“BUILDING BETTER CULTURAL PRODUCTS IN THE REGIONS FOR PHILIPPINE TOURISM”
For many years, we have been looking silently but deeply and seriously into the state of our cultural festivals in the light of culture being historically considered as an important component of the Philippine tourism industry. There are actually two (2) schools of thought that define the strong interrelationship of culture and tourism. One believes that culture must be kept in its purest form, unadulterated and keeping it completely from any commercial influences. This puritanical stance was the undaunted position of nationalist culturatis in the country. The other one is a kinder thought – allowing culture to be used for tourism and trade promotional purposes. This belief attracts danger however - one that might unconditionally destroy culture and kill it in the end.
But as a policy, the Department of Tourism recognizes the intrinsic value of culture in the life of the Filipino people. Culture is the soul of the nation. It is a whole package of patrimonial qualities that differentiate a Filipino from his Asian brothers and sisters.
And from this perspective itself, this department hopes to put culture to where it should rightfully belong. CULTURE MUST BE PRESERVED but must be relevant to the changing times. IT MUST BE CULTIVATED without sacrificing its true meaning to the everyday life of the people. IT MUST BE USED TO PROMOTE TOURISM WITH SENSITIVITY – portraying our own culture as the mirror of the unique soul and character of the Filipino nation.
This is the very background on which this new program of the DOT will be undertaken. OPERATION: TKP(Tunay na Kulturang Pinoy) seeks to review and re-do all cultural events and festivals that have been created in the regions to make sure that they reflect the community’s dreams and joy, true beliefs and creative expressions. In other words, under this new program, culture must be correct in its form and meaning. The songs, the dances, the symbols, the rituals should be done because they all had their place in the community’s past.
And from this perspective, culturally correct and historically accurate festivals must be the background portraits of the destinations in the country. Festivals must depict the true and real picture of the beautiful tourist destinations that we have in the various regions of the Philippines. They must excite the tourists to come to our islands. And they must help paint a fresh and colorful portrait of the country in the minds of the visitors.
To develop correct and historically accurate cultural festivals and events in the regions that will help the DOT create exciting and interesting country image for the Philippines;
To make these cultural programs and events part of the tourist products package that will be promoted and marketed both here and abroad;
To assist the local government units develop a strong tourism industry based on their respective tourist products – cultural festivals, historical attractions and unique tourist facilities and services;
To build a strong Culture of Pinoy Tourism in order to make Filipinos fully appreciate tourism, in general and these new cultural products, in particular. In the process, they all become the vanguards and keepers of all our cultural heritage and traditions, the protectors of our environment; and the friendly hosts to visitors in their respective communities; and
To create an effective networking with cultural institutions to do a continuing collaborative program in the preservation and promotion of our cultural traditions and heritage sites.
The first step is to create a Cultural Tourism Advisory Task Force to be composed of experts in the fields of folk dance, music, theatre, props and costumes, cultural history, local tourism who will develop a set of policies governing the cultural development program envisioned under OPERATION: TKP.
The second step is to review the state of cultural programs in each region – determining what measures to do to correct or to continue but enhance the cultural products available in the community.
The third step is to identify and prioritize regions where these development programs will be implemented. Criteria will cover the importance of the regions as tourist destinations, the extent or scope of development required in the area, the proper timing for these events and the kind of support to be derived from the local community.
The fourth and last step is to program the series of consultations, symposia, lectures, and workshops in the identified regions in order to set the motion going. These exercises will cover festival management, Culture of Pinoy Tourism, entrepreneurial skills, creative marketing for domestic and international tourism, local investment promotion, upgraded tourism services.
PROGRAMS TO BE IMPLEMENTED
CULTURAL RESEARCH – The backbone of this Operation: TKP is definitely research, and lots of it. It means that the communities must be encouraged to look into their past to discover the hidden wealth and intrinsic beauty of their arts – dances, music, rituals, life ways and creative expressions. Any attempt to develop festivals must therefore be based on their own traditions. They must never be done to purely satisfy the hunger of commercial tourism. This is the way to make the festivals survive and felt and appreciated strongly by the people.
Research however must be properly documented – in print and in audio-video form to serve as materials that can be offered to interested cultural students as well. It must be kept by the local tourism office. Copies should be forwarded to the DOT Regional office concerned, for posterity and future use.
And relative thereto, the Operation: TKP will also develop cultural events that do no necessarily mean pure street dancing. Events could be in line with cuisine as in a food festival for example. Or, with theatre like zarzuela festival or a komedya festival. Or with music like the Cagayan harp festival or the kulintang festival
CULTURAL WORKSHOPS/CLINICS – In the review and re-development of cultural festivals, the principle of correcting and enhancing the events will entail a simple but tedious process –
educating the community on correct music and correct dance movements and correct props and costumes that are based on their own history and traditions.
Choreographers, artistic directors, local tourism officers will undergo an intensive training on aspects involved in festival management. Even local school officials and barangay leaders involved in yearly street dancing parades will be made to take up workshops and clinics to give them ample knowledge of their own culture and to teach them tried-and-tested systems and methods to preserve and enhance their old rituals and traditions.
CULTURE OF PINOY TOURISM – The success of all these cultural development efforts hinge largely on the entire community’s acceptance and support to the programs of the DOT’s OPERATION: TKP. And to do this, a project that will develop a strong Culture of Tourism that emphasizes the Filipino Culture is very much in order.
A Campaign called PUSONG TURISMO, DIWANG PILIPINO has been presented to the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) last year where its objective is to make all Filipinos committed to the development and promotion of nationalistic tourism in their communities. Under this program, the barangay leaders will assume major responsibility in spreading the gospel of the campaign to all the people under them. Culture of Pinoy Tourism hopes to make everybody the great hosts to tourists and visitors, the preservers of cultural heritage and traditions, the protectors of the environment and the promoters of local tourism.
(Please see attachment 1 for details)
CONSULTATIVE PROGRAM ON CREATIVE MARKETING – To develop the sense of self-reliance and the creative spirit of the local government units, OPERATION: TKP will also assist the local communities in how to creatively sell their cultural products to the targeted markets.
Development and promotion of cultural products must always go hand in hand. It is our belief that the best promoters of the local products are the local people themselves. All they need however are creative guidelines to make their promotions programs acceptable to the taste and needs of the targeted clientele – both foreign and local.
CONSULTATIVE TOURISM PLANNING PROGRAM FOR THE LGUs – Unlike the regular planning work done by the DOT in the regions, the proposed tourism planning exercises to be introduced to the local communities under the OPERATION: TKP will center on Filipino culture as the overriding theme for the development of the local tourism industry – the itinerary planning, the preparedness of the local people to absorb the influx of tourists, the alternative room accommodations like the “culturalized” home stay program, tourist services training, creation of tourist facilities, once successfully implemented, will definitely touch the hearts of both the foreign visitors and the local tourists. The tourists can cheerfully say that they have visited CERTIFIED: PROUDLYPINOYDESTINATIONS in the countryside.
In other words, the end result of all these endeavors is the development of communities as tourist destinations more known to have a visible mark of true and correct Filipino culture.
V.A PROPOSED METHODOLOGY The work of the OPERATION: TKP starts in July with all the legwork and the meetings to be conducted in Manila and in the regions. Prioritization of the regions will also be done – paying greater focus to areas that need strong cultural programs in the light of their exposure to the tourism industry. If we are to do our own listing, we believe that the following regions deserve immediate attention:
National Capital Region or Metro Manila
2. Cordillera Autonomous Region particularly Baguio and Banaue
Region 1 or Ilocandia particularly Laoag, Vigan, Hundred Islands
and La Union
4. Region 3 or Central Luzon, particularly Subic and Clark
Second priority areas:
Region 4 or CALABARZON and MIMAROPA
2. Region 6 particularly Aklan, Bacolod City and Boracay island
3. Region 7 particularly outskirts of Cebu and Bohol
(Culture of Philippine Tourism)
“Tungo sa Turismong maka-Pilipino!”
Many believe in the wisdom of former Tourism Secretary Richard J. Gordon by initiating and doing a reasonably aggressive campaign on the Culture of Tourism in 2002-2003. This campaign formed the backbone of his very successful promotions programs called WOW PHILIPPINES and VISIT PHILIPPINES 2003.
The local government units (LGUs) could not agree more on the fact that destinations in the countryside need a corresponding response from the people if they were to promote and effectively market themselves in both the local and foreign markets.
What is Culture of Tourism? It is basically an attitude and a set of values that Filipinos must develop and inculcate in themselves to voluntarily do the following for the tourism industry –
Respect and assist the tourists both foreign and local while they are in the destinations being visited;
Protect the environment and maintain regular cleanliness of the surroundings all the time;
Preserve our cultural and historical heritage to keep a colorful and unique image of our country both here and abroad; and
Help promote the tourism industry.
If all Filipinos would only keep tourism in their hearts, things would be a lot easier for the DOT to handle the tourism industry. If everybody would think tourism, the Philippines could easily develop its destinations, its cultural attractions, its events, festivals and rituals without much effort being exerted by the national government.
Thus, a vibrant Culture of Tourism being practiced nationwide could be the right background at which all the development and promotion programs being done by the DOT could be successfully implemented.
In other words, Culture of Tourism is very essential to the growth of the tourism industry. Yet, it is also something that seems to have been inadvertently neglected by both the government and the industry itself.
PUSONG TURISMO, DIWANG PILIPINO CAMPAIGN CONCEPT
The proposed campaign, PUSONG TURISMO, DIWANG PILIPINO is another level of the previous Culture of Tourism program where this time, its dominant denominator is the spirit of nationalism. In other words, it is a campaign to rally all Filipinos to take deep pride in their country – in their beautiful tourist attractions, festivals, cultural traditions and use this very pride to help, and make friends with, tourists (hospitality is what we are known for), protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and help promote the Philippines.
PUSONG TURISMO means Filipinos must keep tourism in their hearts always (like in any cultural process) while DIWANG PILIPINO means Filipinos must strongly keep the spirit of nationalism alive in their everyday world (like how we establish the sense of pride for our country).
This campaign therefore is seen as the main thread to weave the entire tourism fabric jointly by the Department of Tourism and the local tourism offices. As such, this is a very ideal program that should be planned and implemented by the local tourism organizations and to be spearheaded by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP).
To re-introduce and promote this new concept of Culture of Tourism to the various local communities of the Philippines particularly in areas where there are existing and potential tourist attractions;
To encourage the local government officials to adopt and apply this new concept of Culture of Tourism in their own development plans and programs;
To bring together the government, the academe, the Church, the local media and the civil society in helping develop and propagate Culture of Tourism among the people in a given community; and
To make every Filipino an advocate of this campaign in the pursuit of better Filipino tourism industry in the years ahead.
Production of a Logo Design
It is important that there is a nice logo design for the campaign to make the project popular and acceptable to the target public. The logo can be applied to the promo materials for the various tourism programs of ATOP and its chapters nationwide. It can also be used to produce stickers, pins, caps, T-shirts and other merchandising materials. But specifically, logo pins can be a good promotional vehicle if they are expressedly worn by the local officials particularly those from the barangays who are doing regular tourist assistance work in the regions.
Perhaps, it would also help if there is a mascot for this campaign. Why not PINONG atPINANG? Pinong, playfully, is the nickname of Pilipino. Pinang is the female counterpart. Juan de la Cruz, to symbolize the Filipino, is too trite a name already.
ATOP can have several approaches in regard to Training Programs for the campaign. One, is to create a pool of trainors who will go from one region to another to conduct awareness dialogues and seminars to civic associations, schools and barangay officers. Another, is to produce a manual to guide ATOP officers in doing training exercises for the targeted publics.
Or, from the start, this campaign be done in collaboration with schools and DILG so that each sector becomes responsible for the information awareness programs in their respective areas of jurisdiction. ATOP and the DOT, in the end, become the main coordinators of this campaign.
What is to be disseminated to the targeted publics? The dialogues and the seminars must teach our people on values such as courtesies, honesty, respect to people, cleanliness and respect to traditions and heritage.
They must also teach the audience on values of tourism as an industry, as an economic activity and as a socio-political vehicle to bring peoples and countries closer to one another.
Supplemental Promotional Programs
Greater success for this campaign can be achieved if there are supplemental promotional activities that would make people appreciate the big importance of the Culture of Tourism Campaign. Samples of these promo programs are as follows:
Search for the Best “PT/DP” (Pusong Turismo/Diwang Pilipino) Destination – barangay level. Criteria for this contest hinge on the cleanliness of the surroundings, active cultural events, friendly barangay residents, good management of tourism assets by the local officials and the private sector
Search for the Outstanding Pinong or Pinang of the Year – This is to look for outstanding barangay campaign advocates who exhibit exemplary qualities in assisting tourists, helping maintain cleanliness of the surroundings, doing creative work for culture and history.
Educational Exchanges between Barangays to learn
more about best practices, and best systems for management of tourism resources –
The primary objective of this is to afford an exchange of ideas on how a barangay effectively works to make tourism profitable and interesting and meaningful for its people.
Publicity is essential in the success of this campaign. It must promote the very concept of the program nationwide and at the
same time, publicize the activities of the regions in regard to Culture of Tourism so that the Filipino people are made aware of the efforts being done by ATOP and its chapters all over the country.
Media promotion should cover print, radio and television. To sustain this particular undertaking, it is best to open the promotion to private sponsors who manifest strong interest in Philippine tourism. Sponsors can supply banners and other promotional expenses. The LGUs, on the other hand, and as an example, can pick the tab for ground arrangements in case the local tourism council and ATOP members decide to invite media people for familiarization tours of the destinations under the Culture of Tourism Campaign.
Like a typical national campaign, it is best that within ATOP, there should be people dedicated to work on this Culture of Tourism Program.
It is therefore suggested that committees be created to handle the nitty gritty of this project. The DOT particularly the Regional Offices and the DILG, particularly the LGUs, become the major partners of ATOP providing the necessary logistical and moral support to the ATOP committees handling this program.
The Office of Special Projects in the DOT, under Dir. Ting de los Reyes, can very w ell help coordinate this program for ATOP.
THE EIGHTH SEMINAR-WORKSHOP ON “TUNAY NA PYESTANG PINOY”
“OPERATION: TUNAY NA KULTURANG PINOY”
PROGRAM Day 1 / May 7 PERSPECTIVE AND IMMERSION 8:00 – 8:30 AM - REGISTRATION OF PARTICIPANTS
8:30 – 8:45 AM - OPENING CEREMONIES
8:45 - 12:00 NN - SEMINAR I a. What is OPERATION: TUNAY NA
Mr. Hesus “Bobot” Lota, Philippine Association of Theater Designers and Technicians
d. Theater Arts Application
Mr. Frank Rivera, NCCA
e. OPEN FORUM 5:30 – 6:00 PM RECAPITULATION Day 2 / May 8 WORKSHOP 8:30 – 8:45 AM a. Workshop Guidelines 8:45 – 9:15 AM b. A Closer Peek into Two Popular Festivals:
Sinukwan Festival of the City of San Fernando
9:15 – 12:00 NN c. Workshop Sessions
The participants will be divided into 5 groups and each will be presided over by a cultural expert to be assisted by a DOT staff. The purpose of this exercise is to immerse the participants into a re-orientation on the development and/or enhancement of cultural festivals based on the local and authentic traditions, history, music, dance movements, costumes, props and other festival elements.
- Music (Mr. Benicio Sokkong)
- Production Design, Costumes and Props (Hesus “Bobot” Lota, Philippine Association Theater Designers And Technician)
- Dance Movements and Choreography (Mr. Rodel Fronda)
- Festival Planning and Management
(Ms. Riya Lopez)
- Theatre Arts (Mr. Frank Rivera)
12:00 – 1:00 PM - LUNCH 1:00 – 5:00 PM - CONTINUATION OF THE WORKSHOP
SESSIONS 5:00 – 5:30 PM - RECAPITULATION Day 3 / May 9 - WORKSHOP OUTPUT PRODUCTION
AND DEMONSTRATION 8:30 – 12:00 NN - OUTPUT PRODUCTION
12 student-volunteers will be assigned each to the Dance, Music, and Theater Arts workshop groups to produce the workshop output together with the participants. Each workshop output will be put together to create a cultural festival that carries the image and character of an ideal Gitnang Luzon Pyesta.
12:00 - 1:00 PM - LUNCH 1:00 - 3:30 PM - OUTPUT PRESENTATION AND REACTION The participants and the student-volunteers will
showcase their workshop output in the form of a
presentation of a Gitnang Luzon Pyesta and will be critiqued by a panel of reactors from the region’s cultural communities and the academe.
Participants will be asked to share their learning experiences and their ideas on how the goal of the OTKP Program can best be done in the communities in the region.
3:30 - 5:00 PM - CLOSING PROGRAM/ AWARDING OF