Two years ago, I met the then-Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT), Ace Durano, and thought he had the best job in the world: to promote the Philippines as a tourist destination FOR A LIVING!
Since then, I have very openly talked about wanting to be the DOT Secretary (or, as OJ says, Sexytary). This article I wrote even ended up on Yahoo Philippines. I have made great efforts in getting to know the country better, so most of my savings go to trips around the archipelago. The last two years have taken me to the northernmost parts, like Batanes and Cagayan Valley, and all the way down south to Cagayan de Oro. My thesis is even on DOT materials, so all the sources I read are related to national identity and tourism.
My dad said that with my “passion” (I think “obsession” is more like it) I could be the youngest DOT Sec ever. He advised me to come up with a list of what I’d want to accomplish every week if I became the Secretary. OA naman yung every week! I told my yoga teacher this, and he told me to write down my plans, tape it on my mirror, and meditate on it. So here I am, putting my goals and ideas down on (virtual) paper. I am well aware that some of these go beyond the DOT’s responsibilities (I read the Tourism Act of 2009, all 126 pages of it, okay!) and that some of these reflect my own interests and biases. I also know that most, if not all of these, are easier said than done. Nevertheless, I think they’re worth putting out there.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be DOT Secretary. With the kind of politics we have, being appointed a cabinet member depends more on connections than credibility. But I do love this country to the core of my bones, and that’s not some wide-eyed, naive claim; I know that a lot of the tourism practices we have are bullshit, I’ve seen how dirty our streets and seas are, and how much work needs to be done. In fact, recently, I was at the brink of giving up this advocacy and shift to a new one: to stop promoting tourism until we get our act together. Sobrang nawalan ako ng gana, and it’s just so much easier not to care diba? Then my dad, brothers, and I dove in Camiguin yesterday and I was reminded very blatantly of what I was fighting for. There was so much life underwater. So I choose to care, and I choose to believe in the good. Maybe these ideas won’t materialize in my lifetime, but I’m sure as hell gonna kill myself for not trying.
This is my petition to the universe.
1) Fix our freaking airports already!!!! This is the first and last thing that tourists see, so they give the first and last impressions! There are about 12 steps we need to go through before we get to the gate! Don’t tell me that it’s for SECURITY REASONS because those guards don’t even know what they’re looking for when they check our glove compartments and trunks. I’ve seen those people manning the x-rays texting, filing their nails, and making chismis on the job. It just gives a false sense of security. In other countries, there are about 3-4 steps lang for check-in. PLUS NONE OF THE NAIA AIRPORTS HAVE WIFI. I need my wifi. Other people need their wifi. AND!!!!! None of the plugs in NAIA 1’s waiting area work. The restrooms are disgusting. Our airports, especially NAIA 1 and 2, scream Third World. Though we are Third World, we shouldn’t keep acting like it. Ang lumalabas kasi, pinapanindigan natin ang pagiging purita.
Since we’re an archipelago, traveling poses several problems. BUT a problem also means an opportunity. We can come up with a Luzon-Visayas-Mindanao backpacking trip and make it look ~exotic~ or adventurous. Tipong, “Experience the Philippines by traveling on land, air, and water!” Long hours can be fun if we make it an effort to be fun, like fun flights ng Cebu Pacific. My friends and I always join those games kaya. The restrooms we have in our ships are gross too. I feel like I’m gonna get an STD just by walking past them.
FYI The Tourism Act says DOT should work with DOTC and DPWH to improve infrastructures. I like the idea of the Philippine National Railway. The trains are all in Manila, which is unfair for the taxpayers everywhere else. Traveling around Europe is so easy because of the train. I wanna try one of those luxury buses. I took a bus from La Union to Manila (went there to surf! LOVED IT!), and a bus from Batangas to Manila. Both times, the buses overheated and broke down. A nice bus system would do wonders. Let’s have designated routes for buses too, not the stop-whereever-you want system we have now.
2) Improve the quality of tourism materials and their availability. The ones now use crappy fonts and graphics that look like they were done in Word Art. They also contain grammatical errors and ambiguous phrases. Both form and content are of poor quality, plus they’re not made available everywhere. In Cancun, there was a wall of brochures and a tourist information center before you step out of the airport. Genius.
There were brochures and leaflets in supermarkets, restaurants, and waiting areas, and Tourist Information booths on the streets.
The following pictures were taken here, during a three-day weekend, when tourists are out and about.
I paid a bit over 1k for Lonely Planet Philippines. When I forked over my money, I thought, “Why am I paying this much to learn about my own country from foreigners?!” I wouldn’t have to if we had our own, made by our own and for our own people. I saw the new one on Manila. Okay sana but it makes use of Tempus Sans. Ew. People should care about typography because typography matters. I really think fonts like Tempus Sans, Comic Sans, Jokerman, Curlz MT, and Brush Script Ltd should be banned from everything. Srsly.
CDO is a Curlz MT criminal
And a Jokerman criminal
It was also a Comic Sans criminal but I didn’t take a picture of that anymore because I was too taken aback.
AND PLEASE LET US STOP PUTTING THE DOT SECRETARY’S NAME AND PICTURE IN ALL PUBLICITY MATERIALS. No tourist cares what the DOT Secretary looks like. If they’re name- and faceless, then the materials can be distributed for longer periods of time. Actually this goes for ALL government projects. This is the only country I’ve ever been to that has the politicians’ names and faces plastered on every POTTED PLANT(!!!!), bridge, basketball court, and waiting shed. This would be okay if they used their money, but it’s OUR TAXES.
3) Having said that, I’d ask Manix Abrera, Pol Medina, and Team Manila to work closely with the Publicity and Promotions Office. Manix and Pol Medina to give our postcards a facelift; we could all use more humor in our postcards. Team Manila has greatly contributed in making tourism young, hip, and relevant. I LOOOOOOOOOOVE Team Manila. I hope they print their posters and make them postcards too. A lot of tourists send and collect postcards, and the ones we have now are so… Chaka. Again, Word Art quality. What I love most about Team Manila isn’t their creativity, but their sincerity.
Alright. Imma blue balls you on purpose. Part #2 tomorrow!