For the lack of a clever title and a cleverer pitch to begin this post, let me just go straight to the point and dive into a rough review of AIT, the tourism industry, Salimbay and what happened in the past academic year, and end on a note of prospects and my personal hopes for the institute.
We’re coming out. No, this isn’t some T-197 or gender-sensitivity inspired tag but an actual, and positive, assessment of how we have fared last year. Our institute teaches us about the second largest industry in the world, next only to oil, and as such, tourism is already a force to be reckoned with in defining world economics and politics.
However, in spite of this fact, the Philippine tourism industry has not yet actualized in the country’s collective consciousness as a major economic driver. Our government’s efforts have been less than enthusiastic at best, with the global campaign “It’s More Fun In the Philippines” not being adequately supported after its initial launch and boom in social media. Admit it, it just kinda died down, didn’t it? The majority of tourism schools in the country are still dominantly skills-based, which isn’t really a bad thing if you consider the sheer labor force that we need to support the private arm of the industry; the plethora of travel management companies, airlines, hotels and other establishments out there. But then again, what I’ve learned from AIT is that tourism as a whole cannot simply go on with skills training and repetitive work.
Tourism is so universal and powerful it’s almost scary. A lot of countries out there have GDPs that largely depend on the movement and purchases of tourists and travelers. For example, Italy and Spain depend on tourism for around a fifth (I’m not sure with the exact percentage; it might even be bigger) of the foreign currency that goes into their economic pool. Greece, facing terrible economic strain and austerity, is clinging to the Eurozone by just a whisker, and has integrated tourism into its national plan to lower deficits and pull itself out of poverty. At least this is what their leaders are saying, since it’s still confusing who these leaders are and where this “national plan” is coming from since Greece’s formation of a coalition government was just taking so tediously long. I’ll find out soon enough.
The three countries mentioned here are having serious economic problems, in spite of the fact that Europe is supposed to be a land of plenty from the perspective of many Third World Asian countries- their once upon a time colonies, the Philippines included. Spain’s banking system is just messed up, and their unemployment rate a gulp-worthy 30% of those under 25. Italy’s banks are heavily invested in Greece so its economy also felt the strain, maybe even more than the rioting country itself. But what is clear is that tourism is an avenue that everybody concedes is a viable avenue to begin straightening things out.
In the Philippines, and in AIT for that matter, the credit we deserve is long overdue as a tourism gold mine in terms of being a destination as a country and a prime mover as a school. We are at this pathologically slow process of “emergence”, in terms of how we place tourism in the greater mechanism of society. We haven’t arrived yet, like the majority of PAL flights. And like these flights, we are slow and late. But as slow as this process is, we are moving forward; and AIT is emerging in more ways than one.
So what has happened in the past year that is noteworthy? Plenty of things, if you ask me.
Salimbay emerged online. That has had a lot of advantages, from knowing our readership to riding the tide of social media. Sure, we could have written more, featured more, been more critical about what we write, who we are and where the heck we’re going, and been more aware about our typos and grammatical errors. Suffice it to say that we are working out the kinks to the best of our journalistic efforts while, most importantly, remaining ethical about the whole thing.
On the question of ethics, Salimbay and I, personally, have been questioned for some of the things I’ve written for this paper. This became especially apparent during last year’s elections, where titles such as “I will not vote for Shaina” and the refusal to edit out “harsh” comments on what we have released, were read by some as anti-student and reeked of propaganda.
Every journalistic body encounters this problem, with the final decision to publish ultimately opening up our writers’ thoughts and opinions about things; our criticisms; to the criticism of our readers. We want people to talk back in the first place, whether or not they agree with what we say. At the event where we may have begun to fail editing ourselves, being read will be this paper’s salvation.
AIT’s consciousness on institute and university politics was something that Salimbay aimed to facilitate and involve students in. Tourism is so universal that politics plays a huge factor in its holistic dynamism as an industry, so we might as well be aware of how politics plays out in our institute and university.
Notable, in my opinion, is last semester’s KAISA slate that personified Abstain as a passive power that will do nothing to further the institute’s goals. Interestingly enough, Abstain was literally personified by one Glenn Mallari in my T-175 class, nametag and all. Cute as it was, he did ask the unopposed slate the important question: “Why are you better than me?”
Now that they’ve won, this academic year’s officers have a lot to prove, especially with a council and party that has had its share of internal issues and rumors that may or may not spark critical public opinion. With Miss CJ Boller’s rather controversial voter’s turnout, rumors that question her ability as SC chairperson, and the overall challenge of catering to a studentry that is plagued with issues of apathy and non-involvement, we are definitely in the position of deep reflection, not just the council.
But after being critical and analytical about our issues as an institute, do we stop with opinions? In a lively conversation with AIT Representative Erika Erro, we have agreed that there are dangers to limited awareness and there are limits to just being aware. Without a vision for developing consciously and proactively in AIT, we lessen ourselves as the future drivers of tourism in our country. This emerging consciousness is something overdue for a country as beautiful as the Philippines.
Personally, I hope for a lot of things for AIT.
I hope that eyes are on the council and at the same time and more importantly,hands to help out as well. We have a new instructor who is inspiring more than just the tourism dream, Mr. Miko Mallonga, for being almost too dreamy to be a teacher, and that IS noteworthy if you ask me. Inspiration, even in its weird and possibly harassing form, always is. I just hope he isn’t THAT freaked out. Haha. I hope most of us students survived this semester’s rather oppressive three-day registration period, and on my part, to get through the STFAP bracketing system with less hassle than what is necessary. I hope that we finally do come out as a college with a lot more street cred than the land of the beautiful and the bobo. I hope that we take ourselves more seriously, that we are part of an immensely big world driven by economics, world politics, culture and transcendent implications. I hope AIT really takes on the idea that we are movers and managers, not just wear the label and flaunt it at other tourism schools. Let’s walk the walk, so well that we won’t even have to do the talk. I hope for a lot things. I hope we all do.