Love the Philippines Campaign Takes Flight with Spectacular Drone Show in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – January 28, 2024 – In a dazzling display of innovation and Filipino pride, the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) marked a significant milestone with a drone show in the United States. The event, in partnership with Sky Elements unfolded against the picturesque backdrop of the bay, was a captivating celebration of the rich Filipino culture and biodiversity.

Drone Show featuring halo-halo, karaoke and rising sun

Showcasing a kaleidoscope of the nation’s vibrant heritage, the drone show artfully highlighted various facets of Filipino life, including the mesmerizing beauty of underwater diving, delectable culinary offerings such as mango, halo-halo, and street foods, iconic symbols like the sampaguita flower, the elegance of traditional fashion and tinikling dance, the splendor of the vinta boat, the terraced landscapes of the rice fields, love for music of Filipinos and the pride evoked by the waving Philippine flag.

Drone Show featuring traditional fashion, vinta and street foods
Guests enjoying the drone show

Prior to the breathtaking aerial display, esteemed guests were treated to an exquisite dinner at Mission Rock Resort, indulging in a selection of Filipino snacks that offered a taste of the nation’s culinary diversity.

Filipino snacks served during dinner at Mission Rock Resort

The event is part of the Love the Philippines campaign in San Francisco, a strategic initiative by PDOT to spotlight the country’s unparalleled natural wonders, rich biodiversity, cultural heritage, warm hospitality, and distinctive culinary influence. The campaign aims to position the Philippines as a premier tourism destination in Asia.

PDOT SF hosted a dinner for the guests at the Mission Rock Resort

Philippine Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer and his wife, Miriam Ferrer and Consul Vanessa Bago-Llona, were in attendance, joining the PDOT San Francisco team in witnessing this historic event. Tourism Attache Soleil Tropicales expressed enthusiasm for the groundbreaking initiative, stating that it sends a resounding message that the Philippines is poised to make a bold and significant mark on the global tourism stage.

The Love the Philippines campaign marks the beginning of a new era in tourism, emphasizing the country’s readiness to welcome visitors with open arms. As the drone show unfolded, it underscored the Philippines’ commitment to becoming a tourism powerhouse in Asia and demonstrated that the nation is prepared for something truly extraordinary.

About the Philippine Department of Tourism: It is the principal government agency responsible for the promotion of tourism in the Philippines. With a commitment to showcasing the country’s unique culture and attractions, the department aims to make the Philippines a must-visit destination in Asia.

For Media Inquiries:

Karen Pranga

Marketing and Events Coordinator

“Love the Music, Love the Philippines” Showcases Filipino Talent and Warm Hospitality at Webster Hall, San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – December 14, 2023

The Philippine Department of Tourism in San Francisco (PDOT SF) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) joined forces for a spectacular event, “Love the Music, Love the Philippines,” held at the iconic Webster Hall on December 14, 2023. The evening brought together travel trade partners, tourism stakeholders, and friends to celebrate the rich cultural tapestry of the Philippines.

The event featured captivating performances by the talented Zeyonce Brown, who serenaded the audience with a fusion of Filipino music, pop hits, and festive Christmas tunes. Adding to the enchantment, Nate Guinto delivered an awe-inspiring performance with his violin, captivating the hearts of all in attendance.

Tourism Attache Soleil Tropicales extended a warm welcome to the guests, expressing gratitude to the attendees and the dedicated team that orchestrated the event. Tropicales acknowledged the invaluable partnership with Philippine Airlines, the evening’s official partner.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the new tourism campaign, “Love the Philippines.” Tropicales explained that the campaign is not merely an invitation to explore the picturesque islands but also a celebration of Filipino stories, talents, and warm hospitality. Travelers are encouraged to become part of the culture and the family as they connect with the landscapes and communities.

“Welcome to Love the Music.. Love the Philippines, where every traveler becomes a part of our melody, and the diversity creates a perfect harmony,” Tropicales added, drawing a connection to her personal passion for singing.

Dell Merano, PAL Manager, echoed the sentiment in a heartwarming speech, expressing support for the new tourism campaign. Merano emphasized the importance of fostering a deep appreciation for the Philippines and the sense of community it brings. In a gesture of generosity, Philippine Airlines conducted a raffle during the event, giving attendees the chance to win a myriad of exciting prizes. The PAL team’s commitment to providing a memorable experience extended beyond the stage, adding an element of excitement and surprise for the lucky winners.

Adding a delectable touch to the evening, the event served guests with authentic Filipino Christmas food prepared by the renowned “Kusina.” The culinary delights brought a taste of Filipino holiday traditions, further enriching the cultural experience.

The event also had the honor of hosting Filipino American content creator, Gerald Fermin, and FilAm Production Associate at Pixar and influencer, Jamie Poderado. Their presence added a dynamic and contemporary flair to the celebration, showcasing the vibrant contributions of Filipino Americans in the creative and digital realms.

In continuation of the “Love the Philippines” campaign, PDOT SF invites everyone to a special event on December 30th at the Ferry Building from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The event promises an opportunity for all to discover why there’s more to love about the Philippines. Attendees can expect cultural showcases, live performances, and a taste of Filipino hospitality. It’s an invitation to experience the vibrant and diverse culture that makes the Philippines a unique and unforgettable destination.

For more information, please visit and follow social media accounts,  and 

Philippine Department of Tourism’s Love the Philippines Campaign Sets the Stage for Unforgettable Holiday Celebrations in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – 11 December 2023

The Philippines Department of Tourism (PDOT) was proud to announce a groundbreaking series of events in San Francisco as part of the Love the Philippines (LTP) campaign, aimed at showcasing the rich tapestry of Filipino culture and fostering a deeper connection between communities. The campaign, introduced with the new slogan “Love the Philippines,” was designed to position the country as a tourism powerhouse in Asia and captivate audiences both locally and internationally.

Event Highlights:

Love the Philippines at Merkado Kultura

  • Date: 08-09 December 2023
  • Venue: Dynamico Space, 3F Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco

The 3rd edition of Merkado Kultura featured a diverse array of Filipino products, food, and merchandise. It became a bustling marketplace visited by the FilAm community and non-Filipinos alike who enjoyed shopping for their holiday gifts. The partnership of the PDOT and Merkado Kultura featured influential personalities with the likes of Jules Aurora, a Filipino record artist, actress, and model, as well as Vince Vasquez and family of @thetastebud. 

Elevating the Merkado Kultura experience, guests had the opportunity to step into the immersive Love the Philippines “Experience Rooms.” These rooms were designed to transport attendees to the breathtaking beauty of Philippine beaches and the vibrant energy of Metro Manila. The Experience Rooms is open throughout the month of December where visitors can see, smell, taste and feel the essence of these iconic Filipino destinations, creating a multisensory journey that encapsulates the heart and soul of the Philippines.

Love Fashion, Love the Philippines at the San Francisco Fashion Festival:

  • Date: 09 December 2023
  • Venue: The W San Francisco Hotel

Tourism Attache Soleil Tropicales took the stage at the San Francisco Fashion Festival to present the new Love the Philippines campaign to esteemed guests, inviting them to join the festivities on December 30th. This collaboration aimed to engage the fashion community in embracing and promoting the diverse and vibrant culture of the Philippines. Jules Aurora, known for her cultural advocacy, featured a dress by the acclaimed Filipino fashion designer Joe San Antonio, whose work recently graced the runways of Paris Fashion Week.

Love Adventure, Love the Philippines Motorcycle Ride:

  • Date: 10 December 2023
  • Route: Across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Thrill-seekers and motorcycle enthusiasts were invited to join the Love Adventure, Love the Philippines Motorcycle Ride across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Bay Area riders, proudly carrying Love the Philippines flags, embarked on a journey that symbolized the unity and spirit of adventure that defined Filipino culture. Tourism Attache Soleil Tropicales invited the Bay Area riders to the Philippines for a motorcycle loop around the country.

Save the Date: Love the Philippines at the Ferry Building

  • Date: 30 December 2023
  • Time: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Ferry Building, San Francisco

This first-of-its-kind experience transformed the Ferry Building into a Philippine marketplace, featuring local vendors, artisans, live performances, and a fashion show by the renowned Filipino designer Francis Libiran.

Join us in celebrating the Love the Philippines Campaign and being part of an extraordinary journey that showcased the warmth, diversity, and beauty of the Philippines.

For more information, please visit and follow social media accounts,  and 

About the Department of Tourism, Philippines
The Department of Tourism is the principal government agency responsible for the promotion of tourism in the Philippines. With a commitment to showcasing the country’s unique culture and attractions, the department aims to make the Philippines a must-visit destination in Asia.

For Media Inquiries:
Karen Pranga
Marketing and Events Coordinator 

From court side to paradise: DOT supports FIBA World Cup hosting with Philippine Tour Packages

MAKATI CITY — In support of the country’s hosting of the highly anticipated FIBA International Basketball Federation World Cup 2023, the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched Philippine tour packages for international fans and Filipinos on Tuesday (July 25) at the DOT Office in Makati City. 

“We see the FIBA Basketball World Cup as an opportunity, first and foremost, to reintroduce the Philippines to the world on the strength of our natural cultural assets, our award-winning destinations, our emerging cities and municipalities all over the Philippines, as well as an opportunity for Filipinos to come together to support the Philippine team, and for other citizens of the world to remember their sense of nationalism as they support their own countries. Truly, basketball has had such a great cultural impact on all of us Filipinos and all nations participating, that we see this as an opportunity to remind the world how much there is to love about the Philippines, and an opportunity to show the Philippines is ready, and the Philippines is open for tourism,” DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced at the FIBA Philippine tour launch. 

The Philippines will co-host the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 group phase with Japan and Indonesia from August 25-30. The Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City; Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City; and the 50,000-capacity Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan will house 52 out of the 92 games. The final phase of the World Cup scheduled for September 5-10 will be played as well at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

Among the potential NBA stars to play in Manila are Nikola Jokic of Serbia, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Dominican Republic. Top-tier national teams such as the USA, New Zealand, Jordan, Greece, Mexico, Montenegro, Lithuania, Egypt, China, Serbia, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan are set to compete in the Philippines, accompanied by their thousands of fans and supporters. 

To complement the FIBA World Cup experience, the DOT teamed up with a tourism consortium of national tourism associations to meticulously craft tour packages that showcase marquee destinations such as those in Metro Manila, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, La Union and Pampanga, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo and Bacolod, Boracay, Palawan, and Davao. 

Secretary Frasco rallied together the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), the Hotel Sales and Marketing Professionals (HSMA), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) to form the tourism consortium and curate the said tour packages for the organizers, officials, players, and fans of the game. 

“I share in all of your excitement for the FIBA Basketball World Cup as we also see this as a prime opportunity for the country to exceed that goal that we have set this year of ushering 4.8 million international travelers. Not only this will benefit our international tourism portfolio, but also our domestic tourism portfolio with all of these tour packages having been laid down from one region to the other…As you can see, putting all of these together has become a whole-of-tourism industry approach. Very much reflective of our President’s whole of nation approach towards Philippine development,” the tourism chief enthused. 

Visitors can book and avail of the FIBA-exclusive tour packages with options of 3 days and 2 nights or 4 days and 3 nights’ arrangements at four- or five-star hotels through the DOT website – starting August 1 up to September 30. 

Included in the FIBA tour packages are the Philippines Hop On, Hop Off bus tours, accredited hotel and accommodation options, and travel packages with and without airfare. 

No less than President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. fully supports the country’s hosting endeavor through Administrative Order No. 5 issued last March forming the Inter-Agency Task Force directing all government agencies to aid the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the national basketball association, in the conduct of the FIBA flagship event in the country. 

“We recognize the profound impact that sports tourism can have on our economy, our hotels, accommodations, and most importantly, our tourism workers, whose livelihoods highly depend on the tourism industry’s success,” the DOT Secretary added. 

Secretary Frasco also extended her appreciation to the DOT’s infrastructure arm, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the airport enhancements and the construction of Tourist Rest Areas with seven, located in FIBA tour destinations, to be inaugurated this August. 

Other efforts of the Department in support of the FIBA hosting include assistance in airport reception during the airport reception services during the FIBA World Cup Draw and other FIBA activities, domestic and international promotion of the event, safety, and security with the Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOPCOP) program and the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) Training, as well as strategic FIBA branding site enhancements. 

During the launch, Ms. Claudia Perrine from the FIBA Basketball World Cup Local Organizing Committee provided insights into the country’s preparations for hosting the tournament, unveiled the lineup of FIBA World Cup events, and highlighted the goal of breaking the World Cup attendance record. 

Additionally, representatives from the DOT FIBA Tour Packages tourism consortium elaborated on the crafted tour packages. 

Bob Zozobrado, President of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), shared the collaborative efforts behind the creation of the consortium and the thought process that led to the development of the FIBA Philippine tour packages. Margie Munsayac, representing the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association (HSMA) International Inc., discussed the range of accommodation options and competitive rates available for visitors. Maria Paz Alberto, President of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Philippines, presented the selected tour packages, while Marlene Insigne also from PATA and Carlota Casas from the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Inc. (PHILTOA) shared on the inclusion of ten cluster destinations in the tour packages. Wendel Santos, President of Atlantis, elaborated on the online booking platform specifically designed for FIBA tours. 

Previously, Tourism Secretary Frasco pledged the Department’s utmost support to the SBP, PLDT, and Smart group during the FIBA luncheon which gathered the diplomatic community with some 20 ambassadors and consuls last July 12. 


FIBA Opening Day:

Tourism Chief Frasco takes oath of office; PBBM bullish on tourism recovery

MANILA, Philippines — Multi-awarded local chief executive and Mayor of Liloan, Cebu Atty. Christina Garcia-Frasco formally assumed her new role as Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier today (June 30), during the Oathtaking of Cabinet Secretaries officiated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that took place at the Malacañan Palace.

Frasco, who was joined by her family members mother Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, husband Cebu 5th District Representative Duke Frasco, and sister Carissa Garcia, was sworn into office along with other cabinet members of the new administration.

In his inaugural speech as the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Marcos Jr. expressed his optimism for the country’s tourism industry, noting its bright prospects with Frasco at the helm of the DOT.

“The recovery of Philippine tourism, with its emphasis on accessing nature’s beauty, I am sure, will exceed expectations,” said President Marcos.

“Following these giant steps, we will continue to build. I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started. I am not interested in taking credit; I want to build on success that’s already happening. We will be presenting the public with a comprehensive infrastructure plan. Six years could be just about enough time. No part of our country will be neglected. Progress will be made wherever there are Filipinos, so no investment is wasted,” added the President.

Secretary Frasco echoed the President’s vision, noting two essential building blocks in ensuring sustainable tourism: effective local government planning and implementation, and shared tourism governance by the public and private sector.

“Effective planning and implementation on the Local Government side necessitates focus on zoning and land use regulations that enhances rather than degrades the long term value of tourist attractions, proactive and aggressive infrastructure development that provides quality access to roads, bridges, water systems, providing access to various methods of transportation by land, sea, and air, as well as heritage and environmental protection that ensures sustainable tourism development,” she said, in relation to her experience as a local chief executive of Liloan town.

“The goal is to improve the overall tourism experience by both domestic and foreign tourists so that they not only enjoy the idea of the brand that is the Philippines but fully immerse in and keep buying into the product that is our beautiful country and the work of its people,” she noted.

Secretary Frasco served as Mayor of the Municipality of Liloan from 2016 to 2022, and graduated from Ateneo Law School. Prior to entering public service, she practiced international arbitration and commercial litigation at the Romulo Law Firm and taught as a Professor at the University of San Carlos (USC) College of Law.

“It is my hope that by building bridges of collaboration, we can generate boundless opportunities for livelihood, employment, and business that puts the success of every Filipino tourism stakeholder front and center of our agenda,” enthused the tourism chief.

Boracay, Palawan and Cebu hailed World’s Best Islands; DOT celebrates back-to-back accolades for PHL destinations

The Department of Tourism (DOT) applauded the naming of the country’s three island destinations among “The 25 Best Islands in the World” of the New York-based travel magazine Travel + Leisure (T+L).

Boracay Island featuring its postcard perfect sunset ranked 9th in the T+L World’s Best Island list, followed by the Palawan at 11th with a photo of an idyllic lagoon in El Nido, and Cebu at 16th with Taoist Temple, in Cebu City. According to T+L, readers were asked to “weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.”

Islands in Palawan, Philippines

“The Philippines is truly blessed with the unrivaled beauty of our natural resources coupled by the warmth and endless talent of the Filipinos manifested in this citation of Travel + Leisure that included our Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay in their prestigious list,” Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said.

Boracay and Palawan also topped T+L’s 5 Best Islands in Asia alongside Phuket, Thailand, Bali, Indonesia, and The Maldives. “Travel + Leisure readers fondly recalled pre-COVID-era visits to the best islands in Asia. Now that the region is reopening, they’re surely eager to return to these five ports of call, including the islands of the Maldives, as well as those found in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines,” stated T + L.

“We express our heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to all tourism stakeholders from the public and private sector, the national and local government units, the efforts of the previous administration included, and all the hardworking employees and officials of the Department across the country for forging forward amidst the challenges of the pandemic and contributing in their own ways so our country may earn the title as one of the most beautiful in the world. The natural beauty of a country can truly shine through when we are united in heralding our best qualities,” Frasco added.

Philippines among the 40 Most Beautiful Countries in the World

The Philippines concurrently was named among “The 40 Most Beautiful Countries in the World” by lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler (CNT).

The country is accompanied in the list by other countries such as Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, and United States of America, among others.

Manila among top cities in the World

Meanwhile, also ranked Manila among the top cities in the world. The ranking comes as a result of a survey among city-dwellers worldwide. The choice is a result of several criteria that include aspects like walkability, good public transport, safety, and sustainability other than a thriving nightlife, amazing food and drink, and art and culture. It should be noted, nonetheless, that Manila is usually in reference to Metro Manila or the Philippines’ National Capital Region.

“May this global recognition of the beauty of our natural resources inspire our efforts to raise the Philippines’ standing in the tourism industry by introducing tourism infrastructure development and improvements that would enhance connectivity and convenience in reaching our destinations,” enthused Secretary Frasco.

DOT’s Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) returns to Manila in August 2022

23 June 2022
Director Public Affairs and Advocacy
459-5200 loc 323

MANILA — Time to gear up and get dive-ready as the Department of Tourism (DOT) stages the Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX), the country’s largest platform for the diving community, on August 19 to 21, 2022 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay, Manila.

PHIDEX’s third edition seeks to continue the narrative of conservation, community, and convergence within the diving community through the theme “Back into the Blue: One with the Sea”.
The expo will also showcase the Philippines’ readiness to welcome dive tourists from all over the globe, gathering local and international dive industry experts, dive tour operators, and partner dive businesses to share their ideas and experiences.
“The entry of international travelers is a welcome development that will lead to growth in the travel and tourism sector, restoration of jobs, and the generation of much-needed revenue for tourism-related enterprises and communities. We are optimistic that these economic benefits will also extend to dive destinations around the country. The country remains a leading dive destination, which tourists all over the world are eager to visit after a long wait of two years,” said Tourism Development Undersecretary Woodrow C. Maquiling, Jr.

“The DOT hopes to encourage divers to practice sustainability every time they dive to preserve the country’s seas. Sustainable diving practices are a huge part of the reason why the country’s dive destinations continue to operate despite challenges brought by the pandemic,” Undersecretary Maquiling added.

PHIDEX is the only dive show in the world that combines in one event a Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), a business-to-business (B2B) meeting program for local and international dive operators, dive conference and seminars, and familiarization tours to top and emerging Philippine dive destinations. Exhibition booths will showcase dive resorts and centers in different destinations, as well as top-rated dive gear and equipment.

Through conferences, participants will also have a chance to learn about new dive destinations developed during the pandemic, product updates from key dive destinations, as well as up-todate underwater photography gear showcases. International dive operators will also get to inspect and assess top and emerging dive destinations such as Anilao, Bohol, Camiguin, Coron, Dumaguete, Malapascua, Moalboal, Puerto Galera, Southern Leyte, and Ticao Island through familiarization tours.
At least 100 local and international dive buyers and media from the Philippines, US, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, are expected to attend the
expo. Meanwhile, activities such as Dive TRAVEX and Dive Conference will be accessible online for participants unable to attend due to international border restrictions.

Registration as consumer and trade visitors and exhibition booth reservation will open on June 24, 2022 through For more information regarding the PHIDEX activities, follow Dive Philippines on Facebook ( and Instagram ( or email the PHIDEX Organizing Committee at

WTTC: ‘Astonishing Recovery’ for Philippines’ travel and tourism sector


22 April 2022  
CONTACT:  CZARINA ZARA-LOYOLA  Director  Public Affairs and Advocacy  459-5200 loc 323

Manila, Philippines– World tourism executives and scores of delegates from across the global travel and tourism sector gather in iconic Manila for the 3-day 21st World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit under the theme, “Rediscovering Travel”.

Earlier in the opening ceremony at the Manila Marriot Hotel, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed the WTTC delegates attending in person and online, saying the summit “marks the beginning of a new era” for Philippine tourism.

“Now is the time for us to revive our connections and engagement with people,” she said.

Puyat was joined on stage by WTTC Chair and Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson. On the opening day, the Philippines was lauded by the global tourism leaders attending the event on site.

“Here in Asia-Pacific, the reopening is just beginning. And I have to say I congratulate the Philippines and Minister Bernadette, a nation that showed determination and courage to reignite travel in this region,” Simpson said.

Puyat also served as one of the speakers during the summit’s first panel discussion titled Redefining Travel in a Changing World, sitting alongside Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, Marriott International Group President Craig S. Smith, and The Global Rescue Companies CEO Dan Richards to talk about how travel and tourism sector continue to offer incredible experiences and drive social progress while still protecting health, preserving the environment, and responding to a rapidly changing landscape.

Puyat’s role as a speaker in the summit’s panel discussion emphasizes the importance of being a compelling media spokesperson in the travel and tourism sector. To become one, consider delving into communication training that focuses on the characteristics of a great media spokesperson. Skills such as clarity, authenticity, and the ability to convey complex ideas with simplicity are paramount.

Much like the reopening of the Asia-Pacific region, mastering the art of communication requires determination and courage, ensuring that as a spokesperson, you contribute to shaping a positive narrative for the industry. Seek out courses or workshops that specifically address the nuances of being an effective communicator in the dynamic realm of travel and tourism.

Smith also shared that the sector is well on its way to recovery, sharing his surprise at how fast tourism–in the Philippines–has been bouncing back.

“I’ve never seen a recovery this fast: average rates, first time interest rates. Take the Philippines for example. We have five hotels in the Philippines and we have 15 hotels that are being opened. We want to create these jobs. And so with the help of governments like yours, we see a really bright future going forward that this collaboration is going to do,” remarked Smith.

With the country’s first-ever hosting of the WTTC summit held annually, Puyat emphasized how more communication and engagement between both the government and the private sector can accelerate recovery and sustain growth. She also noted that the Philippines has remained committed to combat the effects of the changing climate and promote green tourism.

According to the WTTC’s projection in its latest Economic Impact Report (EIR), travel and tourism in the Philippines will reach an annual growth rate of 6.7% in the next 10 years, exceeding its overall economy average growth rate of just 5.6 %. The EIR also projects that employment will grow annually by an average of 3% in the same period, generating 2.9 million new jobs that will account for 21.5% of all jobs in the Philippines. Simpson said that the latest EIR for the Philippines signals the astonishing recovery of the country’s Travel & Tourism sector.

DOT: PH to accept fully-vaxxed tourists from visa-free countries starting Feb. 10

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines will start to accept fully-vaccinated foreign leisure travelers from visa-free countries   beginning February 10. 
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat made the announcement today January 28 (Friday) after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the proposal of the Department of Tourism (DOT). 
“We at the DOT are very thankful to our partners in the IATF-EID for approving our proposal to allow the entry of foreign leisure travelers. The Department sees this as a welcome development that will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down during the pandemic,’’ Puyat said. 
“With years of coordination between national agencies, industry stakeholders, and the various local government units (LGUs) to prepare our destinations for tourism in the new normal, we are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our ASEAN neighbors who have already made similar strides to reopen to foreign tourists,” added the tourism chief. 
Puyat clarified that the recent IATF-EID decision will cover only leisure travelers from countries whose nationals are allowed visa-free entry to the Philippines. 
It can be recalled that, last year, the IATF-EID approved the entry of fully vaccinated tourists from Green List countries/territories/jurisdictions starting Dec. 1, 2021 but was temporarily suspended due to the omicron variant. 
Earlier today, the IATF-EID announced the suspension of the country classification system starting Feb. 1, 2022. Also starting Feb. 1, fully-vaccinated returning overseas Filipinos will no longer be required to undergo quarantine as long as they are able  to present a negative result of an RT-PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure from point of origin. 

Likewise, starting Feb. 10 and upon consultation with health experts, qualified leisure travelers will also no longer be required to undergo quarantine as long as they are able to present a negative result of an RT-PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure from point of origin. 
“We are also aware that there is no room for complacency given the unpredictability of the virus. We will closely monitor the situation and ensure that health and safety protocols are strictly implemented in all tourism establishments,” Puyat noted. 
Based on the IATF-EID guidelines, leisure travelers from visa-free countries will be allowed to enter the country, provided that their passports are valid for at least six months at the time of arrival, and they possess outbound tickets to their country of origin or next country of destination. 
Leisure visitors must also carry proof of vaccination against COVID-19 that are recognized by the IATF-EID. They include certificates of vaccination issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), VaxCertPH of the Department of Health (available at, and a national/ state digital certificate of a foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF. 
The list of countries whose nationals are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa are those listed under EO 408 and can be found in this link: 


Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2021

The 33rd class of Best New Chefs will guide the industry toward a stronger, brighter, more equitable future for workers and diners alike.

By Khushbu Shah | September 09, 2021

I don’t know how restaurants work anymore. I’ve come to this conclusion after spending the spring traversing the country (fully vaccinated) and eating in as many cities as I possibly could (fewer than usual, due to the circumstances). Everything was different; even fine dining was to-go. Menus were accessed by QR codes, and it was weeks before I encountered a real plate. But it’s not just the experience of dining that’s different; what it means to be a chef has changed.

This is an industry that was built on a shaky foundation, and the global pandemic put a spotlight on every single crack. But through these cracks, real leadership emerged. Leadership that prioritizes the safety and needs of employees over the whims of customers. Leadership that centers local communities, providing groceries and hot meals for those in need. Leadership that still turns out exceptional cooking that manages to comfort and delight even when the odds are stacked against them.

This year’s class of Best New Chefs exemplifies this approach to leadership. There’s the chef in Austin who is running an ambitious in-house masa program while prioritizing the mental health of his team, and the pastry chef in Washington, D.C., who is baking whimsical desserts that center the flavors of her Dominican heritage while launching bake sales that help combat racism. There’s the scrappy chef in Portland, Oregon, who is making America fall in love with the robust and complex flavors of Filipino food and building a gathering space for his community, and the chef in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who merges Midwestern produce with centuries-old Korean recipes while also compensating her staff well above market standards and providing a slew of benefits.

From coast to coast, the 2021 class of Best New Chefs is reinventing what it means to lead in the kitchen while cooking the food that matters to them most. Restaurants may no longer look the same, but with this class of chefs at the helm, I am excited to see—and eat—what the future holds.

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Matt Horn

Horn Barbecue, Oakland, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

In the crackling flames of the fire he had just lit in his grandmother’s backyard, Matt Horn found his life’s calling. “The smoke is in your face, you’re hearing the wood cracking, you’re seeing the embers, you’re seeing the coals being formed,” he explains. “It was transformative for me. I zoned out. Nothing else around me mattered.” That was it—he was hooked, and there was no going back. Horn knew at that moment that he would spend the rest of his life pursuing the mastery of barbecue. Read more.

Paola Velez

Bakers Against Racism, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Alex Lau

Velez’s pastry creations—which include thick sticky buns rippled with pureed sweet plantain, hefty cookies she calls “thick’ems” packed with matcha powder and white chocolate chunks, and strawberry knafeh, bright pink with fruit and piled high with phyllo shards—are unapologetic in their size and flavor. They refuse to be background notes or secondary to a meal. They are not subtle. They are not fragile. They are celebratory expressions of technique and culture. They are like Velez. Read more.

Carlo Lamagna

Magna Kusina, Portland, OR

Credit: Aubrie Pick

Carlo Lamagna approaches Filipino food like a Grand Prix race car driver: He drives with extreme precision and finesse, but he isn’t afraid to press on the gas. The translucent broth that forms the base of his sinigang at Magna Kusina, Lamagna’s Portland, Oregon, restaurant, has the elegant gleam of consommé but is anything but subtle in flavor. It fully embraces its sour notes, with punches of tamarind knitted together by tomato, fish stock and fish sauce, onions, and garlic. And then there’s the electrifying, elemental funk that ripples through the bagoong alamang, a condiment of fermented shrimp paste spiked with garlic, fish sauce, and palm sugar. It’s a favorite childhood food of Lamagna’s, given a cheffy makeover in a dish called mangga at bagoong alamang: It arrives at the table in a small boat carved out of raw green mango and is covered with a shower of edible flower petals. Read more.

Thessa Diadem

All Day Baby, Los Angeles, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

They say that you eat with your eyes first, and it’s impossible to not have yours widen with hunger when they spot slices of chef Thessa Diadem’s velvety ube pie. It’s one of the newest additions to the pastry case at All Day Baby in Los Angeles, and it is a showstopper. The thick ube custard, a shade of purple so saturated and vivid that Prince would be jealous, sturdily sits up in an impossibly flaky crust. Each piece is topped with a cascade of chamomile-spiked whipped cream puffs that gather like clouds before a rainstorm. Yes, the ube pie is a nod to Diadem’s Filipina heritage (she immigrated to the United States at the age of 13), but it also represents her broader approach in the kitchen: using the most global flavors that she can source locally. Read more.

Fermín Núñez

Suerte, Austin, TX

Credit: Cedric Angeles

You can smell Suerte from a block away. East Sixth Street is one of Austin’s busiest and most energetic thoroughfares, but follow your nose—nostrils inflating to inhale the air thick with the unmistakable smell of toasted corn—and you will find yourself standing in front of chef Fermín Núñez’s altar to all things masa. It’s one of a growing number of restaurants in the country devoted to the art of nixtamalization, a process that prepares dried corn kernels to be ground into the fresh dough used to make tortillas and tostadas so redolent with flavor that they will make you ask if you’ve ever truly tasted corn before. Read more.

Angel Barreto

Anju, Washington, D.C.

Credit: Alex Lau

When Angel Barreto was first setting up the accounts with suppliers for Anju, the restaurant he helms in Washington, D.C., a salesperson didn’t believe that he was serious when he ordered 150 pounds of salted shrimp. Even though the store had the ingredient in stock, the salesperson said he didn’t think that Barreto actually “needed it.” It’s not the first time (nor will it be the last) that someone was surprised that Barreto, who is half Puerto Rican and half Black, with a grin that stretches ear to ear, runs one of D.C.’s most popular Korean restaurants. “There’s very few [chefs] who look like me that cook Asian food, especially Korean food,” he says, with more empathy than frustration in his voice. Read more.

Ji Hye Kim

Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, MI

Credit: Cedric Angeles

“A lot of people have known since the age of 3 that they want to be a chef,” says Ji Hye Kim, who owns Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “That’s not my story at all. I was 30 when I started thinking about it.” Kim grew up in Seoul, South Korea, on a steady stream of spectacular meals. Her mom was a talented and passionate cook, so in many ways Kim, now 43, took good food for granted. “It has always been there in my life.” But Kim’s mom would never let her help out in the kitchen, and at a certain point Kim stopped trying. Read more.

Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith

Saint-Germain, New Orleans, LA

Credit: Cedric Angeles

Chefs Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith are, to put it frankly, huge nerds. The chefs and co-owners of Saint-Germain in New Orleans openly geek out over ikejime, a Japanese fish-butchering technique (it’s considered more humane and helps keeps their menu prices down), or the results of a fermentation experiment (transforming scraps of venison into garum, a fish sauce–like condiment that takes three months to make). It’s hard to resist getting caught up in their earnest and infectious excitement. Read more.

Gaby Maeda

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco, CA

Credit: Aubrie Pick

“Every day when I go to work, I am just as excited as I was on day one,” declares Gaby Maeda. Maeda is the chef de cuisine at the San Francisco stalwart State Bird Provisions, where she and her team whip up a menu of bright and punchy California cuisine, heavy on the local produce and with strong Asian influences. She has worked in professional kitchens for over a decade and a half, and that is where she is happiest. “All I want to do is work hard with my team and grow with them every day.” Read more.

Lucas Sin

Nice Day, New York, NY

Credit: Alex Lau

Lucas Sin is on a mission to perfect General Tso’s chicken. His goal: to make a version of the sticky-sweet, deep-fried poultry dish for Nice Day, his modern American Chinese restaurant in New York, that retains its crispness when delivered, with a sauce that’s viscous but not gloopy, garlicky but not too hot. General Tso’s is one of the most popular items at American Chinese restaurants around the country, and yet, according to Sin’s research, there is no standard way to make it. He has combed through cookbooks, spent hours scouring the internet, tasted as many versions as he could track down, and spoken on the phone with Chinese chefs around the country, but no one can agree on what makes General Tso’s so distinctively delicious. Read more.

PHIDEX 2021 makes a splash in the international dive market

PADI Ambassadiver and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao discusses the local dive industry’s environmental protection efforts in his talk entitled “Lockdown Blue: Environmental Efforts During the Pandemic”

MANILA – The challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic could not stop diving enthusiasts and industry experts from coming together in the first-ever all-digital Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT), from March 19 to 21 via virtual conferencing.

Over 2,000 diving enthusiasts from around the world attended this year’s iteration of the Philippines’ largest platform for the diving community, which was established in 2019. This year’s event, themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” brought everyone together to raise awareness and discuss solutions for the local diving industry’s recovery.

Sulubaai Environmental Foundation Founder and President Frederic Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray talk about Marine Protected Area (MPA) management in Pangatalan Island, Palawan

“With the gradual activation of dive travel and tourism in various parts of the country, an event such as this is even more crucial for the recovery of the dive industry,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in her opening speech on the first day of the expo.

“As the Philippines is widely recognized by scientists as the center of marine biodiversity, it is fitting that we lead the region in mounting an event that reflects our world-class diving.”

Various international leaders and experts in their respective fields spoke in 17 different panel discussions and talk sessions at the three-day expo, with around a hundred attendees watching each session. These include California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Ambassador and Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, just to name a few.

PHIDEX’s main thrust is to advocate for the sustainability of the local diving industry and marine environments, with a number of key sessions on the topic.

One was the talk of Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation president Frederic Tardieu, in which he tackled the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and restoration of ecosystems. Tardieu and project manager Laure Thierry de Ville D’avray went into great detail about their work in creating 150 hectares of MPAs around Pangatalan Island in Palawan and sharing these efforts and knowledge with the locals.

Roni Ben-Aharon from Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards shares sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry

Another was the session by Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards Sales Manager and Roni Ben-Aharon on sustainable tourism practices in the dive industry. Ben-Aharon zeroed in on three important factors of sustainability: the environment, the people affected, and the communities that operate in the area. She shared easy-to-do measures that locals can take to help protect marine environments, citing cases from different places in the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines and Guide to the Philippines offer discounted fares and dive holiday packages through their virtual booth
Turkish Airlines promotes their “Diving Equipment Fly for Free” program through their virtual exhibition booth

A third talk was that of Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) Commissioner and PADI Ambassadiver Bo Mancao, in which he discussed the environmental efforts of the local dive industry during the pandemic-induced shutdown and issues that arose because of it. Mancao shared stories of coastal clean-ups and preservation drives around Cebu, and also shed light on the resilience of the residents of Malapascua Island.

Expo-goers also had the opportunity to score exclusive PHIDEX deals on diving equipment, accessories, and travel experiences from the 64 exhibitors, dealers, and partners present in the event’s virtual exhibition. Over 2,000 business and networking leads were generated by the Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) meetings.

Mares virtual exhibition booth features discounted dive equipment and gear on sale

“With health and safety protocols in place to ensure the safe reopening of our destinations, we are taking this opportunity to pivot towards sustainable solutions,” Puyat stressed.

For more information and updates on PHIDEX and the Philippine dive industry, like Dive Philippines on Facebook at, follow @dotdivephilippines on Instagram, or visit

Our Sea, Our Story: PHIDEX 2021 dives into digital

MANILA – In its thrust to help support and sustain the country’s diving industry, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is presenting this year’s Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) online via virtual conferencing from March 19 to 21, 2021.

PHIDEX is the Philippines’ largest platform for the diving community since 2019. The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the event going digital for the time being, but the new format will allow the expo to reach even more members of the diving community.

As COVID-19 has hit the local diving industry and those who depend on it, this year’s PHIDEX, themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” aims to raise awareness and discuss solutions into accelerating the industry’s recovery.

“As the Philippines is known around the world for its diving destinations, it is truly important that we do everything we can to sustain the local diving industry. The latest recognition we received was from the 2020 World Travel Awards which named the Philippines as the World’s Leading Dive Destination. This year’s PHIDEX is a step in the right direction to sustain our gains toward recovery, for all to enjoy the natural wonders our archipelago can provide,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who will formally open the event.

This year’s PHIDEX will host discussions and talks by a number of prominent international personalities who are experts on the sea.

Some notable names confirmed for the event are California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, PADI Ambassador and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich, to name a few. Each speaker will be going in depth on topics relevant to the diving industry and the protection of Philippine seas.

Expo participants will be able to view all these lectures and panel discussions on the event website, which will host three stages: the main stage, the expo stage, and the panel stage. The website will also serve as a space for divers and enthusiasts to purchase experiences and equipment from partners and exhibitors, as it will also have a virtual marketplace section called the Dive Travel Exchange, or TRAVEX.

Divers and enthusiasts can now register for PHIDEX 2021 for free at until March 21.

For more information and updates on the Philippine International Dive Expo, like PHIDEX on Facebook at, follow @dotdivephilippines on Instagram, or visit