Winter Escapade Sizzles Canadians
24 January 2014 – Some 240 tourists from all over Canada today wrapped up a six-day visit to the islands of Panay and Guimaras with their hearts warmed by Filipino hospitality wherever they went.
Led by Philippine Ambassador to Canada Leslie B. Gatan, the first Winter Escapade tour gathered Canadian snowbirds, mostly of Filipino heritage, for a journey of discovery in Kalibo, Boracay, Roxas City, Iloilo City and Guimaras from January 18 to 23.
Escaping Canada’s icy temperatures, participants hit the ground dancing to the beat of the Ati-Atihan drums in Kalibo on January 18. Another fiesta greeted the group upon arrival on the same day in Boracay where the Ati-Atihan spirit conspired with the breathtaking white sand beach to animate even jet-lagged visitors to join a second round of vigorous dancing with the island’s children.
In Roxas City, the Canadian visitors were moved by expressions of gratitude for Canada’s help in clearing roads and providing emergency assistance in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
En route to Iloilo City on January 20, Winter Escapade participants were given a preview of yet another local tradition known as the Pintados festival in Passi City. The brief stopover also acquainted the guests with the city’s products such as pineapple wine.
A day trip to Guimaras on January 22 proved to be a fitting close to the hectic Panay island tour. From the port to the provincial capital, school children danced for their Canadian visitors while some lined up the street leading to the Oro Verde Mango Plantation where participants eagerly picked the famed Guimaras fruit to bring home.
The Winter Escapade participants met with President Benigno S. Aquino III at Malacañan Palace on January 24.
Praises for the tour and the people of Iloilo, Capiz and Guimaras abound.
“The tour is worth every penny and more. The faces of those little children in Guimaras warmed our hearts. We were moved by the hospitality in each place we visited. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” exclaimed Nora Arriola and Maura David of Ottawa.
Already, Ambassador Gatan is planning to institutionalize Winter Escapade as an annual tour with the next trip set for February 2014 in central Visayas.