Picture yourself walking down the beach, with sparkling sands massaging your feet and the sun prompting a dose of sweat, as your leg and arm muscles get their fix of desirable motion. All of this, as your senses take in a spell-binding view of forests and mountains and the fresh whiff of sea air.
Imagine the relaxing experience of being enthralled and living in the moment. Imagine the healing of your aches and pains and the leveling off of your anxieties and stresses, your natural responses surrounding you. And you beam with joy at having responded to the call to visit the Philippines.
With a backdrop like this repeating itself in most of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands, truly the Philippines is a wonder to behold as a destination for wellness and healing of the mind, body and spirit.
The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), the government arm mandated to develop and promote the Philippines as a tourist destination, includes the Philippine Health and Wellness Program as one of its anchor strategies to attract visitors who can both benefit from its noteworthy offerings for wellness and medical procedures, as well as its health-oriented tourism packages.
Through the Public-Private Partnership Task Force on Globally Competitive Philippine Industries, the Philippine Department of Tourism collaborates with internationally-acclaimed medical service providers, as well as Philippine based medical service providers, for the growth of the Philippine Health and Wellness program.
The DOT is fully convinced that its host of health-enhancing travel packages, coupled with the value for money proposition of medical treatment and procedures in the country and the excellent facilities and world-class levels of expertise of its medical practitioners altogether present the Philippines as a major player in global health and wellness tourism.
Tourism Secretary Ace Durano says, “The Philippines welcomes guests to discover and take advantage of the value for money offered by the health and wellness tourism program through high quality medical services. These services are offered with a distinctive kind of care that allows visitors to feel the compassion and hospitality of the Filipino people.
Clients who have experienced these medical and value for money advantages echo this vital lure of the country – the warmth and friendliness of its people. Amid the Philippines’ easy tropical setting, the Filipino people’s hospitality and effervescence lighten up the hearts of visitors who come for therapy and rejuvenation.
The mindset for de-stressing and rest, likewise comes easier for clients who appreciate the tremendous savings on treatment and procedures that are only from one-tenth to one-third of the usual costs in North America, Europe or Australia. With cost-savings as a major attraction for Philippine health and wellness tourism, it is not surprising that the country’s top medical institutions are putting in their energies to promote the industry overseas.
The DOT, likewise, sets a precedent in promoting and developing wellness tourism programs for its establishment of the Office of Sports and Wellness Tourism, headed by Undersecretary Cynthia Carrion.
Reconnecting Roots ~ Discovering Clues from Nature
The mantra of taking breaks from routine and, oftentimes, sedentary work only presents its fullest benefits when the right choices for vacation sites are made. In this travel front, clients who are coming over with the medical aspect in mind can choose from the wide array of destinations and experiences offered by the Philippines.
Those whose families originate from the Philippines would do well to reestablish or reconnect with their roots, providing them better psychic balance through the understanding and appreciation of their past in relation to their present. Heritage and cultural tours bring travelers to eras gone, but where hidden memories remain.
The Vigan cultural heritage tour in Ilocos Sur province, listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, showcases the highest concentration of ancestral homes (180 of them) of unique Filipino architecture, blending influences from Mexico, Europe and China. Many of these homes now operate as souvenir shops, museums, and inns. Farther up in the same province is Laoag, which is lined by excellent beaches in Curimao and Pagudpud and more remnants of the rich Ilocano past.
In the mountainous Cordilleras are the famous Rice Terraces, an ancient architectural wonder also listed as World Heritage site. A magnificent work of the Ifugao tribe, it is a tribute to the ingenuity of the Philippine tribal population. Tours that link up to the tribal cultures abound in the country; provide exhilarating experiences of ethnic sounds, dances and traditions that remind man of the salient principles of respect, co-existence and living in harmony with nature.
Eco-tourism and adventure packages are available for closer encounters with exquisite delights from nature. Enjoyment of butanding whale shark sightings in Donsol, Sorsogon, exploration of mysterious caves, admiration of exotic flora and in richly endowed Palawan, trekking on Mt. Pinatubo in Luzon and Mt. Apo in Davao, diving off the Tubbataha reef for a glimpse of amazing numbers of coral species and genra are only some of the possibilities for travelers seeking a breather from boxed-in contemporary living.
Since many physical ailments and emotional maladies can be traced to a state of spiritual barrenness, enriching and uplifting spiritual outreach in the Philippines can take place in profound ways. Pilgrimage sites in the country, especially for Catholic devotions, are now offering retreats and reflections that go well beyond the mere physical appreciation of beautiful and age-old shrines and churches in the country.
Put together, well-selected travel experiences go beyond sensory stimulation. They dwell into life-changing re-alignments of priorities and attitudes to return to health and promote wellness in the holistic sense.
Cynthia L. Carrion is the Undersecretary for the Sports and Wellness Industry of the Philippine Department of Tourism. She may be reached by contacting the Department of Tourism at http://www.philippinetourism.us.