Tourism Promotion

Manila Bulletin, January 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Tourism Promotion


On Monday, we arrived home from a long weekend in Hong Kong, a long-planned family weekend before our children head out searching for their place in the world.This was an opportunity to have our youngest children together for several days stringed together, and to share multiple meals - exotic, sensory festivals punctuated with fine wines and excited conversations - together for what might be one of the last times in quite some time.Hong Kong is a default destination for short, family trips. It's close, it's exciting, and it's world-class.While it's not inexpensive, shops are crowded this time of year because of dramatic clearance sales in preparation for warmer weather.The weather is still cold and the air is dry. The city hums along with its usual efficiency, and clerks, waiters, and other service personnel are polite, smiling, and welcoming. During our short stay, the papers were largely unconcerned with the Philippines. Instead, local issues such as the retrial of accused expatriate milkshake murderer Nancy Kissel, the development of neighboring Shenzhen, and attempts by property developers to reverse new rules on flats meant to cool speculation dominated the papers. Except for one item I spotted by Manila-based South China Morning Post correspondent Raissa Robles.Headlined, "Sun, sea but no sex, please, on Boracay," the report suggested that "nothing goes" on the island paradise known for "everything goes" around the world.According to Ms. Robles, Malay town councilor Jonathan Cabrera has filed a proposal to ban "indecent acts" on "the beach, shores, in vegetation, roads, forests, rivers, caves, public buildings, public utility vehicles, sea craft and other places where intercourse would be seen by the public." Mr. Cabrera's proposal was prompted by broadcast footage clandestinely filmed by a television crew of two foreign couples "being intimate in public on New Year's Day." From what I understand, the couples had sought out remote stretches of beach in the hours after midnight and were followed by the television crew, apparently because they suspected the couples would provide some spicy material.A separate clip "showed a barebreasted woman embracing her male partner atop a rock formation that had been turned into a Catholic grotto with a Virgin Mary statue." Although Boracay depends on foreign tourists for its livelihood - more than half a million a year according to Ms. Robles - the clips and the sensational reporting that accompanied them raised the ire of conservative local residents who want Boracay to be branded as a family destination.That will be quite a transition. Boracay was "discovered" by backpackers 30 years ago by Europeans who routinely spent time on the island's magnificent white-sand beach au natural. …

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