PATRIO-T-OURISM: “Only in the Philippines” By: Willy E. Arcilla

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.

Excessive Negativism

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.

“Only in the Philippines”

It is a familiar line often quoted by locals and foreigners alike to capture the unbelievable sense of exasperation and frustration over a country that has been blessed with abundant beauty and a people imbued with nobility, yet shamelessly exploited by dynasties of “trapos” and greedy oligarchs. Yet in a paradoxical twist, it may also be the best line to use to drive local and foreign tourism, rekindle patriotism and unify a divided nation. It can be argued and it cannot be denied there is also so much natural beauty and goodness that can be found “Only in the Philippines” The same line arouses curiosity among new prospects (there are 1 billion tourists globally) who have never been to our shores. “What can be found ‘Only in the Philippines’”? It reinforces the experience of past visitors who can attest to the country’s uniqueness, while presenting new and more varied experiences.

It is simple and memorable, specific and unique. It is already a popular throwaway line among Filipinos and foreigners alike who are both delighted at our hospitality and aghast at our idiosyncrasies. It is a colloquial “tourist expression” that can be adapted in foreign languages for DOT campaigns. Importantly, it is campaignable even for domestic tourism which represents the normal course of tourism development when locals explore domestic destinations before venturing overseas. Sadly, Filipinos aspire to fly overseas before even appreciating the beauty of our own land and the goodness of our countrymen.

Synergy of Domestic and Foreign Tourism

“Only in the Philippines” lends itself to widespread adoption by all regions and provinces offering unique travel destinations and tourist attractions. The line creates synergy so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. “Only in Ilocos – Only in the Philippines” showcases Vigan, in Ilocos Sur, Pagudpud Beach and Fort Ilocandia in Laoag. The Banaue Rice Terraces, Mt. Pulag and La Trinidad Valley beckon with “Only in Benguet – Only in the Philippines”. In promoting the majestic Mayon Volcano, the pristine Caramoan Islands, and Pacific Ocean surfing in Daet’s Bagasbas Beach, we promote “Only in Bicol – Only in the Philippines”. “Only in Panay” can you experience the “Ati-Atihan” and indulge on the paradise island of Boracay. “Only in Palawan” do you find the world-renowned Tubbataha Reef and the world’s longest Subterranean River. The international and local campaigns can become seamlessly integrated as one, and will mutually reinforce each other to attract both foreign and domestic tourists.

Unity in Diversity

All local government units can now leverage on the national and international tourism campaigns in promoting their respective local destinations. In the process, we recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of each region, but within the context of one country. While Bicolanos will feel affirmation from “Only in Bicol”, they themselves will acknowledge the attraction of traveling to see and experience what is “Only in Ilocos”. “Only in the Philippines” also dovetails neatly into the “One Town-One Product” (OTOP) program created by the Office of the President to promote entrepreneurship, identifying products which small towns can produce at a comparative advantage vs. other neighboring towns. “Christmas Lanterns — Only in Pampanga”. “Strawberries – Only in Benguet” and so on.

Sola en las Filipinas!

The real excitement is in its global application across multiple languages beyond English-speaking nations like the US and Canada, the UK and Australia/New Zealand. In Mandarin Chinese, the line translates neatly to “Jin Zai Fei Lu Bin”, while in Cantonese, it is “Gan Zoi Fei Lud Ban”. In Japanese, it’s “Filipin Dah-Keh”, and in Korean, “Filipin Esoman”. The growing number of Russian tourists might be lured with, “Tolko V Filipine”. In Spain, our slogan is aptly “Sola en las Filipinas”, which can also be used for the entire Latin America. The French can say, “Seulement dans le Philippines”; the Germans affirm, “Nur in der Philippinen” and the Italians, “Soltanto nelle Filipine”.

Where else can you find all these and more?

Where else can you find a land as beautiful as its people, and a people as warm as its climate? Where else can you find a nation as rich as its history, and a culture as colorful as her transport “(vintas and jeepneys)? Where else can you find a workforce as talented as her artists, and an economy as vibrant as her freedoms? Where else can you find dining as delightful as her shopping, and golf fairways as tranquil as her day spas? Where else can you find fruits as delicious as her hillsides (Bohol Chocolate Hills), and a nightlife as breathtaking as her sunset? Finally, where else can you find a people with pride in her past, a passion for her present, and faith in her future? All these and more . . . “ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES”.

(The author is President of Business Mentors, Inc., a newly-formed Management Consultancy Firm and Regional Director of ZMG Signium Ward Howell, Inc. a leading provider of human capital solutions. Comments are welcome

15 thoughts on “PATRIO-T-OURISM: “Only in the Philippines” By: Willy E. Arcilla

  1. Hi Anton, i know you’ve been campaigning about this for some time now, and I totally support this cause, and since I’ve read previous posts you wrote related to this, in my own little way I do what I can to help alleviate the “God-forsaken” attitude most Filipinos have about our country.
    You know, I was watching the news yesterday in channel 7, and it was disgusting. We were having dinner and news about DepED misallocation of funds, Reproductive Health bill opposition (which is think is totally stupid to oppose) and IT DIDNT MAKE ME FEEL GOOD. I didnt wanna watch it but my father in law was watchin it, so I somehow thought, this is how the common Filipino is programmed to do. Watch CRAPPY NEWS EVERYDAY. All the blood, grime, violent, gossipy culture in our media is just… frustrating. They’re exaggerating hunger here (rice shortage), which made everyone crazy instead of thinking of ways to go about the situation.
    I totally think that major networks are irresponsible with their BRAND of news. What can we do to have something like a board to grade TV shows and all those who go below a B rating wont be granted the right to broadcast?
    Patriotism is what we need exactly. But our media rarely show our patriots. Without patriots, our youth dont have anyone to look up to. Half my class from highschool are now on foreign shores. I guess they weren’t too excited about life here, they were more excited about life abroad.
    All the years of colonization has yielded such gross mentality, and this is what needs to be disposed of, and you’re actually right about starting with HOW WE ACTUALLY THINK, SPEAK and REACT about our country. It’s about time we stop patronizing crap. Our generation should empower this nation. We must change the way we think, and stop disillusioning ourselves with greener pastures out there when we can make it here. If something like Friendster can spread so easily (even to the poorer youth here), why not try something called PATRIOTISM?
    Guys, re-program!
    I love the Philippines. “,) Peace

  2. Anton, bravo! Willy is a gem and a genius. I have to admit to you I was one of those people who escaped the country because I hated living here as a child. Too stifling. Returned home in 2003 after being away for 17 years. It took me 5 challenging years to get my New York attitude adjusted back. Now I learned to love my country, love living here and love the opportunity to open up other people’s (starting with those who work for me) perspectives, horizons and mentalities. And in some small way, to shape and transform their lives because of the opportunities for growth and empowerment which they have never had access to before. On a side note, I became friends with many expats living here in the last few years. Embarrassed that they loved living here; meanwhile, I was the one who was a local and yet, so miserable and angry. Not anymore! Change has to start from me…..More power!!!

  3. Good one. I especially like the Unity and Diversity tag line which highlights, our country’s multi-faceted identity, I think its should be made known that our country offers a wealth of cultural variety from Tagalog to Tsinoy, Kapampangan to Kakanay, Tboli to Maranaw. One of the greatest misgiving of our country’s marketeers (and us in general) is that we dont know enough of ourselves, or worse even disparage someone who doesn’t do the things the say way as how the majority does. How often have I seen the Ifugao-man-in-barrel in our tourist shops. Or label anything that concerns our colonial past to ‘Spanish’ (never Filipino), it’s high time we project ourselves and our culture as uniquely Filipino, yes, with Malay, Chinese and Hispanic layers but nontheless Filipino. It makes better marketing sense too as it will give a better branding of our country.

  4. Hi Anton! Please keep us posted on this project of yours. Would be interested to help in any way I can. Am a believer in how beautiful the Philippines is.

  5. Hi Anton! Thanks for sharing this article. I
    totally agree with everything that Willy wrote. Everyone operates on their self-interests but not everyone is conscious enough or has the conscience to think of the negative impact it may have on other people.
    Why not use Media to up our local tourism…I bet some Filipinos do not even know that we have a lot of beautiful places to go to here in the Philippines alone! Admittedly, I am one of those Filipinos but I try to discover them through the internet (Thanks to your site and other people who are willing to share pictures, blogs and other details of places they’ve gone to!).

  6. Hello!thank you for posting the article.I agree that we should invest to promote tourism.With regard to clean toilets,some if not a majority of our airports, schools and universities, restaurants,shops,malls, not even have a single roll of toilet paper in their bathrooms,much less soap.So it must not only be clean but also well stocked.We must upgrade and improve our infrastructure.Who wants to back to a dirty and smelly toilet?

  7. Dear Anton, Belle, Sheila, Tina, Ivan, Angel, Mitch, Ian and Peter,
    First of all, many thanks to Anton for posting the article on his site and thank you to all of you for your comments. It’s certainly inspiring and affirming to hear many like-minded Filipinos who have rediscovered and rekindled their love for country. As the Honorable Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga says, “God did not make a mistake in creating us Filipinos.” Let us turn this nation that has been “run like hell by Filipinos” for the past 60 years, as an ex-President had envisioned, into one “run like heaven by Filipinos”. Mabuhay ang Pilipino! God bless. Willy A

  8. hey there anton. i read your blog and was truly blessed. when you mentioned that bit about investing in hearts, i couldn’t help but nod in agreement. the filipino heart is lost in the bid for greener pastures; while its youth is caught up in the vast, capitalistic void of ipods, waferers (spell check on that one), parties and facebook applications. i’m a junior in one of the country’s top universities and am sad to report that much of our education has bred mostly money-hungry socialites and socialite wanna-be’s. i’m proud of my school and the education it claims to impart in each of its students, but, i must admit, all it is doing is giving its students reason to stand tall in a room and belittle the rest. i wish more students would care about the condition of our society rather than just focus on theirs.
    anyway, recently, me and a group of friends of mine started an org. i’m really interested in this campaign, and a few of my other friends are too. so just in case you need a collegiate arm, please don’t hesitate to contact me. thanks.

  9. Hey Anton, thanks for sharing this article.
    This was really good!
    I have to say that I only became a hard-core Philippine lover very recently. And a big part of it was because of this org called Youth Trip ( Clare and her co-founders at YTRiP is, in my opinion, an excellent example of people who, as Mr Arcilla phrased it, invest in the HEARTS of a successful tourism campaign. Through YTRiP I have fallen in love with the Philippines and the Filipino. They have taught me to appreciate authetic local cuisine, ancient Filipino writing, provincial history, songs and dances of our IP’s… and so many more! (The way both my schools were never able to!)
    This article was inspiring. But more than that, I’m happy to hear that you guys are actually cooking something up together. Too many inspiring articles out there already – what I think we need now is more action.
    Hope you keep us posted on your updates.
    Good luck with this!

  10. I heartily agree with the article! I really don’t watch the news but my job somewhat requires me too.
    I just came from Sagada and it was a wonderful place. One of my companions was a Japanese girl and a German guy, both of whom loved the Philippines. The German even told me that we had amazing beaches and green cities. The latter surprised me, and made me look at Manila with a new eye.
    I fully support this movement and hope to contribute something to the cause. 🙂

  11. I’d really like to see human interest stories to close news programs. And I’m not talking about the circus performers who got married and now have a child who naturally eat shards of glass or the amazing parakeet that can do basic mathematics. I mean real stories that uplift so that, at the end of it all, we can still smile and say, “Thank God for small miracles.”

  12. thanks anton for sharing. I share the same thoughts of Sir Willy and would like to humbly share our story. On a rainy day, I was looking for tourism Patriots for a new social venture and researching for the martial law museum, I got lost and instead took shelter at the QC memorial circle museum. There, a simple guy got interested in my brochure and I sensde we have the same love, for the country. So I shared: a GK- social tourism project for EDSA1’s 25th on 2011, ‘FREEDOM TOUR’, the People Power EDSA 1 history, multi-media awesome ‘Freedom from dictatorship’ journey & its lovechild –the Filipino’s new gift to the world–Gawad Kalinga, Freedom from poverty,through ‘Kalinga sa Bayan’, a volun-tourism with a heart. Today, sir Willy, the God sent Patriot, texted –“wow I’m honored and humbled to be in the team”. Truly, that is the richness of the Filipinos, its ‘SPIRIT’ of ‘bayanihan’ and caring. Now, onward with the onground & online social media misson–how to love the Motherland. We are open to all PPP–passionate PH Patriots, not only living in the Philippines!

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