The Department of Tourism marked the Philippines’ celebration of its 119th Independence Day this June 12 by releasing a new tourism ad titled “Sights.” It can be recalled that early this year, the DOT under Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo announced that the country will now use the catchphrase “Experience the Philippines” instead of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan conceived by her predecessor Ramon Jimenez.
In the said 60-second advertisement, a Japanese retiree identified as M. Uchimura can be seen sharing his experiences as a tourist around the country. It already has over one million views on Facebook as of early morning of June 13.
“Here, you don’t have to see the sun to discover radiance. You don’t have to see colors to experience vibrance. You don’t have to see smiles to know you are safe. You don’t have to see to feel you are home,” Uchimura said, while shots of Philippine sceneries including the Banaue Rice Terraces, Paoay Sand Dunes, and the Hundred Islands are shown. Uchimura is then revealed towards the end to be blind as he can be seen walking along the famous Calle Crisologo in Vigan City with a cane.
It’s easy why this video initially earned effusive praise from those who’ve watched it. After all, it captures the essence of tourism, in which you don’t just promote the destination but also underscore the unique experiences that people can have if and when they go to a particular place (for example, the Filipinos’ hospitality).
That’s why it is such a let-down when eagle-eyed netizens noticed that the latest Philippine tourism ad was “inspired” or “copied,” depending on your perspective, from a tourism ad created by the South African government.
Both ads are told from the point-of-view of a blind tourist, while the script touch on similar themes. The closing sequence where the narrator is revealed to be blind is almost identical too. The similarity would have been overlooked had DOT opted not to retain the blind-man-as-narrator story line. But I guess they wanted to have some dramatic effect. Ayan tuloy …
The national government allots tens of millions of Pesos to tourism promotion every year. It’s such a shame that those in charge at the DOT cannot come up with a tourism campaign with an original concept, or at least not a blatant ripoff from another country. Now, the genuine efforts that were exerted by people behind this ad will be overshadowed by the criticisms.