Editorial: Let's not move on until we resolve this

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE City Government admits it had lapses in communication about media to its security personnel. That's good.

We have a problem here. This is not about media and non-media, this is not even about giving special treatment to members of the media. This is maximizing the tourism potential of each photograph and positive experience captured by all those who are here to capture those, whether these people be in media or not.

The miscommunication was obvious right at the very start because this is what the Davao City Information Office had as of August 11 for all those wanting to take photos of the festival.


"As of 2 p.m., we are no longer releasing sticker passes for hobbyist photographers as we have reached the maximum number of expected participants.

"To all the photographers who are inquiring if they could take photos or shoot even without the CITY GOVERNMENT-issued Kadayawan 2014 Stickers:

- Yes you can, but not in the Rizal Park Area.
- Yes you can shoot while the contingents of the INDAK-INDAK and PAMULAK KADAYAWAN are on the streets but you should not get in their way.
- Yes you can shoot from the sidelines or outside the barricades.

Yes, yes, yes. The city information office said. No. No. No, stupid, slow-witted you, no! The police officers shouted at every person unlucky enough to be caught holding a camera.

Actually, hearing the horror stories from photographers of all kinds, we see a systemic disgust for any camera-toting person who looks like a Filipino.

Now, this we have to really scrutinize because it points to one very major and disturbing reality and that reality is: authorities in Davao are ignorant about the tourism potentials of a memorable experience. Given that, we are indeed I’m great trouble.

Tourism is one industry that fans job and livelihood opportunities in measures greater any other industry and encourages good practices whether for the environment or from the citizenry because of the high standards and discerning tastes of the premium tourists - meaning those who spend real money and not those who just bum around barely spending anything. Think birdwatchers and wildlife photography, think ecotourism, this cultural tourism. All these seek to preserve what is innate and yet earn big dollars because this sector of the industry are peopled by those who are looking for what is unique in a place and would pay a premium to capture that.

That cannot be found in some rednecks, who may obviously look like a tourist because of the color of his skin, but will not care what is there for as long as the chicks and beer come cheap. You want premium tourism? Then get the premium tourists. But these people cannot be determined by the color of their skin, because they come from all over and are in one particular place to truly experience their destination's unique attributes.

But we have trained our front-liners only to be polite based on the color of a person's skin, while our officials only feel that they only have to make amends to the media and no one else. We do not train our front-liners, our security officers, and officials to appreciate the potentials every beautiful photograph captured brings. We fail to let our security officials know that they are there to protect us and not rule over us.

The battle against rude marshals is a long-standing problem, we learned, except that in this year's Kadayawan 2014, it has reached incredible levels because no less than the heads of security have joined the ranks of the uncouth: Public Safety and Security Command Center chief retired general Frank Villaroman on the frontlines of shooing away professional photographers from the front of the Rizal park Stage on Sunday, the Pamulak Floral Float Parade, and Police Supt. Royina Garma at the forefront of berating photographers in front of Marco Polo long before the Indak-indak sa Dalan started on Saturday. What does that say of our official's level of understanding what tourism is about?

This is the problem that should be addressed and resolved, and not some rubble-rousing, quick jump on the bandwagon collective howl against being called 'hipon'. Step No. 1: Teach security officers and personnel a lesson on basic courtesy. Step No. 2: Recognize the livelihood potential each lovely photo of the city that is shared to the world can bring.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 20, 2014.


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