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As a butler pulls up the shade and exposes floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking a private country club, you partake of the high tea that have been prepared for you. You then notice a flurry of motion from the sports club grounds; the horse race has begun. It may sound like a scene set in luxurious manors in the Hamptons or in opulent countryside villas, but you actually are at the St. Regis Bangkok, where that luxury and opulence are all within reach. Read more…

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For the first time ever, MTV Asia will be staging MTV Music Evolution Manila 2015, and they’ve chosen our very own capital city to host this grand event. Come May 17, the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park will be transformed to an energized venue for the hip-hop extravaganza. Excited? Here are what you should know about the event. Read more…

4 - VJ Yassi Pressman, Paras Sharma, Abra, Domingo Ramon C. Enerio III, Mark Whitehead, VJ Alan Wong

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Towards the end of last year, I flew Jetstar Asia from Manila to Bangkok and back, both ways via Singapore. Although there was an option to fly direct, going on connecting flights meant I was able to transit through and thoroughly explore the world-class Changi Airport, experience the airline’s awesome aircraft and service, and savor the inflight menu. As a lover of airline food, it was my pleasure, of course, to try Jetstar Asia’s three hot meals onboard. Read more…

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Thanks to Spotify, my trips up in the air, over land, and across seas have been fueled by the latest pop and dance tracks. Surprisingly, it has already been a year since we Filipinos first experienced the wonderful streaming app, so at their birthday party held recently, we celebrated what Spotify has achieved over the year and the exciting things to come.

Our friends at Spotify were so thrilled to share that the Philippines is the second-fastest growing market for the app globally after Canada and the biggest in Asia-Pacific. This feat is bolstered by a record-breaking 2.5 billion streams across the country—the largest in Asia in a matter of a year from launch. Further, it’s incredible how the service is now being used by one out of five Filipinos with internet access, 60% of whom stream from their mobile phones.

Globe Telecom, the Philippines’ leading telecommunications and digital lifestyle company, is hand-in-hand with Spotify in achieving these milestones. After all, 70% of the app’s mobile users are on Globe, thanks to GoSURF offerings that come bundled with free allocations specific for the app and access to Spotify Premium on top of regular mobile data.

After a year, what’s next for Spotify here in the Philippines? Well, for one, they are affirming their support for OPM by launching the first-ever Spotify Sessions that features the comeback of alternative band Hale. Spotify Sessions is a series that propels exciting local artists into the global digital airwaves through intimate and exclusive performances and content.

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Nestea Beach will once again invade the shores of Boracay Island with an array of exciting happenings. From April 30th to May 3rd or the #LaBoracay2015 weekend, expect parties, events, a cleanup, and good ol’ beach volleyball from the beloved iced tea brand. Read more…

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Labor Day weekend is fast approaching, and once again, we’re hitting the shores of Boracay for another epic edition of #GlobeLaBoracay. This year, our friends from Globe Telecom, our partner for a fully digital lifestyle, have outdone themselves from last year by coming up with an even bigger lineup of parties, events, discounts, and perks for its subscribers. Read more…

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Since last year, we travel bloggers, as well as the stakeholders and those in the know, already knew that our Department of Tourism (DOT) was coming up with the Visit Philippines Year 2015 (VPY 2015) campaign. Last year was Visit Malaysia Year 2014, so it isn’t hard to surmise that the idea came from our most proximate ASEAN neighbor.

To be honest, we haven’t heard much about the campaign throughout, save for a few press conferences, events, and advertisements, until a couple of weeks back when the Malacanang Palace came up with Proclamation 991 that declares VPY 2015 four months too late.

The objectives are simple—to pull up visitor arrivals and tourism receipts and bank on the success of the It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign. But the execution is far too lackluster.

What the campaign has so far significantly achieved are a handful of fresh commercials, presence in international travel expos, a micro-site, and a calendar that collates the events happening this year. But in the Philippines itself, there’s no big gimmick that promotes the event, not even a reminder in tourist spots that it is VPY 2015. Do Filipinos and the majority of foreign visitors even know that it is VPY 2015? I’m no expert, but at the rate the DOT is going, I’m at a loss how this marketing effort will ever be effective.

Mounting a successful campaign is indubitably expensive, and unfortunately, there’s not a lot of funding the DOT can work on, given that tourism isn’t even among the top ten priorities in the 2015 appropriations. See, that’s where the problem lies and will lieuntil such a time when this country sees what money sustainable tourism can rake in. They should’ve treated VPY 2015 as an investment with great economic returns, but it seems to be an opportunity missed.

For comparison, just last year, Malaysia earmarked a whopping 115 million USD for tourism in conjunction with their Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign. With clear-cut objectives of bringing 28 million tourist arrivals and 76 million MYR in tourism receipts, the campaign was well-thought-out and well-executed through a series of big events and festivals, a song and music video, generous budgets on promotions, and an opening program in Kuala Lumpur with impressive 3D mapping, fireworks, and a whole lot of pageantry.

Surely, to compare Philippines and Malaysia given our countries’ income levels would be like apples and oranges, yet there is a glaring difference on how tourism is placed as a priority on the national agenda. In Malaysia, locals are enjoined to be nationalistic and take a holiday in their own country (cuti-cuti), while here, sadly, the budget is too negligible to even cover domestic markets.

The fact that the proclamation was only signed on March 30th, short of four months after VPY 2015 was supposed to have started, is concrete proof of what little effort the government is exerting on this campaign and on tourism in general. It’s unlikely that they can do anything better at this point, given how Philippine bureaucracy and funding mechanisms work, yet I’m positive they can plan the next VPY better—perhaps in 2020 when there’s a new president who hopefully possesses the strong will to stimulate the potential of Philippine tourism.