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The assistant of the Secretary of Tourism emailed me during the holidays, asking if I would be free to meet with Sec. Mon Jimenez on January 5th.
At first I thought it was a prank when a venue in Serendra was suggested. When the meeting was moved to the Department of Tourism instead, I knew I had to get up in the morning and be there.
The day before, Carlos Celdran had already met with Sec. Jimenez about the new ad campaign they are launching for the Philippines. Yesterday it was mine and Anton Diaz’s turn.
I arrived early for the 11 AM meeting and had time to go around the building. Guys, this is not the Fullerton Hotel, this is the Department of Tourism.

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It may look good on my Canon S95, but the building is really dilapidated. My heart sank as I entered the restroom and saw conditions that make NAIA’s toilets look like the Four Seasons. That said, I understood there really was no budget there.
I went up the stairs to the fourth floor and found Anton Diaz at the reception area outside the Secretary’s office.
To pass the time, Anton and I talked about our blogs. Having never been to Boracay, I asked Anton to explain the meanings of Stations 1-3, which he happily did.

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Map of Boracay

After nearly an hour, we moved into the well-appointed office Secretary’s office and was grateful I wore a long cardigan (read: winter).

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Prior to the meeting, I had spoken to my dad, my uncle Greg Garcia, my brother-in-law Leo Riingen and my sister, who all had good things to say about the Sec. Jimenez. So even though I have all these negative thoughts about local tourism, I decided to just listen to what he had to say.
And so, he blew me away.

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L-R: Anton Diaz, Sec. Jimenez, Ren Sapitan (Executive Assistant to the Secretary)

There were some things said in private, which gave me an idea about where the Secretary was coming from. And there was the campaign that he explained to us, where it was coming from, the low budget they were working with, the bureaucracy, the frustrations and the limitations. With that, I decided to support before fighting for changes (that’s for later ;))
Eight ad agencies were invited to bid. In the end, BBDO won with a simple campaign that sells an idea instead of a rhyme or an adjective. That idea is fun.

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Because of the low budget, the local campaign will rely on social media like us who are on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, hence the hashtagged campaign, #1ForFun which is currently trending on twitter.
The real budget will be spent mostly on an international campaign, and expect many creative ideas to appear abroad such as

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After the meeting I was really psyched to help DOT in any way I can. Sec. Jimenez said they would send us the campaign materials as they come. We said goodbyes, Anton and I took the stairs going down.
Past 1 PM, I told the driver to take me to CafĂ© Adriatico for a solo lunch. Unfortunately, Chicken ala Kiev is no longer there, so I had Lola Ising’s Adobo Rice, which no longer had its “kick”.

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Without my favorite dish, it didn’t make sense to come back to this place I have been going back to since 1987

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Outside there were many hip foreigners such as this couple wondering what to order

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Malate still has a few tourists going around with maps and confused looks, enjoying the sun in their shorts, sleeveless tops and slippers and I wonder, can we make them come back and multiply and will you help?

To know more about the campaign, click HERE.

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