Love CALABARZON, Love the Philippines!

The CALABARZON Region, an acronym for its five component provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, is known for its rich culture, breathtaking sceneries, and delectable food. This is why the Department of Tourism has chosen the region for the second leg of the Philippine Experience Program — showcasing cultural tourism circuit development focused on the heritage, culture, and arts of the country’s various regions.

From 30 September to 2 October 2023, delegates of the PEP, including foreign dignitaries from various Embassies, as well as tour operators, travel agencies, vloggers, and members of the media, were given the chance to explore the wonders of CALABARZON.

The first stop of the PEP was the shrine in the ancestral home of the country’s first President, Emilio Aguinaldo, the place where the country’s first national anthem was played and where the Philippine flag unfurled.

Delegates later served the Magdiwang and Magdalo breakfasts, a simple yet rich morning feast consisting of Cavite’s products: the Amadeo garlic fried rice, tuyo, tapa, scrambled eggs and hot chocolate.

Delegates had a glimpse of the remarkable talents of 51 competing marching bands all over the country at the Bakood Festival, coinciding with the 352nd Founding Anniversary of the City of Bacoor, the marching band capital of the country.

PEP participants took an epic trip down memory lane to revisit a small town in Taal, Batangas, richly endowed with well-preserved towers, which made Taal an inspirational cornerstone and pillar of Filipino history.

Casa San Pablo was the first itinerary during PEP’s second day, where participants learned how coconut, the main product of San Pablo City, evolved and produced by-products such as lambanog (traditional Filipino distilled coconut palm liquor), vinegar, masapan de buko, macapuno and buko pie, among others.

Lunch was served while participants’ feet were dipped at Villa Escudero, Atimonan, Quezon’s gem. The resort plantation offers sumptuous Filipino delis. A cultural show was also shown during guests’ relaxation at the plantation.

On the last day, PEP delegates experienced the Magdapio River’s turbulent current while riding bancas to Pagsanjan (Cavinti) Falls in Laguna, maneuvered by expert and skillful boatmen.

Paete wood carvers, which the small town of Laguna is known for, also amazed delegates as they saw how these woodcarvers etched their family’s legacy in the town’s history.

Delegates were welcomed at Lumban, Laguna, by energetic pupils wearing ternos and barongs. The streets of Lumban offer a wide array of shops selling embroidered Barong Tagalog and Filipinianas, the trademark of Laguna’s oldest town.

The Philippine Experience Program is just one of the many projects of Secretary Cristina Garcia Frasco. It aims to diversify the cultural tourism product offerings of the country, equalize opportunities across the regions, support the preservation of the country’s heritage and artistic resources and assets, and, most importantly, instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the Filipino people through a greater appreciation of the country’s inheritance and legacy.

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