It's more fun in the Philippines?!

First off, applause to Team Manila for the refreshing look of Tourism department's newest campaign for our beloved country, "It's more fun in the Philippines!" (But I still refuse to support your firm's merch for your RH bill backing). Who knew there's any good in that typeface? It's genius. And of course, BBDO Guerrero for the concept. Add a hashtag to that and you've already joined the most recent Internet meme embraced by both former DoT cynics and the usual warm bandwagons of cyberspace.

Screen capture of by popular design firm Team Manila.
A few weeks ago, one of our more esteemed journalism professors Luis Teodoro from my alma mater criticized the appointment of the new tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez for being a former advertising executive whose profession, he says, consists in "hyping" virtues and "concealing" vices. I admit that most of my ingrained prejudices against marketing, advertising and public relations were borne from this very  education in independent and adversarial journalism, but the It's More Fun campaign is when I'd have to disagree with one of my educators.

Prof. Teodoro's views remind me of the problem in David Hume's empiricism that emphasizes what's seen and touched and denies other realities, especially the invisible ones. The Philippines does have its vices--terrorism, traffic, red tape, the list goes on--but there is profound benefit in making the public perceive virtues. Highlighting the positives does not make the negatives non-existent, nor does it mean denying them. And it's not as if we don't continue to seek cures for those negative traits.

Perceiving virtues, the public are encouraged to emulate and reinforce these good qualities to make them truer. They also foster a healthy pride in their home country--an attitude that precedes real patriotism.

Tourism after all is driven by positives. Tourists don't choose to travel to a place for its drawbacks. DoT does have to work with national government to eliminate the Philippines' frailties, but its foremost job is to contribute to the economy by making travelling thrive. There's also a sense of fulfillment borne from marketing something one believes in wholeheartedly such as this dear nation. It is then just proper for Jimenez, a rockstar ad guy with political savvy, to occupy that cabinet seat.

An appeal to the Department of Tourism:

Given all that praise for the new campaign, I do hope, however, that DoT does not compromise on the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" slogan. Fun, after all, is so easily misconstrued. It can refer to pleasure, even its less dignified forms. I gotta be straight to say that it might lead to attracting tourists for the culture of the night, the bingeing, the consumerist environments, and even for the more sensual vice crimes.

Please stick to what is principled and honorable in selling "fun," or the benefits I've mentioned above will just be for naught. #