In February 2015, Bang and I went to Cambodia to attend the 1st UNESCO / UNWTO World Conference on Tourism and Culture. We learned more about the collaboration and disconnect between the two of the countries that presented in the conference.
What’s the bottom line? In order to make tourism and cultural preservation to work, both the tourism and culture ministries of each country should work together. For most of the countries, these go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, the Philippine representative just ranted about the previous administration’s lack of commitment to integrate both the tourism department and the cultural sector. [Mind you, this was during President Aquino’s term, and the representative to the forum was not the DOT chair at the time].
I really wish that the Tourism and Culture departments in the Philippines would be one instead of having separate agencies or commissions that handle culture in the country. From what I have observed, tourism people are friendlier than the “culture people”. One other participant that I chatted with during the post-conference tour agreed with me.
I actually said hi to some Filipino attendees in the conference, but was turned-off with some of the snobbish elitist “cultured people” from Manila. The ones I’ve met who represents the North are very warm and accommodating. I want to visit them soon as I also want to promote their off-beat destination.
As a country and people, we have a long way to go before getting tourism and culture to go hand-in-hand. First, I wish that the elitist snobs from Manila realize that their Spanish-Colonial culture is not the most important culture in this country. That may be the most-documented, but the indigenous up North or Down South are the richest cultures that this country should understand and support.
The IP communities could use the help of tourism to contribute to their livelihood. But we all know that tourism can affect their culture, so there really should be a masterplan.
I’m not in a position to say what exactly needs to be done, but I understand that when money comes in, people change their behavior, their way of life. As much as we encourage support for education, this also creates a change in the outlook of the younger generation. Some lose interest in continuing the heritage and culture of an IP community.
I’m sure there are ways on how to make this work. I hope to learn and understand more.