MANILA-- A purely Philippine-travel and trade expo opened on Friday at the Central Square Mall, Taguig City where local tourist destinations, farm tours and Filipino-made products are showcased for a three-day sale.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the exhibition is to increase the public's level of awareness on existing farms sites that can be an ideal travel spot.

"That's the idea, to increase the level of awareness and also to make it even more inclusive and sustainable. The fact that we are featuring the local products is the best proof that we would want the farmers to benefit from whatever initiatives that we have," he told reporters in an interview.

"By showcasing the unique and high quality produce from the countryside, hopefully we'll be able to increase the revenue, strategically, to also make people appreciate farm tourism even more," he added.

The Philippine Harvest, now on its 2nd edition, is themed "Sustainable Living, Food, and Travel," with emphasis on farm tourism and local food.

The event paved way for the countryside to present their products to a wider audience.

For Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), most of the region's products have been so far exposed only to the local markets, Tourism Regional Director Marie Elaine Unchuan said.

"This exhibit will really give us an opportunity to tap more markets," she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

"Even a lot of people here in Manila and ambassadors have been going around. Hopefully, we'll be able to open more markets for our farmers," she added.

There is an array of products that can be found from the region, such as their heirloom grain, the Adlai from Bukidnon, known internationally as Job's tear, and the Ulam pineapple, which is possibly one of the sweetest pineapple variant there is. It was first developed by Dr. Juan Acosta.

"Although it is small, the taste is very good and you can actually eat the whole thing," Unchuan said.

But aside from fresh produce, the region's Philippine Harvest booth offers more than a dozen of organic products, like the mangosteen tea and others, perfect for health buffs at the venue.

"We also have suman from Misamis Occidental, which is very unique because in their suman house, there are 16 flavors. We also have dried herbs, organic peanuts and coco sugar," Unchuan said.

In line with the DOT's bid to level up promotion of farm tourism, the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) booth presented products all produced from accredited farm tourism sites, such as Kale powder and Amadeo coffee from Cavite.

Out of 26 DOT-accredited farms, five farms from the region showcased their products at the expo, Marites Castro, chief tourism operations officer of the region, said.

The trade and travel fair, which brings together DOT-accredited farms sites across the different regions together with selected travel agencies and 30 local food exhibitors, will run from August 24 to 26. (PNA)