F4 and Gov. Toto

By Eireen Manikan

For a product to fly it has to have 1. Name recall 2. Great image and 3. Truthfulness, that’s Advertising 101 if I remember correctly. These elements are basic ingredients (just like quality sticky rice is to some of the province’s kakanins) to make sure that you get the attention and patronage of a particular market.

As I was munching on my favorite chocolate (Lindt) and reading the news recently, I chanced upon the new provincial tourism slogan launched by Gov. Arthur Defensor, Jr. that’s aimed to highlight the province’s many endearing qualities that will surely seem irresistible to you and me.

Fun. Foodie. Friendly. The good governor says that these 3 embody the memorable experience of any tourist or visitor when they go to the myriad places within the provincial perimeters. Now, overly curious and opinionated as I am, I hope the admirable leader wouldn’t mind my take on these 3 adjectives he has chosen to sell his domain.

Fun. My son and I are beach leeches and my husband almost always has to put his foot down to get us out, there is always something cathartic about swimming in placid, teal waters that make me want to just get intoxicated and forget getting out. Never can I name a sad vacay involving the beaches of Tigbauan. Guimbal, San Joaquin, Antique and the to-die-for Sicogon and Carles. I even wonder why most love going to far away islands when these places are just as awesome.

There are other fun things to do of course as vast as the province is, there is culture immersion which is never a bad thing. It gives us a glimpse of a people’s past and makes us appreciate why they are when we learn about their triumphs and heartaches (major love story sucker here). This is of course a very simplistic and relatable way of putting culture appreciation where the province is concerned, where rich histories abound.

Foodie. Everyone who knows me can attest that this is my weakness. Just imagine me at gun point being asked to choose between a friend and a favorite food and expect an end of a relationship right then. What’s nice to know is I am not alone. Most Filipinos are even in this woke era about healthy living. Many municipalities within the province’s realm are famous for their seafood, from the North to the other end, my family has long cavorted and delighted with what was being offered. What can beat tinuom (chicken broth), meaty and sweet crabs, chubby scallops, oysters and mussels and the fishes oh my! Let’s not even begin with the native desserts priced most reasonably. (An aside: Maybe just maybe the nice governor can have his video taken partaking of these and enjoining everyone to be well, a Foodie like him).

Friendly. Well sometimes this makes all the difference. If a visitor feels welcomed and well taken care of, you can be assured they will come back and pass the good word. In almost all of our staycays (Carles,San Joaquin and Tigbauan are faves) the people have been very accommodating and understanding (providing hot water in the middle of the night because my son remembered he had a sachet of chocolate milk and not letting us off if he can’t have it).

Overall, it’s a good advertising package since the elements are checked, easy recall for the 3 Fs, good image for the products/places he is selling (the accredited establishments are more than passable, safety and security of guests are assured and the province enjoys positive reputation generally); there is truthfulness in what he is saying as experienced by my family – -food is great, memories are fun (mostly. The worst was when I was surprised by my husband with a staycay and Nana forgot to pack my swimsuit, so definitely not Gov’s mistake).

I’d like to add a fourth F, though. Forward-looking. The tourism industry is a dynamic and challenging sector with crests and troughs and it is best managed if it is anticipated, of course. The things that he and his team will do today should be because of goals for the future and I am certain it includes putting his province in the top list of must-visit for all and engaging everyone from the grassroots to the private sector to achieve this end. And why not since he, a Formidable leader is at the helm.