BABY Luzuriaga whose friend texted her asking what privilege a member could get from Women in Travel. Then, too, she raised the same question to me. But sometimes easy questions are the hardest to answer. So

I paused, and shortly I replied that as member of the Women in Travel -- Bacolod City Chapter, your journey with fellow members, not only to distant or near shores, but the road trip or flight or float, is a journey into the

wonderful experiences in life done in friendship, love and always in humor.

The ladies in the Women in Travel are of sundry personalities with equally diverse avocations. Each is unique but collectively bonded, of wanting to do something for another, for the community and, for the country. I

have journeyed with the Women in Travel since its organization in 1992 and it has been a great and fun ride.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Patterned after Manila's Women in Travel, Bacolod's version is independent entity as a private travel group solidified by its own rules and bylaws with a separate SEC registration.

We are not regulated by sister organizations neither are we obliged to replicate their objectives. What we believe is pertinent and particularly important for Negros Occidental, is what we embrace. Although we are not

restricted from duplicating Manila's noble projects like sponsoring seminars for bartending, and waitering; housekeeping and giving seminars to drivers, which is a signature endeavor of the founding organization.

With the Department of Foreign Affairs' assistance, we have sponsored the Philippine Protocol seminar which we try to echo to all tourism officers as well inject these during tourism related seminars as well as to the

different departments of local LGUs. Good Manners and Right Conduct is a norm that must be studied because since different countries have different traditions and culture. Are you aware that to Mexicans and Puerto

Ricans, yellow is not a welcoming color? It connotes inflicting malice or danger. I always thought Mexicans loved screaming colors but looking again at their art and homes, they play with hues of fiery reds and orange

and combine them with pulsating greens and blues.

For Japanese, never give them with white flowers. White represents death. So if you are a wedding coordinator for a Japanese wedding, or having Japanese guests for dinner, forget the immaculate white roses or

orchids for centerpieces, they will feel insulted. To the Chinese, clocks are bad gifts. They signify death, perhaps to say that "your time is up man!" We were surprised then the first we learned about this. I wonder if

this holds true for a Rolex?

Beware for non-pork eaters. Don't serve Muslims with pork if they are your visitors or clients as this is the ultimate insult, totally true to the Koran. Most Muslims eat purely Halal food. Hindus on the other hand revere

the Holy Cow, so salpicao and Roast Beef is a no-no.

The present projects of the Women in Travel are planting langka trees in all GK sites. Since we have no capacity to donate a house in every site (we did donated one in Handumanan). We want to partner with this

laudable program through the langka trees which we believe is both fruit and vegetable to every household. The trees we have planted at the Habitat and GK homes are now ripe for the picking. We work collaboratively

with the Couples for CHRIST on this drive.

In cooperation with the Department of Tourism and the provincial government, we have accredited local toilets for public consumption, if indeed, they are people friendly. North to south, we have displayed our plaques of

recognition to deserving clean toilets. Since we believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness how best can we express our beliefs if our pee stops are less than sanitary?

We applaud mayors and other chief executives who have also championed our cause. They, too, believe that their constituents as well as guests should be afforded clean rest rooms. I cannot believe that some have

been so oblivious and insensitive to this cause. Even private institutions have likewise joined our bandwagon. Initially, this was a project of the Department of Tourism and filtered down to the local governments. Since

we saw the merits of this commendable project, the Women in Travel were in the forefront to awaken awareness, not only to Chief Executives, but to all enterprises where rest rooms are available.

We likewise accredit private restaurants especially those along highways where buses or vans filled with visitors stop to relieve themselves. Would you believe that some of our fabulous destinations are devoid of a

decent comfort room? True gid bala! Once on a trip with a group of travel agents, we inspected the different tourist sites here in Negros. After assessing their facilities, we decided not to include these areas in the tour

package. It is a shame and an embarrassment to our local, domestic and international tourists.

For the Christmas holidays, we wanted our get together to be out of the ordinary. So we thought of a theme-A MAD HAT PARTY. Held at the lovely home of Vicky Salvador Sanson, the members came in differently

adorned hats! Aming Gatuslao borrowed her grandson's hat and decorated it with a poinsettia. Sally Ledesma embellished her buri garden hat with a bouquet of the Christmas flower too. Elda Mondia came in a

magician's hat and Sonia was still in a Halloween mood came a complete witch with tendrils. Runaway winners were Ruray Fuentebella, Zitte Ea, Virgie Lopue, who carefully decorated their headpieces. Winner too

was Jo Go who looked really cute as a Sunflower.

For myself, I just plucked the accessories from my Christmas tree and pinned them to a Christmas bonnet plus my son's Christmas stocking when he was a mere baby! The most creative was Ang Sanson who filled

her visor with candies she brought from Canada. That was really hilarious. Since everyone was picking her taped candies, not wanting to be outdone, she balanced a pot of plants on her head when everyone was made

to do the parade complete with quarter turns. That brought a bundle of laughs. Judges were Tess Golez, Lyn Gamboa and Anna Balcells.

Past President Ang inducted our new members that evening. They are Tess Golez, Baby Luzuriaga, Imelda Luzuriaga, comeback member Zitte Ea, Elda Mondia and Cookie Montenegro. I believe that the night was full

of laughs, which is a signature of the Women in Travel. Senator Gordon would call it his own brand the Women in Travail and for Governor Joseph Marañon, its Women in Trouble. Hehehe ...whatever the branding it

would seem, what is for sure is that there is never a dull moment with the Women in Travel. Our friendship and our humor keep the club alive!

Cheers to the New Year from the Women in Travel!