More fun in Iloilo?

The launching of the new online slogan of the Department of Tourism, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, has captured a lot of people’s attention, though not in the manner our tourism officials must have hoped. Quickly, it was pointed out that the slogan is a copycat of Switzerland’s 1950’s era tourism campaign plug. Then, it became the object of ridicule, with online posters depicting the country in unsavory terms, with the slogan as backdrop.

In fairness to DOT secretary Ramon Jimenez, it’s very hard to come up with something original these days. About every idea on tourism promotion has been conceived by marketing groups, and I believe most of the slogans we encounter are just refinements of older campaign lines borrowed from the past. However, the “new” online slogan is an exact copy, which is why it drew heavy flak as soon as it came out.

It occurred to me that Iloilo City doesn’t have a tourism slogan. Why not embrace it as well? And with the growing popularity of adventure sports which test the courage and skills of participants in hurdling obstacles, we can develop events to push the popularity of Iloilo City. After all, danger and hardship are now synonymous with fun, and we could shout, “It’s more fun in Iloilo City”!

Here are a few examples:

DODGE THE BULLET – With the numerous cold-blooded murders in the city’s streets, many people now feel concerned about their safety here. But we might be able to sell the novel idea to tourists who take a drastically different view of fun. We could adopt the format of “Amazing Race” where the participants could move from point to point and avoid being shot. The game format could also include having to deal with policemen who are incompetent and in cahoots with drug dealers and illegal gambling operators.

GAS CHAMBER RIDES – The city’s anti-smoking ordinance is a big joke, and violators continue to puff cigarettes in public places and jeepneys with impunity. The challenge is for participants to have to ride jeepneys besides cigarette smokers who defy the law because they know nobody is going to stop them anyway. The winner is the participant who gets to ride in the jeepney with the most number of smokers, with some of them wearing ID’s labelled I-CAST.

GARBAGE DUMP EXPLORATION – The Calajunan dumpsite can also be turned into an adventure park. Participants will be made to crawl through the piles of trash that abound in that 24-hectare space that legally should have been shut down five years ago for non-compliance with the country’s ecological solid waste management act, R.A. 9003. One course would be the “leachate dip” in which participants will be tested for their ability to tolerate the stink in the areas where liquid toxic material liberally flow.

COLIFORM SWIM – The city’s water distribution utility, MIWD, has hogged the headlines, not only because of the internal squabbles that have paralyzed its ability to fulfill its mandate, but also because of the elevated presence of coliform bacteria in the water that flows out of its pipes. The participants can traverse through moving platforms with a pool of coliform-contaminated water below. Failure to maintain one’s balance on the platforms will earn him or her a free dip in the contaminated water and a free drink of the same. If that isn’t challenging enough, they could also do a race on the Iloilo River, which according to the DENR is so dirty swimming is strictly discouraged. They might want to experience swimming in a river which is the sewage for more than a hundred business establishments in the city!

CAKE BUFFET – Iloilo City is known for its culinary delights. Aside from Lapaz Batchoy and Pancit Molo, the city has made a name as a capital for gastronomic adventures. Tatoy’s and Breakthrough have become “must-visit” places for visitors. There’s a new adventure: visitors can get a taste of the most expensive cakes in the world. All they need to do is visit the City Hall and pay P4,000 for a small piece of cake. At least, when they go home, they can boast about having savored thousand-peso slices of cake. That is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s only here in Iloilo City where they can do that.

CITY HALL PARKING CHALLENGE – The participants will be required to park his or her vehicle in the cramped space around City Hall without any of the wheels touching the street pavement. The new City Hall building has no parking space which is mandated by the National Building Code, and the participants can put to test their skills in maneuvering a vehicle to fit on the sidewalk. It is a good way to advertise the most expensive (and most grossly overpriced) City Hall building in the world. As a side activity, the participants can also engage in a race to reach the dome of the building and pose with Lin-ay for photographs. Surely, that kind of activity will encourage participants to post their pictures on Facebook and ensure worldwide exposure for Lin-ay.

There is a saying that in adversity comes opportunity. We can turn the scandals and controversies around to good use and help promote tourism in Iloilo City.  We have no hope in selling our city as the cleanest in the country, hence, we must look for other avenues to market our city. It should provide a good platform for City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog to declare, “My city, my pride”!

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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