congratulations are in order: the DOT after all has triggered a meme of itsmorefuninthephilippines and its campaign has functioned exactly the way they imagined (with the help of a media enterprise now admitting its bias, yehey!) it is not without its critics, myself included, but i don’t mind letting it have a life all its own, commentary included about as much as unthinking celebration: if we can trip on the DPWHere, how can we not trip on this one?
which is not to agree that we should be blinded by all this fun. which is to hope that we all know — we all agree — that tourism in itself, as an industry is a sharp and double-edged sword. one only needs to look at Boracay and Tagaytay and find that foreign investment has meant congestion and pollution and the slow but sure killing off of local industry.
Poor entrepreneurs have generated their own capital over time, by starting small and reinvesting profits over several years. However, they may be squeezed out if outside investors drive rapid growth in the industry – as occurred at Boracay Island in the Philippines (Shah, 2000).
one only needs to walk through Makati Avenue on any evening, or Greenbelt 3 on a weekend to find that here are forms of tourism like we don’t want to talk about. go off to Angeles and find the industry of girlie bars that have been brought back to life by the middle-aged Caucasian man who has decided to disappear quietly in the Philippines upon retiring from wherever in the world he comes.
“The Department of Tourism is treading on dangerous waters. Marketing the Philippines as a destination for divorcees is practically synonymous to marketing the Philippines as a destination for sex tourists” (gabriela website, 2011)
The Philippines is one of the favored destinations of paedophile sex tourists from Europe and the United States. (“Global law to punish sex tourists sought by Britain and EU,” The Indian Express, 21 November 1997)
The tourism program of the government which aims to project the Philippines as a major tourist destination has increased the number of prostituted women. As more and more areas of the country are targeted for tourism, more and more women are driven to prostitution in desperation to ensure their family’s survival. (“Women Evaluate the State of the Nation,” GABRIELA, 24 July 1997)
these statements might be decades old, yes. that these resonate in the present? it is everything and telling of what any tourism program has to care about. it’s also to point to this fact: the reality has got to get better for the majority in this nation, so that they might know of those fun images, too. the goal has to be about making those witty taglines real for all of us.
because let us not even talk about tourism and this campaign, as if it is something that will save us from anything at all. know that this campaign in particular is replete with the limitations brought on by social class: more than who would even say “it’s more fun…” here, who exactly can afford to think about fun in this way? who has the wherewithal to be putting together memes, to have photographs of nation that are deemed worthy for being tagged “fun”?
know too that in the narratives of tourism across the world, it is the poor that suffers for it. they are the ones who lose access to their own resources, because they are not equipped to negotiate with the programs of tourism that exist.
there are many other examples where a few private entrepreneurs exclude local people in order to gain key assets, often through unauthorised land-grabbing. For example, Sabang is the gateway town for St Paul’s National Park in the Philippines, and 20–30 years ago contained much public land, almost all of which has now been privately exploited. The local authority lacks effective power to prevent breaches of planning regulations (Ashley, Boyd, Goodwin 2000).
know that “Tourism development has not <…> incorporated poverty elimination objectives. It remains driven by economic, environmental and/or cultural perspectives at national and international levels” (Ashely etal., 2000).
and in the philippines it is driven now by the notion of fun: which is always and only fleeting. which is only true for a few of us.