SAN FRANCISCO — The Philippine Department of Tourism office in San Francisco formally launched the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program in the Bay Area last October 27, 2017 at the Kalayaan Hall in the Philippine Center Building.
Tourism Undersecretary Katherine De Castro was a special guest at the formal launching, which was also attended by Tourism Attaché Purificacion Suanding-Molintas, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon and other officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General.
Invited guests, travel agents and community leaders had a chance to listen to the mechanics of the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines),” which was a successful project in the 1990s for the Department of Tourism headed by then-Secretary Mina Gabor.
According to a video presentation shown at the event featuring celebrity Piolo Pascual, joining the program is very easy – just Invite, Accept, Travel and Register!
Filipino citizens (Filipinos with dual citizenship living in the Philippines or abroad as residents or contract workers, or expatriates living in the Philippines permanently or temporarily for at least six months prior to the raffle) can invite their friends and become a sponsor, and log on to www.bringhomeafriend.online. Their invitees, who must be Filipino dual citizens or any foreign passport holder who are not residents of the Philippines, can accept their invitation and qualify as an invitee. The invitees must travel to the Philippines within the specified period in order to qualify for this promotion. After travel is completed, invitees must complete the registration process by uploading travel documents such as their tickets or boarding passes.
Once registration is successful, invitees will receive a notification, along with an electronic coupon. The number of coupons will depend on the invitee’s point of origin: Asia gets 1 entry; Middle East and Australia/Oceania gets 2 entries; Africa and Europe gets 3 entries; and North/South America also gets 3 entries.
The grand drawing will be held in April 2018, with winners selected via electronic raffle draw.
Prizes for the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program are as follows: (For Sponsors) 1st prize, Megaworld’s Eastwood Le Grand condominium unit; 2nd prize, brand new Toyota Vios; 3rd prize, Duty Free gift certificate worth P200,000.
Invitees will also be awarded prizes: 1st prize – two roundtrip international business class tickets, two roundtrip domestic tickets to Palawan, 6day/5night stay at El Nido Hotel & Resort; 2nd prize – two roundtrip premium economy class tickets, two roundtrip domestic tickets to Cebu, 5day/4night stay at Jpark Island Resort & Waterpark; 3rd prize – two roundtrip international economy class tickets, two roundtrip domestic tickets to Davao, 5day/4night stay at Pearl Farm Beach Resort.
Undersecretary De Castro told the Asian Journal that current Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo and her team brought back the “Bring Home A Friend” program due to the Secretary’s experience with the program and what she saw as the program’s success in the 1990s when it ran for a few years. The program is expected to add significantly to the Department’s target of 7 million tourist arrivals for 2017, a mark which the Undersecretary revealed they are close to hitting.
According to De Castro, the program is an appeal to Filipinos from all over the world to become tourism ambassadors for the Philippines.
“Alam naman natin na ang magaling talaga mag-invite ng mga foreigners are the Filipinos themselves,” she related. “If you have employees who are Filipinos, they would invite their boss. I’m really, really excited about this. The Middle East has given a really wonderful reaction to the program, and I hope that North America will follow suit.”
Undersecretary De Castro said that while this leg of the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program ends on April of 2018, there is a second leg that will start around May of 2018 and end in October of the same year.
“If this becomes successful, who knows, it may run for three years like back in the nineties,” she said, while adding that the prizes offered in this iteration of the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” are bigger and grander than what was given out in the 1990s.
Undersecretary De Castro said that the recent inclusion of Conde Nast Traveler of Boracay, Cebu & Visayan Islands and Palawan in its Best Islands in the World list has helped generate more interest in the Philippines and the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program.
“We’ve been getting a lot of queries from foreigners themselves asking the Department of Tourism how they can go these places, what is the best way to fly to these places, especially for Palawan… there’s a huge interest right now for Palawan,” De Castro related, while adding that security concerns have been addressed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as evidenced by the administration’s seriousness in providing security to Filipinos and people visiting the country, and a more visible police presence.
Undersecretary De Castro said that the choice for Piolo Pascual as the program ambassador was easy as the latter is both relatable and recognizable to Filipinos overseas.
“He has been very vocal in wanting to help out the Department of Tourism. He is a scuba diver himself and he’s into sports tourism. He’s a perfect fit for ‘Bring Home A Friend’,” De Castro stated. She did reveal that Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao has already committed to promoting both sports tourism and the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program, and that they are also looking to connect with and tap other celebrities like Jo Koy and Liza Soberano as future program ambassadors.
Undersecretary De Castro has a message to kababayans in North America: “To all our Filipino Americans in the United States, I hope you can support the Department of Tourism by being a part of ‘Bring Home A Friend’ and become tourism ambassadors. We can always count on FilAms to spread the good word and to spread positivity for the Philippines’ image.”
[For more information on the “Bring Home A Friend (To The Philippines)” program, log on towww.philippinetourismusa.com, or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call (415) 956-4060.]