Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Slogan

Only in the Philippines. (or perhaps it should be read as Only in D' Philippines!)

Over the last week, there has been so much ballyhoo and boohoohoo over the proposed slogan to inspire the world to come to the Philippines. After all, this is not Afghanistan.

So PNoy decides to scrap the proposed new slogan "Pilipinas Kay Ganda". This was to replace the former administration's slogan of "WOW Philippines". Come to think of it, the new slogan is lame and pathetic. It doesn't have a ring to it and it doesn't have the chutzpah of other tourism slogans like "Sparkling Korea" or ""There's No Place Like HongKong" or "Amazing Thailand" or "Malaysia. Truly Asia" or "Incredible India" or "Uniquely Singapore" or "Vietnam. A New Place for the Millenium". I thought that the "WOW Philippines" original slogan had more catch to it. But give it to the current administration that tries desperately to erase the memories of a past administration and they come up with a lackadaisical hurrah much to the cheer of some MIss Philippines during her interview portion in an international beauty pageant.

And after all the castigating and bad (very bad) flak it received the last week, it's back to the drawing board for the amateur team of PNoy on a slogan that would finally put the Philippines as a tourism destination in Asia.

Let me be candid.

I have been to several Asian countries and you wonder why in spite of some turmoils and natural calamities, countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia are pulling away by a million miles from the Philippines. It's not because we do not have the wonderful smiles or the hospitality that we are so popular for or the highly literate English-speaking bravado we are proud of.

We need to look internally as to why the Philippines is not a popular destination.

Look at the initial presentation. Our NAIA I airport is dilapidated. Over the years we have fought internally the transition from the old NAIA I to the new terminal at NAIA III. Talk about favoritism, NAIA II was built only for Philippine Airlines. How greedy could you get? The government builds it only for its flag carrier (hoping that foreigners will fly PAL). This would not have been a conflict of interest if the government owned PAL. Unfortunately, a Chinese taipan owns it. So why were we building it for Lucio Tan again?

Then when terminal III was built, there was so much graft and corruption in the building then subsequent transfer to our government that by the time it was even being used by the local airlines, it was in a state of dilapidation. Pick a new administration and they will try to find fault with previous administrations. I am not saying that the anomalies should not be investigated. But whatever goes on in our country is news in others. And as long as we keep hammering at our own faults and our own sins and at our own greed and corruption, the other countries are cheering behind us. Leaving us behind in the tourism and growth and development industry.

Look at even our commercial of an energy drink. In this commercial, the baggage carousel belt suddenly comes to a halt in the middle of the uploading of the baggages. What does the Pinoy do? He takes an energy drink and then runs on the baggage carousel so that our old dilapidated beaten up baggage carousels run. Geez. Talk about third world. Our own commercials promote our being third world. We may be entertained or think it's funny, but look at the downside. We promote how pathetic a country we are.

In Thailand, for example, there are no petty crimes committed against tourists. That's because for the same crime (say robbery) committed by a Thai on a tourist, the punishment is gazillion more times more severe than when committed against their own citizen. In other countries, justice is swift. It will not take you gazillion years to try someone for substance abuse. In Singapore alone, drug trafficking is punishable by death and you get to hang in a few months! Here, even a massacre in Maguindanao will take years (with each camps lawyers dead) before the court hands in a decision. Which is even subject to several appeals and will drag on and on and on...

In the Philippines, peace and order is just as troublesome as the people that are supposed to protect its own people. Anyone from the lowly traffic enforcer to even the general is mired in so much graft and corruption that no one - NO ONE can be trusted. You need to show them the money! Then some things get done a little faster. With so much graft and corruption, where do we even begin to show the world that the Philippines is a wonderful and beautiful country?

We grab the headlines where foreigners and tourists are kidnapped and held from ransom and some die during the process. Even in the most posh of resorts (recall Dos Palmas), the insurgent Muslim rebels did not even forgive the innocent ones. We have so much problems with peace and order down south that no matter how much dressing we do to make our country look picture perfect for a tourist destination, we fall on our faces the next day with a headline of a foreigner's head on a stick.

Sure we have one of the best beaches or the most beautiful sceneries or the loveliest sunsets in the world, but we lack internal cohesion and the political will to sell our country to the world.

Sanamagan - even our logo looks plagiarized from Poland's tourism logo. The only difference is the Tarsier and the coconut tree!!! [I am not surprised at praising plagiarism in our country, since even the Supreme Court is indifferent on this. International Proprietary rights are not respected in the Philippines, hence the proliferation of millions of generic products as an excuse for poverty...sad...]

We will remain back offices for BPOs and exporters of OFWs where labor is cheaper and where lives do not need to be sacrificed. Our own citizens prefer to take an exodus from this country. That's why our airports are empty. It's very busy only in the mornings and late evenings. Otherwise, it's like the buses on EDSA - empty - during non-peak hours. We are not even a hub for many airlines. If you ask an airline company which country they would consider cutting trips to - Manila is on the top of their list. Most of those in our airports are locals who have the money to travel abroad or OFWs. We have so much OFWs that the we have several flights to and from Manila to the Middle East, the US, Canada, and other Asian countries.

Even if you make Pacquiao or even Dionisia as the poster boy (and mom) for tourism, as long as we do not address internal issues related to the tourism industry, we will never move from point A to B.

It does not take rocket science to build a tourism industry. But the Department of Tourism will need all the help it can get. And the Philippines can only be a tourist destination when chaos and anarchy and order becomes the first rule of the day. At the rate the government is moving, the indecisions and flaks that an amateurish politician is undertaking is putting us back in square one.

I have always emphasized that you cannot sell your country to foreigners if you cannot even entice your own locals to buy what you sell. If you can convince every Juan de la Cruz that the Philippines is beautiful, that there is so much to be proud of in this country, that we need to cultivate a culture of respect and dignity, then we can probably sell the Philippines as the next tourist destination.

[photo of logo from]

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