Lakbay Norte 2010: Rediscover the North

1,798 kilometers, 26 people, 8 provinces, 7 days, 1 bus.

Over the past week, I went with a group of print and online media representatives in a caravan around northern and central Luzon organized by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB), a not for profit organization whose aim is to promote domestic and foreign travel in the region.

Onboard a special bus provided by Victory Liner, we visited the provinces of Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. (We also passed through, though without stopping over, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Ilocos Sur).

Our accommodations, meals and activities were sponsored and hosted by local Convention and Visitors Bureaus and other local tourism stakeholders. The tour aimed to introduce northern Luzon as a re-emerging destination for tourism and trade. With growing infrastructure in the region and with the improvement of the North Luzon Expressway, travel to the north has been easier over the years and the tour aimed to encourage more people to “Rediscover the North”.

Indeed, it was a rediscovery of the places I’ve been to in northern and central Luzon, and a pleasant revelation of the places I’ve never been to–northern Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, La Union and western Pangasinan. If there was one word I could summon to give North Philippines, it is “potential”. The trip revealed how much is in store for the provinces of North and Central Luzon in terms of tourism and trade. The richness in he region’s natural wonders, in its culture and heritage, in its people make the north a viable destination for a robust and sustainable tourism industry.

Having a rich potential also means that there is a lot that can be done in terms of infrastructure and training in order to fully harness the possibilities and so that the people of the region and the entire country may benefit from the wonders North and Central Luzon has to offer.

Over the last few days I have written a chronicle of the places we visited and the organizations and establishments that have helped us “rediscover the North”. I hope one day, you also make the same discovery and rediscovery northern Philippines, and encourage others to continue and explore the vast potentials of the region north of Manila.