Patrio-tourism: ‘Only in the Philippines’


MT. Pulag

While the potential is boundless for the tourism industry to become a growth engine for the Philippines as it provides valuable foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities, and acts as a catalyst for direct income redistribution to the countryside, it remains sadly underoptimized.

We salute the accomplishments of all past Tourism Czars and support the Honorable Secretary Ramon Jimenez and his dedicated team in their ambitious aspirations to attract as many as 10 million tourists by 2016 and generate billions in revenues, but we lament the fact that present statistics continue to lag far behind Asian neighbors.

China has long surpassed 50 million while Malaysia has drawn more than 20 million.  What can we all do to dramatically improve our travel and tourism industry?


The answer does not lie in foreigners, but in us.  We will never achieve a quantum leap of growth in foreign tourists or dollar receipts without first achieving a quantum leap in our patriotism and love for our countrymen.  We cannot expect to attract foreign visitors to our country if we ourselves continue to leave our country in droves.

Before we expect others to fall in love with our country, we must first rekindle our love for her.  This is a must to the success of any human endeavor.  No one can sell what he or she does not love.

We need to engender a sense of patriotism among our ourselves, our families and our own countrymen.  Patriotism will motivate us to invest in the “HEARTS” of successful tourism – Hospitality and Hotels + Enjoyable Experiences + Airports and Airplanes + Roads and RORO Bridges + Tour Packages and clean Toilets + Safety and Security.

“Only in the Philippines”

It is a familiar line often quoted by locals and foreigners alike to capture the unbelievable sense of exasperation and frustration over a country that has been blessed with abundant beauty and a people imbued with nobility, yet shamelessly exploited by dynasties of “trapos” and greedy oligarchs.  Yet perhaps it is also the best line to use to at once drive local and foreign tourism, rekindle patriotism and unify a divided nation.  It can be argued and it cannot be denied there is also so much natural beauty and goodness that can be found “Only in the Philippines.”

Mayon Volcano

The same line arouses curiosity among new prospects (there are 1 billion tourists globally) most of whom have never been to our shores. “What can be found ‘Only in the Philippines’”?  It reinforces the experience of past visitors who can attest to our uniqueness, while presenting new, varied experiences.

It is simple and memorable, specific and unique.  It is already a popular throwaway line among Filipinos and foreigners alike who are both delighted at our hospitality and aghast at our idiosyncrasies.

It is colloquial “tourist expression” that can be adapted in foreign languages for marketing.  Importantly, it is campaignable even for domestic tourism because the normal course of tourism development is for locals to explore domestic travel destinations before venturing overseas.

Sadly, Filipinos aspire to fly overseas before even appreciating the beauty of our own land and the nobility of our fellow Filipinos.

Synergy of domestic and foreign tourism

“Only in the Philippines” lends itself to widespread adoption by all regions and provinces offering unique travel destinations and tourist attractions.  The line creates synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.  The international and local campaigns will be seamlessly integrated as one, and shall mutually reinforce each other to attract both foreign and domestic tourists.

“Only in Ilocos-Only in the Philippines” showcases Vigan, in Ilocos Sur, Pagudpud Beach and Fort Ilocandia in Laoag. The Banaue Rice Terraces, Mt. Pulag and La Trinidad Valley beckon with “Only in Benguet-Only in the Philippines.”  In promoting the majestic Mayon Volcano, CamSur wakeboarding, pristine Caramoan, Pacific Ocean surfing in Daet’s Bagasbas Beach, we promote “Only in Bicol-Only in the Philippines.”  “Only in Panay” can you experience the “Ati-Atihan” and indulge on the paradise island of Boracay.  “Only in Palawan” do you find world-renowned Tubbataha Reef and the world’s longest Subterranean River. “Only in Mindanao” can you find Mt. Apo, domicile of the majestic Philippine eagle.

Unity in diversity

All local government units can now leverage on the national and international tourism campaigns in promoting their respective local destinations.  In the process, we recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of each region, but within the context of one country.  “Only in the Philippines” also dovetails into the “One Town-One Product” (OTOP) program created by the Office of the President to promote entrepreneurship, identifying products which small towns can produce at a comparative advantage vs other neighboring towns.  “Christmas Lanterns-Only in Pampanga.” “Strawberries-Only in Benguet.”

Sola en las Filipinas!

The real excitement is in its global application across multiple languages beyond English-speaking nations like the US and Canada, the UK and Australia.

In Mandarin Chinese, the line is “Jin Zai Fei Lu Bin.”  In Cantonese, “Gan Zoi Fei Lud Ban.”  In Japanese, it’s “Filipin Dah-Keh.”  And in Korean, “Filipin Esoman.”  The Russians would say, “Tolko V Filipine”.  In Spain, our slogan is “Sola en las Filipinas,” which can also be used for most of South America.  The French will say, “Seulement dans le Philippines” while the Germans will say, “Nur in der Philippinen” and the Italians, “Soltanto nelle Filipine.”

A land as beautiful as her people; a people as warm as her climate.

Where else can you find a land as beautiful as its people, a people as warm as its climate?  Only in the Philippines. Where else can you find a nation as rich as its history, a culture as colorful as her transport (vintas and jeepneys)?  Only in the Philippines. Where else can you find a workforce as talented as her artists, an economy as vibrant as her freedoms?  Only in the Philippines. Where else can you find fruits as delicious as her hillsides (Bohol Chocolate Hills), a nightlife as breathtaking as her sunset? Only in the Philippines.  Finally, where else can you find a people with pride in her past, a passion for her present, and faith in her future?  All these and more “Only in the Philippines.”

God-Made Wonders, Man-Made Warmth

In promoting the Philippines overseas, we must remain humble and avoid boasting that we are better than other countries (because we are not), — but rather that we are different. In what area are we unique and different? Not in manmade, but in Godmade wonders. While the whole world marvels at all forms of manmade memorials and mausoleums, arches  and statues, towers and walls, recreation and amusement parks, monuments and skyscrapers, the Philippines remains endowed with natural beauty we can boast as Godmade, not manmade wonders. And while we have no major manmade structures, we do have manmade warmth, manifested in our world-renowned hospitality and friendship.

Visualize a campaign that juxtaposes Egypt’s manmade pyramids vis-à-vis our own Mayon Volcano crowned with a headline, “While man can shape pyramids, only God can shape volcanoes.” Travelers who have gone to Egypt and admired the pyramids of Gaza can now train their sights on the “natural pyramid” of Mayon shaped by God like a perfect cone.  Another billboard or print ad execution can compare the Arc de Triomphe in Champs Elysees with our very own Nakabuang Arch in Sabtang, Batanes.  To project the nobility of our people, we can show killer whales kept in captivity to perform tricks in San Diego’s Seaworld compared with the world-renowned whale sharks (butanding) which swim freely and watch us swim alongside them in Donsol, Sorsogon.  Finally, imagine an ad comparing the golden crown jewels with our golden sunset in Manila Bay, captioned, “Only a king can wear a golden crown, but many can share a golden sunset.”

What makes the Philippines unique? It must be the beauty of our land and the nobility of our people – a land simply beautiful; a people beautifully simple—Only in the Philippines!

(Willy Arcilla is the founder and president of Business Mentors Inc., whose mission is to help Filipino companies grow and Filipino brands compete in an increasingly competitive global economy. He has a 30-year experience in marketing and sales, advertising and media throughout Asia-Pacific and he is recipient of the Philippine Marketing Association’s Agora Award for Marketing Excellence in the Asia-Pacific region.  He is the author of a new book, “Marketing and Advertising with a Conscience.”)

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  • Anonymous

    ako nga taga-batanes, d ako maka-pasyal sa mahal ng pamasahe…8.2k ang 1 way sa seair..naknang

  • Marjorie Santiago

    Ayusin nyo muna na ang Peace and security ng mga turista, dapat diyan sa mga holdaper at snatcher, carnapper tinitigbak ng di matakot ang mga foreigners. alam na ng mga taga ibang bansa lalo na ang middle east kung gaano nakakatakot sa bansa natin dahil ang daming holdapan. Pagsakay mo pa lang sa fx taxi matatakot kana kasi anytime may mang-hoholdap. Dapat diyan sa mga yan sinasalvage na para di na tuluran or itali sa bahay ng langgam para di na umulit pa.

    • Jao Romero

      mismo taxi driver ang holdaper.

  • Anonymous

    I work for a small tour agency in Thailand. Whenever a tour company plans to bring tourists to a particular establishment, tour agency representatives must first evaluate if that establishment meet the minimum requirements their clients expect. If not – that establishment – whether it be a guesthouse, a roadside restaurant, coffee shop, or beach resort WILL NOT be patronized. The message is SHAPE UP or be sorry to loose a potentially lucrative agreement with a tour group. 

    I agree that Pinoys have forgotten to look inward and treat local tourists as tourists themselves. I used to feel very upset when we were kids and got second class treatment at what was then the Davao Insular Hotel. How I wish I knew how to give the UP Yours finger to the front desk staff.

  • randel Robillo

    di man lang na mention ang cebu …one of the most visited tourist destination in the philippines ..ano ba yan …

  • Anne Torre

    It’s really nice to travel but in the Philippines, can you be assured that no one will hold you up or kidnap you? Can the Dept. of Tourism give assurance that your travel will be safe? Good if you don’t look attractive to the criminals, you might be lucky.

    • edi boyd

      We travel the Philippines every year with my wife and daughter and we always feel safe about it just because we made ourselves aware of places we’re not supposed to go. Any country in the world has that “off-limits” places. We just have to be smart to recognize them. Check my personal website of the places we’ve been in the Philippines. That might change your perception about traveling to the Philippines. Thanks!

      • Anne Torre

        Can you say that Japan has some “off-limits” tourist spots? Or the US? Or maybe Singapore? Reading the Inquirer alone will make any foreigner shudder of what kind of peace and order the Philippines has. Criminals rings tourist spots.

      • edi boyd

        I live in the US for quite sometime now and worked in Japan for 2 years and believe me there are places there I wouldn’t want to be near. Staying in Singapore recently, I would concur there’s no place there I would say “off limits”. But you get my point, instead of discouraging tourists, don’t you think it’s better that we just educate and give them encouragement that Philippines isn’t all that bad? I don’t know about you but that’s where I came from and I’m always proud of it. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Philippine tourism has a lot to offer!

    However, we should stop comparing statistics with Malaysia since most arrivals simply cross over Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand since it shares borders with them. Look deeper into the statistics, rather than just mouth them as facts.

    Quality over quantity of tourists is what counts in this age responsible and ethical tourism.

    • Anonymous

      @OZpinoyPHD:  I don’t think comparing the Philippines and Malaysia on tourism arrivals is unfair.  I don’t think all 28 million visitors in Malaysia just crossed over from Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.  Ours is only 3.5 million.  If you subtract the number of Filipinos who hold passports from other countries, the number is even less.  There is not even a regular cruise shipping line that regularly stops on Philippine ports.  I agree that we the country has a lot to offer but it is a pity that we are lagging far behind our neighbors.

      • Anonymous

        thanks for the comment, but in my post, i didn’t say that “ALL 28 million visitors in Malaysia just crossed over from SIN, INA, and THA”. The word i used was “MOST” and there is a big difference between the two. One only has to download the visitors statistics from Malaysia to check this.

        Despite this, I think we both agree that there is tremendous room for growth in Philippine tourism.

  • Raymond

    As an expat working here, the essence of tourism is here in the Philippines with bountiful recourse to a good holiday adventure experience. The problem is, most operators charge premium without offering the same in terms of infrastructure. The real offerings in the Philippines charge excessive amounts for it when its affordable in other countries. Traveling is a pain. Zambales is a nice surfing and eco tourism paradise but if traveling there takes 3-5 hours (when it can be done in 2 hours) navigating through two lanes filled with pedicabs and jeepneys, it is a pain, not to mention, reaching the access road only to find you need to navigate through 1 more hour of rough roads on a 4×4 road using an ordinary car.

  • calvin schiraldi

    What was shown in the Philippines on PPV was the Top Rank coverage. That’s what most of us saw.

    Watch the HBO coverage, it shows different angles and during the slowmo’s can see the clear shots of manny to jmm.

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