Virgo cruise starts with a food trip

Posted on Mar 21 2017

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MANILA, Philippines—A tourism trend that has yet to take root in the CNMI is the concept that food in itself can be a come-on for tourists to visit a destination.

The epicurean tour has long been established in the Philippines and during the launch and accompanying familiarization tour of Resorts World Manila’s Stay and Cruise package, media from the Northern Marianas and Guam found themselves gorging on plate-loads of food to their heart’s content.

After a short three-and-a-half hour trip from Guam via Cebu Pacific that was preceded by a short commute from Saipan for media from the CNMI, the assembled tour participants of RWM’s Stay and Cruise program went straight to Sharmila Ihaw-Ihaw Paluto Seafood Restaurant along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City.

The dampa setup last Saturday teemed with seafood aplenty, which our intrepid reporters and Stay and Cruise program partners that joined the trip were more than happy to indulge on.

A dampa eatery usually entails diners to go first to a wet market and buy the ingredients they want to eat—fish, meat, vegetables, and the like—and have the food establishment cook it for them in the manner to their liking. To save time, RWM staff already pre-ordered the dishes.

Between rekindling past experiences coming to Manila and growing up in the Philippine capital (some of the tour participants used to live and work in the city), they feasted on native dishes that included nilasing na hipon (literally drunken shrimp), squid adobo, inihaw na baboy (grilled pork), crab drenched in tomato sauce, baked mussels, and sinigang na isda sa misu.

Some of them even caved in to the hosts’ persistent suggestions to try the freshly made mango shake. They weren’t disappointed.

During the launch of the Stay and Cruise program at the Winford Hotel in Tayuman later in the evening, dinner was a full Chinese lauriat—a couple of hours after the sheer gluttony that happened at the dampa.

Peking duck, braised octopus, steamed chicken, tofu and kangkong, and the ubiquitous Chinese noodles were just some of the sumptuous items on the menu. Dessert wasn’t shabby too, with one tour participant suggesting that she stuffed a couple of custard buns inside her bag for her midnight snack.

Next day’s breakfast was at Copa de Manila, another reference to the Winford Hotel’s storied racetrack past, a standard Filipino buffet spread of tocino, beef tapa, fried rice, and a cameo appearance of pancit canton greeted the group almost giddy with excitement to begin their cruise aboard the SuperStar Virgo luxury liner later that night.

Two days into RWM’s Stay and Cruise—even before coming aboard the maiden voyage of SuperStar Virgo’s Laoag, Kaoshung, and Hong Kong cruise—participants of the FAM tour already were already treated to a gastronomic experience that served as a perfect prelude to the six-day, five-night cruise.

The global hotel brand’s Stay and Cruise program aboard the SuperStar Virgo is currently accepting reservations. For a starting rate of just $655, cruise-goers get an overnight stay at any RWM hotels.

Guam and Saipan residents can directly avail of the Stay and Cruise package using credit card payments through the SSV RWM BUNDLE option at Those interested can also call John Hagemann at +63917878583/ or Janine Chua at +639178788576/ janine.chua@rwmanila for more details. For other inquiries and reservations, contact Tourist/Visitor Hotline at (02) 908-8833 or visit

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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