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At Large

Bacoor and Korea

/ 09:13 PM September 08, 2011

Bacoor in Cavite is a first-class municipality, although Mayor Strike Revilla, who is on his second term, hopes it will soon be declared a city.

He describes Bacoor as a “bedroom community,” with many residents commuting to and from Metro Manila for work, but calling his town home. As such, Bacoor is also heir to many of the ills that accompany urbanization, foremost among them traffic, congestion, informal settlers and pollution. Of the last, Mayor Revilla says a serious problem is solid waste management “since we don’t have a garbage dump of our own, we rely only on the (dumps) of nearby towns.”

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The son of former Sen. Ramon Revilla and brother of Sen. Bong Revilla, Strike says he derives his “striking” nickname from the fact that there was a huge labor strike going on when he was born. Like his siblings, he was born in Imus but grew up in Bacoor after the family patriarch bought a patch of land where he built the family compound.

Being the son and brother of movie stars, Revilla is good-looking enough to enter show biz but early in life he chose a life in politics. He won his first election when he ran for councilor in 1995, then served as board member three years later. After a brief hiatus following his first electoral defeat, Revilla says he decided to run for mayor in 2007 “after hundreds of my constituents rallied outside my home to urge me to take part in the elections.”

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He looks forward to two developments in his term: the construction of a new municipal hall (“the old one is getting too small for our needs”) and a town hospital on land donated by his father; and the completion of a community-based monitoring system or CBMS, a detailed, comprehensive audit of townsfolk to get a complete picture of the economic and educational status, needs and aspirations of citizens.

The CBMS has been adopted by many municipalities to give local executives a clearer picture of the realities faced by their constituents and a better road map for governance.

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But Revilla has concerns that go beyond Bacoor, even if the challenges he faces there are daunting enough.

As president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Revilla also leads some 1,496 member-municipalities and their mayors in articulating the needs of local governments and getting a fair shake for them, particularly for small towns whose local revenues may not even be enough to provide for basic services.

“We need support from the national government,” he declares. He cites as an example his experience in Bacoor where they have been contesting with the Department of Public Works and Highways the funding of major roads that funnel commuter traffic from Metro Manila to the rest of Cavite and Batangas. “I ,as the mayor, get blamed for the traffic mess and the narrow roads, when the traffic is generated in Metro Manila. But the national government insists I should widen and maintain the roads using local revenues,” he complains.

Another gripe of his – one he claims he shares with most other local executives –is the “discrimination” practiced by Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. “He favors political allies while cracking down unnecessarily on those who were on the other side during the elections,” Revilla says. “I may not have been an ally of P-Noy,” he adds, “but I also share his wish to go down the matuwid na daan.”

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Last month, soon after the opening of the Korean Cultural Center in the Bonifacio Global City (in a building between the Mercedes Benz Showroom and Kia Motors), the KCC announced it was opening four Korean language classes. In two days, say officials, all the slots were taken as they were deluged with applications on-line.

The keen interest that Filipinos have developed in Korean culture has never been stronger than now. Though doubtless triggered by intense interest in the “Hallyu” or “Korean Wave,” as the deluge of Korean pop culture is known around the world, Pinoy fascination with Korea and its people, history and culture has deepened through the years.

Though there are paeans to the hallmarks of “Hallyu” – the “Koreanovelas” or serial TV dramas that are shown on local TV dubbed in Filipino, Korean movies, K-Pop talents including girl and boy bands – the KCC also affords visitors glimpses of ancient Korean culture, from traditional masks to stage dramas, crafts and artisans. There is a mini-auditorium where Korean dances and songs are performed, and where Korean break dance lessons are taught. Throughout, too, are eye-catching photos of Korean vistas and tourist sites, many of them familiar to fans of Korean movies and dramas.

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Doubtless the KCC serves as a vital cog in the overall trade and tourism campaign of Korea, which has numerous KCCs around Asia (two each in Japan and China), as well as an aggressive advertising drive around the world.

Interesting is the fact that the management of Korea’s public information and tourism program is the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports. For indeed, it is not enough for a government to lure tourists by way of tantalizing beach scenes or exotic feasts alone. Tourists should likewise be drawn to a country’s culture, to what makes it unique and special. Beaches other countries have plenty of, although admittedly ours are among the most beautiful and serene. But as the new tourism secretary asked: why would someone travel so far away just to lie on a beach? We Filipinos can and should offer so much more, for our vaunted hospitality should have depth and substance beyond scenery and festivity.

Korea is a good example of a country that has “sold” itself not just through slick marketing, but also by “selling” its culture, by winning the hearts of an audience that has become as well a tourist market.

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TAGS: At Large, Bacoor, Korea, Korean Cultural Center, Koreanovelas, opinion, Rina Jimenez-David, television, Tourism, travel
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