"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Having More Fun in the Philippines?

Is it really more fun in the Philippines or is the predatory corporate culture spoiling whatever fun the tourist enjoys?

“It’s More Fun in the Philippines” shouts the slogan in bold letters plastered on billboards, buses, magazines and even on television to attract victims’ errr tourist to come to the Philippines seems to be a good slogan for fun loving tourist.
Fun is good until you learn that the predatory nature of some of the business enterprising, I meant enterprises are more geared towards their predatory orientation than service oriented victimizing rather than catering to tourist. This is where the fun part gets kind of murky or tricky at this point because if the tourists are not exactly careful the predators will be the one having fun on them rather than the tourist having fun.

In order to have fun first time tourist need to feel secure but seeing so many uniformed guards armed with high powered firearms in almost every establishment even in small stores is not exactly reassuring that there is peace and order. Never mind that people needed employment and those tourists are not aware that these prone to abuse guards by the likes of parasol loving drizzle allergic will melt if he gets wet mayor of Makati are paid slave wages thus there are a good number of them guarding almost every nook and corner of the city.

It is bad enough that crossing the streets of the Philippines is like having a death wish or giving you the feeling you are the frog in a computer Ribbit game of crossing the street trying not to get run over but the sidewalks are even worse. Most of the sidewalks are narrow leaving pedestrians with no choice but to walk the streets and with maniacal drivers with no respect for human life especially of others you run the risk of getting run over. Sadly most sidewalks are not exactly pedestrian friendly making it a hazardous trek where you have to always look down in order not to fall in manholes and other holes of different sorts with missing cover because scavengers steal them and sold as scrap metals. If that is the kind of fun that tourism promoters in the country are thinking of then they are missing the point.

Tourist has to walk a lot and commute a lot. Unfortunately commutes can get expensive due to dishonest cab drivers literally taking people for a ride. Going out of the city like Makati to just Sucat, Paranaque can get expensive because there are so many tolls that run a short distance that one feels like they are in a never ending fleecing station after the other. Short commute in a taxi is no better because either the taxi driver is dishonest with rigged meter that seems not to know where they are going even though they have been there all their lives but still “clueless” on directions. Filipinos are known for being directionally challenged that asking for direction will result in more confusion since it is almost impossible to get one accurate direction even from tong collector errr I meant parking fee collector. Yeah, can you believe they have people collecting parking fees instead of parking meters on the street even though we have a taxi driver sitting in his cab which is technically not parking and yet they insist on fleecing you with their parking fees? At least google maps can be accessed in the Philippines, it is a tremendous help in getting you from place to place in a maze like streets of Metro Manila.

Of course some emotional onion skinned card carrying Filipino pride groups will counter that we can’t expect the country to be perfect because they are a developing nation. Sure, but have we ever think or consider that the mess we are in was the result of so many decades old corruption so pervasive that is now been institutionalized?

Widespread institutionalized corruption is a major factor in dumbing down the people into having a skewed mentality resulting in lack of discipline and worst having the same predatory mentality as the corrupt politicians and the bureaucrats down to public clerk workers even seeping in on private enterprises all the way down to their employees.

Traveling can be stressful especially in airports where time is of the essence not wanting to miss your flights and get stranded in the process. It does not help that incompetence really manifest itself at the disorderly system in the Philippine international airport. I never want to fly PAL (Philippine Airlines) when Lucio Tan a former Marcos crony took it over and their bad rap that really discourage me to take their flight. Since this Aquino administration seems to be serious in combating corruption I decided to take a short flight out to Bangkok and see if it has improved since they are part and parcel of the administration's campaign to attract more tourist.

Never again will I fly with PAL!

Despite having business class tickets the PAL counter personnel charged us for excess baggage because the limit she used was for domestic flight. Now how stupid is that, and since when did Bangkok in Thailand ever became domestic much less became a Philippine city that we were treated like a domestic passenger? This even if their website specifically stated the weight limit and guess what was her rationale for charging or should I say victimizing us with excess baggage weight fee when our luggage conform to the stated limit on their website? She says because we used a different airline in flying to Manila that we are like getting penalized for not using PAL. Now what kind of stupid reasoning was that?

Normally when you are going out of the country the tendency is to get rid of the currency since you have no more use for it and changing the depreciated peso outside the country makes you lose more in the rate of exchange. As if to make it even more unpleasant this counter person will not accept US currency forcing one to either use credit card or exchange dollars at the airport where the rate of exchange is not exactly favorable.

Trust is hardest to come by in a society where corruption is rampant and as a rule predators are the ones that has a problem trusting people. Not content with giving us a hard time when holders of business class ticket are accommodated with excellent customer service by other airlines this PAL counter person probably enjoys every minute of agony she subject us, she flexed her muscles by telling us to pay travel tax first before she gives us our boarding pass.

The incompetence at the NAIA never ends.

After getting our boarding pass we were just so glad to get out of that counter and yet the disorderly management of the airport that should serve as the last gateway to showcase the desirable Filipino cultural trait, so outbound tourist leave with a lasting positive impression, only exacerbated the already bad experience they have encountered. A few decades ago lines are non-existent in the Philippines but now that there is a line where people cue to do their business. Now, there seems to be a line obsession that instead of incorporating the terminal fee on the airline ticket all passengers must cue again on another line to pay that pesky terminal fee. A fee that other countries don’t bother collecting when they even have state of the art airports compared to the crappy NAIA ugliest in the world airport. Then you have to go on another line for immigration, now why can’t they have a sign so passengers knew exactly where to go or how about the guards telling people what those lines are so no one gets confused in cueing on the wrong line?

These people at PAL really need to get some more training on customer service or do they even have a clue what it is? I expect good service and more so if I am on business class which any reasonable passenger do but instead of good service PAL chose to be a jerk like predator and separated us on our seats. It’s not like we are a freebie passenger, we are a paying passenger thus we expect the same excellent service we get from other reputable airlines of which PAL seems to be not. Anyway, their predatory manner of treating a victim errr customer just gave me more insights on the Caucasian passenger we were seated with and both of them just like us had the same bad experience and poor service with PAL that they told us they will never return to the Philippines. If they vowed not to return they will of course not recommend the Philippines as a tourist destination and worst may even dissuade people they know not to go to the Philippines. There goes the slogan of “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” How the employees conduct themselves surely reflects the kind of corporate culture they have and it is definitely not service oriented.

No wonder the Philippines is having a hard time meeting the 5M target arrivals for the year 2013 with just 11.+% yearly increase. In comparison Thailand has close to almost 30M arrivals for 2013 and they are even disappointed at not reaching 30M when they are just a few thousand less on their targeted number. English is not widely spoken in Thailand unlike in the Philippines and yet our tourist arrivals are a puny dismal just almost 5M. When I left Thailand I almost never want to leave and now that I am home I am yearning to come back as soon as I can and sadly I can’t say the same about the Philippines.

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