hom_main_1.jpgWhen we say vacation, we think sightseeing, shopping, and lots of partying. But there’s a new way of spending a few days of rest and recreation without feeling guilty about all the self-indulgence.

You can travel and enrich your experience as you do your bit to help the community and environment. Non-profit group Hands On Manila (HOM), in partnership with the Department of Tourism, presents Hands on Volunteer Vacations (HOVV), an alternative to your usual road trip or beach outing: it aims to give vacationers not only a memorable travel experience, but also an opportunity to learn and serve through community work.

For instance, instead of just hopping from bar to bar in Puerto Galera, you can plant a tree on the slopes of Oriental Mindoro’s Mt. Halcon; instead of just sunbathing by the beaches of Bohol, you can visit the communities of Baclayan and Pamalican; and instead of just carousing in Boracay, you can lend a hand to the mangrove plantation in Aklan.

“Hands on Volunteer Vacations or HOVV came about as a result of two disparate things: requests by foreign and local travelers for volunteer opportunities within the Philippine archipelago and the growth of a new kind of tourism that has swept the world,” says HOM President and Chairperson Wynn Wynn Ong.
hom_main_2.jpg“People no longer leave their own shores purely to enjoy the sights and sounds of another nation. They now actively seek engagement with the places they visit and the people they meet. Travelers of the new millennium seek relevance and practice what they embrace, even away from home,” Ong asserts.

HOVV projects fall under three categories: environment, heritage, and livelihood. Besides Aklan, Bohol, Boracay, and Mindoro, travelers can also make a difference in heritage and environment sites in Laguna and Batangas. Travelers will get to immerse themselves in such obscure and far-flung communities and mingle with the locals—a novel experience for those used to the luxurious metropolitan life.

Next time a long break comes up or you have balikbayan relatives coming over, keep HOVV in mind. You will not only enjoy an experience that’s one for the books, you’ll appreciate your country and its wonders even more.

For more information on HOVV, contact Carmela David through (02)843-5231 or e-mail carmela.david@handsonmanila.org . For more information on HOM, visit www.handsonmanila.org.
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