Let’s label the entire Philippines!

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.

CAPTION IN INQUIRER WEBSITE READS: HOLLYWOOD, HOLY COW! This is how Taal Volcano would look from the Tagaytay ridge once a giant “Batangas” sign is put up on the island as approved by the Hollywood-inspired Batangas provincial government. The idea was conceived by movie star-Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE GOVERNOR OF BATANGAS
CAPTION IN INQUIRER WEBSITE READS: HOLLYWOOD, HOLY COW! This is how Taal Volcano would look from the Tagaytay ridge once a giant “Batangas” sign is put up on the island as approved by the Hollywood-inspired Batangas provincial government. The idea was conceived by movie star-Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE GOVERNOR OF BATANGAS

 

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:

Let's label the Philippines | Photo shared from Jim Paredes' Facebook post
Let's label the Philippines | Photo shared from Jim Paredes' Facebook post

 

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:

A "Hollywood-ized" Philippines from the air
A "Hollywood-ized" Philippines from the air

Niña Terol-Zialcita

Niña Terol-Zialcita is a “Communicator, Connector, idea Curator, and Changemaker” who uses the power of words and ideas to advocate causes and promote the Philippines at its best. She is ProPinoy.net’s Deputy Editor, as well as Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler, the longest-running travel magazine in the Philippines. When she is not writing, blogging, or traveling, Niña is conducting writing workshops with Writer’s Block Philippines, hanging out at art galleries and cafés, and performing poetry with her husband, percussionist and performance artist Paul Zialcita. She is also the author of the book "[r]evolutionaries: The new generation of Filipino youth and youth organizations".

  • Abenamer

    lets label RP as PH, Pahinge naman oh. why no article about basilan ? ha Pro Pnoy ABNOY.

  • GabbyD

    to be serious a moment, i think santos and leviste’s underlying problem is a good one, and its faced by all regions that wants to be known for a natural wonder. 

    all local governments want to attract and increase its tourism profile i.e. to be known as the place where tourism spot X can be found. 

    for example, its not enough that yosemite is in the US. it must be known that it is in California. 

    they want to be known as the place where the taal lake/volcano can be found. the problem is that the most famous view is in cavite (tagaytay).

    so its kinda like the niagara falls, the group of falls that lies in both ontario and NY.

    a hollywood sign isnt a good idea. but its still interesting to think about how batangas can increase its tourism mindshare by being linked w taal…

  • Lindo Manalang

    I am a bit out of touch.  Will somebody tell me what “bopels” mean?

  • Manuelbuencamino

     I want some of whatever it is Vilma and Mark are smoking!!!

    • Nina Terol Zialcita

      **LOL**

  • Anonymous

    Nina, ano sa Tagalog ang ‘tacky’?

    So Leviste’s answer to the volcano often being “mistakenly identified as part of Tagaytay, a mountain resort city which offers a picturesque view of Taal” is to WRECK the “picturesque view”?

    Galing!

    They could be even more eplicit and add a subheading “NOT in Tagaytay, nyah nyah nyah.” And the sign could even be free if they allowed a sponsor… I’m thinking something elegant like a brand of alcohol or maybe a per-hour motel…

    We lived in Lipa City for a year and took frequent trips to Taal, and enjoyed the beauty from all angles: Tagaytay, Taal, you name it. I shudder to think of it being desecrated in this senseless manner.

    The Hollywood sign (also a silly, tacky bit of nonsense) is set on a scruffy hill outside of Hollywood. It is not set up over a famous theater, not does it cover up the Walk of Fame or a major studio. And it was erected as an advertisement for a new real estate development called “Hollywoodland” (then unknown) in 1923. It was not created after the fact to promote what we now think of as Hollywood. Part of its supposed appeal is its quirky, serendipitous history.

    The other comments here are spot-on that Taal does not belong to Batangas, other than as a coincidental placement inside of a political district. It is a national–make that WORLD–treasure. Batangas should play up its beauty
    and uniqueness, and provide world-class tourism amenities, rather than merely crow about the location.

    I hope the voters and community at large will make enough noise to stop this nonsense before it’s too late. Thanks for making noise, N!

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of some other places we can label in case this wave of nonsense really catches on, eh!

    Ayaw n’yo ga?

  • Guest

    Nina, ano sa Tagalog ang ‘tacky’?

    So Leviste’s answer to the volcano often being “mistakenly identified as part of Tagaytay, a mountain resort city which offers a picturesque view of Taal” is to WRECK the “picturesque view”?

    Galing!

    They could be even more eplicit and add a subheading “NOT in Tagaytay, nyah nyah nyah.” And the sign could even be free if they allowed a sponsor… I’m thinking something elegant like a brand of alcohol or maybe a per-hour motel…

    We lived in Lipa City for a year and took frequent trips to Taal, and enjoyed the beauty from all angles: Tagaytay, Taal, you name it. I shudder to think of it being desecrated in this senseless manner.

    The Hollywood sign (also a silly, tacky bit of nonsense) is set on a scruffy hill outside of Hollywood. It is not set up over a famous theater, not does it cover up the Walk of Fame or a major studio. And it was erected as an advertisement for a new real estate development called “Hollywoodland” (then unknown) in 1923. It was not created after the fact to promote what we now think of as Hollywood. Part of its supposed appeal is its quirky, serendipitous history.

    The other comments here are spot-on that Taal does not belong to Batangas, other than as a coincidental placement inside of a political district. It is a national–make that WORLD–treasure. Batangas should play up its beauty and uniqueness, and provide world-class tourism amenities, rather than merely crow about the location.

    I hope the voters and community at large will make enough noise to stop this nonsense before it’s too late. Thanks for making noise, N!

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of some other places we can label in case this wave of nonsense really catches on, eh! Ayaw n’yo ga?

    • Nina Terol Zialcita

      Super late reply, but thanks for your comment!

      Unfortunately, I don’t know what “tacky” is in Tagalog. =/

  • Resty Odon

    taal volcano belongs to all filipinos not just to batanguenos

  • Vilma Santos’ proposal is to erect a signage “ALA, EH” (not BATANGAS), which is as senseless as the proposal itself.

    • GabbyD

      but you know what would be cute? 

      if they could make it out of fishpens… ! seriously, that’ll be interesting.

      and they can change it everyyear (i’m guessing fishpens are mobile)

  • GabbyD

    Whats the problem with the sign, in principle? for example, is the hollywood sign wrong?

    the only problem i have is that why “batangas”? it should spell Taal.

    • Nik

      Because it’s damn ugly and essentially degrades the primary attraction of Taal Volcano: The unique and unadorned ecological vistas.

      The Hollywood sign is a different animal, Hollywood developed around that sign. Aside from the fact that the area is basically featureless. This is another matter. The environment is the attraction, we should doing more to preserve that, as opposed to interfering with it.

      • GabbyD

        nik, the  distinction (natural attraction vs not natural) u make here makes sense. thanks.

        • Nik

          Hey Gabby,

          Thanks!