Completing the sentence

Ted Te
The new tourism campaign is an exercise in citizenship, identity, optimism, truth

Theodore Te

 It is said that the test of one who truly knows you is the ability of that one to complete your sentences.

For some strange reason, when the new tourism tag line “It’s more fun in the Philippines” was revealed, I identified with it. It wasn’t the graphics, the colors or even the slightly awkward way the “sentence” was written. It took some moments of thinking before I realized why: it wasn’t just a “sentence,” it was the start or end of a sentence. It is an open-ended invitation to complete the sentence and to take part in a conversation on something that I, and Filipinos everywhere else, know — that it IS more fun in the Philippines.

The understanding that one could complete this particular sentence starting or ending with “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is an amazing exercise in citizenship, in identity, in optimism, in truth. It is also, consistent with tourism campaigns everywhere else, a great opportunity for a people to come together and agree on something.

That is why I choose to own and complete the sentence. It’s more fun in the Philippines. Indeed.

Ask any Filipino who has ever stayed away from the Philippines involuntarily. Ask them why they choose to look for Filipinos when they get to whichever part of the world they are in; why there are community gatherings; why there is always the inevitable search for the Filipino store. Ask why we choose to carve out a small patch of PH anywhere we find ourselves in. Because it IS more fun in the Philippines.

Ask those who’ve seen coup d’etats everywhere else, it is more fun in the Philippines. Ask those who’ve shopped at flea markets everywhere else, it is more fun in the Philippines. Ask those who’ve gone to videoke joints, it is more fun in the Philippines. Ask those who’ve been to white sand beaches everywhere else, it is more fun in the Philippines.

In a way that perhaps those behind the line could not hope to imagine: it is the invitation to start a conversation with ourselves and those outside the Philippines; it is the opening of an invitation without an RSVP.  

It is also a challenge to us, Filipinos, to look into ourselves, as citizens, as a people, as a culture, as a nation — to look at why, despite government inefficiency and corruption, stinky toilets and bad airports, mind-numbing traffic, poverty, homelessness, landlessness and, for some, hopelessness, it is more fun in the Philippines.  

For me, it is our SMILES — those that start and end with our eyes. It is our HUMOR — that which allows us to giggle, snicker, snort, or belly-laugh our way through everything the universe may throw at us (and it has thrown a lot our way). It is the SONGS that we sing — those which express our spirit and our soul; whether these be songs of protest, songs of hope, songs of love or even, or maybe especially, that song which inevitably ends videoke sessions anywhere in the Philippines, “My Way,” it is the way that we invest ourselves into the songs that we sing. It is our SPIRIT — that which starts and ends bloodless revolutions and endures stupid governments and allows us to carry the hope that one day we will have meaningful change by Filipinos for Filipinos everywhere in the world. It is our SOUL — that which weaves passion and compassion together with love of God, country and people.  

It is all these together that makes the difference.

In the way that “Wow, Philippines!” started the conversation but never got to finish it, this new campaign attempts to jumpstart that conversation in the same vein and invites us, who know and love the Philippines, to complete the sentence. And, that’s part of the fun. –


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