In a defense of the new tourism tagline “It’s more fun in the Philippines” by the former tourism undersecretary responsible for the Pilipinas, Kay Ganda! fiasco, critics of the new promotional campaign are attacked for its supposed penchant for bashing. That the digging of dirt, such as the discovery of the 1951 Switzerland tourism ad using the same catchphrase, was a favorite pastime of Filipinos.
All legitimate criticisms, the article would have you believe, are self-serving and uninformed. “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, the article asserts, are based on extensive market research as Pilipinas, Kay Ganda! was. The tried and tested wisdom of “why fix something if it ain’t broke?” was, according to the article, an unsolicited cliché no longer applicable in the evolved animal that is tourism promotion.
In the author’s same breath, I guess he cannot be blamed for zeroing in on the foreign tourism market when it comes to tailoring our country’s tourism roadmap. After all, revenue statistics don’t lie, they point exactly to Japan as the number one source of tourists – not the Philippines itself. Advertising students are indoctrinated to cater everything to the target audience, and so why indeed would you promote “Wow Philippines!” which appeals to Filipino culture and sensibility but has resulted in decreasing profitability?
The controversial tag lines are only manifestations of a larger problem: PH tourism industry, no different from all other industries in the Philippines, is oriented to the demand of foreign markets. Indians are not the first to consider domestic tourism as an untapped gold mine. But true to our history of colonial subservience, the industry focuses on pimping our sights and services to foreign diaspora instead of promoting appreciation of our nature and culture to who needs it most: the Filipino people.
Sure, kudos to the advertising firm behind #1forfun’s potential to be viral, be it due to clean popularity or 9gag-type infamy (and the troll in me would wager it’s the latter). The possibilities of what is sardonically more fun in the Philippines is endless. Advertisers say that there is nothing new in the creative scene, only fresh applications of old ideas. I believe this, it’s called innovation. But I am also a believer of tourism as a tool for the promotion of nationalism, environmental concern and cultural heritage. That is something “Wow Philippines!” captured in just two words – and for a time, it was even in profit.
But #1forfun? It’s been a great meme, so far.