Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Korean Festival in Iloilo?

Nowadays, Koreans are investing in the Philippines big time. According to the National Statistical Coordinating Board, South Korean nationals poured in P51.7 billion worth of investment pledges for the first quarter of 2006, accounting for 81% of the total P63.5 billion worth of commitments. USA came in a far second with P6.4 billion. According to various studies, there are approximately 25,000 Koreans currently staying in the Philippines.

In Western Visayas as well as in other parts of the country, Koreans have become a permanent fixture in restaurants, malls, bars, supermarkets and beach resorts. Koreans have become an indubitable part of the local scenery and Korean “enclaves” have sprouted all over the country. In recent years, young South Koreans have been flocking to Iloilo City to study English and savor the laid-back Ilonggo lifestyle. Koreans usually stay here for months at a time, with some deciding to permanently put down roots in the city. No one here knows for sure who or what triggered this Korean “invasion” of Iloilo City. It could be that previous Korean visitors saw Iloilo as a fun and cheap city to stay in and passed along the information to their compatriots thru word of mouth. Irregardless, the arriving Korean tourists and investments are a boon to the local economy long dependent on OFW dollars. Likewise, Mayor Jerry Treñas has been quite successful in promoting Iloilo City as an IT/call center hub and an important conference venue in the South.

But despite the City Government’s successful PR promotions campaign, local Ilonggo businessmen often bemoan the fact that all the big celebrations in Iloilo City are scheduled during the first quarter (January-February), thus leaving the rest of the year without any noteworthy festival and therefore lesser tourist arrivals. Tourist and balikbayan arrivals in the city usually peak during the December-January-February months. Whether by accident or by design, Iloilo City’s grandest celebrations indeed occur in January (the Dinagyang Festival, Arevalo Fiesta, Chinese New Year) and February (Candelaria Fiesta and Paraw Regatta). City officials therefore need to come up with activities all year long if we hope to attract more tourists to Iloilo, especially once the new airport is completed and the expected “spike” in tourist arrivals is realized.

Local government officials are therefore exploring new ideas on how to draw tourists to the city all year long. One such “new idea” is the “Night Market” along Muelle Loney which was spearheaded by Iloilo City No. 1 Councilor Jed Mabilog.

One proposal worth looking into is the staging of a “Koreano-Ilonggo Friendship Week.” This idea was introduced by Iloilo City Congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr. and he had already discussed this with Mayor Treñas. A “Korean Festival” in Iloilo City will not only promote better understanding between our two peoples but more importantly, will create new business opportunities for our local entrepreneurs. Should the city government adopt this proposal, Iloilo City will become the very first LGU in the Philippines to organize a festival in honor of Koreans. It could very well attract more Korean tourists to our city.

There are three things that Ilonggos have in common with Koreans. Koreans, like Ilonggos, like to eat and drink. In fact, some Koreans (like some Ilonggos) love to eat dog meat as an exotic delicacy or as pulutan. We can therefore organize a “FoodFest” or “Food Court” featuring the best of Ilonggo and Korean cuisine. Second, Koreans and Ilonggos both love to shop and go “malling.” Therefore, a “Korean Festival” cannot be complete without a “tiangge” or an open air bazaar where you can buy all sorts of clothes, accessories and assorted Korean or Ilonggo things. Lastly, both Koreans and Ilonggos share a passion for football. We both have exceptional football players. A friendly football match could therefore be arranged featuring the best Korean and Ilonggo football players. Naturally, the proposed “Korean Festival” should be scheduled during the 2nd or 3rd quarter of the year, for reasons already stated above.

While I commend City Councilor Jed Mabilog for spearheading the “Night Market” in Iloilo City, his idea generated mixed reactions from the local community. Maybe Ilonggos are not yet ready for a “Night Market” or it may simply be that Ilonggos just don’t have extra money to spend due to the hard times. Unlike the “Night Market,” I am confident that the proposed “Korean Festival” will generate sufficient revenues for our local entrepreneurs because it will target that segment of the local population which has “disposable income” – the Koreans.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

where did you get this news? do you have any sources?

Iloilo City Boy said...

THe Korean Festival proposal is my own idea.THis is not a news report but just an idea, a suggestion to our city officials.

FaraO_Korean said...
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FaraO_Korean said...
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FaraO_Korean said...
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FaraO_Korean said...

I'm a Korean who stays in Iloilo for studying English and taking a refreshment time. I think it's a good idea. But if you want to make this festival successfully, you and Iloilo Local Government have to listen to Korean's opinions and know what they want...
It's been my third time to visit this city. At the first time, i thought Iloilo city is good to study English for Korean students. But the local government doesn't do anything for Korean students, Korean agencies and Korean businessmen.
Anyway..... If you or the local government consider to make the festival, I hope you guys should ask and know Korean's opinions first, so you can discern what they really want...


If you want to hear my opinion about it, visit my blog or text me. My CP number is 09185417200.

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