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Fun is stored in the heart

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“It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Don’t you believe it? Of course, you do! Of course, I do! As a Filipino who has missed all the fun in the Philippines after 20 years of living outside the country, I can truly say “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
“It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

The slogan, which was launched by the Department of Tourism on Friday as the catch phrase for its new tourism promotion campaign worldwide, does not even end with an exclamation point, not as hysterical as many would want a tourism slogan to be. It’s not even classy, as critics say, and yet nobody would dispute the message that it conveys. Because it is the truth: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Or don’t you believe it?

If you cannot believe that the Philippines is more fun than in most countries, you must have spent most of your life in the convent, or in a cave. If you are a tourist who had spent even just a few days in the Philippines, I’m sure you would agree to the DOT slogan. Unless, of course, you became a victim of a crime or a tragedy that would have erased the fun that you had earlier.

If almost all Filipinos believe that “it’s more fun in the Philippines,” then what’s all the fuss about the new DOT slogan?

Many critics point to the fact that the slogan has been used by Switzerland in the 50s, making it another copycat slogan, a plagiarist’s product. I’d rather believe Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez’s explanation that the similarity was coincidental, it was not copied from the Swiss slogan, which said “It’s more fun in Switzerland,” and that BBDO David Guerrero “would rather slit his throat than copy something.”

The words more fun are so generic, it’s not difficult to understand the possibility that it could have been used somewhere, sometime. Just because it was used by another country does not make it illegal nor unethical to be used by the Philippines, unless, of course, it has been copyrighted, which doesn’t seem to be the case in this matter.

Jimenez points out that other brands such as “Amazing Thailand” was also similar to “Amazing Australia,” “Incredible India” to “Incredible Italy,” and Malaysia’s “Truly Asia” brand was similar to “Truly Tuscany.” I’m sure the Thais nor the tourists didn’t care that Thailand’s slogan was the same as that of Australia because Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world. So are Malaysia, Italy and Australia.

While it’s true that Filipinos are among the happiest, friendliest, and most fun peoples in the world, it is also true that Filipinos are among the biggest fault-finders in the world. We also love to debate just about anything. And to the fun-loving Filipinos, there’s nothing more fun than making fun of just about anything. But these traits are just okay, after all that’s what make the people survive the tragedies and poverty that stalk the country year-round, and make the Philippines one of the strongest pillars of democracy in the world.

But we will have to learn when to end the nit-picking and the fault-finding. Tourism can bring millions of dollars to the country, money that we have not fully tapped despite all the beautiful and fun things that the country has to offer. Although tourism promotion should not be the be-all of a country’s tourism program, marketing the country’s tourist attractions to the world will definitely help a lot to bring the tourist dollars in.

We have been pressing the government to aggressively promote Philippine tourism all over the world, and now that the DOT is ready to do just that, we seem to enjoy blocking all its efforts. When it first launched the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” marketing plan, it was met with such opposition, and rightly so, because the logo and the head types were clearly plagiarized from a logo in Poland that was still being used.

But the new slogan is clearly different from the Swiss slogan in so many ways. The supporting text and photos are far different and far wittier than that of Switzerland’s.

Imagine these plans proposed by the agency as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“By summer, a billboard over a busy parking lot in New York would say: “Parking. It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The ad would have a beautiful snapshot of several bancas lined up on the white shores of Puerto Galera. Somewhere else in the world, maybe in a busy subway, another billboard that boasts of the country’s world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces would say, “Going upstairs. More fun in the Philippines.”

These are just two of the proposed posters and billboards that the DOT would launch in key cities all over the world. The possibilities are endless, because truly, most things are more fun in the Philippines.

“It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

It’s a statement of fact, something that Filipinos themselves can prove through their natural demeanor and in their sincere desire to please foreigners, although sometimes to a fault. Ultimately, it is the way Filipinos welcome and inter-act with the tourists that will spell the success of the country’s tourism industry. Other countries have beaches nearly as beautiful as Boracay’s; tourist landmarks that are nearly as beautiful as the Banaue Rice Terraces or the Palawan underground cave; festivals that are as exciting as the Ati-Atihan or the Sinulog; hotels and resorts as classy as those in Metro Manila; spots as historic as Corregidor and Bataan.

But nothing compares to the genuine hospitality and friendliness of the Filipino people. And that’s what makes visiting the Philippines more fun and more memorable. It is the smiling and accommodating Filipinos that will make these tourists come back and tell their family and friends to visit this land of lovely and charming people. The tourist spots become a bonus.

“It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

They say it’s boring. And yet it tells tourists truthfully what to expect when they visit the Philippines. Fun is the reason most tourists travel. It’s what they remember most, the fun they had in the places they visit. The beaches, the tourist spots and the hotels are captured in photographs. Fun is stored in their hearts.

By Val G. Abelgas




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