Travel website 'Choose Philippines' gives the real deal on PH destinations

By Karen Galarpe,

Posted at Apr 16 2011 05:04 PM | Updated as of Apr 18 2011 01:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos and foreigners looking for the real deal on what to see, where to go, what to eat, and where to stay in the Philippines will find the newly launched Choose Philippines website helpful.

The travel website with the URL promises to give "accurate and up-to-date information about the places, food and culture of the Philippines from a uniquely Filipino perspective," according to a statement released by the ABS-CBN Regional Network Group (RNG), which publishes the website.

Launched on April 15, Choose Philippines is touted as the first geo-social networking website on travel, places, events, food, and people of the Philippines.

Content will be sourced from ABS-CBN RNG and its 32 bureaus in the country, as well as from netizens here and abroad.

First started on Facebook (its page currently has more than 200,000 "likes"), Choose Philippines was built "because we wanted everyone, both Pinoys and non-Pinoys, to experience our country," said Jerry Bennett, ABS-CBN RNG Head.

“I love the Philippines, really! For me, it's a country like no other. It’s my bragging right, my claim to fame that I am a Filipino. I've traveled this nation from north to south, east to west and I can only utter phrases of thanksgiving for the charm and the grandeur of the Philippines!” Bennett said.

According to Charie Villa, News Head of ABS-CBN RNG, the site's objective is to entice global tourists to come to the Philippines and to make Filipinos proud of what we have in the country. "They need not go out to look for hope. The opportunities are here," she said.

At the same time, Villa said they hope to help the government in promoting tourism, and in nudging them to protect the resources we have, and improve what needs to be improved.

"The info will be honest and sincere. It's like Lonely Planet. We will tell you if there is niknik in the beach, if it will take 3 days to reach a place, et cetera," Villa said.

The site will also cover all places, and not just Boracay, Coron and other popular tourist spots.

"Our country has 7,107 islands and we intend to comb for hidden treasures and well-kept secrets. We hope you could help us. We believe Filipinos are naturally proud of their heritage: the islands they call home, their culture and even their food that they would like to share with the world," ABS-CBN RNG said in a statement.

According to the World Tourism Organization, some 1 billion tourists traveled in 2010. Fifteen million of them went to Thailand, 30 million visited Hong Kong, while only 3 million people traveled to the Philippines.

The website organizers believe tourism is a growth sector in the country that needs a lot of support.

And if tourism grows, Filipinos need not go abroad to work as local tourism can provide sustainable livelihood.

Choose Philippines will also support the hyper-local business ventures of Filipinos in the provinces. It will give small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to promote and advertise their businesses "on a platform with a guaranteed and ever-growing audience."

Filipino residents and foreign visitors can register on the website for free and share their experiences about their travels, adventures, misadventures, and photos. Contributions (stories and photos) may be e-mailed to [email protected] is the online news department of ABS-CBN Interactive Inc., a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corp.