By Oliver Oliveros, Editor-In-Chief
Filipinos around the world are exceedingly proud of the Philippines, warts and all. That’s why when it comes to promoting the country by way of an international television (TV) commercial, everyone seems to have a say in it. Take for instance the most recent falling out between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and a global marketing-advertising agency whose latest collaboration had gone awry because of plagiarism allegations. Plagiarized or not, save for the surprising twist in the end, the TV commercial in question showed nothing really new. Like any other tourism promotional video, it banked on sweeping crane shots of some of the country’s finest tourist destinations and top tourist activities—unfortunately, it didn’t touch upon the other quirkiness of the Philippines such as its food, its numerous languages, or, even, its music and popular entertainment.
Although he never spoke Tagalog or Bisaya at home or school growing up in New Jersey, physical therapy practitioner William Araneta, our cover model in this issue of Fil-Am Who’s Who, is slowly being introduced to the distinct beauty of his home country—thanks to his lovely wife, Giana. Sans the feast-for-the-eye promotional videos or postcards from the Philippines, Giana does this by filling William’s stomach with the best food from the Philippines instead, while, probably, Coco Martin’s “Ang Probinsyano” TV series is playing.
William has also learned to value the language, the food, the celebrities, the music, and more importantly, the people through his Filipino patients at his clinic in Queens. “Over here in Woodside, there are plenty of Filipino restaurants that I wander off to which made me acknowledge the taste of the Philippines,” William mentions in his story on pages 10-12.“It’s [also] fun sponsoring these [Filipino] concerts. You get to see your fellow Filipinos—some of them are my patients–ecstatic and they feel at home and that ultimately makes me happy,” he adds.
To effectively promote the Philippines to tourists, focus on how it stands out from the rest of the world. A case in point is one of my favorite local cities, Vigan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the City of Vigan, which features nearly 233 Spanish period houses and buildings—standing next to each other in a grid of 25 streets are rather distinct: These colonial houses have had strong Chinese-Ilocano and Filipino influences that the traditional and contemporary Spanish colonial houses found in Latin America never had.
I guess, to truly experience the Philippines is to embrace its charming eccentricities.