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Friday, April 26, 2019

Espina: PAL, the ‘Heart of the Filipino’

THE new brand of Philippine Airlines (PAL), the Heart of the Filipino, was unveiled first in Pasay City, then in Los Angeles, California, during a press conference with the media, travel agents and stakeholders from Cebu, Manila and Los Angeles, with the presence of PAL president and chief operating officer, Jaime J. Bautista, Rolando Ceniza, assistant secretary, Department of Tourism planning board, Harry Inoferio, senior assistant vice president for sales, Chris Lebumfacil, area head, the Visayas, Ismael Augusto Gozon, PAL airline operations, David Lim of the SGV-commercial group, Ria Domingo, vice president-marketing brand, among selected officials and staff of PAL and its linkages.

The brand sits well with Cebu’s new brand Cebu Where the Heart Sings which will be launched in full video during the launch of the Cebu Business Month spearheaded by CCCI Tourism and Mega Cebu.

The Heart of the Filipino pulsates with PAL’s 75 years of pioneering efforts and growth as our national carrier, soaring high beyond our geographical domains from 1941 to the present, packaging more than 30 destinations; increasing to some 14 million and more passengers; acquiring better aircraft and upscaling services. Thereafter, we expect new local, regional and international destinations, wide market access and partnership with the industries to widen investments, employment and tourism.

All these years, the Heart of PAL, nurtures the best of Filipino values, aspirations and dreams.

Personally, I have always felt I have been part of the PAL family. Indeed, for  many decades, I was part of its many media tours which enriched my cross-cultural perceptions. And every destination brought new discoveries.

On March 15, the maiden flight Cebu-Los Angeles PR 122 was launched at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. It arrived in Los Angeles earlier than expected, and we hardly felt any discomfort. The business class was spacious, complete with fixtures and amenities. The friendly flight stewards and attendants served delicious meals and snacks promptly. Touchdown at the Tom Bradley airport was smooth, baggage claim was fast and immigration procedures were orderly.

The Omni hotel where we were all billeted had well-appointed bedrooms and bath. TV and telephone interconnections were adequate. Bell and front line services responded on time. PAL chose good land arrangements, tour guides, new and not tedious itineraries; a good time to catch up with the new trends of Los Angeles and, oh, sufficient time to dine and shop. The time management and pacing of activities were laudable.

March 16-17 were scheduled for tours. The press conference was March 18 at 3 p.m., followed by the gala dinner at 7 p.m. Then, the time to fly back to Cebu, PR 5123; it was fun, as we lingered in the business lounge, viewed the picturesque Bradley airport and added some last minute window shopping. As expected, our business class accommodation gave us restful time to sleep and view some movies. Again, dinner and breakfast were served and we hoped the flight never ended. It was like home away from home!

Awesome! Our brief respite from work was PAL’s loving gift to us. The happy CEB-LAX team was composed of PAL’s bigwigs Harry Inoferio, Chris Lebumfacil, Julius and Nelia Neri, and Mila C. Espina (Sun.Star Cebu); Honey Loop and Valeriano Avila (Philippine Star, The Freeman); Jaime Picornell (Cebu Daily News), Joen Las Peñas (Million miler, MyTV owner); Cybil Gayatin-Guynn (Zee Magazine); Diane Limchua (CCTN); Andrew Harrison (GMR-Megawide); Kaz Onozawa (Spectrum social media online influencer); Alan Carvajal (Travelways Inc.), Marget Villarica (Destination Specialists); Zenaida Chua (Worldwide Travel and Tours); Hermilina Dimitiman (Grand Hope Travel); Lily Ho (ELS Travel-ILO); Ma. Concepcion Casañas (Tagbilaran Able Services-TAG); Domingo Vitor (Vitor Travel, Davao City); Concepcion Jariol (Seven Stars, Cagayan De Oro.)

Highlights of our tours: Palm Springs. From the Valley Station, we boarded the Tram cars, viewed the lofty cliffs and the wilderness of St. Rosa and San Jacinto (I had problems identifying the lofty vistas as I was afraid of heights). We sighted a few snow traces, glimpses of desert resorts and stone structures, reminding me of the Grand Canyon of Colorado. As we climbed higher, the Aerial Tram was super-exciting as we screamed to reach the peak. We were tightly accommodated onboard a circular rotating gondola! We had lunch at Peaks Restaurant and cameras and selfies captured the fun we had.

How about some exotic vintage and estate wine at San Antonio Winery, where we were told about the four generations of the Riboli Family? Spanning 95 years of producing the highest quality estate wines, grown in exclusive vineyards, winemakers Anthony Riboli and Arnauld Debons continue the family legacy. We had wine tasting and Zenaida, Harry, Julius and Alan just couldn’t part with the thrill of wining, then dining at the place.

Shopping seemed forever for Marget, Zenaida, Nelia, Diane, Cybil, Andrew, Alan and Ginging as we hopped from one outlet to the other. So many to choose from and couldn’t visit all, like Desert Hills, Citadel, and some malls (names escape me). Honey, Harry, Julius and I were the mild shoppers.

Photos on this page tell happy memories. (To be continued, in my next article on Travel People)

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