Who coined the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” slogan anyway?

It was a tempest in a teacup, a controversy over a silly little country marketing slogan, but it was the talk of the Net for days, and managed to spill out into the mainstream media via the TV news shows, galvanizing public opinion against it. A reputable advertising agency was being dragged through the muck and decided to strike back – against the clowns in the Philippine government who gave them so much grief.

That dreaded “P” word – Plagiarism – reared its ugly head in the government once again when it was revealed that yes, the DOT’s chosen logo was a veritable intentional rip off of a design made for Poland’s Tourism Board.

Such was case of “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” – three little words that riled the nation. The President did the right thing by pulling the plug and ordering the DOT to junk the slogan and start from scratch.This kept the issue from getting any bigger and distracting the tourism industry – and the nation – to no end.

But who really coined that slogan anyway? The ad agency Campaigns & Grey claimed in its statement that they had a part, since the slogan was “developed as one of the 5 concepts for testing among the market segments.”

But the venerable TV host/newspaper columnist Julie Yap Daza notes the idea was being bandied about  by Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim himself just two weeks after his appointment. Writing in her long-running “Medium Rare” column in the Manila Bulletin, she says that the slogan first surfaced from Sec.Lim’s own words months ago:

From the column entitled “Filipinas, how pretty!” posted online on November 19:

Maybe that’s what the author of a “branded” Philippines meant when he chose “Pilipinas kay ganda!” to sell our beautiful emerald, sapphire, jade and aquamarine islands.

Truth to tell, “Pilipinas kay ganda!” did not originate from any advertising agency, nor was it the product of months of consumer research as claimed, because about 14 days after his appointment, Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim was already telling stakeholders during a getting-to-know-you at the Manila Peninsula that he thought Dick Gordon’s branding of “WOW! Philippines” was uninspired and needed retooling.

In the next breath, Mr. Lim said he needed something more catchy, “something like Pilipinas kay ganda,” to market our tourism program.

Maybe it came to him in a dream, complete with visions of dozens of little tarsiers scampering up coconut trees.

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