The Philippines’ majesty in moving pictures

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Tourism Promotions Board recognizes 10 location films promoting top destinations

Besides capturing viewers’ imagination and providing entertainment, movies through history have effectively helped place beautiful destinations on the map, and boost a country’s tourism.

Take for example “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which not only made a star out of Elijah Wood, but also turn the remote pastures of New Zealand into the popular destination that is Hobbiton, attracting thousands of fans from around the world every year.

Then there’s the original “Tomb Raider,” starring Angelina Jolie, which transformed the once isolated Angkor Wat in Cambodia to one of the most visited tourist spots in Asia.


The Philippine movie industry, of course, has not been left behind in capturing the beauty of its best destinations in moving pictures, beginning with—in recent memory—the 1991 Dawn Zulueta-Richard Gomez starrer “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit,” which uncovered the breathtaking sights of Batanes amid a an epic love story; as well as the 2014 sleeper hit, “That Thing Called Tadhana,” that summoned heartbroken millennials to picturesque Sagada.

Given this undeniable power of movies, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), headed by actor Cesar Montano, has officially recognized the industry of Filipino films as an ally in boosting tourism across the country, and as such mounted the Cine Turismo Awards to acknowledge 10 titles, which effectively spotlighted Philippine destinations in their productions.

“Film tourism is a steadily growing industry in the country, which is why we created this project to acknowledge the many films and filmmakers that, through their wonderful portrayals of the Philippines, have aroused interest and boosted tourism in local tourist spots,” expressed Montano, whose official title is TPB Chief Operating Officer.

Held at Diamond Hotel Manila on March 15, Montano said that each honoree was chosen based on the following criteria:

“It is a full length film made by a Filipino production house, and commercially released or featured in an international film festival within the last two years;

“It showcases the [chosen Philippine]destination extensively;

“It portrays the country in a positive manner, provides a general awareness of the locale, created a positive impact on the community and perception of its people, and inspired the viewer to visit the country.”

Majestic 10

Among the 10 movies honored that afternoon was Ice Idanan’s 2016 road drama film “Sakaling Hindi Makarating.” The Alessandra de Rossi-starrer featured the less popular destinations of Ilocos, Siquijor and Zamboanga del Norte.

“I’ve been to those places and I chose locations that are hard to go to at bihirang-bihirang puntahan ng mga tao dahil hindi sila sikat like Cebu, Boracay or Palawan,” Idanan noted on her choice of locations.

Also honored was Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s 2016 advocacy film “Lakbay2Love,” starring Dennis Trillo and Solenn Heussaff, featuring Benguet.

“It is awesome when we hear people recommending our film to those who want to see how beautiful the Philippines can be. Along the way we hope the story communicates to viewers the need to take care of such beauty,” the director shared.

Nerissa Picadizo was also recognized for her 2017 movie “Requited” starring Jake Cuenca and Anna Luna. She in fact found inspiration for her main character in Mt. Pinatubo.

“My protagonist Matt’s personality is like that of Mt. Pinatubo. He was once a beast of nature, yet he mature into a beautiful soul,” she said of her backdrop.

Meanwhile, Thop Nazareno who shot his hit Cinemalaya entry “Kiko Boksingero” in Baguio shared, “Baguio is very cold; walang masyadong tao, tahimik. Nakakadagdag sa longing ni Kiko yung lamig and isolation.”

Finally, director Bona Fajardo of the 2017 rom-com “I Found My Heart in Santa Fe” tapped local talents from the underrated Cebu island to work alongside his stars Will Devaughn and Roxanne Barcelo.

“Lahat po sila sa Manila nagtataka bakit dalawa lang ang artista. Pero hindi nila nararamdaman na dalawa lang sila when we began our shooting, which means nagbe-blend sila ng tama with the local talents,” Fajardo noted.

Jericho Rosales in 2017’s ‘Siargao’

The rest of the films included in the honor list were: Irene Villamor’s comedy-drama “Camp Sawi” set in Bantayan Island in Cebu; Victor Villanueva’s Jaclyn Jose-starrer “Patay na si Hesus” set in Dumaguete and Cebu; Mario Cornejo’s “Apocalypse Child” which featured surfing capital Baler; Paul Soriano’s first Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Siargao” which showcases the island of the same name; and Zig Dulay’s Zambales-centered “Paglipay.”
Special citations were also given to South Korean films “Mango Tree” which was shot in Cebu, and “Romantic Island” which captured the beauty of Boracay.

Win-win

An attached agency of the Department of Tourism, TPB only hopes for positive effect from Cine Turismo on both the movie and tourism industries of the Philippines.

TPB COO Cesar Montano and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo (center) with the honorees of ‘Cine Turismo’ FACEBOOK PHOTO/REQUITED

“It is our goal that Cine Turismo will encourage more filmmakers and production outfits to follow suit and become active partners in shaping positive partners of the Philippines through the medium of film,” Montano additionally said in his speech.

“I also hope that this initiative will fuel our local government units to put their best foot forward dahil may kakayanan po ta­yong lahat na maipakita sa buong mundo kung gaano po kagagaling ang Pilipino at kung gaano kayaman ang Pilipinas,” he ended.

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