The Philippine Tourism slogan “ It’s More Fun in the Philippines” lived up to expectations with the A/D Cards and Shipping Manifests reporting that International tourist receipts from January to October 2014 grew 7.14% in real terms to reach US$3.895 Billion. For the Month of October alone, it improved by 8.02% with US$333.10 million compared to US$308.38 million the previous year.
Korean accounted 28% of all international tourism receipts with Php 48.622 Billion; followed by the United States, Php 33.61 Billion, Australia, Php 11.04 billion, Japan, Php 8.98 Billion, and China, Php 7.55 Billion completing the upper half of top spending markets
Amongst the draw cards aside from the world renown hospitality of the Filipino people are the year long of Philippine Festivals like MASSKARA Festival held in third week of October (Bacolod City), PAHIYAS Festival (15th of May – Lucban, Quezon, Dinagyang Festival in January (Iloilo), Ati-Atihan Festival (16th to 22 January in Kalibo, Aklan, Sinulog Festival during 3rd week of January (Cebu City) and the Feast of Black Nazarene - 9 January, a procession from the devotees from the Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park to Quiapo Church, to name a few.
In the field of entertainment, the most notable worldwide successes are ROSE FOSTANES, the caregiver who won the inaugural X FACTOR ISRAEL and the toast of the Filipinos in Australia, the 15 year old MARLISA PUNZALAN, winner of the 2014 X-Factor Australia who is making waves in Australia and the Philippines.
In the political scene, we have SENATOR GRACE POE ranked number one in the Senatorial Candidates in the last election, the daughter of the Movie Queen Susan Roces and the late King of the Philippine Movies, FERNANDO POE JR. Senator POE authored Senate Bill No. 1733 or People’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of 2013 passed in the Senate on 10 March 2014. Prior to the approval of the bill on the final reading, the Bill has been filed 44 times in 7 Congresses without success.
While some politicians, including POE and DUTERTE, Mayor of Davao are making a good name of themselves, well known politicians like Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are under investigation and/ or jailed for their alleged involvement of the Billion Pesos PORK BARREL SCAM, Vice President Jejomar Binay and son face plunder charges for alleged overpriced building construction of the New Makati City Parking Building in 2007 amounting to about Php 1.314 billion. Vice President was the Mayor of Makati while his son, a City Councillor at that time.
CEBU PACIFIC AIR started flying to Australia in September which paved for the battle of cheap fares from Australia and the Philippines. The new air travel development was marred by a couple of Air Travel tragedy like Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 which was attacked and crashed near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine where 3 of its 283 passengers were Filipinos. On 28 December. Air ASIA Flight QZ8501 from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore carrying 162 passengers and crew crashed in Java Sea and the number of survivors are unknown at this early stage.
Other highlights in 2014 was the visit by President Obama to the Philippines on 28-29 April 2014 where bilateral and defence issues between the two countries were discussed. The City of Vigan was chosen as one of the New 7 Wonder Cities of the World on 7 December at Dubai; the win by Boxing Icon Manny Pacquiao against the American Chris Algieri in Macau; AZKALS reaching the Final of the AFC Challenge Cup against Palestine; Harriet Denny, a staff of the LINDT CAFÉ and whose mother is from the Philippines survived the Siege in Martin Place, Sydney by the gunman Man Haros Monis and the death of 25 year old Test Cricket Phillip Hughes in a freak accident at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Finally, President Benigno Aquino III signed the Php 2.606 Trillion National Budget for 2015.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!