Tagaytay, Cavite, Batangas and Cebu, with sidetrips to Pagsanjan, Quezon, Puerto Galera, Palawan, Boracay and Bohol.

These golfers come from the Eagles High Golf Club, Phil-Am Amateur Golf Club, Tamaraw Golf Club, FM Golf, Filipino League of Golfers, Four City Golfers Group, Philippine Golf Fiesta of Los Angeles, Diners Golf Classic, International Alliance Golf Club, Philippine Golf Classic II of New York, Philippine Community of Southern New Jersey and the CAA Golf Group of Canada.

Director Annie Cuevas of PDOT's Los Angeles office said that "although most of these visiting golfers have their own club tournaments in the Philippines' finest golf courses, some will participate in the 1st FiVR and Ambassador Champions' Cup to be held at the Splendido, Aoki, Eagle Ridge, Sherwood Hills, Midlands and the Riviera Golf Clubs."

Tourism Attaché Vernie Morales of the PDOT office in Chicago likewise stated that the Medical Mission Foundation of Michigan, numbering more than a hundred, will arrive in Bataan and Boracay in January for cataract surgeries with a pre- and post- mission stay in Metro Manila. Two hundred members of the Philippine Medical Associations of Chicago and Michigan will visit Ilocos and Palawan to extend medical assistance for several weeks. About three hundred practitioners of the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California will have their missions in Naga and neighboring Bicol towns this January.

"Aside from undertaking their primary purpose for coming here, the itineraries of these groups include time for sightseeing, relaxation and enrichment in each of the destinations they will visit," Morales added.


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