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It’s more fun hearing Aquino use new DOT slogan

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE President Aquino (right) talks to Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas (left) as man in middle business tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. wipes his brow during the groundbreaking ceremony of Philippine Academy for Aviation Training Inc. at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga on Tuesday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga—President Benigno Aquino III had fun with it, too.

For the first time, Mr. Aquino mentioned in a speech the government’s new tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” He wove it into his lines with relish—not just once, but four times.

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Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new aviation school here, the President played around the catchphrase as he formally welcomed the Canadian firm CAE as the partner of Cebu Pacific Air Inc. in establishing the Philippine Academy of Aviation Training (PAAT).

“I hope that you’re not too busy with work to experience for yourselves just how much fun it is indeed in the Philippines,” he said, drawing applause from the audience that included JG Summit chairman emeritus John Gokongwei Jr. and his son Lance, the airline company’s president and chief executive officer.

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“In the spirit of the campaign recently launched by our Department of Tourism, soon we will be able to say that even aviation training is more fun in the Philippines,” he later said.

The third mention came a few minutes later: “Rest assured that our administration will do what we can to make certain that companies—from both here and abroad—will continue to find good reason to invest here, (with) our highly qualified and talented personnel, a market that is beginning to realize its potential, and of course, the Filipino’s hospitality and light-heartedness. It is, as we say again, truly more fun in the Philippines.”

And then the fourth: “It is more fun in the Philippines, but we remain aware that achievements are built on hard work and excellence.”

Somewhere along the speech that lasted just a little over seven minutes, the President noted that the slogan “seems to be repeated often this day.”

And after making a segue to the slogan for the third time, he said: “I hope I earn my pay by Secretary Mon Jimenez today,” referring to the tourism chief who launched the now wildly viral marketing ploy on Jan. 6.

Best salesman

Jimenez, who was among the officials who accompanied the President here, was, of course, smiling ear to ear. “I think at a time like this when you have a good thing going, the President is your most important, most influential salesman,” he told reporters.

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The secretary observed that the President’s timing was “very appropriate” and that the spontaneity with which he delivered the line made it a powerful sales pitch.

“(President Aquino himself) enjoyed using it, as you can see,” he said.

In the speech, Mr. Aquino agreed with Jimenez’s earlier reckoning that selling the Philippines to tourists should be as easy as promoting a popular local brand of fast-food fried chicken, owing much to the country’s natural wonders and the cheerfulness of its people.

Sign of confidence

Mr. Aquino hailed the $50-million PAAT as an expression of confidence from companies like Cebu Pacific and CAE in the Filipinos’ talent and potential.

“[PAAT] effectively cements our position as a hub for aviation training in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

In praise of Cebu Pacific, the President said the budget airline had been “soaring from milestone to milestone,” referring to the 15 million passengers it served last year and now the establishment of the PAAT.

The school is the second Cebu Pacific project in Clark. The first was a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility inside the Clark Civil Aviation Complex.

Regaining FAA nod

The President also said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines remained focused on regaining its Category 1 status under evaluation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States.

“A positive outcome will result in the expansion of airline capacity, which will redound to a healthier aviation industry, more mobility for our people and ultimately a more vast and equitably progressive economy,” he said.

The next FAA audit is slated next month, according to Jimenez. “They will not audit you if you are not prepared,” he said.

The President also recounted how the country’s aviation industry had taken off since the first flight by Filipino pilots Ernesto Arnaiz and Juan Calvo from Manila to Spain in 1936 and the operation of its first terminal the following year.

Soar high

“In four-and-a-half years, I want our country to progress in the same way the aviation industry has done. What we want to do can be stated simply: We want to change the way this country works. We want to improve the lives of our people. And we want to put an end to corruption so that we can put an end to poverty,” he said.

“If we all focus, if we do things we can and need to do, no matter how small, if we always strive for excellence and we do not lose sight of our dreams for this country, then surely we can soar higher than we already have. This is our role and today we are a step closer to our shared aspirations of a progressive Philippines,” he said.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, DoT, Government, Tourism
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