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Awesome sunset in Butuan City

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street Dance

Aliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street Dance
Aliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street Dance
Aliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street Dance
Aliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street DanceAliwan Fiesta 2012 | Street Dance

To me, the street dancers are the star of the show. The effort they have put into all their performances--at the Quirino Grandstand, Rajah Sulayman, and Aliw Theater is just beyond belief! Their stamina amid the heat of the summer sun while keeping that captivating smile on their faces is just admirable and commendable!

Read more: The Pinoy Explorer

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When "It's more fun in the Philippines!" clicks, and when it doesn't

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Filipinos are known for their sunny and cheerful disposition. Filipinos are also so adaptable and resilient that, in fact—as a way of coping, Filipino can still laugh and smile amid natural calamities, economic difficulties, and social tragedies.

Needless to say, it is this very trait that rallies the Filipino people, once again—through the power of social media, towards promoting the Philippines as a prime tourist and travel destination.

The Department of Tourism’s (DOT) new campaign slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines!” drew both positive remarks and negative criticisms. Prior to this, DOT’s “Kay Ganda ng Pilipinas” drew so much flak for it being a copycat of Poland’s tourism logo. Hence no other than the Philippine president ordered to junk the campaign logo and tagline “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda”. To this blogger, that is clearly an oversight.

Several months later after Former DOT Secretary tendered his resignation on August 31, 2010, the DOT under the new leadership of an advertising executive Ramon Jimenez, worked to define what would be the Philippines’ tourism tagline. Hence, they decided “it’s more fun in the Philippines” would nail it.

However there were some sceptics on the new tagline. It was reported that it was a copycat of Switzerland’s promotional tagline more than 60 years ago. But it did not stop the new meme to spread all over the world that it has gone viral in the internet—that photographers, travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers and even Facebookers attempted to make their own version of the meme. Needless to say, Filipinos, literally, had fun with it.

When it is more fun in the Philippines, and when it doesn't?

To check on why it clicks, The Pinoy Explorer asked several travel bloggers and photographers, communications and media practitioners why they think this campaign slogan works for the Philippines, and here are their answers:

Edmar Gu-Quibb
Travel blogger, Edmaration, Etc.
It tries to balance the negative publicity around the world that the Philippines is a mischievous place for tourists (referring to Manila bus hostage crisis in Rizal Park), and for journalists (like the Magauindanao massacre).

Despite the brutal past that the Philippines had to face before the global community, the slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines" tells that if you have experienced something from other countries, the Philippines can offer better, which could be very catchy. If I were to decide, of course, I will choose the one with "more" fun.
James Betia
Travel blogger - Journeying James
It is different from our neighbors in the Southeast Asia—most of the countries use a one-word adjective to describe their countries. We on the other hand, say loudly that we are offering better deals.
It clicks because Pinoys want to have their say on the tourism promotion. And they can do just that when they start to make "it's more fun in the philippines" captioned photos. It has gone viral now.
Roniel Macatol
Photographer, Travel BloggerEating halfway
Whether Pinoys found it a serious advocacy or just simply entertaining (I mean those who mock it by changing the "fun" to "funnier"), it positively awakened the creativity among us by coming up with memes on the photos/promo initiated by the DOT. It served well the purpose when DOT said that the campaign is banking on the power of social media.
Eileen Campos
Travel Blogger, Possibly Pinay
I absolutely support and love the new DOT campaign. Controversy aside, it is great because people are contributing to it and people are reacting to it positively.
It encourages people to create the content themselves to contribute to the campaign. I'd like to call it modern day bayanihan.

It is witty and it allows us to display everything Filipino—not just the Chocolate hills and the underground river but also people, culture and the way of life here. People can easily relate.
Chito Flores
Travel Blogger, Liquid Druid's Blog
There are lots of factors. Foremost is the fact that it gets people to be involved. Filipinos now have a sense that they themselves are responsible for the success of the campaign. As a result, this spurs creativity, humor, wit and whatever is best in being Filipinos.
It does help that most of what's going on is based in the Internet. Even those who are not creatively-inclined and who are content with just viewing the work created by others will most likely forward it to their non-Filipino friends.
Reuel Delez
Travel Blogger, Make Nowhere, Somewhere.
I think the new slogan works because it allows Filipinos to interact and play with the idea with a pinch of wit and irony. It’s a nice play which can sometimes be uberly exaggerated but can remain in line with the theme. I have seen funny ones but still showcases some of the events or whatnot, the Filipinos are and can be proud of.
One particular, just on top of my head are, the photo of our cebu inmates with a caption: “Jailtime. It’s more fun in the philippines.” Another is of a helicopter on decent, a lot of people below with a caption, “Miss saigon, more fun in the Philippines.” These are just some that gives me a good laugh, but, I think, will still send out an idea of what an eccentric but fun country the Philippines is.

As mentioned some of the photo posts are exaggerated but for me other than the campaign, it reunites us Filipinos in the idea of the DOT theme. Personally, even along with its glitches, it is an establishment of our character as a country.

When it is more fun in the Philippines, and when it doesn't?

However, there are those who gave their divergent thoughts on this, and they sit well enough to carefully ponder upon amid the sea of people taking side with the new slogan.

Edmar Gu-Quibb further says:
[If the government] wants to attract foreign tourists, they should be ready first to welcome them. If we will overhype this slogan knowing that we have “one of the worst airports,” poor public security, unsafe and dirty streets in some parts of Metro Manila, the slogan will just turn to be a shame. It will just disappoint foreign tourists knowing that they are expecting better fun in the Philippines and not one horrible experience. If we will not fix the broken, the slogan will just turn to be a lie that will spread negatively as fast as forest fire.

Chito Francisco
Head Writer, Bubble Gang
I think the efforts of the DOT to promote Philippine tourism is commendable, and I would gladly support it in any way I can. The slogan, may or may not work. Personally, I find it corny and outdated. I don't even think they put much thought in coming up with that. But silly slogans and titles oftentimes create interest, that is why I stated that it could have a positive effect on the campaign. Here's hoping that it does.

ALIWAN2008 320 copy

Essentially, there are and will always be a spectrum of ideas.

While we are caught in this whirlwind affair with the new slogan, we should not let ourselves be catapulted to the notion that it is always “fun in the Philippines.”

Undeniably, the Philippines have so much to offer. We have the finest beaches in the world. We can offer the best dining and cheapest shopping experience. We have idyllic and spectacular ecosystems we can be proud of. We are the most hospitable people. We have the most fun and cheerful people to host the nations. We have rich history, culture and heritage as a showcase. However, we should not also miss the fact that we also have so much to work on.

However, the Philippines has yet to reclaim itself as the “Queen of the Pacific” or the “Pearl of the Orient” where every foreign visitor can always say “WOW, Philippines!” and perhaps learn to utter the words, “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda!”.

The success of the tourism industry is measured not by the number of clicks or how it has gone viral in the internet, but by the number of visitors per year and the concomitant economic benefits and jobs generation. Here is hoping that it does not just be a meme.

Secretary Jimenez said that selling tourism is “as easy to sell as Chickenjoy,” I would say, it is in the buying and tasting that counts and matters.

The Pinoy Explorer should not be misconstrued. He supports the DOT's new campaign slogan and the initiatives for the Philippines’ tourism industry. While there is so much hype and excitement in the social media—when the selling has seemed to have succeeded, the DOT should not allow this excitement among travel bloggers and people using other forms of social media simply to take dip. Just as travel bloggers have been unselfishly writing stories about the Philippines, who had been unwavering and championing Philippine tourism, there should also be a parallel move to make the tourism products worth selling.

Cross-posted from:

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TAXIKICK: Will it click?

As the new year ushers, there comes a new private initiative on policy and law enforcement.  Taxikick seems like a knight dressed in shining armor to defend taxi or cab passengers who were, in one way or another, fell victims to so-called abusive taxi drivers.

At first glance, it looks like it has become the hope of the helpless.  In fact, based on its website as of January 4, 2012 it has become so popular that it been tweeted  842 times, and recommended in Facebook by around 2,000 individuals.  It has even caught attention by the national news.

But the basic question remains:  "Will Taxikick serve its purpose of eliminating alleged rude and abusive cab drivers in Metro Manila?"

Before we answer that question, let me point out, based on my limited paralegal knowledge the following questions and observations:

  • The site does not provide for real names or identification of the complainants. The Philippine legal system requires that a complainant appears before the proper court (or authorities, in this case the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board [LTFRB]).   For a case to be established, there has to be a complainant and a plaintiff, and the complaint itself.
  • It does not provide the name of the cab driver.
  •  Of course it is difficult to establish this fact.  But cab drivers are supposed to hang their identification cards on the rear view mirror for the passenger to see.  If there is none, then this becomes a violation.  Different cab drivers drive a single cab in a day.  So it is very important that the name of the cab driver has to be established. Yes, it is difficult to get the name, but do not react yet at this point until you read the succeeding observations.    
  • The date and time of the incident is not being reported.  This is very important to provide the lead to establish and gather information on the name of driver and the operator. The taxi companies or those franchise holders who own several units must have a record on the driver who drove a particular unit on a particular day and time. In cases when the franchise owner owns only one unit, it is easier to establish this fact.  It is also important that the time frame is provided.  
  • The information on route is not provided.  Again, this is to establish some factual evidence.
  • The supposedly violations in the drop down menu provided, need further validation and concurrence from the LTFRB.  The supposedly violations must be included in official list of violations as stated in the franchise agreement the operators have signed.  It does not mean that these are not needed, complaints such as "smelly interiors" and "dilapidated" may just appear to be whims and caprices of the riding public. If LTFRB does not conform to these "violations" then the taxi drivers could be wrongly and unjustly accused of an alleged crime that does not exist.
Granting that this initiative may be a good example of people's participation in law enforcement, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Why?  I have the following concerns:

  1. Some people may be just too trigger happy and just use the site at their whims and caprices.  It does not augur well for a case to be established.
  2. It may just become a site to rant and not really pursuing the case against the alleged abusive taxi drivers.
  3. In reality, commuting public does not want to be bothered at all after reporting the case.  I have yet to hear a news that a cab driver has been punished after a successful hearing with the LTFRB.  (If you know one, please inform me.) If this is the case, then this effort would prove inutile in going after allegedly abusive cab drivers.
  4. How this information will reach the proper authorities is another big question.  Initially, on the evening news in GMA7 and ABC5 last January 3, 2012, LTFRB already said that these complaints will not hold as the complainant has to personally appear in the complaints section of the LTFRB.  Granting we do this ourselves, are we willing to attend LTFRB hearings?
  5. And more importantly, we may need to reform the judicial and administrative policies and systems just to accommodate this initiative, which primarily involves information technology in filing a complaint. This is not just a simple customer service complaint.  We are dealing with established and ingrained legal systems.
This is not to say this blogger is against Taxikick initiative.  But there is one final observation from me that the Taxikick has failed to do before even launching their website.

Taxikick has failed to call upon the participation of major stakeholders in the transportation industry--the LTFRB and the association of taxi franchisers/ operators.  For governance to become efficient and effective does not rest on a gung ho private initiative alone. We are thirsty for change! We all want change for the benefit  of the riding public.  Who would not want to ride taxi cabs with courteous and honest drivers like in the case of Davao City and Baguio City, who would not hesitate to return your P1.50 change, even if you insist that they keep the change?   For law enforcement, stakeholders agreeing to specific positions is very crucial.  We should ensure that the franchise holders agree and support this initiative, and give due credence to the role of LTFRB.  Otherwise, they would merely see it as an affront to their agency and their efficiency. They should not be relegated to the background or just come as an afterthought.

For some other future initiatives like this, we can draw lessons from this. It is the prayer of this blogger, however, that the Taxikick principals would be able to thresh out these issues with the LTFRB and the franchise holders.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Egosurfing "Pinoy Explorer"

When I registered my previous travel blog hosted in "" into its own dotcom now called, I did not realize that there are two other "pinoy explorers" in the net.  One is hosted in and the other one is a Philippine TV program hosted by actor Aga Muhlach.  So this is my disclaimer that this similarities are purely unintentional.  I think the article "the" made the difference when I was registering, and I was the first one who registered my branding as "The Pinoy Explorer".  Besides, the other one is a TV program, and I do not intend to compete with them.

Anyway, worried that my dotcom might suffer from these similarities, it seems the other way around.  Perhaps, I, unintentionally, benefit from the online searches.   So I tried to egosurf. You see this is not for vanity's sake.  I am trying to find out how well fares in the world wide web.  So here are the results of this egosurfing:

Yahoo search: The Pinoy Explorer places 2nd in page one (1).

Google search: The Pinoy Explorer places 4th, 5th, and 6th in page one (1)

I say, not bad for a start, right?

I think that there are four (4) factors that affect this trend:

  1. My readers - who have been following The Pinoy Explorer over the past months since I resurrected it in May-June last year (2010).
  2. Facebook - in Google search Facebook helped pump up my visibility,
  3. Google Plus - I think a few Google+ it and there you go that made it appear in the search.
  4. Cross-posting it in this blog - this blog is older and definitely has gained residency in SEO and cross-posting some of the articles in this blog is definitely a plus.  Take the article on Batanes' oldest house, for example.

In this regard, "thank you" is not enough, but just the same, I express my gratitude to all my readers and followers for the support!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Pinoy Explorer | Batanes' oldest Ivatan house

Batanes' Oldest houseWhen I took these photos last September 17, 2007, it was 3 days after the anniversary of the earthquake and the house was exactly 120 years old. Auntie Ida (Ivatans or locals commonly call elders, auntie) or Florestida Estrella, then 81, owns the house. I do not know if she is still alive. If it were so, she would be 85 by now, and the house is now 124 years old

Read more about this at: Eureka! | Batanes' oldest Ivatan house ~ THE PINOY EXPLORER

The Pinoy Explorer | Calapan Bay by day and night

Calapan Bay by day and nightInitially, I thought it was just an ordinary daily scene. But then peeping through the grills of the fence that separates the sea and the hotel, I noticed some people gleaning (it was a lowtide). Again, another dramatic scene I always wanted to capture through my lenses. So, I dashed back to my room and grabbed my camera backpack and in minutes, I was shooting the beautiful scenery. Thus for three mornings, what could be better than enjoying morning sun, sniffing the salty sea air, savoring your coffee while admiring this God-given scenery? Lovely, isnt't it?

Read more at: Calapan Bay by day and night ~ THE PINOY EXPLORER

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