MANILA, December 18, 2003 (STAR) Missing home, or simply yearning for the good old days? Christmas invariably brings back memories of childhood – the nights we’d go caroling in the neighborhood armed only with sticks and tin cans, attending the misa de gallo not so much for the religiosity of it but for the steaming hot bibingka and puto bumbong after, waking up to the ringing of church bells at midnight to partake of noche buena. Becoming an adult, getting immersed in work and the modernity of city life, or being away for a long time all make us miss the Christmases of our youth, in our native home.

Dos Palmas Arreceffi Island Resort brings these memories back to life, and allows us to experience once again the warmth, the flavor, and the joy of a truly Filipino Christmas. To foreigners who wish to witness the true colors of Christmas in the Philippines, and more of the local cultural traditions, the sights and activities will be both an entertaining and rewarding learning experience. It will be a rare chance to celebrate the holidays the way the people of the country do.

This holiday season, Dos Palmas Arreceffi Island Resort on serene Honda Bay in Palawan will look and feel like a typical Filipino village at Christmastime. Star-shaped Christmas lanterns, will hang from the cottage windows and light the pathways, and beautifully crafted ornaments made from native materials will don the halls and gazebos.

The highlights of the festivities will be Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. There will be programs that the guests can participate in, including popular native games like palo sebo and juego de anillo, dancing and singing, and gift-giving.

At the sunset cabanas, guests will be treated to a presentation of Filipino folk dances like tinikling, carols and a parade of national costumes. There will also be a demonstration of Filipino crafts and skills, like coconut husking and wood carving. A sampling of local wines and liquors (such as tuba, lambanog and others) will be sure to set the mood for the holiday cheer of the evening.

Dinner (both on the 24th and 31st) will be a mix of native and international cuisine (so as not to make the foreign guests homesick). Japanese, Mexican, Mongolian, American, Italian, Chinese, Russian, French, as well as Filipino fare will be served. To start the meals right, there will be an interesting assortment of appetizers – sushi, sashimi, tempura, tacos, baked mussels, Mongolian barbecue, cold cuts and refreshing salads.

The famous Philippine lechon, sumptuous with its crisp, golden brown skin, will be the centerpiece of a wide choice of filling main courses – roast turkey, pasta carbonara, steamed lapu-lapu, roast lamb, paella and other holiday dishes.

Of course, the noche buena and media noche will not be genuinely Filipino without the special bibingka sprinkled with freshly grated coconut, puto bumbong made from rice flour ground the old-fashioned way, suman sa ibos wrapped in coco leaves, puto at kutsinta, and a platter of queso de bola and various cheeses. Guests can enjoy these native treats with a drink of the soothing salabat (ginger brew), stimulating hot tsaa (tea), the aromatic barako (Batangas coffee) or a cup of rich, thick hot tsokolate (cocoa).

An awesome display of fireworks at the stroke of midnight will mark the birth of the Child Jesus on Christmas Eve, and the birth of a new year on the eve of the 31st.

All this in the midst of the tropical paradise of Dos Palmas. While waiting for the grand day, you can enjoy the waters of the sea – swimming, boating, snorkeling, diving and discovering the hidden marine treasures around the island. You can take advantage of the opulent sun, take in the fresh air, frolic on the sand, learn to kayak, master the art of deep-sea diving, acquire skill in a water surface sport, make use of the resort’s sports facilities, then have a relaxing sauna and massage and an invigorating aromatherapy treatment. Bide your time appreciating the beauty of nature, and feeling how fortunate you are to be here enjoying it all.

Dos Palmas Arreceffi Island Resort, a fully Filipino-owned and managed resort, is a favorite year-round destination of Asian tourists and Filipino balikbayans and vacationers. Proud of its Filipino heritage, the management of the resort wishes to share the spirit of Christmas, as Filipinos know and practice it, with its guests this season. For December, the resort is offering a special three days, two nights Christmas package for families and groups.

For a minimum of P12,500 per person inclusive of full-board meals, use of facilities and a choice of intro dive or spa treatment, one can enjoy pure island pleasures. Dos Palmas’ Christmas package promises a truly special and very Filipino way of spending Christmas with family, friends and loved ones – a Christmas your own children will remember long after, and one you will cherish.

For inquiries, call 637-4226 or 637-4236.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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