Taking road trips to the next level
Everytime a typical Pinoy motorist learns the ropes of driving, the natural tendency is to do the proverbial “break in,” or a long-distance trip to test the car’s mettle and see the interesting sights in the countryside.
And for many, this will be the start of a lifestyle of road trips with family and friends, which reflects his adventurous character.
While the impromptu trips provide excitement, there are things that shouldn’t be left to chance, such as security, road safety, and quality food and accommodation, among other things, especially for big and professional groups.
It is for these reasons that AAP Travel, the motor tourism arm of the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), has been organizing a series of caravans around key spots in the country to emphasize road safety and promote domestic tourism.
During the past several years, the group has driven to touristic provinces such as Ifugao, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Sur, Rizal, Cavite, Oriental Mindoro, Negros Occidental, Bulacan, Laguna, Quezon, Bohol, Batanes, Iloilo and Guimaras.
A brainchild of former Department of Tourism secretary Mina Gabor, who also heads AAP Travel, their series of caravans is in conjunction with the drive tourism program being put in place by the DOT to encourage domestic travel to spread the economic benefits in the countryside.
“One big advantage of the AAP Travel caravans are the organized itineraries where routes are well-planned and coordinated with local authorities and stakeholders in the communities to ensure road safety, orderly traffic and adequate parking,” she enthused.
She noted that “caravaners” are hosted by governors, mayors and DOT regional directors, and escorted by the police, to give them a taste of local hospitality and culture through music and dance.
This is something that a typical self-arranged road trip can’t offer.
This year, AAP Travel has lined up an interesting list of advocacy events, exciting caravans around sought-after destinations, and its first-ever one out-of-the-country trip.
Its first event kicks off with the Capas Freedom March on April 11, a World War II memorial event that immortalizes the gallant defense of Filipino and American troops against Japan.
Now on its fourth edition, the 10.5-km dawn march retraces the last leg of the infamous Death March where Filipino and American prisoners of war were forced to do a 106-km walk from Mariveles, Bataan to Tarlac, after they surrendered to Japan in 1942.
Tens of thousands of POWs died during the march and in the course of their three-year incarceration.
Supported by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the annual commemorative event will be joined by AAP members, personnel from the uniformed services, employees from various government agencies, student groups, and civil society organizations.
On May 25 to 26, the group rolls into Pampanga for a caravan around the heritage sites, museums, farm tourism resorts, and notable restaurants in the country’s so-called “Culinary Capital.”
Participants will get to feast on delectable signature Pampango delicacies such as sisig, palabok, halo-halo, kamaru, to name a few.
A fly-drive caravan heads south to the city of Davao in AAP Travel’s first foray to Mindanao from Aug. 23 to 26 .
Caravaners will fly via Philippine Airlines, and will be driven around the city’s vast land area, tropical attractions, highland resorts, farm tourism sites, indigenous tribal domains, and indulge in fresh seafoods and exotic fruits such as durian, marang, mangosteen and pomelo.
Road tripping takes on a new level with the 16-day Marian Pilgrimage Tour of Europe from Oct. 12 to 27, which takes caravaners to key cities in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, noted for their devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Joiners will fly to Lisbon in Portugal, and will be motored to Fatima, Salamanca, Avila, Loyola, Lourdes, Cote D’Azur, Monaco, Lucca, Florence, Assisi, and Rome, Italy, for the flight back to Manila.
Concluding the year is a highland tour to Baguio and neighboring towns of Benguet on Dec. 6 to 8, to take advantage of the cool weather and festive Christmas atmosphere in the City of Pines.
For this caravan, guests will get to drive their own vehicles in an organized convoy to enable them to admire the roadside sceneries at their own pace.
Gabor noted that the caravans have integrated visits to popular farm resorts to highlight the Philippines’s emerging farm tourism sector, which she helped come to fruition and is now a sought-after trend by road travellers.
She added that official fuel partner Petron will provide Petron Value Card worth P1,000 of credits to participants.
In addition to organizing caravans, AAP Travel has also taken the lead in promoting world-class tourism in the big city through the Metro Manila Tourism Forum set in July.
Now on its third year, the event will gather experts in urban tourism, both here and abroad, and industry and government stakeholders to put forward a sustainable program in the metropolis.
She concluded that with the motoring advocacies being pushed by AAP Travel, people will never look at road tripping in the same way again.
Visit www.aaptravel.com.ph or e-mail [email protected] for more information on the caravans and events.
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