By Ellson Quismorio
One of the people behind the famous ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ ad campaign is eager to help Philippine tourism get back on its feet, Bukidnon 3rd district Rep. Manuel Zubiri said.
Speaking during the virtual hearing of the House Committee on Tourism Tuesday afternoon, Zubiri said Filipino expatriate Paul Lingan has given the Philippine government an offer that he thinks shouldn’t be refused.
“Actually I spoke to Paul Lingan. Paul Lingan is a Filipino who resides in Malaysia. He was the one who did the famous ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ commercial. Up to now it’s still running, it’s still working for them,” Zubiri told the panel hearing.
“He called me up and said, ‘Manuel you’re a good friend of mine, I want to help our country. I know I don’t live there but I’m a Filipino, I never changed my identity. And I’m willing to help an promote especially now that domestic tourism will be a hit in countries that are closing borders right now,” said the lawmaker, who sits as vice chairman of the committee.
“The tagline that I created together with him, for example, ‘Ano ba, tara na, enjoy Pinas na.’ It’s about time that we enjoy our own country,” Zubiri added.
The tourism industry is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic since the core response of government has been to keep people inside their homes.
‘Cool’ infomercial please
During the Zoom-aided hearing, committee chairman, Rep. Sol Aragones (Laguna, 3rd district) suggested to Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat the “strengthening of communication and marketing strategies” of the agency this early.
“Kailangan natin maglabas ng infomercial na sasagot sa tanong ng mga tao. Ang tingin ko ang unang tanong ng mga tao ngayon, gaano ba kaligtas ang mag-travel ako? Pwede na ba? (We need to release an infomercial that will address the people’s questions. I think the foremost question is, how safe it is for me to travel? When can I do it?)” she said.
“Siguro kailangan nating sagutin yun sa pamamagitan ng isang malupit na infomercial (A cool infomercial is probably needed to answer that question),” added the former broadcast journalist.
Aragones expressed hope that Lingan would be the person to help the government do it.
Referring to the Filipino expatriate, Zubiri assured that “he has some plans and programs for us, at no cost to the government.”
But Zubiri said he was willing to give Lingan a small token amount for his efforts, if only to give him the means to execute his plan.
The two solons agreed that, moving forward, the DOT should first focus on cultivating domestic tourism since “international tourism is still far from reality.”
Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose Clemente III, who took part in the hearing as a resource person, said it might take 18-24 months “for a semblance of normalcy to return” as far as the tourism sector is concerned.