I like labels. It caters to the obsessive-compulsive in me and it works to establish order and boundaries. One of my favorite childhood activities especially during the grade school years, was labeling all my school supplies using Dymo (revealing my age, yes) and those different colors of Dymo labels.
However, it is one thing to label personal property and another to label natural wonders and cultural treasures such as, say, a volcano. Especially if it’s the Taal Volcano–one of the Philippines’ most recognizable landmarks and considered a protected landscape by the UNESCO.
According to the entry on Taal Volcano in the UNESCO website:
Taal volcano has a unique geological history. Formation-wise, it cannot be compared with other volcanoes because it was formed through one major eruption at the center of the lake, and since the lake itself is the crater of a prehistoric volcano. The vista from the rim is unrivaled.
It bothers me to the core (pun intended), then, that a natural creation of unparalleled history might soon be subject to man’s clumsy hands and shallow reasoning, thanks to this Hollywood-esque suggestion by the Batangas Governor-Star for All Seasons herself, supported by Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste II.
This report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer stated that “Leviste said the signage would help establish the identity of the lake and volcano as part of Batangas—and not of Tagaytay City, which lies within the neighboring province of Cavite.”
“He said the volcano was often mistakenly identified as part of Tagaytay, a mountain resort city which offers a picturesque view of Taal,” the news report continued.
Is it really that big a deal where tourists think the Taal Volcano lies? Isn’t it that whatever income is derived from tourism goes to the correct provincial government anyway? Isn’t it true that, even long before the concept of branding became popular, tourists have been flocking to Taal Lake anyway–simply because of the way it was and how it looked? Wouldn’t it just be better to save the money that might otherwise be budgeted for the construction of this horrendous sign, for more important conservation efforts? What on earth are these government officials thinking??
And as expected, not long after news of this (utterly uneducated) proposal broke out on social media, memes have been coming out to show more Philippine landmarks being “labeled.” Check out this photo that I found on Facebook, thanks to Jim Paredes and many others who shared it:
A lot of us are laughing over this now, but it seems that the proponents of this preposterous idea are serious. And they intend to spend serious taxpayers’ money to erect a copycat sign that will supposedly “easily attract attention and even visitors to the area.”
So if we go by their logic, why don’t we just use the “Hollywood-izing” of our major tourist attractions a main tourism strategy? Yes, let’s go trigger-happy and label everything that we’d like to brand and promote! Maybe someday, this is the sight that will greet tourists before they land on Philippine soil: