MAPping the FutureColumn in INQUIRER
Crafting a genuine country brand: Unveiling the true Filipino identitywritten by Mr. JUNIE S. DEL MUNDO - August 7, 2023
Understanding our national identity isn’t always a straightforward journey. It’s like navigating a map with countless winding paths, each leading to different facets of what it means to be Filipino. A survey conducted this past June by the EON Group and Tangere set out to explore these paths, shedding light on our shared identity.
One key trait that surfaced was our knack for forming and maintaining relationships. According to respondents (1,381), Filipinos are experts in building connections, extending respect (1,373), and radiating warmth and friendliness (1,325). These qualities mirror our archipelagic nature, where the interconnection between islands is as significant as the land itself. These interpersonal strengths should be in front and center in our country’s brand, showcasing a nation as inviting as its people.
The survey also highlighted our resilience (1,294), a trait deeply ingrained in our history of overcoming natural disasters and political conflicts. This tenacity shapes our national character and distinguishes us on the global stage. It’s not just about bouncing back; it’s about growing stronger with each challenge, a quality that can lend strength to our nation’s brand.
History, as respondents agreed, plays a significant role in defining us as a people. A good number stated they have a fair understanding of our past (672), while a larger majority emphasized the crucial role of history in shaping our identity (1,120). An appreciation and understanding of our past, then, is vital to effectively capturing the depth and breadth of our country’s brand.
In terms of language, most respondents (1,095) agreed that Tagalog serves as a unifying force. Our shared language is an essential pillar of our national identity and needs to be given due recognition in our country’s brand.
National symbols, such as the Philippine flag, national anthem and traditional attire, were also seen as powerful expressions of our Filipino identity. Each symbol, resonating with our historical struggles and our shared sense of pride, should be central to our national brand.
Interestingly, respondents voiced concerns that the internet could dilute our national identity. This speaks to the challenge of maintaining our unique Filipino consciousness in an increasingly globalized digital landscape. It’s a call to ensure that our national brand retains its authenticity even as it evolves with the times.
The fluid nature of our identity was also recognized. Our identity adapts to societal progress, technological advancements and economic changes. This highlights the importance of remaining flexible, ready to adapt our national brand to these shifting landscapes while staying true to our core.
When it comes to reinforcing our identity, the suggestions were clear: invest in education about our history and culture, promote the Filipino language, preserve our traditions and support local industries. These insights provide us with a blueprint for a dynamic national brand—one that is a true reflection of us as Filipinos.
However, a significant gap remains. While we have a tourism slogan, it doesn’t fully encapsulate our country’s identity. Recognizing this gap, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has recommended the creation of a National Branding Council. This Council—representing various sectors like the academe, business, Church, media and government—can work together to build a brand that truly captures the essence of the Philippines and resonates globally.
Throughout my own journey in diplomacy and entrepreneurship, I have had the privilege of advocating for my country. I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact a well-crafted nation brand can have. Countries like Japan and South Korea have successfully utilized their national brands to capture global attention. The Philippines stands at the brink of a similar journey.
The proposed National Branding Council isn’t about fixing something that’s broken. It’s about enhancing and accurately reflecting our unique Filipino identity. The Council can serve as a platform for diverse voices to shape our image, ensuring our brand is comprehensive, inclusive and truly reflective of our nation.
Beyond logos or catchy slogans, our nation’s brand represents our diverse cultures, deep-rooted history and future aspirations. With a focused body like the National Branding Council, we can maintain a consistent, harmonious image to present to the world, one that captures the full richness of the Filipino spirit.
The time for a National Branding Council is now. It’s not just a strategic move; it’s a necessity. Such a Council can shine a bright light on our nation, showcasing a vibrant, resilient Philippines.
Let’s rally behind this vision and let the world see us as we truly are—a nation of extraordinary beauty, rich history and an unwavering spirit. Together, we rise.
(The author is chair and CEO of The EON Group and also chairs the Management Association of the Philippines Tourism Commitee. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.)