Former tourism chief Mon Jimenez dies

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former tourism chief Mon Jimenez died on Monday, April 27, his family confirmed. He was 64.

His daughters Nina and Sassa confirmed his passing in a statement sent to the former employees of Jimenez & Partners. They said that he died early Monday.

"It is with profound sorrow that we confirm the passing of Ramon Jimenez Jr., 'Mon J' to his closest friends and colleagues. He died early this morning at his home (due to reasons unrelated to COVID-19)," they said.

"MonJ was a beloved husband, father, brother, friend and public servant. He will be greatly missed. We wish to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support for the family during this difficult time," they added.

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat extended her condolences to the family of Jimenez: "Today, we mourn the loss of Mon Jimenez, but we will be forever grateful to him for the growth of the tourism sector, and for promoting the Philippines as a place that is wonderful, joyous, and fun."

The news was confirmed by some members of the Aquino Cabinet with whom he served. 

Jimenez, a marketing communication expert, is considered as one of the pillars of the Philippine advertising industry. He began his career in the creative department of Saatchi & Saatchi and later on formed his own ad agency, spending decades in the industry. 

During his time as tourism chief during the Aquino administration, the now-popular slogan "It's More in the Philippines" was launched. The campaign was brought to the global stage in 2012 and heavily relied on the power of social media to make the campaign go viral.

In a speech at the Social Good Summit in 2012, Jimenez said that social media allowed Filipinos to take pride of the country online. (READ: Where we rediscover ourselves and others)

"The web is not just a place to learn new things, for surely traditional media – books, newspapers, and broadcast – have always offered us that opportunity. It is, however, the ultimate medium for rediscovering our fellow man and, in so doing, rediscovering ourselves. Social good. How good it is," Jimenez said of social media.

The "More Fun" campaign, which had won several awards in the past years, is still used today.

Said Ricky Carandang, former communications secretary under the Aquino government: "He was a true friend. He was in politics but he was never political. And he served out a genuine sense of duty. That’s why despite his very strong moral and political convictions he never made enemies."

Under his leadership, Philippines' tourism competitiveness rank improved from 94 in 2011 to 74 in 2015. When Jimenez joined the DOT, the Philippines had total tourist arrivals of 3.9 million in 2011. In 2016, nearly 6 million tourists went to the Philippines.

In 2018, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint against Jimenez over the P1-billion "More Fun" ad campaign contract. Jimenez said then the charges were meant to draw the controversy away from resigned-tourism chief Wanda Teo over the P60 million worth of ad placements made to the media company of her brother Ben Tulfo.

Jimenez was a University of the Philippines-Diliman alumnus, having completed a degree in fine arts, majoring in visual communications. He is survived by his two daughters, Nina and Sassa. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image