Errol Abada Gatumbato

It’s more fun in the Philippines, the biodiversity perspective

Rina Bernabe de Alban Photo*

It seems the newly launched campaign slogan of the Department of Tourism, it’s more fun in the Philippines, is so far attaining one of its objectives in maximizing social media as a communication vehicle to popularize it. Just a few minutes after it was publicly released, it became a byword in Facebook and a worldwide trending topic in Twitter. Although not long enough and while many were talking about the launching, it was discovered, also in social media, that the slogan is not actually new, since exactly the same slogan was used by Switzerland on its tourism promotion in the 1950’s.  In spite the discovery of such similarity, the DOT campaign is now in snowball with social media users posting a lot of photos why it is indeed more fun in the Philippines.

Of course, the slogan did not come with all amusing reactions, but personally I am taking it positively, because it can be used not only in promoting the spectacular natural and cultural attractions, but including the amazing biological diversity of the country, as well. This new campaign of DOT is also capitalizing the generally friendly and fun-loving nature of most Filipinos.  I am hoping this new tourism campaign will likewise feature our numerous species of flora and fauna, many of which cannot be found elsewhere in the world.

Just try to imagine – the Philippines has two-third of the Earth’s biological diversity, comprising of at least 70 to 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species, according to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The country is considered as a paradise to more than 50,000 recorded species, and many more unknown and undiscovered species.  More than half of these recorded species are endemic to the Philippines.

Our nation is ranked 5th in the number of plant species and maintains five percent of the world’s floral resources. The PAWB further reported the endemic species in the country is relatively high with at least 25 genera of plants and 49% of terrestrial wildlife.  The report of PAWB claimed the country is ranked 4th in terms of the number of endemic birds, while there are about 121 endemic species of fish. We are also known as one the most important centers for amphibian and reptilian diversity in Southeast Asia, the PAWB reported. This is precisely the reason why the Philippines is considered as one of mega-diverse countries of the world. It is indeed more fun in the Philippines to discover these assorted life forms usually found in equally beautiful and scenic habitats that similarly await discovery.

Lory Tan/WWF Photo*

Popularizing the different endemic species shall be aimed in gaining more global conservation support, especially so that many of our endemic species are already classified as threatened species – meaning their population is getting limited and a good number is already at the brink of extinction in the wild. One of the products that maybe explored is the bird watching since we have plenty of colorful endemic birds. While the DOT has already launched a campaign for bird watching in the Philippines, we need to further maximize the potential of the country for this activity. We are in the best position to engage in this kind of tourism product because many of our islands are possessing island endemic birds.

However, once we embrace in an all out campaign for our endemic species, it is also necessary to strengthen our protection mechanisms because there are unscrupulous and uncaring business persons who are engaged in illegal wildlife trading. Some of our endemic species are targeted for trading due to their reported food and medicinal values, while there are also species used for other commercial purposes, like clothing, bags, shoes and other accessories.  The other important consideration in promoting our endemic species is to ensure the implementation of a much responsible tourism activity that would not in any way disturb the species and their habitats. Tourism related activities involving species should be designed carefully to promote and implement biodiversity conservation and not just for fun.


January 11, 2012 - Posted by | Biodiversity Conservation, Conservation Initiatives, Ecotourism, Species Conservation

1 Comment »

  1. It’s definitely MoreFunInThePhilippines if we also think Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel! The Philippines and Filipinos alike should also focus on Sustainable Tourism: satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities. It is managing our rich natural resources, in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs will be met, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and eco systems of our beach destinations and cultural heritage sites.

    The message is RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL: let us RESTORE, CONSERVE, and PROTECT our islands. Say NO to massive tourism and destruction, where careless and negligent travelers leave their trash, plastics and heavy impact to the fragile eco systems and deteriorating beaches.

    Comment by Sustainability Guru | May 14, 2012 | Reply

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