When it comes to changing things for the better, dilettantes masquerading as activists and self-professed experts will often prioritize creating superficial hype because of their profound lack of understanding and insight into what the real problems are.
Yes folks, apparently Carlos was out of it “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and “It’s More Fun In the Philippines” was pummeled mercilessly by the authentic critical thinkers of Get Real Philippines in over two dozen posts which you can find here. Thing is, if you really are a tourism expert and have deep insight into how best to boost tourism in Manila, you’d put “slogan making” at the bottom of the list of things to do and even then, as Benigno suggested in Social Media Fiasco: It’s More Fun In The Philippines, “hire a barkada of 17-year-olds looking to make some summer holiday money. Their fees are likely to be more reasonable than that of old farts that write “35 years of experience in advertising” on their resume.”
Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlos doesn’t bat for a multi-million peso advertising campaign for Manila — who knows, maybe his friends the Ayalas can co-fund it.
But to be fair to the walking tour guide, he also did say that he was for cleaning up parts of Manila.
The key thought that threads together the posts of GRP writers, really is this “the value and importance of creating the right message or messaging campaign becomes crucial and evident only after you HAVE created the product, service, place or personality.” Otherwise, it is, to borrow a term from the geek lexicon, “vaporware”.
In the case of tourism, it is essential that you have to have a place or places that people will want to go to. And let me emphasize the words “WANT TO GO TO”.
Do we have such places in Manila?
Sure, we have a number of so-called “tourist destinations”, but would people want to go there if the find out that:
1. They’ll have to land at NAIA Terminal 1
2. There aren’t hotel rooms available.
3. Travelling within Manila will entail sitting in a car or van for an hour or two, taking them through routes with either poorly maintained buildings or filthy sidewalks with beggars or squatters areas or bridges overlooking the sewerage water of Pasig River.
4. There is hardly adequate security in most of these “tourist destinations” and tourists who are escorted by a tourist guide (accredited or otherwise) face getting hassled or worse by “street people”.
5. The level of all manner of pollution is simply astounding and sanitation is almost always questionable.
6. A moderate (and certainly) heavy downpour causes flooding all over Manila, making it IMPOSSIBLE to go to areas like Malate, Intramuros, parts of Binondo leading to Escolta and Ongpin, Quiapo, Paco, and other historical-cultural destinations.
This list can go on and on and on.
Then again, some people are quite comfortable being charlatans and aren’t averse to just hiding these things behind a slogan, a couple of zingy blocks of copy, and several photo-shopped pictures.
Ilda Pro said it rather well in her magnificent article, “Why We Don’t Need to Emphasize That It’s More Fun In The Philippines”
Just like what former Senator and DOT secretary said, “Tourism is a story, it’s not just “wow” or “fun”, we have to justify it. The product should sell itself. We don’t want to advertise tapos pagdating dito, wala. We have to improve the country”.
Mr Gordon is spot on. You don’t invite guests to your house without cleaning your house first. Unless you didn’t like that guest in the first place and your intention was to ensure they did not to come back after their visit, you wouldn’t likely bother to clean up. But if your idea is for your guest to like you and to make him come back and visit you again, you’d do everything to make your house more inviting and welcoming.
And perhaps Teddy Boy Locsin emphasizes this point even more.
I’m not going to bother anymore with stating the solutions at length, because we should all know them by heart at this point — if you weren’t born yesterday.
1. Travel. Get a better international airport up and running, add a seaport for luxury cruise ships, and tame Manila traffic.
2. Pollution and sanitation. Reduce the number of tricycles and jeeps, go for an electric bus system or tranvia as it was once called. Ban day time traffic in certain areas on certain days in a week. Redevelop Pasig River as an alternate transport route, take back the banks of the Pasig River within Manila’s jurisdiction. Redevelop all the areas along the PNR Rail Stations and railways. Strictly enforce sanitation ordinances, use closed garbage trucks and make scavenging (materials recovery) or junk shops within Manila illegal. Strictly implement against dumping untreated waste-water and other pollutants in storm drains, causeways, and esteros — make waste water treatment for homes and small buildings mandatory.
3. Flooding. Support the construction of a spillway — the Pasig river and other natural drainage has long been hardly adequate to mitigate flooding in Manila.
4. Security. Increase the number of tourist police. Install a centralized electronic surveillance system in key areas of Manila.
5. Hotels and other accommodations. Encourage the investment in the development and redevelopment of key areas in Manila, especially for the construction of hotels and other accommodations for tourists. Create a section of Manila just for tourists — in this respect, a reclaimed area on Manila Bay may be the thing or the shutting down and redevelopment of the Manila City Jail complex maybe a direction worth looking into.
Certainly, I don’t have all the solutions. But just these five may be good enough for start.
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