The Philippines has a new tourism minister and he says selling the country’s destinations to the world would be as easy as selling Chickenjoy.
This is Chickenjoy, a famous meal in the Filipino fastfood chain, Jollibee. So I wonder if Ramon Jimenez, the new tourism guy and a former advertising executive, would serve destinations crispy and hot, with gravy and fries to go.
Kidding aside, it’s a pity that despite the wonderful destinations the Philippines could offer, its tourism industry has not really taken off. But the reason is very obvious: INFRASTRUCTURE.
With 7,100 islands (when it’s low tide), it’s not convenient to travel from one destination to another. You can go by land but bad roads can ruin your otherwise fun road trip adventure; you can go by sea but just be careful and check the weather because the industry has been marred by several boat mishaps; you can go by plane but it’s cheaper to take budget airline to other Asian countries than travel domestically.
Infrastructure also includes airports, in particular, the main international airport named after the father of the current president. They say that airports offer visitors the first glimpse to a country and the Manila international airport seem to tell arriving guests that the Philippines is not only a poor country with the dirty, ill-maintained toilets among others, it is corrupt too. Even for a Filipino, it is stressful to arrive at our airports with people swarming around you like flies. How much more for a foreigner.
But the government says it is working on these problems and with the new tourism guy, hopefully, there won’t be a repetition of the plagiarized logo scandal of the previous tourism campaign. I’m curious to see how Ramon Jimenez will sell the Philippines’ tourist destinations, and I hope he focuses on the lesser known, but still lovely places that are worth a visit. Boracay is not the Philippines, that’s what I always tell friends, recommending to them places that most of the time they were hearing for the first time like…
My trip to this island many years ago with friends remains to be one of my most memorable vacations. This is where you sit on the hills of Marlboro country and wonder how God was able to create the beauty before you. Or realize God’s power when the skies literally blacken and close, cancelling all flights to the island. If you have forgotten how fresh air and sea water smells and tastes like, this is the place to go. A visit to the island cleanses your soul and declutters your mind from everyday noise.
Ilocos itself is a very lovely province. I love Laoag with its old churches and architecture. Paoay would be familiar to many because of the joke that this was where Ferdinand Marcos wanted to go to when he fled with his family in 1986. Instead, the US took him to Hawaii.
There is so much more to the Philippines than Manila and Boracay. I haven’t seen even half of the country. And I hope that the new tourism guy would be able to put the country on the bucket list of tourists. He has his work cut out.
Do you want iced tea or softdrink to go with that?