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My Perspective - Philippine Tourism History (Part 1)

Hi. I'm Caloy Libosada. Im almost 44 years old and I've been stuck in the Philippines tourism industry for more than 21 years (actually, I could use the phrases - I have been a tourism advocate, i love this country, etc. but that would be too.... whatever)

And I'm gonna try to write a compelling, dramatic, historic, fun, funny article on tourism in the Philippines.

First, the disclosures - 1). that I am writing this article because I was stupid enough to challenge my facebook friends to convince me to write this (I know, very stupid....). 2). I am writing everything from MY own perspective. I don't care how other so called industry people and "experts" regard my thoughts as stupid, they should write their own stuff from their own limited views.

Second, to establish my credibility - I worked with the Department of Tourism for seven (7) years as a research officer (yes, using the people's money to travel around the Philippines to discover destinations and tourism products), a faculty member teaching tourism courses in the University of the Philippines and the Development Academy of the Philippines, a travel book writer, a tourism planning consultant, writer, blogger, travel iPhone app developer (My Travel Philippines - in charge of the content), and read this - a professional bum. Well, to summarize my crazy career, I have been hovering over the tourism industry as a player, academician, and advocate (sorry, had to use that word).

And what made me an advocate? Simple - my travels opened my eyes to the realities of poverty, environmental challenges, and economic opportunities. There were places I visited where people could not rely on agriculture (the soil is too thin), the people had to kill off the wildlife to feed their kids, and the only industry that could leverage those challenges is tourism.

I've seen how the provinces of Bohol and Palawan were able to punch through low economic character into two of the top provinces because of tourism. And don't get me started about Cebu and Camsur.

For many who are reading this, I bet that you don't have an idea what the tourism industry of the Philippines was 5 years ago. And some may have some sepia memories say, 10 years ago?.... So lets start with this article (he he.... talk about a riveting intro).

The 70's (i have to admit, much were taken from readings and informal talks with people in that decade)
Many oldies would claim that the Marcos years was the golden years of tourism in the Philippines. And at the helm was a guy named Joe Aspiras. Through sheer "yabang" or whatever willpower, they were able to bring in Ms. Universe and the Ali-Frazier fight "Thrilla in Manila" to the Philippines (which made the country quite famous). Back then, the very few tour operators and tourism people were a real happy bunch. Plane loads of tourists would come to the country and some don't have a place to stay (have you tried to imagine a tourist sleeping in a hotel restaurant or lobby). Of course, the opportunity to build more hotels was there.

Back then, only the Ministry of Tourism had the power to give permits to tourism businesses. It was a very powerful government agency that classified whether an accommodation facility was a hotel or a motel (ask a Bohol hotel about this :D).

It was party every week, every night, and in every hotel rooftop. It was the life many of us may want to live! It was the life many of us could not imagine....

And tourism was unheard of in many Asian countries. They drooled at the Philippines as it built the PICC, those big hotels and resorts in Cavite. The Philippines was way ahead of the game! And no other Asian country (well, except Japan) could stare at the Philippine and not blink.

The first tourism institute in Asia was built. That's why the Philippines was confident enough to name it - Asian Institute of Tourism under the University of the Philippines. (but many in the UP system, yes, including faculty members, derided the institute and called it many names). Its students suffered varying degrees of discrimination (its not real business, its not science enough) which stayed for about two decades. But I'm happy to report that its not the case anymore. 

But we have to go back to the reality that it was also the time of dictatorship, martial law, curfew, and growing communist and Muslim separatist rebellions. The tourists who come by the hundreds of thousands were actually crowded in a few areas that include Manila, Ilocos Norte, a few in Cebu, and a dwindling number in Zamboanga City.  The only exception outside Manila was Baguio City.

The American servicemen traipsed in the bars of Angeles and Ologapo and the shores of La Union and the two Ilocos provinces.

And yeahhh....... the beaches in Batangas and Cavite become virtual Divisoria during summer weekends, as well as the resorts in Calamba, Laguna.

And what about the other destinations? They have accommodation facilities - mostly for travelling salesmen.

End of Part 1 - 

Will just continue when I have the time :D


1 comment:

  1. “Vice President Cheney is also on vacation. He's in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. What better place for a guy who has had 4 heart attacks than a place with thin air, rugged hiking and all-beef dinners? Why don't they get some snow for him to shovel while he's out there, too?”