The beauty + happiness factor
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Rod Nepomuceno () - August 29, 2011 - 12:00am

My beer buddy Noel Lorenzana and I were having a drink a few weeks ago and we started talking about our favorite advertising campaigns of all time. Having been the top honcho at Unilever for almost 20 years, and now the president of Nutriasia (makers of UFC, Papa Ketchup, Mang Tomas, and Datu Puti), Noel could be considered a legend not only in the FMCG industry but also in Philippine advertising. The hugely successful Close-Up Lovapalooza campaign and electrically charged Rexona First Day Funk were his brainchild (or should I say, “brainchildren”?). 

We were swapping notes and generally just reminiscing about the golden age of advertising when suddenly, we paused for a bit and Noel said, “You know what I really like … and really miss? Philippines Airlines’ ‘Beauty of the Philippines’ campaign. I love that, man.” 

The moment he said that, I was sipping my beer, but I had to pause, wipe the froth from my mouth, give Noel a high five, and say to him, “Dude, now that was a campaign. I loved that ad.”  

Noel and I then spent the entire evening just talking about the ad: the way it was made, the dramatic slow-mo action, the cinematography, the catchy theme song … and, of course, the beautiful girls who were in the commercial, a couple of whom are our friends.

Noel then said, “You know, that should be the campaign of the Department of Tourism. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” And I must say, I have to agree with him. And you know, when someone with Noel’s stature says something like that, it should really be seriously considered. 

And why not? It’s hard to argue with it. The fact is, the number-one asset of the Philippines is its inherent beauty. There’s no question about it. Our beaches are the most awesome on the planet. Our mountain ranges are stunning (the Taal ridge never gets tiring and I heard Batanes is absolutely spectacular). The Pinoy smile is the most beautiful thing to behold. And our women … man, what I can say? We have the most beautiful women in the world. Bar none. Say all you want about these Brazilian and Eastern European models arriving in droves seeking modeling gigs here, but I still think Pinays are the best-looking. And I think a lot of Brazilian men and Eastern European men would agree with me, too.

Recently, I read in the portal “Good News Pilipinas” about Boracay being recognized as the fourth best island. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

“The sandy shores of Boracay Island in Aklan have once again been recognized internationally, this time when Travel + Leisure magazine ranked it as the fourth best island in the world in its annual ‘World’s Best Awards.’

“In Asia, Boracay is ranked second to Bali in Indonesia.

“It was the first time that Boracay was recognized by the magazine.

“The survey was conducted from December 2010 to March 2011. Readers voted and decided through Travel + Leisure magazine and, the magazine’s official website.

“The top choices are featured in the magazine’s August issue.

“Islands were evaluated according to their natural attractions, activities, sights, restaurants and food, visitors and natives, and their value for money, according to the website.

“Meanwhile,, a travel site that collates user-generated content, ranked the island the best beach in Asia and second worldwide in their 2011 ‘Traveler’s Choice,’ which is based on reviews submitted by travelers.

“As long as you visit during dry season, you’ll agree this is one of the best beach destinations in the world,” said

“Boracay is a favorite destination of local and international celebrities alike, with Glee star Mark Salling as one of the island’s more recent Hollywood visitors.”

When I was reading this article, two questions came to mind: the first was “Duh?” and the second was, “This is the first time Boracay was recognized by the magazine? Seriously?”   I couldn’t believe that. Boracay should have been on the list a long time ago. Recently, I was invited to Boracay by my good friend, PR master and guru Edd Fuentes. He booked me at his resort, Sun Village (you guys should check this resort out — it’s right in the middle of all the action, the rooms are very quaint and cozy, and they have the best Mongolian buffet I have ever tasted!). My wife and I had a fabulous time. I hadn’t been to Boracay in a long while, and when I got there, I was reminded of how much I’ve been missing. Now, a lot of people are complaining that Boracay’s become too crowded and commercialized, but I think that’s part of the charm. I went to Boracay in 1991 and there was nothing there.   We didn’t have electricity at night, and I remember my friends and I saying, “Wow, it’d be great if they had some stores here, and if there was electricity at night, and there was some nightlife.” So now that we have all of that in Boracay (and more), I am not going to complain. I wished for it. Part of the charm of Boracay is not just the inherent beauty of the island and the beach. It’s the beauty of the experience. I’m talking about the beauty that comes with the charm of the people who live and work there. And the beauty that comes out of the general happiness that pervades the island. You simply forget your troubles when you’re there. And that, to me, is where the beauty lies: the happiness.   I was in Cancun recently and the beach was nice. Five-star hotels lined the beach for miles. But one thing was lacking: the “soul.” It looked like a fun place. But it wasn’t happy. Boracay, on the other hand, was happy — 24 hours a day.

I think that was the charm of the whole Philippine Airlines campaign. It wasn’t the fact that the flight attendants in the ad were beautiful. Sure, they were. But it was the inherent happiness that they exuded.   That was what captured the eyes — and hearts — of the public. Last year the DOT launched an ill-fated campaign entitled “Pilipinas Kay Ganda.” Personally, I think it was in the right direction. I really do think we should hype the beauty of the Philippines because that is our biggest asset. But I think what “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” lacked was heart. It was too superficial. It focused on aesthetics. But the Philippines is beyond aesthetics. The beauty of our tourist sites, the beauty of our women, and the beauty of our smiles don’t lie in what you see outside. It’s what comes through that aesthetic beauty that matters. The beauty factor lies in the inherent happiness underneath. And that’s why “Beauty of the Philippines: Shining Through” made so much sense. And that’s why Noel and I think it will work again. It’s timeless.   PAL should really consider modernizing it, and using that campaign again. 

It worked then. And I am sure it will work now. Why? Because it’s advertising the truth. 

And no one can argue with the truth.

* * *

Thanks for all your letters, folks! You may e-mail me at

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