“Bring Home A Friend” is the Philippine Department of Tourism’s latest incentive program to encourage Filipinos to help promote tourism by inviting non-Filipino friends to visit the Philippines.
And one of the DOT’s strategies to promote the program, bring Fil-Am journalists from the East Coast to experience the Philippines first hand.
“This familiarization tour was a result of a meeting with the consulate office of New York in order to lessen the negative impression about the Philippines particularly in Mindanao,” said Michelle Alcantara-Salvacion.
“It brought me back to the country which I haven’t seen in a long time, it brought back a lot of sad and happy memories,” said journalist Cristina Pastor.
For many of these journalists who has never been to Davao, their biggest concern was their safety and security especially in Mindanao, that is still under martial rule
“Particularly in Davao City, I was a little concerned about our security for the Fil-Am media but it turned out it was fine,” said reporter LP Pelayo.
While the familiarization tour is just a slice of life in the Philippines, this first-hand experience of Manila and Davao is an eye opener for journalists — especially when writing the news about the homeland.
“Sometimes nga, we’re being accused of slanting the news because we’ve never been to the Philippines, this is really sort of an immersion for Fil-Am based journalists,” said Ricky Rillera. “Now that we’ve seen all of these things ano, perhaps it opened up our eyes na makita rin yung conditions dito…”
Security is taken seriously in the Philippines, most establishments have their very own TSA like security checkpoints.
“For some people they might think it’s really bothersome to have all of your luggage na ma-inspect but hey we’re in times an everything is not so secure, they make it really secured for us,” said Rillera.
It might be hard to imagine TSA like security checkpoints especially in malls and hotels in the US, but here in the Philippines, this level of safety precautions have become a way of life.