I SOLEMNLY SWEAR that I am up to no good. The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently unveiled a new tourism campaign slogan—“Love the Philippines”. The Philippines have always prided itself on being one of the top summer destinations for people all over the world. From our majestic beaches, rich biodiversity, deep-rooted history, and of course our world-renowned Filipino hospitality, we seem to have it all for tourists. However, despite the numerous attractions, the DOT feels that the story of us Filipinos have yet to be told. The question is what is there to love about the Philippines?
“The story of the Filipino has yet to be told. And we shall tell that story by telling them the story of love. Love the Philippines,” DOT Secretary Christina Frasco said. True enough, the Philippines is so much more than our white sands and crystal-clear waters. Embedded in every island are stories of Filipino that make the Philippines so much more colorful. However, amid such a beautiful message, the new slogan did not come without any criticism.
Rightfully so, the new slogan and other components of the “Love the Philippines” campaign” came with a high cost of a whopping Php 49 million. Frasco said the budget was used for the creation of the logo; the conduct of the global, regional, and local studies; and other components of the campaign. Some would question the integrity of the campaign along with its necessity. Why spend millions on mere a campaign?
Looking at the numbers, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the share of Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) to the Philippine economy in 2022, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is estimated at 6.2 percent. The said TDGVA amounted to PhP 1.38 trillion in 2022, higher by 36.9 percent compared with the PhP 1.00 trillion in 2021. Thus, Php 49 million might seem excessive for some but tourism yields drastic economic growth for the country.
But going back to our question, what is there to love about the Philippines? Traveling is an experience and it all starts the moment you land at the airport. How can you love the Philippines if from the moment you step foot at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Philippines front gate, you will be greeted with poor management? From occasional power outages, dreaded long lines at immigration counters, increasing air traffic, and inadequate facilities. Not to mention that every tourist will have to face the infamous Manila traffic and overwhelming pollution that magnifies the humidity and heat of the Philippines.
The “Love the Philippines” campaign aims to tell the stories of Filipinos through Love. But how can we tell these stories if the Filipino people themselves struggle to find love in their own country. According to Asia Development Bank (ADB), 18.1 percent of Filipinos live below the national poverty line. How can we tell tourists to love the Philippines if some can barely survive this country. This is according to ADB’s poverty data which shows that for every 1,000 babies in the Philippines in 2021, 26 died before their 5th birthday.
There is so much more to the Philippines than meets the eye. Many will love the beaches and its white sands but true love lies in the story of every Filipino. My work is done so I say “Mischief managed!”