MANILA, NOVEMBER 22, 2010 (STAR) Less than a week after the introduction of the new tourism brand of the Philippines, “Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” the Department of Tourism (DOT) has been pounded with criticisms, the latest of which is the accusation that the slogan’s logo was lifted from Poland’s tourism campaign, Polska, abs-cbnnews.com reported.

The report said that a check with the official travel website of Poland yielded positive results – indeed their logo has a striking similarity to Pilipinas Kay Ganda, from the font, the colors, and even the use of a tree, bolstering accusations of plagiarism that have been making the rounds of social networking sites on the Internet.

The advertising agency Campaigns and Grey admitted it had a hand in the Pilipinas Kay Ganda tourism brand, but “only in an advisory capacity,” said Campaigns and Grey Group chair Yolly Ong.

She told ABS-CBN, “We only did the logo and theme line as I had to leave for a business trip.”

Off to US

Amid the plagiarism controversy, Tourism Undersecretary Vicente Romano III, who is in charge of the department’s planning and promotion section, flew to the United States.

DOT media relations chief Evelyn Macayayong said Romano, who left the country Tuesday night, was on an official trip as he is attending a diving exhibition in Las Vegas.

Macayayong said Romano was unaware of the plagiarism issue when he left the country, but he might have been informed about it by this time.

They only learned of the plagiarism allegation through social networking sites, Macayayong said.

“There seems to be some similarities in the two logos, particularly in the font style, but I think it’s not exactly the same. But the DOT will look into the alleged plagiarism,” she said.

Review sought

Meantime, two more senators called on the DOT to review its new slogan aimed at promoting the country as a premiere tourism destination.?

Senators Ralph Recto and Francis Escudero joined the others in criticizing the slogan Pilipinas Kay Ganda, adding that the government should focus on improving further the country’s infrastructure to make it more attractive to tourists.?

Recto said he will discuss the issue with Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, noting that the old slogan “WOW Philippines” is preferred by many.?

Escudero agreed with Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Loren Legarda, who made their stands known the other day during the plenary session.?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Escudero said.?

Zubiri, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, had manifested before the plenary yesterday that Lim will have to explain to the Senate during its budget deliberation next week how the department came up with the new slogan and how much was actually spent for it.?

“I wonder what the action plan of the Tourism Department is. I would be propounding questions to the Department of Tourism on whose genius idea is it to come up with the slogan that is utilizing our native tongue, Filipino. It is all right if we are going to market the country to locals. But if we are trying to attract people from China, Korea, Japan, the EU countries, and the United States to visit us, on hearing Pilipinas Kay Ganda, they are going to scratch their head and say, ‘what the hell are these people talking about?’” Zubiri said.

?Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, for her part, said, “We cannot just have ‘a beautiful country’ because everyone says that.”

Suggested slogans

Ordinary folk, on the other hand, have come up with various recommendations on what would be a better tourism slogan.

Among the suggested slogans, aired on a radio station that launched a contest on the matter, are: “Pilipinas More Asia than Malaysia,” “Pilipinas Hirit,” “Pilipinas Bugbog ka sa Ganda” with boxing champ Manny Pacquiao as endorser, and “PH Cares.” With Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, AP


No lack of genius CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) Updated November 22, 2010 12:00 AM

While the Department of Tourism seems to be having problems with original ideas and useful creativity, people in the Province of Tarlac are currently overflowing with competitive creativity and community spirit.

For four years running, the Province of Tarlac has held what we all call the “Belenismo” which is a province wide competition for the BEST Belen or Nativity scene. Spearheaded by the irrepressible mother and daughter Isabel Cojuangco- Suntay and Dra. Isa Cojuangco Suntay, the “Belenismo” has fully evolved from a community project into a significant cultural and provincial undertaking.

Sorry for the city slickers who always think that “Imperial Metro Manila” is the center of the universe and all things better. If you can just get out of your comfort zones you will surely see for yourself the many nativity scenes that solicited the labels WOW, Spectacular, and Extravaganza, as competitors went beyond mere Belens.

On the first year, very few people were convinced that the “Belenismo” would carry on year after year, because some people had doubts that the people of Tarlac would actually get involved in the competition.

Adding to the difficulty has been the lack of vision and support from major politicians and civic leaders of the Province who think of the Belenismo as minor cultural project of little significance.

Unfortunately, those who lack imagination also suffer from lack of vision. So most of them must now stand by the sidelines as the little people have grabbed center stage in a competition that has become bigger than what the founders imagined.

If the political and business leaders of Tarlac would only give Tourism and Belenismo the recognition it deserves, the province has a “global product” that the can be proud of and can attract both local and international tourists.

Even companies like San Miguel Corporation, which has faithfully supported the competition, should seriously consider using the Belenismo for their corporate Christmas TV and print campaigns instead of paying millions of pesos to “professional talents because it is an event that Filipinos can appreciate, enjoy and be proud of.

This year, we started out at the Museo ng Probinsya ng Tarlac where the “hall of Fame” or constant winners are featured, along with miniature exhibits that would undoubtedly impress architects, interior designers, artists and teachers.

Entry #8 Emerson Guiam showed flooded provincial home surrounded with actual water and Christmas gifts on a lifeboat.

Albert Dancel displayed a native scene where a farming family represented the reality of farmers. What caught my eye was a miniature tarpaulin from the elections saying “Pnoy kaluguran daka” or Pnoy we love you. It showed the reality that after the elections, we all move on and make the most of what is left behind by the politicians. In this case, they recycle their expression of support.

While Luz Million/Geronimo Cunanan focused on the prosperity of the province, Rizzel Ann Lanoria’s exhibit showed that even for today’s young people the Central Azucarera is part of their mind-set.

As for artistry and reflecting both abundance and culture Aldrin Capiendo got our attention with his focus on Ifugao culture and the detail of his focus on the panagbenga spirit.

In case you’re now imagining the possibilities of doing the tour, rest easy because you can “hire” or request for a guide to accompany you through the many towns and exhibits. You will feel very safe with those guides because they are off duty police officers.

Incidentally, this year’s Belenismo (photo at left unveiled at SM last Nov.5) was so competitive that there is now what we call the “Thank you girls” portion or sorry but you did not make it.

If you want a good start do so with merienda or dinner at Nay’s restaurant where I suggest the Sugpo with Aligue then head out for the northwestern municipalities beginning with Sta. Ignacia where the 3 kings left gifts and disappeared.

In Mayantoc, the summer capital of Tarlac you walk up a miniature version of Baguio’s Lourdes Grotto, under a canopy of Parols that shine like “stars” then you see the natural resource of the town, namely boulders, river stones and humongous variety of vegetable.

Next stop is San Clemente border to the town Mangatarem, Pangasinan where our imaginations were tickled by chandeliers made of twigs & branches. Xmas trees with banig skin, paypays, maya cages and elderly folks enjoying the rondalla. This was our first clue of how the Belenismo was creating community events and solidarity.

When we reached San Manuel, the first words of judges was: WOW! They used dayami or rice stalks to create a filipinized nativity scene with 10ft models, Carabao with white egret, hen in nest etc. for a poor town they had a lot of heart.

In Moncada a private home located in barangay Rizal along the highway and owned by a lady named Mrs. Namnama Bangamasbad Villanos was so overwhelmingly lit up and totally Christmas, that they out shown the Town display.

Did you know that the town of Anao is the ilang ilang capital in the Philippines? Well, their evening events even drew crowds from neighboring towns of Nueva Ecija. We labeled their Belen “A Spectacle” because it can compete with many Manila corporate displays. They also had an Anahaw Christmas tree and used sulo lights.

If you are hooked on the TV show “Glee” well check out the town of Pura which was a pure production! They had a choir rhythm and soul, they had school kids doing a song and dance program with baby Jesus doing the wave.

Gerona brought out 4000 rum and patis bottles as a border for their giant size Belen along with street performers, cultural dancers and a parol dance. Honestly, they even had a judges table that made it all look like American Idol!

The town of Victoria featured a Belen at the rice terraces morning star on a zip line. Too bad they forgot the hot chocolate which we all missed this year!

La Paz which is on the border of Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija almost didn’t make it to the competition because they were flooded in last typhoon. But they pulled through with a Belen on a banca ready for evacuation. To top it all they used recycled CDs, bottle caps, tetra packs, farm implements on banca. They clearly worked the hardest and reflected real life.

Instead of a weekend at the Mall, go out to Tarlac. You will carry the experience for life.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved