You'll find her on my blog list on the sidebar.
Anyway, in the recent brouhaha over the failed Pilipinas Kay Ganda tourism slogan, I asked her about how she explains what the Philippines is to someone who hasn't heard of it before.
Sure, people in the Philippines who haven't traveled outside of their country won't even think about how they'd explain what the Philippines is.
Then again, if you consider that more and more Filipinos are working or migrating to other countries, you'd perhaps figure that apart from the news that comes from the Philippines, it is our own people that will either give other people in other lands their first impression of what the Philippines is.
Anyway, here's a reposting of Pinky Bartlome's piece on "Explaining the Philippines to Non-Filipinos"
EXPLAINING THE PHILIPPINES TO A NON-PINOY
Pinky Amador Bartolome
The other day, a Caucasian friend asked me to recommend a country in Asia that her family can visit. I of course, told her to go to the Philippines. "What is there to see in your Country?" she asked me. I told her, we have beautiful beaches, Resorts that are World class, gastronomical perfect Restaurants to sample filipino cuisine. Shopping ala filipinas, is an experience that one has to sample. The people are warm and accomodating and always ready to do service with a smile.
"But I want something exotic" she said. "What is exotic to you?", I asked. " Oh, you know, old buildings, landscape that is not like here in Canada.." "Well, the Philippines is exotic, in the sense that one can see the influence of Spain, in some architectural buildings they build, they left a heavy influence in our culture as they colonized us for 300 years. There is also a place in Luzon which is called Baguio where one can see rice paddies or terraces curved by hand that extend up to the Mountains. There are still some indigenous people natives of my country, who do lived in certain packets all over, that you can visit as part of a tour group.
"I heard that there is a travel advisory to the Philippines that Canada just issued, is it really a dangerous place where all foreigners are being killed?", she asked. "There is always danger whenever you travel to other countries, one should just be extra vigilant. Am sure you know this, so I won't elaborate, but if you do go to my country, I promise you, you won't be disappointed". I said. " It is truly a wondrous place to visit, almost all filipinos speak English which is a plus factor, right?" " Well, now that you mention it, that is an advantage, you don't know how difficult it is to do hand gestures just to be understood, very hard, I find in the other places we've been", she further said. "So if you do decide to have your vacation there, lets talk further so I can point to you all the choices place to enjoy", I said. " Nice, let me get back to you on this matter, sweets!", she said.
Most Canadians have travelled all over the World. They usually are looking for new places to explore. One that have great amenities, good tourist packages, an accommodation that is luxurious but not too pricey, a place where one can just walk to one focal destination to another. The conversation above, just illustrated to me the importance of the Philippines, in having a strong tourism thrust that will attract foreign tourists to visit over and over again. Right now, we have more Asian travellers going to our Country, less of Europeans, Canadians and the Americans.
That's why I was, among many, who was quite vocal about that new tourism slogan that DOT under USec. Romano concocted. It was seriously wrong! We are already lagging in tourists visits because of the bad reputation we've gotten from the travel advisories issued by the US, Canada and other Countries. By changing the logo to look like an unsophisticated copy of the Polish one, was a terrible move. Plus the fact that they (tourism officials) thought that foreigners will be happy saying a filipino word. In a television interview Sec.Lim of DOT said that the visitors will have a great time trying to learn tagalog. Duh, doesn't he know the first thing about service? You cater to your visitors, make them welcome and comfortable, they are the King and Queens. Not for us, the hosts to make these visitors look like fools saying or pronouncing a word when they don't really care learning about it, in the first place.
Filipinos all over the World are respected for our work ethics. One word you will hear repeatedly being said by Foreign employers are we (filipinos) are industrious. Now, if we can only fix our country to look more attractive to foreigners, enough for them to visit and even stay indefinitely.Then we will be known, not just a supplier of top notch workers, but one that possesses a unique blend of western and asian cultures merge into a distinct classy Country worthy of visiting.