‘Asia’s Latin City’ tag suits global taste — NCCA official PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 16:51

The chairman of the National Committee on Museums of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has expressed high regard to the city’s new branding “Asia’s Latin City” saying it aptly positions the city in the global market.

Dr. Antonio Montalvan II cited Zamboanga City under the leadership of Mayor Celso Lobregat in his September 19 column “Kris-Crossing Mindanao” entitled ‘Polska kay ganda’, as one of the only two cities in the Philippines that “understood the value of slogans in the world arena”.

“So far, only Cebu and Zamboanga have understood the value of slogans in the world arena. Many of our city slogans are run-of-the-mill types that offer “rural” attractions rather than project global appeal. That should be the first object of any image-overhauling move”, Montalvan, who is also a known Mindanao anthropologist and ethnohistorian said in his article.

Montalvan’s column devotes a great deal on the study of tourism slogans in the Asia Pacific Region, emphasizing that “Asia” is the key word.  He cited the efforts of Malaysia which adopted the slogan “Malaysia truly Asia”, Hongkong which touts itself as “Asia’s World City”, Korea branded as “Soul of Asia” and several others which are paying off in as far as attracting global visitors.

“We need not look far”, the columnist said as there are also areas in the Philippines that have discarded their old sobriquets and are now known in the global tourism market.

Tourism, he said “is a game of perception that certainly includes a script employing much “folklorizing”, “ethnicizing”, “exoticizing”. He stressed further “in the game of global tourism, one has to satisfy the global taste for “other-ness” and project an image of exotic-ness. Anthropologists find that absurd. What place in the world has remain unperturbed, undisturbed by visitors? But that is the game.”

He continued: “One surprising player in that game is Zamboanga City. It suffers from the strife-torn image of southern Mindanao. Its proximity to Basilan is something it cannot avoid. Mayor Celso Lobregat often laments that being the civic center of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the vast Sulu archipelago, any news of war that takes place within the region is often datelined and filed in Zamboanga City, even if it did not happen there. That is certainly a problem in the game of perception. But against that tide, the mayor has stopped the use of its traditional slogan “City of Flowers”, which really did not excite much interest among global tourists. Today, Zamboanga City is “Asia’s Latin City”, thus positioning itself as another exotic destination for the traveller looking to Asia for an experience of that “other-ness”.

Montalvan affirmed that Philippine cities must do no less stressing that slogans like “the friendliest city”, “city of bloom, blossom and boom” or the “city of smiles” “simply tell us that we have yet to step into the global dimensions of the game.”

“We have yet to learn the ropes. Our slogans address only the local, not the global. We have yet to see that an expanding global inter-connectedness is opening up to new local meanings, self-images, representations best played in a competitive global arena”, the columnist said adding though that aside from the slogan there are other considerations that are equally critical.

Dr. Montalvan is a Ford Foundation scholar for the doctorate in anthropology on Mindanao Studies with the Mindanao Anthropology Consortium. He has written articles about Mindanao history and culture in academic journals and contributes a monthly column to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. — Sheila Covarrubias/City Hall PIO