OurAwesomePlanet is partnering with Willy Arcilla (the marketing genius behind C2) and hopefully DOT to launch the "Only In The Philippines" campaign to market the Philippines. With permission from Willy, I'm sharing with you this article about the entire campaign. Read through it because it is very inspiring. We share the same views about the Philippines and how we should move forward on the tourism front. I would love to hear your comments about this article!
PATRIO-T-OURISM: “Only in the Philippines” By : Willy E. Arcilla
While the potential is boundless for tourism to become a growth engine for the country, it remains underoptimized. We salute the accomplishments of the Hon. Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano and his dedicated team for having attracted 3 Million foreign tourists in 2007, and we support their aspirations to generate US$5 Billion in 2008, but we also lament the fact we still trail our Asian neighbors. What can we all do to boost tourism?
The answer does not lie in foreigners, but in us. We will never achieve a quantum leap of growth in foreign tourists or dollar receipts if we do not first achieve a quantum leap in our patriotism and love for our countrymen. We cannot expect to attract foreign visitors to our country if we ourselves continue to leave in droves. Before we expect others to fall in love with the Philippines, we must first rekindle our love for our country. This is a must to the success of any human endeavor. No one can sell what he or she does not love.
Secretary Ace Durano has been tireless in campaigning overseas, but sadly, his efforts and that of his team seem to be undermined – not by other countries, but ironically, by our own negative news reporting. All the negative journalism and pessimistic editorials, government scams and showbiz scandals, conflicts and controversies characteristic of media sensationalism have gotten so bad that not a few neighboring Asian countries now use our bad news as their own headlines. We may enjoy press freedom as a democracy, but at the cost of scaring away tourists and frightening foreign investors; at the risk of disillusioning our youth and accelerating the diaspora. The influence of media in forming lasting perceptions is so profound in today’s borderless world, driven by modern information and communications technology so we must be mindful of its consequences.
Perception and Reality
Today, the Philippines is already perceived across the globe as a country suffering from incurable graft and corruption, an endless communist insurgency and a worsening Muslim secessionist movement, unsolved kidnappings and criminality that has resulted in anarchy in the streets. This is mostly perception, not reality, or half-truths at best. The reality is there are 90 Million positive stories that unfold day-in and day-out in the country, written first-hand by positive and optimistic Filipinos who remain resilient and industrious. Sadly however, perception is oftentimes reality in publicity and media.
Press Freedom, Press Responsibility
The 2008 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Honorable Governor of Isabela Grace Padaca, herself a former radio personality, said, ““Media itself is Power. The power of the media should be in the hands of those who will not use it for their own selfish interests.” In fairness to the press, Rhonda Byrne, author of the best-selling book “The Secret”, confesses, “When I discovered The Secret (which is the Law of Attraction), I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good. The news services and the newspapers are not in any way to blame for broadcasting bad news. As a global community, we are responsible for it. We buy more newspapers when a huge drama is the headline. The news channels’ ratings skyrocket when there is a national or international disaster. So the newspapers and news services give us more bad news because, as a society, that’s what we are saying we want. The media is effect, and we are cause. It is just the law of attraction in action!”
Bad News that is Good News
Our neighboring countries who have raced ahead of us in economic prosperity also report bad news but there is a major difference. In China for example, corruption scandals are reported with appropriate punitive measures already meted out, e.g., “Mayor of Shanghai Convicted of Corruption!” The message therefore to the local population including those in the government is: (1) Crime does not pay; while to the foreign community: (2) Come -- it is safe for you to travel and tour, trade and invest in China. Locally however, it appears that the slightest hint of irregularities or anomalies becomes a source of media frenzy. Sometimes one cannot resist but suspect if members of the media are abusing press freedom just to drive TV ratings and newspaper readership that results in higher circulation numbers and advertising revenues. One evidence of this is that one-half of what one reads in newspapers is a ton of bad news and the other half is a ton of bad ads.
Patriotism Promotes Tourism
Patriotism means moderating our self-flaggelation in media, but it also requires much more. Patriotism also means loving our poor -- uplifting them from the squalor that breeds drug addiction and criminality, gambling and alcoholism, which in turn translates into cleaner and safer neighborhoods, with no street urchins or roadside beggars, such as what Gawad Kalinga (Give Care) has been doing throughout the country. Patriotism means our richest taipans and ilustrados sharing their abundance to reduce income disparity and social injustice, enabling less fortunate Filipinos to improve their lot, promoting prosperity to benefit the common good. Patriotism calls for feudal landlords addressing the plight of the rural poor -- farmers and fishermen, thus addressing the root cause of our 40-year communist insurgency and Muslim secessionist movement, and ensuring the safety of local and foreign tourists in the countryside. Patriotism means stamping out graft and corruption in government, which will promote the growth of commerce and industry, inviting local small and medium-scale entrepreneurs to invest, thus providing more employment opportunities, raising living standards, educational quality and purchasing power, and ultimately enhancing the investment climate to attract foreign investors. Patriotism means paying the right taxes which can be used to provide adequate basic social services, translating to cleaner streets, lighted neighborhoods and safer cities. Patriotism also means enjoining our 10 Million overseas Filipinos to act as our ambassadors of goodwill, capitalizing on the potency of Word-of-Mouth marketing. Patriotism means protecting our environment – preserving our forests, maintaining our waters, and cleaning our skies, to keep our land beautiful and clean for locals and tourists. Patriotism, in the context of tourism, means investing in the “HEARTS” of a successful tourism campaign – Hospitality and Hotels, Enjoyable Experiences, Airports and Airplanes, Roads, Rail & RORO, Tour Packages and clean Toilets, Safety and Security.