Why Go Backpacking in the Philippines?

"It's more fun in the Philippines". 

Last January 6, I was invited to the "top secret" DOT launch of its new slogan along with fellow travel bloggers; Lois, Melo, Angel, Izah and Fung Yu. It was actually my first time to enter the Department of Tourism Building and from the moment I stepped inside the room, I know that a feeling of anticipation started snowballing into what's in store for all of us that day. We all remember the highly polarized and maligned DOT slogan and logo almost a year ago, so you can't blame if people were sort of biting their fingernails on this one.

When the slogan "Its More Fun in the Philippines" was mentioned by Department of Tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., it instantly rang a bell, like a light bulb in everyone's head was switched on. It was sort of reminiscent of the "More than the Usual" slogan of the DOT under then Secretary Dick Gordon, which if you ask me, was one of the most effective Tourism secretary we ever had. The similarities of both slogans, that kind of explains the uniqueness of the Philippines was made possible by the amazing advertising agency behind the new campaign. The BDDO Guerrero agency was also the one who came up with the "More than the Usual" tagline. If it works then and I believe the new one will also work out well.

I really do think that we should stick with the "It's more fun in the Philippines" slogan for long time, if not permanently, just leave room for the tweaking of the logo every couple of years. That way, it will stick to foreigners same way as "Truly Asia" go hand in hand with Malaysia. What I like about the new slogan is its conversation-friendly. One can easily insert it while engaging a short talk with a foreigner in another country. 

"Yo, I'm not bragging but its more fun nature tripping in my country, we got lots of waterfalls, scenic and rolling hills and swimming with the whale sharks, you got to experience that". You could easily tell a fellow tourist while numbing your butts in the middle of a 12 hour train ride from Bangkok to Chiang-Mai.

Just like the good DOT secretary said, the slogan strikes a deeper chord when there is an entirely notion of fact to it. Who among here believes otherwise? I have traveled to most parts of the Philippines (and is still mad at it) since 2007 and before that - from my college mountaineering days, I've seen the places that really presented an ideal moment of fun. Fun in a myriad of ways, from hiking, snorkling, (I've yet to try scuba diving - boo me), beach bumming, old church hopping, food tripping, to an assortment of other activities.

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I believe it by heart. Though, after the slogan was unveiled, a number of netizens took to internet in expressing their dissecting opinions. Some are crying "copycat" based on an already obscured Switzerland tourism ad that shows the slogan "Its more fun in Switzerland" and "Sun tanning is more fun in Switzerland". This is where the truthfulness of our new slogan comes in, how can one say "Sun tanning" is more fun in a country known of its majestic and cold Swiss Alps. Don't get me wrong, Switzerland is a beautiful country and I would love to go there someday, but since their ad dates back to the 1950's, I find it juvenile to cry out loud about it. 

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The slogan is a simple shout-out, its not dramatic nor profound, so chances are it has been uttered before already. But, what we got here is the opportunity to use it to highlight the many "fun" things we and foreigners alike can experience in this beautiful country of ours. The evidence was overwhelming, as shown by the many "It's more fun in the Philippines" photo-meme that came out on the internet. Seems like, if we look at our country from a wider perspective, we could see what the new slogan was really talking about. 

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Here are some pictures that I created with the captions "It's more fun in the Philippines". Pardon the "non-witty" literal captions, but let the photographs speak for itself. I've been blessed to be able to thread the path towards other provinces from Northern Luzon to South of the Visayas and some parts of Mindanao. I've felt the warmth of the people, the rolling scenery from top-loading on a bus in Banaue to touching the pristine and crystal clear waters while on a boat heading to an island in Cebu.

Without a beautiful place to roam, you will never kick start a passion to do so. I now consider myself as a travel-addict and for a good cause. I credit the many places I've seen all over my country for fueling my desire to further exploration. Growing up all I could daydream was to go to another country, since then, after seeing more of what my country could offer. I firmly believe I could live three consecutive lifetimes in the Philippines and will never get tired of traveling around.

Why? because it's fun doing so. What are you waiting for, grab your rucksack and head out on the road. Let's exchange travel stories afterward.