I AM an Australian who has been living in the Philippines for two years, and I found Ceres Doyo’s Nov. 25 column, titled “10 things that make PH ugly,” very interesting.
I am here running a 700-seat call center, but I have done my fair share of travelling and writing in the past about some 45-plus countries. I have the following commentary on the Philippines:
• Doyo’s points are very valid and the 10 points are things that need to be addressed but are not enough to deter the right people from visiting this largely untapped country.
• From an outsider’s perspective, the beaches of Palawan, Bohol and Boracay are world-class, without the hordes of people and the littering and saturation of competing hotels.
• Your nation isn’t defined by what you have or what’s wrong, but by the spirit of the people who live here. I know it sounds odd, but “Ondoy” was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed. The spirit, the courage and the willingness of Filipinos to unite and rebuild were truly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
• People do walk away from the Philippines thinking of Manila as unclean and crowded with bad traffic, etc., but they still love its charm. One thing that’s hard to realize unless you’ve seen the Philippines from afar is that we in the western world are brought up thinking of the Philippines as a “sponsor child nation,” as a “Community Aid Abroad nation,” and we don’t realize what the country has to offer. It’s easy to change people’s perceptions if you market this wonderful country the right way.
• Your country (outside of Manila) has such rare unspoilt beauty and is a land rich in natural wonders. Your slogan should be “Philippines: ‘Live it, love it.’”
• I will leave your country very soon as my work here ends, but your country will never leave me. You need to concentrate on the draw cards, not the deterrents because they are far outweighed.
• When comparing somewhere like France to the Philippines, you could say that France charges $9 for a coffee, its accommodation cost is prohibitive, its public transport system is unaffordable for the people it is designed to transport, and the population is largely against tourism. But instead they say Paris is “the city of love.” Millions visit France each year because of word-of-mouth and great advertising. It’s an expensive and rich country, but this doesn’t stop people from going there. Why? Because people want to feel and live the countries they visit. You couldn’t feel or live a country more than this one.
offshore operations manager
Virgin Mobile Australia, Ext 50068