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Business

Loving the Philippines

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Filipinos undoubtedly love anything Korean – be it movies, television series, cosmetics and other beauty products, music, food, the culture, clothes, K-idols, tourist spots, even cars and electronic products.

A study from the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity revealed that Hallyu, also known as the Korean wave or K-wave, arrived in the Philippines through Korean dramas or Korean novelas in the early 2000s. The Hallyu wave is a phrase used to describe the distribution and spread of South Korean cultural products such as food, music, and TV series to the rest of Asia and to other parts of the world.

But Hallyu was just the beginning of how Filipinos embrace the culture and products of South Korea.

The study said that the relatable stories of K-dramas appeal to Filipinos aside from the good looks of Korean actors and actresses while the remarkable performances of various Korean boy and girl groups known as idol groups attracted a lot of Filipinos even if the songs were sung in a different language.

Meanwhile, anthropologist and historian Arnel Joven explained that Korean food has also drawn Filipinos as much as K-drama, K-pop, and K-beauty as a product of people’s fondness for K-dramas and K-pop.

Prior to the early 2000s, Korean culture was practically unheard of in the Philippines. The Korean war and North Korea were the only things that the world knew about Korea back then but this changed when Koreans started coming to the Philippines for extended stays either for work or for education, Joven added.

A 2018 research among 113 countries by the Korea Foundation revealed that the Philippines had the highest growth rate of Hallyu fans.

South Korea also had the highest positive image in the Philippines, based on a 2020 survey by the Korean Culture and Information Service.

Filipinos were also named the second biggest audience listening to K-pop superstars BTS on Spotify, and fourth among countries tweeting the most about K-content in 2022, CNN Philippines reported.

Filipinos have fallen in love with everything Korean and this phenomenon is expected to flourish in the coming years, especially as stories in Korean dramas and the music and concepts in K-pop continue to evolve.

The feeling appears to be mutual, though.

The Department of Tourism recently reported that as of Dec. 12, international visitor arrivals in the country have reached 5.07 million, surpassing the original year-end target of 4.8 million tourist arrivals.

Of this number, 4.66 million or 91.88 percent were foreign tourists while the remaining 411,629 or 8.12 percent were overseas Filipinos.

South Korea ranked first as the Philippines’ top source market with 1.34 million arrivals, followed by the US with 836,694, Japan with 285,655, China 252,171, and Australia 238,487.

Residents from South Korea have topped the list of visitor arrivals to the Philippines every year from 2010 to 2020, according to the DOT. China, the US and Japan rounded out the top four over the same period.

The Philippines, however, is not the top destination for South Korea, although it is in the top 10, as far more South Koreans visit countries like Japan and Vietnam.

A report from CNBC revealed some of the reasons why South Koreans love visiting the Philippines.

One reason is proximity and convenience as it takes only four hours to get to Manila. There are also direct flights to famed beach islands in the Philippines. Bangkok by comparison is a six-hour flight from Incheon Airport.

Other reasons include the Philippines’ beautiful beaches, inexpensive air and even land transportation, and cheap but tasty food.

In 2017, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs listed the Philippines as one of the top 10 countries hosting Korean migrants, second to Vietnam in Southeast Asia. In the same year, 93,094 Koreans are said to be living in the Philippines.

At present, an estimated 120,000 Koreans live in the Philippines, 17 percent of whom are students.

* * *

The DOT hopes to further improve tourist arrivals in the Philippines by up to 7.7 million in 2024.

And according to Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, the “Love the Philippines” enhanced branding campaign is here to stay.

The DOT has clearly moved on from the issues that affected the launch of the campaign. So has the agency that created the campaign – DDB Philippines.

What most people don’t know is that after the cancellation of its contract with the DOT, DDB Philippines donated the logo, slogan, brand guidelines and the global market research that was the basis of the campaign “Love the Philippines.”

By doing so, DDB Philippines has donated all the time spent on research here and abroad, and all the months spent on creative development. The DOT didn’t have to spend a single centavo of taxpayer money for the campaign that obviously works.

According to DDB officials, this decision wasn’t just about closing a chapter; it was an act of goodwill despite all the negative press against the agency. They explained that this donation would ensure that the Philippines’ tourism sector will continue to benefit from the international research findings and would also allow DOT to continue to use the slogan and logo, without needing to start another tourism branding campaign.

With DOT surpassing its target, it is clearly doing something right.

Meanwhile, DDB Philippines continues to quietly be of service to its clients, most of whom are still working with the agency.

As for the controversial logo, it is now being used to promote local tourism. It was recently used in trams in Melbourne, Australia.

This act marks a significant closure to a challenging chapter, enabling all involved parties to progress positively. With a well-established tourism campaign already visible all over the country, DOT can focus more on much needed programs and infrastructure that will benefit the local tourism industry.

The real challenge has always been more than just a tourism campaign, but real programs and reforms that will give Filipinos and foreigners alike all the more reason to love the Philippines.

 

 

For comments, e-mail at [email protected]

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