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PIA Press Release

PAL top travel agents awarded int'l tickets, Macau trip

by BC Gomez

Davao City (23 August) -- Top travel agents in Mindanao were awarded international tickets and familiarization trip to Macau by the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) second week of August 2008.

Six top sellers from Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City were awarded plane tickets to the United States of America, a familiarization trip (FOC tickets only) to Macau, China, and plaques of appreciation.

Tita M. Manabat, manager of the PAL Davao City Ticketing Office, said these travel agents have been performing well and continously selling both outbound and inbound trips for PAL for years now. Several familiarization trips are on the list with Macau as its initial salvo. The second is Bangkok, Thailand and Los Angeles and Honolulu, USA. The Bangkok group leaves Saturday while the US fam trips will be in October and November this year.

The group led by Evelyn "Batch" Borda of Pan Asia World Holiday Travel, a consistent topnotcher-Golden awardee, and Atty. Robert de Leon, official escort from PAl were joined by Alex Lee, tour guide from Estoril Tours Macau in the 3-day sight-seeing trip.

Other participants were: Christine Baluyot of Mt. Apo Travel & Tours; Jazzie Ann Marie of CM Tan Travel, silver awardees; Johnny Tan of Frontier Travel; Bong Dumadag, AME Travel; Chastity Ann Sarmiento, Lite Travel, bronze awardees; and, joiner Lorna Siega of DLS Travel.

Topping the participants' itinerary was the visit to Venetian Macau Resort-Hotel; St. Paul Church Ruins; Am-a Temple; Senado Square; Macau Grand Prix Museum; Macau Wine Museum;Hackett Macau Tower; New Yaohan Department Store; the ferry and airport terminals which are located side by side.

Other destinations werebrief visits to other big hotels like the Grand Lisboa, MGM Grand, Wynn Macau, Grand Emperor, Star World and Sands Macau.

Another trip made was a special ride to the 3 long bridges of Macau which connect them to its mainland province of Guangdong. One of the bridges has a man-made volcano nearby while another bridge connects to a man-made lake. All these were sights to behold as Macau is only a small peninsula and yet it has 3 beautifully designed bridges. Turbo jets and fast crafts going to Hongkong and other parts of China pass under these bridges.

It was concluded by a visit to the Fisherman's Wharf and Rock Hotel.

Manabat said the group was billeted in a 4-star hotel, Beverly Plaza as part of its tour package of $180.00. per person. It included a 3-day, 3-night stay; to andf from airport transfers to the hotel; free entrance to the Hackett Macau Tower; free buffet breakfast for 3 days; a buffet lunch at Dragon Hotel and Dinner to Dumbo Restaurant plus the services of a tour guide and shuttle bus during the 3-day stay. A cheap way to travel to Macau under its different promo rates, she added.

The Beverly Plaza Hotel is a 5-minute walk to Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino, a hotel partly-owned by Stanley Ho.Grand Emperor Hotel and Casino is another 5-minute walk form the other side of the hotel. Grand Emperor Hotel is partly owned by Jackie Chan.

The Senado Square which is 10-5 minutes from the hotel is the main shopping area aside from specialty shops either inside big hotels or along main streets. It is very near the St. Paul's Church Ruins which got burned about 4 centuries ago. Tourists flock the area as several other religious sites of interest abound. The Am-a Temple which is little farther is the most famous temple in the Macau area.

Few meters away, pastry stores selling delicacies like egg rolls, candies made of powdered milk which come in different flavors and preserved pork including pork jerky. Even ginger is being sold and presented as product. Packaging is comparable to candies, delicacies and chocolates in the United States and Europe. What is more inviting is the store have one sampler for each product and the visitor is usually tempted to buy despite the language problem.

Take note most of residents of Macau don't speak English except for those who work in the front desks of hotels and department stores. Taxi drivers usually require calling cards or address of a tourist's destination otherwise one will not get a taxi ride in Macau. Flag down rate is MOP(pataka) $11. A $100 bill is equivalent to MOP 780. But, there is something that Macau and the Philippines have one in common, a tricycle. Their's is made of a thicker galvanized iron sheet is limited to 2 passengers though. Common transport is the public shuttle which has specific destinations or routes.

Their motorcycles are however parked separately but adjacent to the the cars. They are parked in single lines only thereby creating one long line in a specific area. Definitely one clear sign of discipline among the residents. Passengers waiting for a bus or taxicab fall in line, And, there is no smog in Macau, no air pollution as could be checked on one's shirts or nose strils at the day's end.

PAL's vice-presidetn for Mindanao, Atty. Domingo Duerme who also joined the fam trip with his wife said the trip was interesting and exciting as Macau was far from its original state almost 2 decades ago.

A tourist can cross Hongkong within an hour and will only cost between P2,400.00-P2,500.00 depending on seacraft. Only a passport is needed to travel to Hongkong and one can tavel back to Macau or vice-versa if one opts not to spend the evening there.

Modern Macau is growing in size as more buildings are being built on reclaimed areas. Not only does growth come in terms on infratructure but with the number of visitors who visit Macau either as tourist or a businessman.

Alex Lee, of Estoril Tours Macau, said Macau relies mainly on tourists and income from casinos. About 80-90% of its visitors come to Macau to play in the casinos. There are 29 casinos operating in Macau at present and there are more being built. No wonder it has gained the title of the Las Vegas in Asia.

The Venetian Macau Resort-Hotel could probably be the biggest hotel in terms of the number of rooms at 3,000. The hotel prides itself with biggest number of people visiting the hotel everyday but more come on weekends. Duty Free shops abound in the ground and second level of the hotel. But the area dedicated to the casino is quite big. At the 3rd and 4th levels is the mini-theater which appears to be situated in an open area as the ceiling resemblesthat of a clear sky in the early evening.A portion also is dedicated to a man-made lake where gondolas carry passengers reminiscent of Venice. Americn and Filipino artist perform several times at night everyday.

Business starts late in Macau. Most stores open at 10:00 in the morning or at noontime. And the sun sets late in Macau. At 5:00 in the evening one would believe it is still 5pm. Tourists come to Macau not only to play in the casino but for shopping as travellers would have a good time with the budget-prices garments, beautufully designed jewelry, electronic products and more. Prices are comparable to Hongkong.

Other joiners of the trip were: Maria Filipinas Manabat; Bing Jumamil; Mark Jim Manabat; Catrina Louella Estanislao, Mercedes Victoria Medina; Dr. Fred Medina of CHDC Hospital and Arnold King of Good Fortune Travel. (PIA) [top]

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