Category: Travel

Epic Boracay

On Facebook, the gang and I call it “Epic” in reference to those times we spent grinding the night away at Epic club. However, perhaps this third–and so far, most enjoyable trip to Boracay for me goes beyond the “epic” dance parties, frolicking in the white sand beach, wading in the famous turquoise clear waters, or taking countless of photographs to preserve the memory of the last hurrah of summer.

I arrived at the Island at 6:00 in the evening, which started my two-night-one-day mini-break from the hustle and bustle of Manila. But as my friends quipped while I sadly hauled myself off to the next boat back to Aklan, it all seemed like I was there for seven days, because I met someone (or someone met me). I guess it was, as meeting people was part and parcel of the fun of Boracay. Still… I wish I  could have spent more time there; not to relax, but to add a little more quality time to make the whole experience truly worthwhile.

I just know that a part of me stayed in the island. Eight days after leaving this little piece of paradise, pictures are still popping up on Facebook, recalling perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these sheltered individuals whose local version of a seaside getaway could never possibly compare to what we normally take for granted. How could you recall a memory and give it the title “I love Boracay” when you would rather forget that the island happened?

I will still go back there, but unless I could extend what had taken place in my last visit, or recreate it, I’m not sure it will ever be the same. I would never look at that place the same way again. I would never sit on that spot by the shore and not think of the trip.

Make your own ‘Kay Ganda!’ logo

In response to the DOT’s failed attempt at rebranding Philippine tourism, someone who probably had a lot of time in their hands came up with a Facebook app that allowed people to create their own “Kay Ganda” logos. Here’s mine:

Make your own Kay Ganda! logo.

UPDATE: Advertising agency Campaigns and Grey has released a statement on the brainless slogan and plagiarism fiasco (emphases are mine):

Campaigns & Grey was called upon by the Department of Tourism for advice on a new branding exercise. There was hesitation on our end as we were familiar with the complex bidding process, and we were still owed by the past administration for services rendered. Our love for country prevailed.

From the beginning, it was clear that the actual campaign would be bidded out and that our work was merely to establish preliminary strategic directions. But suddenly, there was a pressing need for exploratory concepts to be shown in some travel industry events. Again, we warned the client that we were taking too many shortcuts. But it was agreed that there would be proper market research where multiple concepts will be thoroughly tested among the target markets i.e. North America, Korea, Japan, China etc.

Throughout this whole episode, we did not have a contract nor did we receive a single centavo.

Based on available market data, ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda!’ was developed as one of five concepts for testing among the target segments. The intention of this particular concept was to come up with a novel line that visitors would find memorable, similar to Hawaii’s ‘Aloha’ or even the Japanese ‘Irasshaimase!’ and help regain Filipino pride in the long run.

From many different logo studies that we recommended, we were directed to use the Polska logo for inspiration. Again, this went through several revisions until the client approved a logo similar to the fonts of Polska. With the addition of several other Philippine elements like the tarsier, smiling coconuts and the sun, there was enough distinction to send the logo into market research. If findings showed negative reactions towards the logo or if respondents felt it was reminiscent of the Polska logo, it would be easier to dissuade the client from using it.

We repeatedly warned the client that it was premature to launch, or even preview the study, but apparently preparations for the tour operator event were already underway. We ourselves were shocked at the grand scale of what was supposed to be a mere glimpse to draw out a constructive exchange among industry partners. It was not surprising that media and the public took it as a done deal.

We shall take this experience as a cautionary tale against giving in to the client and allowing their overenthusiasm to override our better judgment. It was a reminder that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

I don’t think that Campaigns and Grey should so easily wash its hands off the whole rebranding FAIL deal because it did play its part in designing the Philippine logo while all along knowing full well that it was based on the Polska travel logo.  And why simply warn or remind the client that the slogan would not be effective? Sino ba ang mas nakakaalam–the pros or the DOT? 

Of course, PeNoy’s friends at DOT are a bunch of tools for even suggesting that the agency copy Poland’s logo design and going ahead with the Pilipinas kay ganda BS. They’re a bunch of tools for using Tagalog in a slogan that’s supposed to sell the Philippines to foreign travelers. Last time I checked, we were the only country that spoke Tagalog because the rest of the world couldn’t even find any compelling reason why it should learn to use our language.

They’re a bunch of tools for buying and using the domain without even checking that it was just a letter different from the pornographic If I had P100 million to burn, I would even buy that porn domain and do something to promote the image of Filipinas online; just google “filipino women” and see for yourself what I mean. It’s a crying shame as well that we have an army of SEO “experts” yet we have allowed this image of half of our population to flourish online.

On the whole, branding is not the Philippines biggest concern. What the government should focus on in order to promote tourism are order and security, anti-littering, and local transportation. Everytime I step out on the street, I have to remind myself that there is a pickpocket always waiting in the background for me to let my guards down. Two months ago, I lost my wallet containing almost a thousand bucks, an ATM, a MasterCard, and a gold VISA.

Metro Manila and every other urban area in the Philippines is simply filthy, overcrowded and polluted. We can’t blame Claire Danes and Prince Charles for describing Manila as they saw: grimy, filthy and smelling of cockroaches. And by God, don’t even get me started on local transportation. That our buses are lethal is an understatement; it’s not everyday that you hear news of buses jumping off steep slopes and bridges because bus drivers have violated every traffic rule in the book to meet his quota, but the past months have seen tragedies happen involving buses. Trains are overcrowded, Metro buses clog and cause horrendous traffic jams on major roads, jeepneys are the bane of urban transportation, and there is a good chance that every other taxi driver is just a mugger behind the wheel. That is why when a cab driver returns a wallet or other valuables left behind by an unwitting passenger, it becomes news.

And where do our effing travel taxes go? I’ve been to other countries and through other airports, but not once was I asked to pay travel taxes except at NAIA or the dilapidated Manila Domestic. Recently, there is a plan to charge travelers 100 pesos for all the unpaid overtime rendered by airport staff. WTF?

So, Pilipinas kay ganda? It’s more like Pilipinas, ang daming disgrasya.

It will take ages before the world forgets the hostage-taking fiasco wherein the Philippine police, the local media and the government failed to protect the Hong Kong tourists who perished in the hands of a deranged ex-policeman. And no, I’m not buying either the excuse that the tragedy was an “isolated case” because while it doesn’t happen everyday that a cop takes a busload of tourists hostage and fires at them at close range when his demands are not met, what happened on 8/23 was a result of an endemic and systematic corruption in the government, the police force, and in our culture. We have just taken it for granted that corruption at a grand, deadly scale exists, full stop.

On diaspora

Mareng Winnie wouldn’t appreciate it, but Teddy Boy has a point:

“Every person owes his first allegiance to himself, to make the best of his talents, to study hard to that end, and to get the best job wherever it is that allows him to show those talents and rise in the world. The rest is just crap.

Pacquiao did not become the greatest boxer of all time by thinking of his country. He did it by fighting to the best of his ability and when he became champion he included Filipinos in his glory. Do the same. If you amount to nothing by staying in the Philippines, nobody will want to be a part of you.

You owe your parents for your education and not your goddamn country, not even if you came from UP which is partly subsidized because what made you a good student was not the subsidy but your study. All the more so if your parents paid for your entire education. Kiss their feet. You owe it all to them and only to them. The country can go to hell.”

— Teddy Boy Locsin

From the Teddy Wan Kenobi Q & A with Jessica Zafra’s blog readers.

Photo by Brian Gurrola

It’s Cebu Pacific’s male flight attendants’ turn to dance

Perhaps to even the playing field, Cebu Pacific comes up with another safety dance, this time with male flight attendants. Like I previously said, I have no problem with safety procedures being demonstrated with dance, as long as the standard pre-flight demos are still done. The dance version during flight or when the plane is already cruising should only make the whole exercise interesting and entertaining.

I wonder if folks from Gabriela and FASAP will cry foul over the male version.

You know it’s viral when even CNN covers your video

Safety trumps entertainment anytime. This mode of entertainment and latest gimmickry from Cebu Pacific is acceptable when the plane is on cruising altitude; however, it would not be wise to replace the standard “boring” safety demonstrations before flights with gyrations to “Just Dance”.

Also, it would be great if the airline refrains from playing the disco on late evening flights when passengers would rather sleep instead of participate in parlour games or watch FAs dance to Gaga.