Branding Gone Bongga

It’s not yet final, but for now, the new campaign slogan for the Department of Tourism is “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda.” I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s stupid, I’m not saying it’s pangit or whatever. I’m being gentle. It’s a matter of execution, DOT Undersecretary Enteng Romano says, but that’s just it: it’s part of the execution.  “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda” may be the big idea of a whole set of specific executions for the DOT’s campaign, but even the creation of a tagline – the definition of the ought-to-be-situation of Filipino tourism – should be meaningful.  Should it translate to “Pilipinas: Life is Beautiful?”  Or “Beautiful Pilipinas?” David Ogilvy puts it quite succinctly for copy headlines, but I think the same is true for slogans: On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. Which brings me back to why the campaign handle, well, sucks: in my view, “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda” is a good slogan, and a campaign in good spirits, but is out of context.

Dispatches from the Buffet Table

It’s like the medieval Great Hall, Filipino Style: with all the sweetness and the sourness of the Filipino attitude, and those hotdogs decorated with marshmallows, skewered on halved cabbage heads. The Filipino buffet, to me, has almost always taken a rather familiar route.  I’m not talking about hotel buffets or all-you-can-eat specials at restaurants, but the typical Pinoy one: the common putahe served to celebrate everything from a wedding to a funeral.  It almost always includes rice, some form of pancit, some form of lumpia, and a whole array of foods that can be made from pork or chicken in various states of food warmer-aided coagulation; seasoned and enhanced with various degrees of MSG, save for macaroni salad and buko pandan somewhere in the end of the line.

Red Eggs and Scad

She never liked them, she never had, She doesn’t eat red eggs and scad. Will she try them, just one piece?  A vegetarian is what she is. Will she buy them just because, so she’ll understand our market laws? No, Sam-I-Am, not today; she won’t buy ’em anyway. Would she have them here, or there? You won’t find it in her bill of fare. She doesn’t eat them, it’s just so sad She knows not the price of red eggs and scad.

My Shaldan

By the way: over at Anthology, my Project 365 is haiku. The six-hour bus trip from Baguio to Manila is rather routine and uneventful; no accidents, the occasional bratty child, and a teenager with motion sickness vomiting barbecued hotdog, iced tea, and gastric juices out into a plastic bag.  With my iPod drained for the moment, I’m forced to listen to the oldies.  The exegesis of “You Needed Me,” and juxtapositions of John Denver and Jim Croce. Ah, the stopover.  Moving along from seats that smell like Clover Chips and mint candies – everybody’s trying not to vomit – and to the door.  You’re greeted by the warm scent of the lowlands, diesel fumes, balut, chicken mami, and yes… My Shaldan.


I ended the week at Chowking, where I had a bowl of chao fan, a couple of fried dumplings, and some pork tofu.  Day Five of eating anything and everything related to street dimsum, I think a dinner of Chinese fastfood is a good way to cap it all off; dimsum a’la carte, street siomai, and just about everything in between. Ah, yum cha; in Chinese cooking, there’s something about wrapping stuff and cooking them.  While chicken feet and steamed mushrooms may be served without wrapping, most of us think of dimsum as a savory item covered with a starchy wrap, and cooked in many different ways.  I guess that, in many ways, cooking is made much easier by wrapping things and cooking them.


My Lakbayan grade is C+! How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan! Created by Eugene Villar. Yeah, I made up my mind to finally get to tagging wherever I’ve been on Eugene’s app.  On with the entry.

There's Something About Mami

By all means, it wasn’t gourmet noodle soup.  The noodles were still kind of crisp and starchy inside, and there was very little in the way of sahog (save for a tiny bit of shredded cabbage, carrots, and crispy fried garlic bits) The broth was probably made of chicken bones, boiled with water and bouillon cubes.  Yet for twenty pesos, it warms the stomach better than, say, half a pack of Marlboro Lights. There’s something about mami.  Whether it’s Luisa’s in Baguio or Noodle King in Sampaloc, mami is a dish that has always been close to my heart.  Yet there’s something about twenty peso mami bowls hawked in sidewalks that speaks to the heartiness of street food.  You only get a few morsels from making-tusok-tusok the fishballs and the kikiam, but making-higop-higop the sabaw of the mami, no matter how much umami there is in the broth, is very comforting. It’s not exactly the most complex dish in the world, but there’s something about it.

Happy 100th, Baguio

Memories keep a city going.  Like radio station jingles. I love to rope my cattle, ride my horses And dust off my old black boots. I love to see the sun when it comes up And sings its country tune. Where my music plays on, Magic 99.9… Baguio City. From the mountains, I feel a bit closer to heaven. I remember waking up to eight degree chills and hot coffee boiling on the stove.  I could still smell the scent of pine and the sunflowers blooming in our front yard.  There was nothing like that peaceful stroll, up hills and winding roads.  The sun was high up the sky, yet the cold breeze still chilled to the bones on the worst days.  The afternoon fog set in like the heavens touching the grass.  The occasional hail storm, the mild rainshowers.  Coffee, conversation, cigarettes, Counterstrike. Such was home, such was Baguio City. It’s been a while since I’ve been back home.  I was born there, I was raised there, and I grew up there.  I always felt that back in the mountains, I was a bit closer to heaven.  I could trace the faint outlines of the mountains and hills and feel that I was in a very special place.