Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that is amazingly blessed with rich natural resources. White sand beaches, crystal clear lagoons, virgin forests that houses endangered species of various animals and even the recently claimed as one the 7 wonders of world Puerto Princessa Underground River can be found in the country. These natural wonders are more than enough to lure tourists to visit the country.
That’s why when reports came out that the country’s Department of Tourism (DOT) has been promoting the Philippines as the best destination for broken hearted or divorcees to move on with their lives, a lot of eyebrows were raised disapproving the marketing scheme.
“The Department of Tourism is treading on dangerous waters. Marketing the Philippines as a destination for divorcees is practically synonymous to marketing the Philippines as a destination for sex tourists,” says Luz Ilagan, a representative of a Filipino women’s group Gabriela.
“How exactly does the tourism department envision its role in promoting our country? You cannot promote the country as a place to comfort and console the broken hearted without bringing in Filipino women in the equation,” Ilagan added.
All of these started when DOT’s Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon Enerio III was quoted saying that among the targeted markets of the country’s tourism are those running away from domestic turmoil. “If we can be a wedding or honeymoon destination, we can also become a destination for those in search of personal fulfillment, including those… in flight from domestic turmoil,” Enerio said.
Gabriela strongly disagrees with Enerio’s point of view as they are much concerned on the protection of Filipinas who have become victims of the sex industry. Ilagan challenged the department to rethink its strategies as this divorcee marketing highlights their role in the perpetuation of sex tourism in our country.
Chris Bech once visited the country as a tourist. He married a Filipina and settled in the Philippines for good. He stayed not only because his wife is living here but he just fell in love with the country’s beautiful beaches. Chris Bech now promotes the Samar Islands and has been encouraging his fellow expats to stay in the country for a comfortable retirement. He is just one of those tourists who were encouraged to stay and invest simply because of the country’s natural resources and not because of the presence of its beautiful women.