It seemed the country’s former Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary was no expert on the different tourist spots in the country.
Wanda Teo failed to get the name of a famous Surigao del Sur spot – not just once, but twice – during a Senate blue ribbon hearing on Tuesday, August 14. (READ: The enchanting blue river of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur)
Instead of referring to it as the Enchanted River, Teo called the beautiful Hinatuan river “Enchanted Kingdom,” which is the name of a popular theme park in Laguna.
Senator Richard Gordon, committee chairman, was questioning Teo for not showing the names and locations of tourism advertisements on television.
Teo, reacting to an ad on the Enchanted River, said: "Mayroon pong nakalagay, Enchanted Kingdom, Hinatuan,” eliciting laughter from the gallery. (It's there. Enchanted Kingdom, Hinatuan.)
Still in response to the senator, Teo said: "Mayroon pong nakalagay, Hinatuan in Surigao." (There's a label indicating Hinatuan in Surigao.)
Teo also said the DOT earlier decided to focus on not-so-popular domestic spots, such as Surigao, instead of the well-known areas in Bohol, Cebu, and Palawan.
Gordon, himself a former tourism secretary who coined the slogan "Wow, Philippines," said: "I didn't see Hinatuan there.”
Teo replied: "Mayroon po, Enchanted Kingdom (It's there, Enchanted Kingdom)." To which the senator replied, “Ha?”
Teo then looked to someone on her right, who must have corrected her.
On her third try, thankfully, the former tourism head finally got it right: “Enchanted River po, Hinatuan."
Teo and her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo, are facing a Senate investigation involving a P60-million tourism ad deal. The DOT under Teo placed advertisements with government TV network PTV, specifying that those ads be aired on Kilos Pronto, a show produced by Bitag Media, which is owned by her brother Ben. The show was co-hosted by Erwin.
The Commission on Audit has questioned the placement of ads on Kilos Pronto. (READ: Tulfos: We will not return P60M to government)
Gordon said there is a “clear conflict of interest” in the contract and said he would be recommending the filing of criminal complaints against Teo and Ben. Erwin, he said, was just doing his job as a talent. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org