Saturday, April 21, 2007

By Gonzalo “Jun” Policarpio


The Philippines, I proudly say, is as beautiful as Hawaii and other world-famous resorts in the Pacific, a thousand-fold more in her natural splendor. After a short 10-day vacation in my mother country, I am fully convinced that the tourism industry if properly managed and sufficiently financed would be able to generate enough revenues to alleviate the economic hardships being suffered by the Filipino people.

The discovery of a dead woman's body presumed to be that of a missing Peace Corp volunteer from the United States who traveled to see the famous Banawe Rice Terraces in the Ifugao region in Northern Luzon, one of the seven wonders of the world in natural beauty, may once again dim any hope of promoting the Philippines as a tourist spot unless it turns out be not a result of foul play. Aruba, once the most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean Region, is now being avoided by tourists because of an unsolved murder of a young woman while on vacation.

When we gladly accepted the invitation of my cousin to see her vacation home in Anilao, Batangas, another world-famous destination for scuba diving enthusiasts, she cautioned me not to get caught in darkness on our way back to Manila. We never had that travel advisory in Maui, Hawaii on our road back from Hanna.

We canceled our visit to Divisoria, a popular shopping center among Balik-Bayan bargain hunters to do a last minute shopping. The place is now becoming notorious for snatchers and pickpockets. My sister said she experienced a lightning-fast snatching of her earrings while shopping some months ago. Perhaps the new mayor to be elected next month can do something quick to solve the problem.

Hawaii is indeed one of the most prosperous states in our country mainly due to its tourist industry. The Philippines has the potential to reach a similar state of economic development and prosperity because of its abounding God-endowed natural beauty even surpassing the combined tourist destinations in the Pacific and Caribbean.

I believe the missing ingredients to achieve such a goal for the Philippines as a haven for tourists are Peace and Order and the Rule of Law. Also being endowed with rich natural resources, the Philippines comprising more than 7,000 islands if properly managed and developed to stop corruption in government would attract investors, both local and foreign, to launch an industrialization program that could convert such resources into money- money that should be used to cure the economic ills of the country.



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