Latest DOT slogan brouhaha


Blind tourists O’Driscoll (l) and Uchimura.

I never thought I would be writing and putting my two cents in again on the latest Department of Tourism (DOT) slogan brouhaha.

The last time I did this was on Jan. 9, 2012 which you can read at this link:

This time around, five years after, we still haven’t learned our lesson and it is still the same banana, that of plagiarizing other county’s tourism ads and claiming it our own idea.

I am talking of course about supposedly the country’s new tourism campaign video, “Sights”, which used the tagline “Experience the Philippines”.

It featured the true life story of a blind Japanese retiree, M. Uchimura, enjoying the “sights’ and sounds of what is best in the country.

Truly an amazing, if not a brilliant idea, as a tourism come-on, for someone to experience the warmth and hospitable nature of Filipinos, even towards people with disability.

Unfortunately, as soon as DOT’s new tourism video was launched, netizens immediately noticed the similarity between this and last year’s Meet South Africa campaign commercial.

In the Meet South Africa tourism campaign video it also featured a blind British traveller named James O’Driscoll who was experiencing the “sights” and sounds in South Africa.

While the people from the advertising firm McCann Worldgroup admitted about the similarity with the ads of South Africa, they claim, however, that the biggest difference lies in the fact that what they conceptualized for the country is a true story in that the Japanese retiree is an actual retiree residing in the Philippines. What makes it even worse is that they just speculated that perhaps the British blind was simply a tourist.

But I don’t think that is the main thrust of the campaign ads – the ultimate residential preferences of the subjects.

There is no doubt in everybody’s mind that both ads are promoting their respective country’s tourist attractions and publicizing the amiability and warmth of its people and what better way to show it than make tourists, in any manner, shape and form, feel deeply and genuinely special and much welcomed in the country.

The good thing is that South Africa developed first the idea of a blind tourist with a walking stick being treated like a normal person and enjoying it tremendously.

The bad thing is that despite DOT’s P650-million budget for its ad campaign this year, it still had to put up with the McCann advertising people’s idea of the blind man ad knowing full well that it is a copycat.



Zamboanga conflict taking Fun out in the Philippines


logoWith the Zamboanga conflict still unsolved, there seems to be a deafening silence from the Department of Tourism (DOT) in promoting tourism and proclaiming to the whole world that IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES.

I have written a few blogs about the country’s tourism slogans, both past and present, and expressed my two cents worth of opinion about them. An example is this link:

Suffice to say that the latest slogan, a brainchild of DOT Sec. Ramon Jimenez, has not been able to convince me totally that it is, indeed, a tailor-made slogan for the country as I find it too exaggerated and pretentious.

What made me skeptical about it is the adjective used to describe the fun – ‘MORE’.

How could it be MORE FUN compared to other countries in the region when fun is relative?

I think when you make a pitch for tourism, the gist is on the allure of the place – what is captivating about it that you get ‘seduced’ to visit it and get awed by what makes it the country that it is.

That is the essence of every country’s tourism propaganda.

We can be a fun country, why not? But, that IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES is certainly not the case.

Our uniqueness as a country, dubbed as The Pearl of the Orient Seas, is tantalizing enough for a foreign tourist to book a flight and experience the sights and sounds of the place.

One can even be awed by the country’s internal conflict in Zamboanga City, perhaps, unbelieving that it could happen in an exotic place like the Philippines.

But, MORE FUN is not what it is. Not to the Zamboangueños. Not even to some of our brother Muslims. And, certainly, not to the freedom-loving Filipinos.

So how could it be MORE FUN, generally, in the Philippines?

Let me tell you when IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES:

When dust settles down in Zamboanga City, Nur Misuari, Habier Malik and the rest of the rebels are either dead or captured and jailed with no discussions of mercy whatsoever.

When prosecution of the PDAF scam goes unhampered, and, in fact, fast tracked, so that most of the senior citizens in this country can still witness Janet Lim-Napoles, Tanda, Pogi and Sexy and the rest of the culprits involved being found guilty and meted out with sentences that will see them incarcerated and disgraced from their lofty and mighty positions.

When PDAF will no longer be a milking cow of corrupt lawmakers and other shameless public officials.

When political dynasties will be a thing of the past. (Hopefully without no longer any PDAF, as suggested, creation of dynasties among the wealthy politicians stop.)

When ridiculous thespians can only be seen in the small and big screens and never in the Halls of Congress.

When stupid people stop giving celebrities elective positions.

 Lastly, when MORE is removed from DOT’s overambitious and stilted Philippine tourism slogan.

Kidnapping bad for tourism

New DOT slogan

Other than the oversea Filipino worker’s (OFWs) significant remittances and the flourishing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, another highly touted key driver of economic growth for the country is tourism.

In fact tourism for that matter is not just the concern of the Philippines, but for every country in the world, for it has now become a major global industry.

Tourism has become an indispensable source of dollars earned and a job generator as it is a labor-intensive industry. The more that government should help in allocating more funds for this sector for us to be competitive especially that the greater tourism traffic growth today is the Asia Pacific.

It is not enough that we have an effective slogan to entice both local and foreign visitors, or improve our airports and other infrastructures to make accessibility of travel destinations easier, or make tourism products better and affordable.

The main consideration of the tourism industry, especially in developing country like ours that is known for having insurgency problems, is to ensure the safe, convenient, enjoyable stay and travel of foreign and local visitors.

It is only upon the strength of these assurances that the country can attract more visitors and extend their length of stay and help maintain the country’s socio-economic development.

Unfortunately, this could only be done and kept up if the country is stable and secure.

Alas, sustainability of peace and order is not happening.

Crime has once again marred the country’s tourism industry.

Aussie hostage Warren Rodwell

It has been reported that a former Australian soldier was kidnapped in southern Philippines and has been seen pleading for his life in a video sent to his family and urging Manila and Canberra to raise a $2 million ransom being demanded by his captors.

Warren Rodwell, a 53 year old Australian, is said to have been taken at gunpoint by about six men on Dec. 5 in southern Ipil town in Zamboanga. Police and a number of soldiers are now searching for him in the Zamboanga peninsula and nearby Basilan island, where the Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim militant groups are active. Note that several kidnappings for ransom have been blamed on the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Now, seeing the video world-wide of the distressed-looking Australian in handcuffs and apparently wounded in the right hand and pleading for his life, what tourist in his right mind would ever venture coming to this country, much less convince others to visit our shores?

If the locals are afraid to venture in far flung exotic places in the Philippines, and there are plenty, how would you think the foreigners would feel? Like rubbing salt to a wound, what comes next is a travel warning advisory released by foreign countries painting a bad image of the country.

But, can you blame them? Let’s blame ourselves!

If President Benigno Aquino wants to turn this country around, as he is trying hard to do, he and his administration has got to reform and resolve the disorder that the insurgents are sowing.

Otherwise, much, much more has still to be desired in creating a real tourism boom in this country – to our disadvantage.

So, more fun in the Philippines? If we are contented with a handful having more fun, then, so be it.

DOT’s new gimmick: “Pilipinas, Tara Na”

New Philippine tourism logo

Some time late last year I voiced out my disapproval of the Department of Tourism’s attempt to change its tourism slogan of WOW Philippines to “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda.”

Criticism actually mounted against this new slogan that President Benigno Aquino intervened and advised the various stakeholders and Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim to drop the newly conceived catch phrase.

Not to be outdone in there quest to have a slogan identified to be their own, Sec. Lim has come up with another gimmick saying, “Pilipinas, Tara Na,” (Pilipinas, Let’s Go), purposely meant to encourage Filipinos to travel within the Philippines rather than visit other countries.

“We want to put a little more emphasis on domestic (travel) because it’s the backbone of tourism,” Lim said.

I have no problem with that, but why make the slogan in Filipino language when English is the much more used and understood language in the world and our target market is the world outside us?

Besides, not to be pretentious about it, but rather being frank and blunt about it, the locals that can afford to be going places in the country are, obviously, the moneyed ones and most likely the educated ones who are more comfortable with English slogan.

Again my question is: What is wrong with WOW Philippines?

This has been a tried and tested slogan and has served as well all of the eight or nine years that it has been coined.

Why spend money on stupid slogan “adventurism” just to satisfy ones ego?

Why fix something that is still working?

The best DOT could do is change the artwork or graphics, say, every two or three years, but maintain the ‘battle cry.’

If DOT wants to retire the captivating WOW Philippines slogan, for one reason or another, then replace it with something in English that connotes the same meaning – that of a country that wows visitors because of its price, beauty, culture, wonders,etc., and, not least, the genuine hospitality of its people.