1. A coffee shop that sells coffee from beans from Batangas, Tagum, Compostela, Zamboanga, SOCCKSARGEN, Benguet, La Union, ARMM regions.
(Did you know in 1880, the PH was the FOURTH largest coffee exporter in the world? Now we are at 110th. We are one of the few countries that are able to produce all the major types of coffee, from robusta to arabica.)
In Melbourne, somebody scoffed at me when I asked where I could find a Starbucks, saying there were many good local shops. They’re big coffee drinkers, apparently, eh naghahanap lang naman ako ng mug. Recently, in Korea, we were brought to a coffee shop because people there are very proud of their coffee. I’m not a connoisseur, but one way to sell our country is to make the PH a destination for serious coffee fans.
We can start at our airports or public places owned by the government.
2. A beautifully designed souvenir shop in EVERY terminal in Manila’s 3 major airports, plus souvenir shops in EVERY major tourist area like Palawan and Boracay, selling the best handicraft items and pasalubong from the best small and medium entrepreneurs. We should take ownership of our Philippine mangoes, our “lahar”-made handicrafts, our inabel weaving, etc. Most of what we have now are commercialized varieties that are often overpriced and tacky. Also, sana naman i push talaga ang PH mangoes. Wala man lang PH mangoes sa duty free shops natin. Puro chocolates. Wow sa identity ha. Sa Thailand airport, they sell their mangoes–mawalang galang sa Thailand wala pong binatbat ang mangga niyo sa mangga namin–for nearly P600 to P1000 pesos in airports (na naka box as dried mango) and tourists lap it up. Wait until you try Cebu’s dried mango. Pero pinupush ba enough sa duty free shops? Hindi. M&Ms sobrang dami. Bongga. Parang walang M&Ms sa kanila.
3. Push for the art of “hilot.” The Japanese have their shiatsu, the Thais have their Thai massage, the West has the Swedish massage. We should have our very restorative “hilot” marketed as a Filipino specialty. Hotels should offer this first above any other massage, or make it a “special.” LGUs should have “hilot” on offer at the beach areas, like Boracay, Palawan. Let this be trademark-ed to us. The Filipino hilot.
4. The Department of Health should have stringent measures put in place for food safety, and require all vendors to get a FOOD SAFETY sticker so we can push–and compete with–the STREET FOOD culture of other Asian countries. Imagine if the world came to our shores to sample our sago, our tokneneng, our balut, our squidballs and fishballs and kikiam, our mangoes with alamang, our BBQ isaw, betamax, our goto, our FREAKING sorbetes!!!!
Sa totoo lang, our street food culture is as rich as other countries’, but we cannot compete kasi OK lang sa atin na madumi. Let us instill discipline and we will see our cred shoot up. Look at what Duterte did during the Durian candy accident in Davao, he required the candymakers to undergo a seminar/food safety handling workshops, etc. If we are serious, we can do it. When vendors see that most people troop to places with a food safety sticker, they will all be compelled to apply for one with their local DOH. It may take time, but these sort of changes are worth it.
5. Reclaim the glory of the Philippine jeepney. The Sarao. Give the owners a chance to modify and beautify their jeepneys. Phase out a certain year so we don’t have junks running on our streets. It is their responsibility to uphold the image and reputation of one of the country’s most iconic symbols. Pagandahin nila. Give our drivers and our jeepneys the dignity they deserve.
Beautifying our country is entirely possible. In my recent visit to South Korea, the tour guide said that they have an ordinance/rule that buildings should have art/sculpture in front to help beautify the city.
The Philippines is so worth it. We love this country, we so should fight to keep our identity and make some sacrifices so we can hold on to the best of who we are. Drama. Char. But yes, these are the things I wish to see someday!