Game Change: Keynote speech of DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. at the Ad Congress

Here is the keynote speech of DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. during the Ad Congress in CamSur

Good morning everyone!

It’s good to be home.

I have been away for close to three months but I feel like I have been on a very long journey with many new experiences.

You could say that I have had a very direct taste of GAME CHANGE.

That is why I come to you today with a very valuable insight I have gained in the past months in my job as Tourism Secretary.

I have learned that IT IS FAR EASIER TO BE THE ONE TO CHANGE THE WAY THE GAME IS PLAYED than to simply be the one who plays the CURRENT game well.

The way the tourism game is played in the world places financially-challenged countries like the Philippines at a tremendous disadvantage. First, the countries with money have the resources to build infrastructure that makes it absolutely comfortable for tourists to visit and affords them seamless movement from airport to hotel to tourist spot and back. Second, the relative affluence of these societies allows them to create an image of wonder and spectacle, safety and security – something which tourists value a lot.

Third, the greater resources allow our competition to invest in key targets by keeping their pricing competitive.

Better facilities.
Better image and security.
Better pricing.

All these strengths will be extremely difficult for the Philippines to generate in the immediate future. Renovating our NAIA airports alone will take the better part of two years. And security, well, you know we have issues on this subject. Better pricing? Our pricing strategies are disorganized to say the least. Some areas we’re cheap and other areas we’re the most expensive.

Meantime, we’ve got to bring tourist arrivals up to generate the kind of income and employment that it will take to make us even more competitive – if we play the game the way the game is currently played. But we can’t afford to do that. Which means……we have to work with what we’ve got.

To succeed, we have to change the way the game is played.

Let us begin by agreeing on one idea:



It is a place to be if you are tired of the impersonal lifestyle that so much of the world has fallen into.

It is the place to be if you seek adventures in Nature where the most incredible and unique vistas and wildlife still abound.

It is the place to be when you want to find new friends who seek only your friendship in return.

It is the place to be if you are ready for lots of dancing, singing and reverie.

It is the place to be if you want to reconnect with values of family, friendship and faith that much of the world seems to have forgotten.

It is the place to be to feel alive again.

Working with what we know for sure we can promise not tomorrow but today will motivate us to change the way the tourism game is played.

It instructs us to focus on the emotive rather than just the cognitive elements in travel and tourism.

It reminds us that the key to successful marketing in any endeavor is DISTINCTIVENESS and UNIQUENESS.

If infrastructure was the most important component, Singapore and not Malaysia and Thailand would have more tourists.

TO CHANGE THE WAY THE GAME IS PLAYED we have to use what we have in Media strength. Competition has all the money to spend on advertising above and below the line, we have something even more potent: over 12million Filipino workers overseas, 27 million Pinoys on facebook and 10 million on Twitter.

More than any other country in Asia, the Philippines has the power of BUZZ and BUZZ CREATION beyond anything our competition can generate. It is our intention via the internet to harness this power by equipping as many Filipinos here and abroad with simple tools in images and words to sell the Philippines as the ideal tourist destination.

To achieve this, we will count on a resource we never realized we had before: Filipinos with an overwhelming love of country.

Which simply means that the most significant game-changing move for Philippine tourism will be this:

The game changer will be a campaign that will have a central strategy executed and propagated by millions of active, enthusiastic Filipinos who feel they have the power to persuade people to visit their country as tourists. Much of it will be brilliant and unexpected, some probably humorous and light-hearted, a few even loud and unsettling but all of it, ALL OF IT, heartfelt.

Such is the case of Come Visit My Philippines, a picturebook story on Facebook, founded by one Filipino- Bessie Badilla just last September. Today CVMP has 27,000 members . That’s 27,000 tourism agents right there.
President Noynoy Aquino was right when he agreed to the notion that “Tourism is the people’s business.” It is the cue to the insight that led us to the true game-changer idea we have today: A GENUINE TOURISM CAMPAIGN IS A PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN.

When you get right down to it, this game changer can be utilized for all brands facing financial and logistical challenges. Some people say, it is an insight gained by those who have lived through and thrived in the era of PEOPLE POWER.

People Power prepared us for the work we need to do today. For in the face of great challenge we have no one else to turn to but each other; no one else to trust but our fellow man. People Power at EDSA was but the launch of an era that unfolds before us today. That of millions of Filipinos, critically and emotionally connected to each other and the world expressing their views; causing trends; raising funds, making a difference and doing it in great numbers.

We are natural game changers, because we cannot play the game the way the rest of the world plays it.
We will be successful game changers because we have the courage and the smarts to work with what we’ve got.
I congratulate the organizers of this Advertising Congress for selecting this theme, for it is truly relevant and timely. It is a theme that commands attention because it provokes thought. It compels us to ask the most basic questions about ourselves and the organizations to which we belong. And, by its very implication, it places us in a COMPETITIVE frame of mind. This attitude has been long in coming to the Filipino people. For many years, we played the game against each other — Filipino against Filipino in a bloody battle for survival year on year. We create plans to compete domestically and we set benchmarks based on local competition.

We never really changed the way we played the game because we never had to – until we are faced with competition from outside our shores. Well friends, make no mistake about it, the rest of Asia is poised to compete and they will not hesitate to seize market share at our expense.

Allow me then to leave you with this thought:

The Philippine Advertising and Marketing community is definitely the oldest and most experienced such community in this part of the world. Manila was a television market even before some countries in Europe.
It is, therefore, fair to say, that we are part of the bunch of professionals who set the rules of the game in Asia.

Well, it’s time to change the rules again.


Make this Ad Congress count.

Congratulations, again at maraming salamat po!