MANILA, MAY 16, 2008
(STAR) RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit - Being an avid dreamer, I admire individuals who make dreams come true; whose vision and dedication to their passions transform society into a much better place than when they found it.

I am a die-hard fan of Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano who is concurrently the GM of the Philippine Tourism Authority. Being the wizard of Philippine tourism, he makes things happen not merely with the wave of his magic wand, but through his successful efforts to boost the influx of visitors to visit our beautiful shores and the encouragement of locals to explore what we can offer.

In retrospect, it was during the Global Pinoy congregation held in Cebu in 2005, organized by the indefatigable Bicolana philanthropist Loida Nicholas Lewis, where I first encountered this genteel gentleman who hails from the south. Like an enchanted spell cast gloriously, you could hear a pin drop in the huge hall as he expressed with magnetic charisma and sincerity his strategic plans to sell the Philippines locally and to the world. All the travel agents from NAITAS (National Association of Independent Travel Agencies) led by Bobby Joseph and Angel Bognot Ramos could surmise there and then he would succeed in his crusade.

Today, his term in office has seen a marked increase in tourism arrivals — 2.2 million in 2004, 2.6 million in 2005, 2.84 million in 2006, and 3.1 million in 2007. Sec. Ace said that at the end of 2008 projected tourism revenues are expected to hit $5 billion with projections for $8 billion in revenue by 2010.

Dynamic Tourism Undersecretary Edu Jarque told me that, on a recent sales blitz to Russia, he successfully invited the affluent winter-weary Russians, among the top 10 spenders in the world, to our pristine resorts which boast not only luxurious elegance but showcase the grandeur of our culture. Worthy to note, local tourism is booming while high-end foreign resort operators have invested in our country with investments over P100 billion in the last two years.

Consider the local tourism in Bohol. Who would ever think that in the scintillating province of Bohol known for its idyllic beaches, sun-kissed thousand mounds of chocolate hills and storied past of the famous blood compact of Legazpi and Sikatuna, there is a world-class resort that artistically interprets the lifestyle of the only known indigenous tribe of this blessed land? In this bespoke setting of ultimate luxury, one can experience many a dream of yesteryear. The Russians were inevitably enamored with this haven, a coherent interpretation of the marriage of an ancient culture with modern sensibilities. Like fragrant essences combined to form the most sublime perfume, like rhythms and beats of an orchestra that fluidly blend as one harmonious song, this is a truly a slice of heaven on earth where one can commune with our rich cultural cauldron as well as be in touch with the inner recesses of the heart, mind and soul. This precious resort — uniquely called Eskaya Resort and Spa — is one preferred sanctuary of Sec. Durano and we thank him for having introduced it to my siblings and I.

Imagine, a hidden paradise with a sublime landscape where an endless stretch of pure white sand graces the coast. Nestled along this pristine setting is the newest jewel of Bohol, a five-star resort where the living heritage of the Eskaya tribe is vibrantly alive. Reminiscent of the Mona Lisa, I wandered around the resort as my sight combed the sandy shoreline with its mystic mountain peaks that seem to gracefully puncture the myriad of clouds.

Sec. Durano shared that the resort, owned by his good friends Phoebe and Richard Lim, is a gift of grandeur, named after a native tribe known for their arts and literature and still dwelling in the mountains. Master architect Bobby Manosa proudly recalls that when the Lims requested him to create a resort par excellence, he said, “If you want me to do this, I need to bring in Filipino culture. I would like to meet the chieftain of the Eskaya tribe before starting anything.” When Bobby met Eskaya tribe chieftain Roberto Datu Datahan, he vowed to name the resort after the indigenous tribe. Today, the chieftain zealously promotes the Eskaya Resort and Spa.

“This is a showcase of Philippine architecture and ingenuity, where even the slippers are handmade by the Eskaya tribe,” Bobby enthuses. “When I decided to practice architecture, I boldly declared it would have to be Filipino architecture. We have a choice whether to make our cities and towns look like poor imitations of foreign cities or truly proud expressions of our Filipino culture and heritage. Architecture must be true to itself, its land and its people.” Thus his artistic aspirations are reflected in his projects, such as Eskaya.

At Eskaya, Bob said, resort structures do not intrude on the indigenous beauty of the island paradise, but are rather carefully integrated with the landscape, so that it all breathes a distinct Filipino character. After all, architecture is a medium for communicating our very culture. Throughout the property, vestiges of the fascinating Eskaya culture take center stage. The rustic island resort imbibes a defined sense of community; its 15 single detached luxury villas and high-tech facilities epitomize Filipino hospitality.

The Eskaya is located right at the middle of Panglao Island found at the southernmost tip of Bohol. With commanding views of the picturesque Mindanao Sea, one will be awed by its lush greenery, abundant tropical flowers like Birds of Paradise and other native blossoms in eclectic profusions.

Serenity and unrivaled luxury prevail on the 16-hectare property of Eskaya resort. This exclusive getaway pampers guests at their own private single-detached villas, each boasting a luxurious whirlpool in an indoor garden setting and its own private pool that faces the crystal azure Bohol Sea.

The thatched villas, locally called balai, were built with sturdy construction materials, emphasizing ample use of bamboo, cogon, and wood to complete its modern Filipino architecture. Manosa proudly confesses that he is “nuts about bamboo,” the best alternative to timber and the future building material of this country.

“China, Vietnam, Korea, India are utilizing bamboo for industrial and commercial architecture. What medicine is to a doctor, materials are to an architect. We must uplift this material by encouraging its use in our Filipino architecture.”

An infinity pool in the middle of the resort blends perfectly with the sea. Eskaya’s spacious Lantawan restaurant offers breathtaking views for satisfied diners. Dining can also be arranged to meet any guests’ whim — even right in front of the beach, al fresco style.

Relaxation at Eskaya is spelled with tranquility at the Handuraw Spa. (Handuraw means “to fantasize.”) The Kadait Full Body Massage is heavenly as music therapy is combined with nurturing body massage to balance the mind, body and spirit. The use of music for healing is also included in the indulgent Kayuunan Foot Spa in which indigenous rain sticks are used to pamper the feet. This exotic treatment begins with a rejuvenating traditional healer’s herbal footbath, followed by a vitality foot massage to activate the senses. For couples, there’s Hinugugma Lover’s Delight, a distinctly royal treatment for couples designed to enhance or rekindle the ebullient tides of romance.

Rare as a perfectly flawless blue diamond, unique as a blue moon on a starless sky — the Eskaya is an exquisite myriad of the glory of our cultured past and progressive spirit that created this luxurious paradise, and visible proof that there is a God, the pivotal source of such ethereal beauty. In the final analysis, a structure built by man remains a structure until we breathe our own culture unto it.

Experience Eskaya’s intoxicating allure, it is high time to revisit a sanctuary that pays tribute to our priceless culture in luxurious grandeur.

No wonder even our dear Sec. Durano and his lovely wife, Carmi, have fallen in love with this place. Who wouldn’t?

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For more info, please call Pearl Maleza of Eskaya at 744-5792 or 726-5934 (Manila office); +6338-5029516 or +6338-4160103 (Bohol office). E-mail or log on to

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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