This past arts month was a whirlwind of exhilarating cultural events! I believe the lifeblood of any destination is its distinctive culture and arts scene, which drives tourism as well. In her scholarly article, Yi-De Liu mentioned that “the increasing use of culture to market destinations is also adding to the pressure of differentiating regional identities and images. A growing range of cultural elements are being employed to brand and market regions (OECD, 2009). Through the development of cultural tourism, cities or regions can increase their attractiveness as destinations to visit, live and invest in enhancing their competitiveness.”
When it comes to culture and sustainability, I tend to recall Thomas L. Friedman and his discussion on the importance of country differentiation through the cultivation of local culture and arts. He warned against the indistinguishability of peoples, a major trend that globalization and the democratization of technology tend to generate. What would our global community be like, if everyone were the same? Luckily, I belong to a family of heritage stalwarts, and this arts month was indeed a busy but delightful experience for us.
Disenyo at Talento
My family of Filipiniana fanatics was in the thick of things, starting with “Disenyo at Talento” Talks on Inabel: An Emblem of Filipino-ness, at Tesoro’s Handicrafts in Makati, held February 18. As its mission is to preserve national heritage, Tesoro’s is very aware of the importance of driving tourism to increase profitability. My aunt, Maribel Tesoro, who has taken the reigns of my grandmother Salud Tesoro’s retail business of 71 years, said: “We had such a varied audience in our event, from loyal Tesoro’s patrons, to newly arrived expats, to the young and curious—all eager to know more about Filipino crafts, which Tesoro’s aims to sustain and support always.”
This form of ‘cultural regeneration’ includes cultural vibrancy, which, according to Yi-De Liu, “considers the vitality and sustainability of the cultural system and creative economy.” Tesoro’s also pursues cultural vibrancy by offering support to those who want to feature a new craft or heritage. For more details, please e-mail email@example.com
An Embroidery Exchange
An Embroidery Exchange held February 20-21 at Patis Tito Garden Café in San Pablo, Laguna, was the first ever collaborative encounter between the Tinggians of Abra and the embroiderers of Lumban, Laguna. Some 200 embroidery and textile enthusiasts from all-over CALABARZON and Manila attended the niche one-of-a-kind event. My mother, Patis Pamintuan Tesoro, conceptualized the program last Christmas when we visited the Tinggians in Abra. She reminisced with an old friend, Norma Agaid, matriarch of a clan of weavers and embroiderers, and saw the urgency of producing the cultural event. Soon after, she called on her loyal embroiderer, Alida Tagorda of Lumban, to bring her master artisans to showcase European-style hand embellishment on her favorite pineapple fabric. “I want to see if the Tinggians can acquire the finesse of Christian embroidery, while the Lumban women can learn how to stitch the Itneganimist symbols of frog, rice field, dancing man, spider, and star, and incorporate these in their work as well,” explains Patis, as she gave the objective of the two-day Embroidery Exchange.
And what an enriching experience it was! Yi-De Liu calls these occasions “creative spectacles” which “act as a concentrator in terms of time and space, forming important nodes in creative networks and providing a direct link between creativity and tourism.”
Manila Transitio 1945
Yi-De Liu further discusses cultural tourism in light of producing events: “Event tourism, a particular form of cultural tourism, experienced considerable growth in recent years. For tourism development, events are often seen as a solution to the problems of product differentiation and seasonality in an increasingly competitive tourism market. Furthermore, events can provide national and international exposure, which was sufficient to improve the image of the city as a tourism destination.”
My controversial cousin Carlos Pamintuan Celdran, performance artist cum Manila tour guide extraordinaire, staged his annual commemoration of the shelling of Intramuros: Manila Transitio 1945. In his view, the bombing of The Walled City is an atrocity caused by the Japanese-American war, which left Manila bereft of its heart and soul. Set in the enchanting Fort Santiago, the cultural tourism event held last February 27 was produced by Viva Manila, a not-for-profit organization, which aims to revitalize Manila through arts and culture. Now on its 7th year, Carlos is in awe of the increasing turnout of enlightened Filipinos and international tourists that flock to offer their personal intentions for his beloved Manila.
Know that cultural tourism not only runs in the blood of those who propagate it, as the need to express distinctiveness is present in all of us. Every human being must indulge in and celebrate what makes us different from one another, through the appreciation and understanding of each other’s heritage. This process of co-creation between guests and the cultural events is not only a driver of the experience economy, but is also a promoter of peace.
Paz Esperanza Tesoro-Poblador is a faculty member of the Marketing and Advertising Management Department of De La Salle University’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. She has a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management, and is currently taking her Doctorate in Business Administration. Her fields of interest are sustainable development, poverty alleviation, culture and heritage, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.