by Kuku Samson
We often hear the expression, “Do not be a foreigner in your own homeland,” for its wisdom rings true. While nothing is inherently wrong with exploring foreign cultures, it does not hurt to arm oneself with a firsthand account of what the Philippines has to offer. Who knows? You might just find yourself as its passionate ambassador to the rest of the world.
Consider some ways to promote local tourism to support your community and create priceless memories:
Connect with the locals. One of the best ways to experience local culture is connect with the locals. Divert from the usual hotel or resort accommodation and book a homestay with the T’boli in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Marvel at their T’nalak, a traditional hand-woven cloth made to celebrate major life events. Be serenaded by their tribal music and dance. Get to sample their staple food of sweet potatoes, gabi (taro), cassava, banana, and corn. Get to ask them about their daily life, beliefs, and values.
Attend local festivals and events. Experience the vibrant Ati-Atihan Festival which triggered many festivals in the country. The Aklan festival is one of the country’s oldest and biggest colorful parades. Don’t miss the chance to join traditional dances, sample local food, and enjoy live music and performances while you are at it.
Explore local neighborhoods. Take a walk or a bike ride around Angono, Rizal which is the art capital of the country. It is the hometown of two great Philippine National Artists-Lucio San Pedro for Music, and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for painting. The Angono Petroglyphs, discovered in 1965, are regarded to be the oldest artwork in the Philippines. The 127 figural carvings on the wall of a shallow cave of volcanic tuff dates back to 3 B.C.
Volunteer in the community. Get a sense of achievement and purpose. Join the Philippine Red Cross and be part of the delivery of essential services to ease the pain of others. Learn more about the organization and meet new people.
Learn a new skill. Take painting lessons, learn Cebuano, participate in a pottery-making workshop.
Bolstering up local tourism does wonders for our cultural heritage. The more we patronize our own communities, the more we promote a sense of pride and unity for both visitor and resident. The healthy economic climate it encourages will ensure that our unique culture will be preserved for generations to come.
Indeed, there is so much to love about the Philippines.