In recent days, one gets to see on CNN our government's ad blast for "It's more fun in the Philippines!"
The cable-TV campaign is catchy. And it has been timed with the ADB 2012 conference on May 2-5, in Manila for first-hand reach through the foreign delegates and participants numbering over 4,000, which include ministers of finance and development, central bankers, private sector representatives, civil society and media.
To boot, it included an interview by CNN of President Aquino and his programs.
As a Filipino, it brings great pride to see our president or any kababayan for that matter on global television. And to CNN's credit, the questions posed to Aquino covered both the rosier side of our country's progress and the harsh realities we face like widespread poverty in our land.
With about 30% of our people still "economically challenged"--ironically even with ADB headquartered in Manila--indeed there is much more that needs to be done for development.
Nevertheless, we are a people who can smile even in the most difficult conditions of life. Not that we don't care, but only because we can transcend every adversity we may be confronted with.
And that's the real thing that makes it more fun in the Philippines. It is not so much the natural wonders, tourist attractions, and festivals that make our country a top tourist destination. Rather, it is the warmth of our kapamilya welcome, our hospitality, and our friendship to visitors that make them want to come and even stay for good.
Take the case of a young French lady-student from Toulouse University in Toulouse, France, who applied for internship with my law office. She needed a three-month practical training to graduate for her Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law. Even then, she asked for an extension of three months to ensure a substantial country immersion. And when she arrived in June last year, it was her first time to travel to Asia and the Philippines.
"The rule of internship is to have fun," I joked when she reported for our first meeting. After all, I explained, "the life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience," as the famous quote from US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes goes. Thus, we pursued an integrated plan of training that covered legal research, drafting of court papers, study of case records, observation of court trial or hearing, and of course, travel around the country.
By the time she finished in December, she had also gone to most of our well-known destinations outside Manila like Boracay, Palawan, Camiguin, and Panglao Island. She further went south to Bikol and even up north in Isabela.
I believe she had a wonderful time and a well-grounded learning experience. For she did not want to go back home to France anymore.
Indeed, it's more fun in the Philippines!