Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

I'm glad that Enteng Romano has resigned from the government. Not that I am one of those who thinks his brainchild stinks but because I appreciated his efforts. Greg Macabenta couldn't have written it better. I first met Enteng Romano when I was just 16. The Altos Computers took me in as an apprentice while I waited for the semester to open. although we did not work together directly, we shared the same small office together with my mentor, Myrna Jopson (sister of the late Ed Jopson). Last time I saw him was during a prayer rally in Makati. He has always been a hard worker, vibrant and enthusiastic.

I admire how he handled the situation he was in. He took it like a man while an ingrate people screamed for his head. I suppose people were just envious that this public servant was trying his best to serve the country. How many public servants (past and present) can match his delicadeza? I guess, Filipinos have yet to grasp national pride. The easily questioned the use of Pilipino as a selling point to promote tourism. You would be surprised of how how many foreigners know the meaning of "ganda". Perhaps because we are not proud of who we really are. Instead we would like to go with the flow and imitate the slogans of our Asian neighbors. We did not even give the project a chance. It all boils down on how you market the brand. The Dept. of Tourism can explain what the phrase "Kay Ganda" means.

But like geniuses envious that we did not come up with a slogan, we quickly shot the idea down. I did not find anything bad in the slogan. Along with the media, stakeholders who really did not care jumped on the bandwagon and showed their prejudice. Romano may not be brilliant but at least he's doing what he thinks is good for the country. Day in and day out, all I would hear and read is how bad the slogan was. It was only after the slogan came out that the concerned(?) sectors came out, and they had nothing good to say. A friend who owns a travel agency found it different, innovative at that. I suppose we prefer to lose our identity in the sea of English. It's no wonder why we are being left behind. We lack a national goal and vision. It's everyone for himself. Are we not proud of who we are? I guess not.

Kudos to you Enteng for showing the people what you are made of. And to all you geniuses, join the government. Let us see how well you'll perform. I doubt if you'll come out with a slogan that embodies what is truly the Philippines.


Friday, November 19, 2010

With or Without A Slogan

I couldn't care less if the Department of Tourism has a new slogan to promote our country. The fact of the matter is that unless we can protect foreign tourists, we'll have a hard time selling the Philippines. Two weeks ago, the Asian Intercity Bowling Championships was held here. Despite the travel advisories that several countries issued, the event was well participated. My team represented one of the three local cities that participated. Several cities from Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Saipan and Guam also sent teams to participate in the annual meet. Unfortunately, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia and China did not send their teams due to the travel advisories and the botched hostage rescue.

A very sad incident involving a player (of Australian descent) from Guam happened. While waiting for a taxi cab in front of Robinson's Place in Ermita, two thieves riding in tandem snatched her necklace. The poor girl was dragged for several meters because her necklace di dnot easily break. She sustained bruises on her elbows and knees and he right wrist was sprained. This did not happen in the wee hours of the morning but early evening. She vowed that she will never visit the Philippines again even if her sponsored her travel.

This is not an isolated case. Many tourists are victimized by thieves, prostitutes and even our police. No matter how much we spend on advertising, or how many times we change our "branding", unless we can assure our visitors that they will be protected, the Philippines would be a hard-sell. It's not about the terror threat that we lose tourists to our Asian neighbors but
due to crime. Even our "balikbayans" fall prey to crime. Is this just the government's problem? It concerns us all. How many taxi cabs dupe even the locals? We've lost our sense of hospitality as well. What most people see in tourists is simply the color of money. We no longer see them as guests. It may just be a case of a few rotten eggs, but perception plays a big part in all these. When even local tourists are treated badly, the tourism industry will continue to suffer.

With or without a catchy slogan, we will continue to lag behind our neighbors in terms of tourism. We must go through a re-education of sorts. Tourism should not be limited to the DoT's and travel agencies, it should be a national concern. We, the Filipinos are our tourism's greatest endorsers. It is our good nature that will back our foreign guests.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welga You Like It Or Not

The bus operators showed us last Monday how they can hold the riding public hostage. Thousands were stranded and they blamed the drivers and conductors for the strike. Yet last Friday, a defiant Claire dela Fuente said that they will call for a transport strike shoud the MMDA impose the number coding on them. With the DoJ and DOTC threatening to revoke their franchise.

Bus operators claim that they have no control over their drivers and conductors. What a lot of crap. No driver or conductor in his right mind would want to lose the only income they have. Clearly, these operators are trying to dodge the bullet. We all know that drivers and conductors have no fixed monthly pay and relies only on commissions (boundary system). You don't drive, you don't earn. Operators set a fixed amount which these people have to meet. Anything over the amount is theirs for the keeping.

The number coding scheme being imposed on them is meant to reduce the number of buses plying the EDSA route. How many empty/half-empty buses do you see on the EDSA during rush hour? There are many. How many of you encounter traffic at every loading and unloading zones for buses? I'm very sure many of you experience this everyday. Because drivers and conductors do not have fixed salaries nor the benefits other employed people do, they try to run as many trips as they can in one day. This is why we see them jockeying for position at every corner and driving like demons on steroids. How many lives have been lost because they try to outrace themselves so they can add a little more to their earnings?

The problem lies in the greed of the operators. They feed on the blood, sweat and tears of the drivers and conductors. I'm very sure that they don't even pay the right taxes. The number coding was to be implemented back in 2003. GMA did not impose it. Perhaps she's afraid that Claire wouldn't do a duet with her. We all know how GMA never had the political will to do take the bull by the horns. These is why NaPoCor has a huge debt and we the people have to shoulder the burden.

I'm enjoying this chicken play between the government and IMBOA. I'd love to see who blinks first. Because the threat of losing their franchises is real, these operators are running to the courts for intervention. EDSA plays a very big role in Metro Manila's economy. As long as a strangling traffic holds up movement, maximum productivity will never be achieved.

Why not revoke all franchises and start from scratch. Cities can create loops for buses. They wouldn't have to fight each other out. Provincial buses should have their terminals in the fringes of Metro Manila. They shouldn't be competing for space on EDSA. I've taken buses in my trips abroad. People walk to stations. Specific stops are assigned to specific buses. The riding public should also learn to share some sacrifices. You want to get off at your doorstep, take a cab. Otherwise, learn to use your feet. I do ot know how this issue will end. EDSA will not widen itself. Every sector involved must sacrifice so that this problem can be addressed.

Drivers and conductors are not slaves. They have the right to earn a decent living. I don't believe that operators are losing money. I also abhor how they use these people as pawns because they want everything for themselves. I hope the LTFRB can conduct a REAL, HONEST TO GOODNESS audit of all franchises so the we can weed out the legitimate from the illegal operators. This would be a good step in the right direction.