28 March 2012, Tel Aviv, Israel – Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge and Third Secretary and Vice Consul Ferdinand P. Flores met on 22 March 2012 the clients and operators of EcoTours Co., an Israeli owned Tourism company, to present what the Philippines has to offer to Israeli tourists, including the vibrant tourism industry and the sound economic fundamentals of the Philippines.
Speaking before a group of Israeli tourist scheduled to visit Banawe, Palawan, Manila, Taal and Tagaytay, among others, Ambassador Calonge opened his presentation by highlighting the current creditor status of the Philippines with the International Monetary Fund. "As of 2011, the country infused $251.1 million in the IMF's Financial Transactions Plan (FTP), a mechanism by which foreign exchange from members with strong external position are lent to borrowing members," the Ambassador said.
"The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world and the biggest Roman Catholic country in Asia. The country is a vibrant democracy with a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences," Ambassador Calonge added. "I am proud to say that the Philippines is widely known in the world for having no inherent history of Anti-Semitism, thus the Philippine can be your second home in Asia," he emphasized.
Ambassador Calonge also highlighted the reports from the Department of Tourism indicating that there has been a 10% increase in tourist arrivals from Israel to the Philippines from 2010-2011. The current tourist arrival from Israel is now close to 5,000 with the January arrivals besting the figure registered during the same month last year.
Mr. Ronen Raz, the owner of the company, said that Ecotours has been doing small group and high level tours in the Philippines for many years. He said that he has visited the Philippines many times for the last 24 years and that he knows the renowned singer Mr. Freddie Aguilar and former Asin singer / founder Mr. Noy Pillora who is now based in Israel.
Mr. Raz also presented some notable information in his lecture to the participants such as videos of Filipinos residing in Banaue and Batad who can sing Hebrew songs, Hebrew directions in the Philippines and other cultural links between the Jewish and Filipino people.
Ambassador Calonge ended the presentation by giving away special tokens from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to all the participants and organizers.