PH a ‘labor-exporting country’? Binay bothered by UK ad on Filipino nurses
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday raised a string of concerns about the seeming “disconnect” in the messaging of a new advertisement promoting the Philippines in London.
Binay, head of the Senate tourism panel, was bothered by an advertisement seen plastered on London buses, which features Filipino nurse May Parsons–the first to administer the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine. It also carried the words: “We give the world our best. The Philippines.”
I hope that by seeing this, my brothers & sisters, Filipino nurses, feel seen, not just in the UK but in the world.Let's get heard📢 Thank you @bongbongmarcos @govph @teddyboylocsin @philippinesinuk @filipinonurseuk @FSNA_UK @PNA_UKnurses @tinig_uk @LaureBeaufils @ukinphilippines pic.twitter.com/ux4q773dmn
— 💙💜💙May 💙💜💙 (@mayparsons) May 7, 2023
The senator hailed the effort to boost the Philippines’ image in the global market but said the advertisement might be sending a “vague” message.
She asked if it was meant to encourage tourists to visit the country, attract more foreign investments, or persuade hospitals abroad to hire Filipino nurses.
“Parang may disconnect ang messaging. Nakaka-bother lang when you see the ad, it seems that we are offering the world our nurses — which is a bit off kasi nauubusan na nga tayo rito ng mga health worker. We don’t want to commodify our people, and we don’t want to be tagged as a labor-exporting country,” Binay said in a statement.
(There seems to be a disconnect in the messaging. It’s bothersome because when you see the ad, it seems that we are offering the world our nurses — which is a bit off since we’re already running low on health workers here.)
According to the Ibon Foundation, the Philippines’ healthcare worker distribution in 2021 fell short of meeting the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The think tank said the country’s ratio of 17:1 healthcare workers for every 10,000 people was behind the WHO-recommended 44:5 ratio.
A new tourism slogan?
Binay sought to clarify if the advertisement was truly intended to benefit Philippine tourism.
“Sa unang tingin pa lang, ano ang konek ng nars, heringgilya at bakuna sa pino-promote nating mga tour destination?” she asked.
(At first glance, it begs the question: What is the connection of a nurse, syringe, and vaccine to the tourist destinations we’re promoting?)
While she recognized that the results of such an advertisement have yet to be seen, Binay pointed out that its messaging is already not aligned with the country’s goals for tourism.
“Ang tanong ko rin: Iyan na ba talaga ang ia-adopt ng Department of Tourism na bagong slogan? I’m still hopeful that DOT would consider deferring its rebranding plan. Instead, ipagpatuloy na lang natin ang ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ campaign and come up with fresh permutations of fun in the Philippines,” she added.
(Another question: Is this the new slogan the DOT hopes to adopt? I’m still hopeful that DOT would consider deferring its rebranding plan. Instead, continue the ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ campaign and develop fresh permutations of fun in the Philippines.)
Binay had previously sounded the call to defer the bid to rebrand the tourism slogan of the Philippines as she argued that the move could be costly.
The constant changing of the Philippine tourism branding may also be confusing for potential tourists, she added.
In the 2023 national budget, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed the item under the DOT Branding Campaign Program, which states: “…in no case shall the appropriations be utilized to change the tourism campaign slogan.”
It, in effect, clears the way for the DOT to do away with the slogan first introduced during the administration of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.