Pilipinas Kay Ganda and Wow Philippines: Talaga?

The Pacquaio-Margarito fight is over. The traffic in the roads of Manila are back – after 3 hours of stoppage. After the euphoria of victory, life is back with a vengeance. Traffic, brown out, water outage, dirty streets, uncollected trash, mulcting cops, the inefficient procedures are back. These inconveniences  which we consider as “normal” are very often not the norm. Thus while the Aquino feels that travel advisories are unfair, fair or not, the numbers are talking – the output of the Philippines tourism program is a measly number #6 – from 2005 to 2009.

Tourist Attraction: Manila Bay Pollution

With the recent Mendoza hostage-taking plus the string of xenophobic and racist nationalism Filipinos have displayed in the recent Carolla, Hatcher, Chip Tsao capers – it will be interesting to see the numbers for 2010. Nnot to mention Gel Relos’ joke to build Pacquiao statue on the US-Mexico border to keep Mexian illegal immigrants out as if there aren’t also Filipino illegal immigrants aka “TNT – Tago ng Tago / Hiding and Hiding/In Hiding/Hidden”. But I digress.

Increase in Tourist Arrivals to The Philippines Despite Travel Advisories

A recent GMA7 article said that PHL tourist arrivals up despite travel advisories – to quote

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines have increased by 17 percent during the first 10 months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, a welcome development as the country contests the travel advisories issued by six nations on it due to possible terror attacks.

According to figures from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), a total of 2,562,505 foreigners had visited the Philippines as of November 8, 2010, which was relatively higher compared to 2,190,114 who arrived in 2009.

It seems the spate of negative travel advisories issued by six separate governments — Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — have not put a dent in tourist arrivals, said Immigration Officer-in-Charge Ronaldo Ledesma.

If we are to look at these figures we’d believe that the Philippines is so beautiful that those advisories didn’t make a dent, really?

Let’s look not just at the internal figures but let’s look at how well we fare with our ASEAN counterparts.

ASEAN Tourist Arrivals

Graph 1 – ASEAN Tourist Arrivals By Country, 2005-2009

* Malaysia is the top performer and the increase in tourist arrivals shows a steady trend.

* Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines showed a decrease in 2009.

* Indonesia maintained its momentum, though it had a slight decrease in 2006.

* Consistent trend of Philippines being sixth, from 2005 to 2009.

* Cambodia is showing signs of picking up.

Philippines Share of 2009 Tourist Arrivals

* The Philippines share of all Asean tourist arrivals is 4%. Travel advisories will not make much dent when you are at rock bottom.

* A review of the trend lines in Graph 1 will show that the Philippines share fluctuates within the range of 4%-6% of total ASEAN tourist arrivals from 2005 to present.

The table shows that in 2009, tourist arrivals in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam were higher than the Philippines by 874%, 521%, 358%, 239%, and 139% respectively.

Source of Tourist Arrivals

Intra-ASEAN tourism is on a rise.

The traditional sources of tourism arrivals – USA, Korea, Japan show decreasing numbers.

The EU-25 and the rest of the world are on the upswing.

Data Source: http://www.aseansec.org/5167.htm

Lousy Message or Lousy Product?

Let’s cut to the chase and single out the things that we see when we go sight-seeing. Let’s put ourselves in a tourist’ shoes – and imagine what they will see when they get to the Philippines after seeing the ads and its promises. All the gloss, glam, and hype, only to see the following upon arrival:


  • Rest Areas- no rest areas. rest rooms in most restaurants stink. no public trash bins – those who do provide trash bins have trash bins stolen
  • Airports/Terminals/Seaports – they all suck
  • Roads/Bridges- they suck
  • Electricity – electricity sucks, outages are very frequent.

Peace and Order

We are so used to these incidences that we have taken these situations as “normal”

  • Kidnapping/Hostage-taking
  • Bombings
  • Rallies, strikes
  • Mulcting

Landscape/Natural Attractions

  • Beaches- behind the facade of crystal blue waters lies a cesspool of poverty – informal settlers/squatters; child beggars; parents prostituting their children
  • Rivers – our rivers have become sewage canals for banana plantations, piggeries, plastic bags, human feces.
  • Forests – our forests are bare. the little that’s left is under seige from kaingin, real estate development, irresponsible mining practices, kainging, squatting, rezoning.

AP commentor Hyden Toro is more blunt in stating

Beautiful Philippines…Filipinos, beautiful dreamers…unfortunately, the following previous incidents have cast negative outlook of the Philippines:

(1) Jolo Hostage incident; where Red Cross workers were taken Hostages. And were threathened to be beheaded…

(2) Maguindanao Massacre, where Journalists were brutally killed and buried with a BackHoe.

(3) Quirino Grandstand Tragic Hostage Incident – where tourists were killed; President Noynoy Aquino was nowhere to be found. Inexperienced Policemen were used to deal with the tragic hostage situation. The Mayor of Manila and other officials, were feasting from a nearby Chinese Restaurant, while the Hostages were murdered.

(4) Sanitation and pollution problems; with squatter shanties lined up along the Metro Manila riverbanks.

(5) The country is in virtual State of War; with New people’s Army insurgents all over the country; and the Al Queda inspired Muslim rebels in the South.

We have now satellite T.V., where worldwide news events are featured, 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week; from anywhere in the world. People have eyes, and have brains even better than us….especially in developed countries…they are well informed.

It is just useless for the Tourism Department, to put photos of: coconuts, bananas, beeches, etc…These are available in other countries…only pedophiles, who come to have sex with our pre-teen prostitutes are interested to come…Put your house in order, first; clean your house. Then, you can invite people to come visit your house.


Why is the Philippines consistent at number six?

Dick Gordon may have increased Philippine tourism arrivals using internal benchmarks BUT when benchmarked against ASEAN neighbors – the results pale in comparison to Malaysia which had 800% more tourist arrivals than the Philippines in 2009.

What is Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam doing that the Philippines isn’t doing?

Will changing the message from “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and retaining “Wow Philippines” really make a dent in the Philippines overall share of ASEAN tourist arrivals (4% of ASEAN total tourist arrivals in 2009)?

Given that a large source of tourist arrivals are fluent in English, why are we using a “Filipino word” to reach a market that is too busy to learn new foreign words?


The GMA7 report continues

The country is on track to hit its target of at least three million visitors in 2010, Ledesma added, noting that tourist arrivals have traditionally increased during the last two months of the year, when it is winter in the northern hemisphere and Europeans visit tropical countries for a warmer climate.

Notice the Philippines target – 3 million vistiors in 2010. We sure love to set the bar low. With Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam setting higher goals – the Philippines is contented with 3 million, guaranteed to ensure the Philippines stays at #6 in ASEAN.

So many questions.. that have already been answered – many times over.

Aquino says we can dream once again – 3 million visitors and being #6 in ASEAN isn’t a dream – that’s reality. If Aquino and the Filipinos want to dream, shoot for #1 – but that’s too much to ask from a nation that is renowned for a culture of mediocrity.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cont.Est.Agent, AntiPinoy.Com. AntiPinoy.Com said: Pilipinas Kay Ganda and Wow Philippines: Talaga?: Share The Pacquaio-Margarito fight is over. The t… http://bit.ly/cGbUED (BV) […]

  2. ArticleRequest · ·

    Question; why were Dick Gordon’s numerous WOW Philippines ads taken down from CNN and BBC years ago? I thought they were good. Not as romantic as Malaysia’s theme song but it portrayed the country’s natural beauty and our people well enough.

  3. Nobody truly loves the Philippines. No one truly cares. So if nobody cares, what do you do? What’s left is either to leave or to persevere and suffer in mediocrity and corruption. I myself think there’s no realistic solution. Do you, bongV?

  4. Hi Lorenz,

    Everyone talks about how they love and care for the Philippines.

    Does the talk match the walk?

    Our neighbors have found realistic solutions in the strength and resiliency of the formal institutions as a starting point.

    For one – the commonality among our neighbors is the liberalization of the market to create synergies with tourism- let FDI come in and interact with LDI. Let both FDI and LDI come to terms of their equity structure based on the market – and not on a constitutional mandate of 60/40.

    Take for example the expats in Palawan who have to go into convoluted schemes just so they can invest. Would you agree that they:

    1 – their investments create jobs for the people of Palawan
    2 – increase trade flows – purchases of construction materials, purchases of food stuff, payments to utilities – all these contribute to the economy.
    3 – introduce innovation – new styles, new approaches, new processes
    4 – generate revenue for LGUs and the BIR
    5 – help increase awareness about the Philippines

    And yet, for all these what have we done?

    1 – We don’t allow them to own 100% of their equity.
    2 – We force them to become citizens so they can own 100% equity
    3 – We force them to become corrupt and circumvent the 60/40 law

    Removing the 60/40 provision is as real as it gets – just one of the solutions that are screaming to Filipinos in broad daylight.
    The Malaysians, Thai, Indonesians, Singaporeans, Vietnamese – listened.

    We Pinoys are still lost in Wowowee and Pacquiao euphoria – deaf mute abnoy pactards

  5. if Gordon looked too good, then Arroyo will have a hard time pushing her “anointed”.

    same M.O. on Roco and DECS – clip their wings if they become successful.

    same M.O. on Robredo and Aquino.

  6. Miauw Ming · ·

    What’s more hurting is that we (should) have a natural advantage as English taught people. But somehow we still fumble it up.

  7. Sen. Miriam Santiago already hit back at DOT.
    DOT must have a unique “niche” to attract tourists. Saying that “The Philippines has a beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, virgin forest and breath taking mountains” are not enough , because our neighboring countries *ahem*Malaysia*ahem* are claiming that they also have the same “beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, virgin forest and breath taking mountains”.
    Dang, talk about advertising strategies.
    Hyden Toro was right, if Philippines want to invest in tourism, fix the house first!

  8. Very well written backed by strong analysis and charts…Thanks

  9. “We cannot just have ‘a beautiful country’ because everyone says that.” – Miriam Santiago… She is definitely right here…

  10. AlvinEternal · ·

    Hindi lang ang Pilipinas may ganyan; even other countries have that.

    My advice to DOT: Do some research and fix something.

  11. AlvinEternal · ·

    Even other countries said that, even the US.

  12. What if we sold the Philippines to those looking for some scare time? Hehe. “Philippines. Dare.”

  13. Maki-Alam · ·

    Lol, that might just work. “Come if you dare!” 😀

  14. Well any answers to what Malaysia, and to some extent Indonesia, is doing right? I see that all SEA countries experienced a slump for the past five years, all except for Malaysia. I could attribute the slump to the financial crisis, but why is Malaysia’s tourism arrival still increasing at a constant rate? It seems they are getting the tourists from ASEAN neighbors and the “rest of the world” (those not from the usual tourist countries?), if we base it on the other graph. It seems they did not focus their tourism marketing from the usual tourist countries, but instead found new ones.

    Any thoughts?

  15. apply to die? Hehehe.



  17. Wow… Erap is that you? Chavit?…


    Wow Juan, pinoy na pinoy… Tanong ko naman, WHY PEOPLE DONT GO TO THE PHILIPPINES IN THE FIRST PLACE, EH?

  18. I assure you, not a single problem will be bothered to be tackled/fixed seriously. There is no hope for this country at least for a long while.

    The oligarchs wouldn’t want foreigners to take a part of their pie. They don’t want to compete with them in the market too because they know their services/products are far inferior. The people continue to be ignorant fools even to the understanding of what a true nationalist/patriot shall be and what truly is a good product/service. That’s because most Filipinos truly are slaves. They easily and blindly believe/follow anything from an incompetent political leader to a brand name (Starbucks anyone?). “A man chooses, a slave obeys” – from Bioshock.

    In actuality, there’s no such thing as nationalism/patriotism here in the Philippines. If there’s any hint of it, it is shallow and not genuine. The professionalism/efficiency of the professionals here are laughable at best compared to the Japanese.

    The big question is whether the situation will get worse or just remain the same.


  20. Hyden Toro · ·

    Thank you for incorporating my blog comments in the article…I appreciate it.

    Tourists who come to our country complain about these:

    (1) Widespread miseries, and abject poverty.

    (2) Endemic environmental degradation, and pollution.

    (3) Thieves and pickpockets.

    (4) Child prostitution. Parents are their pimps.

    (5) Pimps and prostitutes hawking their goods in hotels.

    Words-of-Mouth is a better source of advertisement. It is free. It is fast. As long as it comes from reliable sources. Not from the Department of Tourism.

  21. Look at the scary situation in Africa (blood diamonds, civil wars, malaria, etc.). It’s far worse than our situation yet many tourists still go there because of nature and animals. There will always be tourists who will come to the PH but that’s mostly because of the beautiful scenery and environment and not because of the people. Who cares if the people are poor. Tourists go to relax or have an adventure and interacting with the people is just a part of it. If you want adventure, you must be prepared at anything.

  22. kid dynamo · ·

    …100 Million pesos and what you get is…

    …a slogan foreigners hardly understand…

    ….a website often mistaken as a porn site if you google it…

    ….as logo with striking resemblance to Poland and another country…


    Tara na sa sa pagkabobo…este pagbabago!….

  23. I believe the DOT lacked the budget to advertise. The DOT didn’t get significant increases in budget allocations until well into Ace Durano’s term (2007, I think).

  24. Hyden Toro · ·

    People who go to visit the Safaris in Africa; usually go to: South Africa, Namimbia, Ghana and Tanzaniya. The countries like: Nigeria, Libera, Sierra Leon, etc…;countries with ongoing conflicts. Tourists do not go to these countries. Besides, they have no Safaris…Widelife refuge is very developed in South Africa. A stable and prosperous country. The only African country with an industrial base. Whites called Afrikaneer, lives side by side with black…

  25. ulong pare · ·

    … daaaang… whiteys come to flipfland for one reason >>> their penchant for monkeys… just lookit flips married to whiteys, ay sus ginoo… the good thing is that their offsprings look just like me… muy guapo!

  26. ulong pare · ·

    @kid d… what do you expect? flips are fakes, nothing is real about these buffoons… from pekeng konstitusyon, pekeng gobyerno, pekeng diplomas, pekeng religion, etchastera, etc… to pekeng heavily accented inles/englitzched…

  27. exactly. I’ve mentioned it to my other friend who also thinks filipino tourism has so much potential. Of course its gets apparent when you get into the fine details of things and the people who don’t want to fix it for the better. Much like the floating rustbucket that pinoy cruise liners like the princess of the stars use, they are settled to painting rust and hiding the fact it is rust.

  28. There was a power outage in Makati last night. Anyway, someone from the DOT went on the radio days ago and said that the slogan should not be an issue coz it’s the program behind the slogan that matters. If that was true, then what’s the point of producing a slogan? What’s the point of doing promotions? Lousy excuse to defend a trial-and-error Aquino government where the president’s appointed ones are learning on the job while the learned ones are without work.

  29. Alberto Lim said (or was coached to have said) that it was not yet final… that they were just testing it when they put it out there and uploaded it on their website only to removed a day after the criticisms. So this means that their work is about trial and error? that testings are being made public and internal in nature in regard to research and documentation? that strategy is chaotic. and they are even saying that it’s the people who decide what slogan to use?! they did not even explicitly state that there was even a poll to begin with! one lousy excuse just led to another.

  30. the slogan was produced in a lousy manner and they even plagiarized the tourism campaign logo of another country in Europe. the Aquino government is producing lousy output after another. that’s the issue. laging p’wede na yan.

  31. this is because tourism is highly dependent on the heritage, current situation, and potential of a country. If our heritage is not being taken care of (i.e. rivers and forests being raped), the current situation being mismanaged (the Aquino government’s lousy output), and our country’s potential being overlooked (our people’s p’wede na yan attitude), then our tourism efforts is as good as doomed.

  32. It it not taken care of because no one truly cares about the country at all. It’s that simple.

  33. UP nn grad · ·

    And Presi-Noynoy says about all this????

    Tourism chief still enjoys trust of President—Palace
    Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 15:53:00 11/21/2010

    Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim still retains the trust and confidence of the President, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Sunday. “The President still trusts him,” 😐 Valte said over the government radio dzRB.

    Wala nang magugulat with this “The President still trusts him.” Wala namang namatay 👿 with this “Ganda Pilipinas”, eh ano pa nga ba ang sasabihin ni Persi-Noy.

  34. Miriam Quiamco · ·

    Grabe, this is such an eye-opener, despite the rise in the number of tourists, we are only slightly above Cambodia and Laos in our share of the pie.  It won’t be a surprise if in years to come Cambodia and Laos will also surpass us economically.  Vietnam has already done so. . .  Tsk, tsk, tsk, kawawa tayo and yet the whole country is more focused on the love life of the unattractive occupant of Malacanang.  

  35. Maybe you guys have already seen this, but I just found this article in Yahoo! News:

    10 Things That Make the Philippines Ugly:

  36. BongV

    Great article, though I have to disagree with  some of your examples especially on the infrastructure part. Your samples mostly apply to Metro Manila, but there are places around the Philippines that are very clean and orderly. Davao for one is an incredibly clean city. 

    The rallies and strikes are mostly in Metro Manila.

    The electricity problem is also mostly in Metro Manila. And even if the electricity outage is relatively frequent (which I somewhat doubt), tourist spots such as hotels still have dedicated power.

    The forests you mention are not tourist spots or far away for tourist spots. Granted, some natural attractions have been “tainted”, but not all. 

    Now as for your statement “Beaches- behind the facade of crystal blue waters lies a cesspool of poverty – informal settlers/squatters; child beggars; parents prostituting their children” this argument is pretty flawed. The squatters, settlers, etc have nothing to do with the quality of the beaches unless of course you mean that our beaches have squatters near them, which in my experience isn’t totally true as most of our resorts are far away from said squatters and child prostitution.

    Following your logic, the same can be said of other countries. I’ve been to Thailand, and the tourism arrival there is way more that the Philippines’ despite having rampant prostitution (which is ILLEGAL by the way) including child prostitution, incredibly high percentage of HIV/AIDS. 

    So should Thailand stop with marketing their tourism since they have skeletons in their closets? And if omitting said skeletons in their campaign is “false advertising”, then should they market their child prostitution and HIV to the world? Of course not.

    IMO “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” isn’t entirely “false advertising”, since not all of the Philippines is as messed up as Metro Manila. Although yeah I do understand that Metro Manila is the capital, hence gives the impression that the WHOLE Philippines is messed up, but i think the DOT is doing their best to market the good points and places of our country.

    Additionally, not all of the ills of the Philippines fall under DOT’s responsibility. 

  37. I viewed the slogan Pilipinas Kay Ganda two ways:

    1. It may not be a phrase foreigners would not understand AT FIRST but it is patronizing our own- it tend to arouse curiosity however, our country needs to be pushed globally.  Once the Philippines is an established name in everyone’s must-see destination then that’s the time DOT can perhaps introduce patriotic ideas;

    2. It is a LIE.  The Philippines have its good and bad side.  I understand that DOT was just trying to focus on the positive but that’s misleading.  Everyone I know who has been to Boracay were raving about the place so that set my expectations high but when I went to Boracay, well I was a bit disappointed, however I do acknowledge that different people have different views on what is beautiful, what is interesting; that being said- I wish that DOT would come up with a well-rounded approach on the tourism promotion of this country.  It could be a slogan that caters to different views- the good, the bad and the neutral. They have to step up their game and be more creative.

    What saddens me most about this recent issue is that the current secretary denies any liability and the 5 Million wasted on this project could have been used to fund education or infrastructure or salary increase.  ROBERTO SHOULD PAY FOR THE PHP 5 MILLION.  That I think is accountability- not just apologizing and resigning.  For every action- there should be an equal reaction.  Officials tend to neglect their duties thus make bad decisions because they think they could get away with it.  Government spends sparingly because it is not their money in the first place- imagine, if you were to spend Php 5 Million of your hard-earned salary, you’d think carefully and you’d want the best result for it. 

    If Aquino truly cares for the Philippines, as he claims to be (to the extent that he’d eat sabrett hotdogs for lunch), he would make sure that someone pays for this mistake.  You broke it, you pay for it.

  38. *** CORRECTION: instead of SPARINGLY- should be EXCESSIVELY

  39. *** Would understand instead of WOULD NOT

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