No way to rebrand the Philippines: A dissent (2023)

A little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.

– Donald Trump

First word

DONALD Trump suddenly came to mind as I read with much interest the report that the government will roll out soon a rebranding of the country's tourism campaign following the approval by President Marcos of a five-year plan to promote and transform the Philippines into a "tourism powerhouse."

At a Palace briefing last Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced that the administration will unveil the country's "enhanced" tourism slogan in the coming weeks, which will showcase the "heart and soul" of the Filipino people.

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"But we will engage in consultation with our tourism stakeholders first, as their opinions matter to us," Frasco told the Malacañang press. "We are putting forth the best of the best of the Philippines to the world because it cannot be denied that we do give the world our best, and while the DoT (Department of Tourism) has not yet come out with an enhanced tourism slogan of that as a country brand, I assure you, you'll love it."

Earlier this month, Frasco said the DoT would come up with a tourism brand that would enhance the country's present slogan, "It's more fun in the Philippines," which was conceptualized during the time of the late President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

The rebranding campaign, which was rolled out by the office of President Marcos Jr.'s creative communications adviser Paul Soriano late last year, was used in an advertisement on London buses that came out during the coronation of King Charles 3rd.

The advertisement, "We give the world our best. The Philippines," featured May Parsons, the Filipino British nurse who administered the first Covid jab.

Critics have questioned the connection between vaccination and tourism, but Soriano has clarified that the ad was not meant to promote the country' tourist destinations.

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Former Tourism secretary Richard Gordon weighed in on the controversial advertisement promoting the Philippines in London, saying the advertisement should have used the tagline "Women of Wonder: May Parsons" or "WOW" (echoing his own stint as Tourism secretary).

Matec Villanueva, a marketing professor, pointed out that the advertisement was not well conceived and lacked clarity from a marketing communications point of view.

Asked if there would be a change in the country's marketing strategy, Frasco replied: "The main change, first of all, is that the focus of the DoT will be to highlight the heart and soul of the Filipino that is evident in our culture, our festivals, our food, the local products of our small and medium enterprises, our living cultural heritage, everything that makes us diverse and unique and a proud Filipino people that gives us pride of place."

Frasco said the proposed national tourism development plan for 2023 to 2028 is the result of consultations among the Tourism Coordinating Council and stakeholders from various regions in the country.

"We are grateful to the President for articulating early on in his administration his priority for tourism development. This has resulted in a convergence among government agencies as far as giving full support to the development of the industry, recognizing the losses that have ensued as a result of the pandemic and various calamities," she said.

The plan contains seven objectives that focus on essential pillars of development to give the Philippines a "fighting chance at becoming a tourism powerhouse," she said.

She said the objectives involve not just promoting the Philippines but also addressing the essential issues of tourism development, including the development of infrastructure, connectivity, digitalization, equalization of tourism and promotion, enhancement of overall tourist experience, and strengthening of tourism governance.

"We are excited to launch in a few weeks the Philippine experience, which gives our people an opportunity to experience not just our destinations but also re-introduce them to the heart and soul of the Filipinos through our food and the like," Frasco said.

It seemed reasonable at first to just encourage this talk. But having worked by turns in advertising, public relations, journalism, management consultancy and public policy research, I know how tricky and challenging the work of transforming a country's brand and image is. "Best of the best" sounded too much like a Trump hyperbole.

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I became skeptical and quizzical over the rhapsodic descriptions of the Philippine rebranding project because I discovered to my astonishment that many country rebranding campaigns did not actually succeed, despite all the media notices.

In a highly informative and illuminating book, "National Image and Competitive Advantage," by Eugene D. Jaffe and Israel Nebenzahl (Copenhagen Business School Press, Copenhagen, 2001), the authors discussed the theory of product, brand and country image, and the process and practice of country rebranding.

Jaffe and Nebenzahl wrote: "In practice, can a nation be branded like a company? If so, such a national brand would be the image by which the country's products and services would be identified in the minds of consumers. They listed three essentials necessary to build a national brand or country image:

1. The brand would have to be used consistently over many products and services.

2. Companies using the brand must have corporate values consonant with those determined by the organizer of the brand campaign.

3. Participating companies will have to agree to the brand agenda.

Examples of country branding

The authors then discussed case examples of country branding or rebranding. Surprisingly, many campaigns that I had long regarded as successes turned out in fact to be wanting.

In 1997, the UK launched a branding campaign supported by British industry entitled "Cool Britannia" during the prime ministership of Tony Blair. The idea behind the campaign was to give Britain an image that was hip and trendy.

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In Blair's view, it was time to rebrand Britain as one of the world's pioneers rather than one of its museums. "I'm proud of my country's past, but I don't want to live in it."

The country's logo was changed from "Rule Britannia" to "Cool Britannia."

The Cool Britannia campaign failed to brand Britain successfully. The campaign lacked substance and was underfinanced.

In 1999, ZDF, the German television network approached identity consultant Wolff Olins to create a national brand for Germany. The campaign's main objective was to change consumer perceptions of Germany from a nation of mechanical perfection to one of creativity and dynamism, one that was exciting and surprising.

Research undertaken by the New Zealand Trade Development Board showed that while the country was generally regarded as distant and friendly, having a strong and lean association leads to a vague understanding.

The "New Zealand Way" national brand represented by a fern symbol was launched in 1993. The country's top 10 foreign currency firms financed the campaign.

The New Zealand and UK campaigns showed the importance of cooperation among stakeholders and across industries.

If we review the current efforts at rebranding the Philippines by the Department of Tourism against the insights and recommendations about national image, we have to conclude that its chief local promoters have barely scratched the surface of the challenge.

Boasting about offering the best of the best and being the best is acutely embarrassing for most Filipinos. We do not like bragging.

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Alas, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. started this epidemic of boasting, when he flattered Filipino communities abroad during his recent travels with the quip that "Filipinos are the best people in the world."

They cheered ecstatically, of course, but they also did not believe him.



Why is it called the Philippines instead of Philippines? ›

Because that's the proper spelling in the country's language. Philippines is an Americanized spelling.

What is a person from the Philippines called? ›

Filipino is the Hispanized (or Anglicized) way of referring to both the people and the language in the Philippines. Note that it is also correct to say Filipino for a male and Filipina for a female.

What is the Philippines known as the land of? ›

The Philippines is called Asia's pearl of the orient for the richness of its culture and the beauty of its landscape. It is home to centuries old churches, turn of the century mansions, ancient forts and modern museums. The Philippines is an archipelago comprising 7,100 islands.

What do Filipinos call the Philippines? ›

"Republika ng Pilipinas" is the de facto name of the country used in Filipino. When standing alone in English, the country's name is always preceded by the article the. However, the definite article ang does not precede the name in Filipino contexts. The country has throughout its history been known as Filipinas.

Why do Filipinos have Spanish names? ›

Filipino Spanish surnames

The names derive from the Spanish conquest of the Philippine Islands and its implementation of a Spanish naming system. After the Spanish conquest of the Philippine islands, many early Christianized Filipinos assumed religious-instrument or saint names.

What are all Americans called in the Philippines? ›

Amerasians. As the Philippines lies in Southeast Asia, the offspring of a Filipino national and an American service member or contractor is termed an Amerasian.

What are American Filipinos called? ›

Terminology. The term Filipino American is sometimes shortened to Fil-Am or Pinoy. Another term which has been used is Philippine Americans.

What is my race if I am Filipino? ›

Filipinos belong to the brown race, and they are proud of it. They cherish a story that accounts for the difference in the races. According to Malay folklore, long ages ago the gods who dwelt upon the earth shaped clay after their own image and baked it.

What is Philippines known for in the world? ›

The Philippines is known for its exotic beaches, expansive forests, and abundance of volcanoes. Despite the common theme of nature, there are many islands that all differ from each other vastly. The Philippines is famous for its old, religious landmarks, and in contrast its modernized skyscrapers.

What was the Philippines called before the Philippines? ›

The Philippines were claimed in the name of Spain in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, who named the islands after King Philip II of Spain. They were then called Las Felipinas.

Who colonized the Philippines? ›

The Spanish colonial period of the Philippines began when explorer Ferdinand Magellan came to the islands in 1521 and claimed it as a colony for the Spanish Empire. The period lasted until the Philippine Revolution in 1898.

What are Filipino mixed with? ›

We are proud of our heritage at the rim of East Asia, the meeting point of the many Asian groups, as well as Europeans from Spain. Our culture even 100 years ago was already a mix —of Malay, Chinese, Hindu, Arab, Polynesian and Spanish, with maybe some English, Japanese and African thrown in.

What does Lolo mean in Philippines? ›

Noun. lolo (plural lolos) (Philippines) a grandfather.

Are some Filipinos Hispanic? ›

What about Brazilians, Portuguese and Filipinos? Are they considered Hispanic? People with ancestries in Brazil, Portugal and the Philippines do not fit the federal government's official definition of “Hispanic” because the countries are not Spanish-speaking.

What is the most common last name in the Philippines? ›

dela Cruz

This probably might also be because the last name dela Cruz is the most common surname in the country. Approximately, a whopping 635,719 people bear the surname and 625,640 are from the Philippines. It is also the 834th most common surname in the world.

What are original Filipino last names? ›

Most common
  • dela Cruz * (625,650)
  • García * (441,075)
  • Reyes * (412,750)
  • Ramos * (375,999)
  • Mendoza * (372,042)
  • Santos * (342,746)
  • Flores * (312,187)
  • Gonzales * (293,787)

What is the ancestry of Filipinos? ›

the Philippines collectively are called Filipinos. The ancestors of the vast majority of the population were of Malay descent and came from the Southeast Asian mainland as well as from what is now Indonesia. Contemporary Filipino society consists of nearly 100 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups.

Which US state has the most Filipino? ›

1. California

The largest population of Filipinos in California can be found in Los Angeles at 506,000. For a Filipino missing the Philippines, Los Angeles offers Historic Filipinotown or HiFi, a Preserve America Community that honours and cares for Filipino-American history in California.

Which US city has the most Filipinos? ›

Daly City, in the San Francisco Bay Area, has the highest concentration of Filipino Americans of any municipality in the U.S.; Filipino Americans comprise 35% of the city's population.

Where are the most Americans in the Philippines? ›

Most US expats start off living in Manila. As the capital, it has the most western amenities and makes acclimating to life in the Philippines easier for Americans.

Why did the US want Philippines? ›

Americans who advocated annexation evinced a variety of motivations: desire for commercial opportunities in Asia, concern that the Filipinos were incapable of self-rule, and fear that if the United States did not take control of the islands, another power (such as Germany or Japan) might do so.

What do Filipinos call foreigners? ›

Puti is what we usually call them. Dayuhan/Banyaga (pronounced as dah-yoo-han/ban-yah-gah) means foreigner or alien. Puti (pronounced as poo-ti) means white.

How many Americans live in Philippines? ›

The most recent BSD took place in January 2023 when senior Philippine and U.S. foreign affairs and defense officials convened in Manila. More than four million Filipino-Americans live in the United States, and almost 300,000 U.S. citizens reside in the Philippines, including a large number of U.S. military veterans.

What is the most beautiful Filipino word? ›


The most beautiful poetic Filipino word is Bayanihan, the spirit of cooperation and communal unity. This is one of the words that are truly valuable in Filipino culture. Bayanihan is one of the greatest Filipino values that can still be seen even today.

Are Philippines Polynesian? ›

Answer and Explanation: No, the Philippines is not a Polynesian island, but is rather an archipelago in Southeast Asia. The Filipinos are of Austronesian ancestry, like the Polynesians are. There are almost 8,000 islands that make up the Philippines.

What ethnicity category is Philippines? ›

The most populous of these groups, with populations exceeding a million individuals, are the Ilocano, the Pangasinense, the Kapampangan, the Tagalog, the Bicolano, and the Visayans (including the Cebuano, the Boholano, the Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, and the Waray).

What is the friendliest country in Asia? ›

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Forbes Magazine acknowledged the Top 15 Friendliest Countries based on the result of the HSBC's “Expat Explorer Survey” which had been released last month. The Philippines was able to rank as the Top 8 among the world and 1st in Asia.

Is the Philippines rich or poor? ›

The Philippine economy is the world's 36th largest by nominal GDP and 15th largest in Asia according to the International Monetary Fund in 2023. Metro Manila, the economic center of the Philippines. $440.9 billion (nominal; 2023 est.) $1.29 trillion (PPP; 2023 est.)

Why is Philippines so special? ›

The Philippines is also home to world-renowned natural wonders like an underground river and rice terraces, incredible diving spots rich in biodiversity, colorful public transportation in the Philippines, unique cuisine, vibrant festivals that showcase its colorful culture, and friendly locals regarded as some of the ...

What is the oldest city in the Philippines? ›

Cebu has a population of 2.5 million and is the oldest city and the first capital of the Philippines. Under Spanish rule for three centuries, Cebu has the oldest university, San Carlos University, and the oldest street, Colon Street, built by the Spaniards.

What are the 3 countries colonized the Philippines? ›

Spanish rule (1521–1898) American rule (1898–1946) Japanese occupation (1941–1946)

What is the greatest contribution of America to the Philippines? ›

One such policy was the introduction of the American system of education, and so pervasive and far-reaching was its impact and influence on the life and culture of the Filipino during and after the colonial period that it is generally regarded as the "greatest contribution" of American colonialism in the Philippines.

Who owned the land in the Philippines under Spain? ›

Land was owned by the barangay (village) and individuals had rights to use the land and make it productive. The Spaniards introduced private ownership through the granting of legal titles. Thus began the accumulation of land by indigenous elite groups in connivance with the Spanish authorities.

Who were the first people in the Philippines? ›

Negrito groups were the first inhabitants to settle in the prehistoric Philippines. By around 3000 BC, seafaring Austronesians, who form the majority of the current population, migrated southward from Taiwan.

Why did Spain take over the Philippines? ›

Spain had three objectives in its policy toward the Philippines, its only colony in Asia: to acquire a share in the spice trade, to develop contacts with China and Japan in order to further Christian missionary efforts there, and to convert the Filipinos to Christianity.

Is it called the Philippines or Philippines? ›

The Philippines (/ˈfɪlɪpiːnz/ ( listen); Filipino: Pilipinas), officially the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia.

What was the Philippines called before it was the Philippines? ›

The Philippines were claimed in the name of Spain in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, who named the islands after King Philip II of Spain. They were then called Las Felipinas.

What is the old name of the Philippines in the Bible? ›

Biblical Evidence that Ophir is the ancient Philippines. According to both authors I.

What is Philippines before it was discovered? ›

Philippines Before the Spanish

When the Spanish arrived in 1565, the Philippines did not have a national identity. Instead, the archipelago were comprised of hundred of territories occupied by different tribal groups who fought and traded with one another. It was already a major cultural and trade crossroads.

Why does Filipino start with an F? ›

A: The word “Filipino” is spelled with an “f” because it's derived from the Spanish name for the Philippine Islands: las Islas Filipinas. Originally, after Magellan's expedition in 1521, the Spanish called the islands San Lázaro, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

What countries colonized the Philippines? ›

Spanish rule (1521–1898) American rule (1898–1946) Japanese occupation (1941–1946) Philippine self rule (1946–present)

Who owned the Philippines before the US? ›

After its defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded its longstanding colony of the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris.

Who colonized the Philippines first? ›

The Spanish colonial period of the Philippines began when explorer Ferdinand Magellan came to the islands in 1521 and claimed it as a colony for the Spanish Empire. The period lasted until the Philippine Revolution in 1898.

What country is Ophir now? ›

Sri Lanka. The 10th-century lexicographer, David ben Abraham al-Fasi, identified Ophir with Serendip, the old Persian name for Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon).

What is the oldest city of the Philippines? ›

Cebu City is the capital of Cebu Island Province, 365 miles south of Manila. Cebu has a population of 2.5 million and is the oldest city and the first capital of the Philippines.

What Bible do Catholics use in the Philippines? ›

The NAB is the only translation approved for Mass in the United States and Philippines. The Jerusalem Bible holds that esteem in worldwide outside the US and Canada.

Who is the first human in the Philippines? ›

The fossil record confirms that our modern humans were in the Philippines at least 40,000–50,000 years ago3,4,5, the genus Homo possibily 66,700 years ago6,7. Another finding is the presence in the archipelago of Negritos groups related to the first migrations of Homo sapiens outside Africa4,8,9.

Where did Filipinos originate? ›

the Philippines collectively are called Filipinos. The ancestors of the vast majority of the population were of Malay descent and came from the Southeast Asian mainland as well as from what is now Indonesia. Contemporary Filipino society consists of nearly 100 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups.


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