Monday, May 16, 2005


With world tourism figures going up, there is no way this small corner of our world will allow all that to pass us by. Armed with bloated national treasuries (for some, not all) and bursting with national pride (same, same. Just for some), Southeast Asian nations have invested heavily on aircraft, infrastructure and waved generous mileage points to tourists around the world.

They even have banded together to promote the ASEAN as one, uh, fabulous destination hub but which to choose from the ten (10) totally different choices from the ASEAN cafeteria? Here’s a peek at individual country tag lines.

Singapore: “Amazing Singapore”

Amazingly clean streets. Amazing museums (I never realized culture can be bought until Singapore came along). Fast claiming the crown as “Entertainment and Cultural Center of Southeast Asia” from the Philippines, thanks to the many Filipino entertainers working in the city-state. Amazing theaters (I can’t wait to get a whiff of that huge durian they call Esplanade) Amazing public transportation system (one card swipes in all of them).

Near-zero birth rates and boring sex lives, according to a recent survey. Amazing la?

Thailand: “Heaven on Earth”

Formerly ‘Amazing Thailand: Enjoy the Wonders of a Kingdom’ but the avian flu and tsunami changed all that. I guess dying on their white beaches is not exactly the Aussies’ idea of heaven. The Thailand Elite card? Well, only if you can afford it. Phat Pong? Now we’re talking!!!

Malaysia: “Truly Asia”

Meaning what, exactly? I thought individual country personality is what tourists are after. Better change it to MalASIA.

Cambodia: No need. Just say Angkor Wat, and they’d come.

Republic of Indonesia: No idea. Too many problems to think of tourism at the moment. I am pretty sure there’s more to Borobudur and Bali.

Vietnam: No idea. Wonderful airline though. Cheers!

Myanmar: Has SEA’s largest collection of Buddhist temples but military regime isn’t helping bring tourists in. Maybe Suu Kyi has the secret formula tucked in her cell somewhere.

Laos: Sigh. Yes, over and above the mystical Mekong, there exists a national airline called Lao Aviation. Russian-made aircraft will definitely be the main selling point.
Say what??!

Brunei Darussalam: Passengers love to chip at the national airline’s ashtrays, wondering if these are actually made of real gold; otherwise, basing it on the trip Che-che Lazaro made there in her show, there’s not much to see beyond the Istana Nurul Iman (which was designed by a Filipino, by the way).

The Philippines: “WOW Philippines”

Formerly “Islands Philippines” but scuttled after realizing that 7,100 islands was just too much to offer the bewildered tourist (the theme song and video, however, was the best ever made of the country). Besides, more than half of those are pretty much inaccessible.

Focus is now limited to ten (10) points of destination which, surprisingly enough, still included Manila. Manila’s Pied Piper Carlos Celdran will give me his sternest glare at this but really, let’s just spare our tourists the trouble, okay?


Philippine Airlines changed its tagline five times in 15 years, from the late 80’s “Shining Through”, the 90’s “Wings for the Filipino” and “Flying High on 50”, pre-Asian financial crisis “Asia’s Sunniest” and today’s “It’s All About Experience”.

Other minor tag lines include the 60’s (?) “The Hong Kong Airline” when it flew its then-modern Vickers Viscount to the former Colony, and circa 70’s “The Last Great Bargain in the Orient.” Of course, nothing beats its original tag line: “Asia’s First Airline”, which was used at the height of its popularity, with routes covering almost half of the world.

No, “Plane Always Late” isn’t part of the official list. By contrast, Thai International Airways stuck with their “Smooth as Silk”, Singapore Airlines with their “What a Great Way to Fly”. The world’s favorite tagline, “The World’s Favorite Airline” of British Airways, remains to this day.

What got me falling of my chair was India’s Air Sahara tag, “Emotionally Yours.”

What the %$#@!!!!


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