The Philippine Travel Mart's cut-price travel deals brought in the crowds

Amanda Lago went to the opening of the travel mart on September 4 and sent us back her highlights

The 26th Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) opened Friday, September 4, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, attracting both the public and travel trade leaders.

At 10am, the line for the SkyJet airline booth was already kilometric, as people clamored for the hundred-peso flights to Batanes (about US$2), which turned out to be just P99.

Other airlines also had their fair share of attention. Cebu Pacific's 500-peso seat sale to all domestic destinations caused quite a stir. 

PTM featured booths from different tourist destinations around the country. The travelmart, now on its 26th year, brings together this year over 250 exhibitors offering tour packages to Philippine destinations, as well as ASEAN countries, and China, Japan, and South Korea.

The booth of the SOCCKSKARGEN region in Southern Philippines -- home to the T'Boli dreamweavers and the beautiful Lake Sebu -- was a crowd favorite, thanks to its swirling wooden structure and colorful display of the region's signature weaves and beadwork. Their sudden bursts of traditional song and dance also helped in drawing people in.

The neighboring Bicol region booth also played their cards right by providing what is perhaps their province's biggest draw: food. Apart from giving people a free taste of their signature dishes such as pinangat (gabi leaves in coconut cream) and Guinobatan longganisa (sausage), the booth also made available the ice cream flavors that are unique to the region: Sili (chili), Pili nut, and Tinutungan (roasted rice).

Yes, the tinutungan ice cream is in Manila for a limited time!

This lady in a gown made out of dried coconut leaves drew people to the Bicol region booth.

The Palawan booth featured what looked like a thatched-roof open hut as well as traditional woven baskets, wood carving, and handicraft, apt for an island that is most known for its beaches and natural beauty. 

By midday, tired travel deal hunters were treated to quite a show, when students from all over the country performed traditional Philippine dances for the Cultural Dance Competition.

Other booths sold traditional Filipino wares from each region, such as this one from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Deals for within Manila were readily available, such as these discounted rates to the Mind Museum at Bonifacio Global City.

Upcoming events at the mart include a Kundiman competition, the awarding ceremony for the best booth, and continued sale of travel packages discounted by up to 70 percent.

The Philippine Travel Mart will run until September 6 at the SMX Convention center in Pasay city. Entrance is P50 for adults, and P40 for senior citizens and students.