This is the question—and the challenge—the Philippines Department of Tourism poses in their latest campaign, which is fast becoming the DOT’s most-watched video on its Tiktok account.
Without the actors and the typical sweeping scenery audiences have come to expect from tourism spots, this ad focuses on what’s truly important: the people.
“What makes it more fun in the Philippines are the people, the manongs, the bangkeros, the waiters and the tourist guides, and we wanted to highlight them,” says director Joel Limchoc. “I really didn’t want another drone shot.”
The direction of this campaign reflects the people-centered recovery initiatives that former DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat has implemented in response to the needs of a battered sector, one that employed 13.5 percent of the national workforce before the pandemic. “The soul of the tourism industry lies with the people we serve and whose lives we aim to uplift through tourism,” said Puyat.
The resulting production is a collaboration between different artistic disciplines that showcases the diversity of local talent. With an original and unique score by electronic duo Rubber Inc, complex dance choreography involving 50 dancers led by Madge Reyes, and detailed airbrushed paintings by street art groups Pilipinas Street Plan and Gerilya, “People” is one of the most conceptual Philippine tourism commercials to be shot inside a studio.
The ad also eschews the use of a pop song, which has been a notable element of previous DOT ads. “Most of it is ‘found sound’ which we previously recorded on our trips around the Philippines filming the ASMR videos,” says Noel de Brackinghe of Rubber Inc, who produced the score. The sound of waterfalls, crashing waves, footsteps over a forest floor, and vehicular traffic were layered with the T’boli instrument hegelung and vocals from Carol Bello of Pinikpikan to create a catchy song composed primarily of sonic material captured from destinations all over the country. Recorded using Ambisonics, the binaural version of the spot offers a more immersive spatial audio experience when listened to with headphones.
Working with this soundtrack, dance and multimedia artist Madge Reyes designed choreography for a diverse group of dancers including a contemporary dance troupe, university cheerleaders, and one pole dancer, with the aim of creating a human tableau that resembled Philippine landmarks. “I’d like to think dance is a crucial part of this ad,” says Madge. “This project has such a positive and inclusive outlook for the dance community and I’m proud to have a say in it.”
The final artistic piece of the puzzle is the murals artistically placed on the bodies of the dancers. Twenty airbrush artists from Pilipinas Street Plan and Gerilya painstakingly spray painted iconic Philippine scenes directly onto the costumes as the dancers held their poses—no special effects were involved as the dancers moved together to form human tableaus of the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Kawasan Falls in Cebu, Fort Santiago, Mayon Volcano, surfing, and the Monkey Eating Eagle.
“The People Make the Destination” – the video is a tribute to the tourism workers of the country. From supporting tourism workers during the pandemic, to safeguarding the environment for future generations to enjoy, the DOT under President Duterte focused on providing for the Philippines’ greatest natural resource: our people. They make the Philippines a more fun, festive, and fascinating place.
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