Adjacent to a city that’s home to a large number of balikbayans, Las Piñas might be a convenient option for Caviteños who want to go to the metro without going too far.
In true Filipino fashion, social media users poked fun at the inclusion of Las Piñas in Airbnb’s top five domestic holiday destinations for 2023. The urban city was a standout in the list, which included popular places like Boracay and Palawan and emerging tourist destinations in Sorsogon and San Felipe, Zambales.
While traffic plagues the whole National Capital Region, Las Piñas and its surrounding areas (bleeding into Bacoor, Cavite) especially gets a bad rep for being especially hounded by traffic, so much so that an academic paper has been written about traffic management major roads there: Daang Hari, Molino, and Alabang-Zapote.
What escapes most headlines and initial readings of the news is that the results are based on Airbnb’s data on search growth and check-ins for the last quarter of the year. Hence, it’s not so much a qualitative assessment of the area’s tourism viability than a story in numbers.
Besides, it’s not the first time that a city within Metro Manila made it to the list before. In the second quarter of 2022, Quezon City was second to Baguio in terms of searches. Last year’s holiday season saw Pasay and Mandaluyong as top domestic destinations alongside Cebu, Palawan, and Baguio. One can argue, however, that there are more things to do and visit in these bigger cities compared to Las Piñas. So, what’s the deal?
I asked a few residents of the urban South about Airbnb’s findings, and we were able to arrive at a logical (though unverified) inference: the balikbayan phenomenon.
“There are so many OFWs from Cavite, and most balikbayans who want to spend the holidays with their families in the metro would choose nearby locations. Las Piñas is quite convenient as it is near the airport and just beside Bacoor, Cavite,” a colleague of mine surmised.
His musings are not unwarranted: the Development Agency of the Philippines (DAP), using data from a 2022 survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), noted CALABARZON as one of the regions with the highest number of OFWs at 20.7%.
“The province of Cavite, particularly the City of Bacoor, shares the same finding regarding OFWs, as shown by the fact that the City of Bacoor has gone through great lengths to establish a one-stop shop government service to cater to the needs of OFWs and a satellite office of OWWA,” the DAP added.
It then makes sense: if waves of OFWs return to the Philippines in the holiday season and, anticipating the heavy traffic, wish to celebrate in the city without going too far, they would look into nearby locations like Alabang and Las Piñas; hence, a possible uptick in searches. As of writing, Airbnb has not provided data or insights beyond what was released.
However, it’s interesting to note how staycation trends (especially for the holidays) point toward or are influenced by forces beyond simple traveler preferences. 2023 has been a year of almost easing restrictions for travelers after all, and if the spike in searches for Airbnbs in Las Piñas does point toward an increased number of families reuniting for the holidays, then that’s a sweet thought to go by—though perhaps that doesn’t make traffic significantly more bearable in the area.