The Philippines Needs More Paris Hiltons

Just as Paris Hilton boarded a plane back to Los Angeles after opening her boutique in Manila, a survey was released showing she was voted as the least trustworthy celebrity, with a score of 60% by a survey made by Ipsos, a global market research company. I looked around the internet for reactions and many Filipinos were defending Paris, and simply didn’t care. “Past is past”, one person wrote. Some even thanked her for investing in our country.

Distrusted or otherwise however, the Philippines needs a Paris Hilton and more well-to-do celebrities like her. Imagine if other celebrities and the likes of Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, or even billionaire Donald Trump would invest in the Philippines and publicly promoted it? Even if the Philippines shouldered the travel, lodging and security expenses for these celebrities, the return would be many times over in renewed investment and confidence.

Paris Hilton’s investment in several stores in Manila not only endorses the Philippines as a country to look into for companies considering expansion in Asia, it also gives a boost of confidence in a flailing Philippine economy. We can toot our horns until our faces turn blue about how great investing in our country, but the truth of the matter is unless people from other parts of the world (i.e., the Paris Hiltons of the world) start believing in the Philippines and investing in our country, very few will come. Sadly, the quote made famous by the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it, and it(he) will come” does not apply to us. We need to build AND promote.

We already have several famous ‘marketing representatives’ who can help the economy. Why not tap our own famous celebrities to bring them in? It’s definitely easier said than done, but wouldn’t it be great if Charice can get Oprah to invest a few million dollars in the Phillippines? How about Arnel Pineda, who can he bring in? Apl de Ap? I bet that because Paris and Manny Pacquaio knew each other, it played a hand in Paris’ recent visit to Manila. Wouldn’t you think?

I remember hearing a story during the Marcos era when the IMF (International Monetary Fund) convention was in town. The dilemma was how to provide luxury automobiles to the delegates. It was solved by tapping into the financial resources of private individuals and companies. They were offered to import top-of-the line Mercedes-Benz cars using their own funds, tax free. The only caveat was they would allow the use of the cars by the IMF delegates for a week. After which, the car was theirs to keep. Whether this story is true or not, we need some out-of-the-box, creative thinking such as this. Maybe for travel and accommodations instead?

What is really lacking is confidence – not just by us Filipinos, but by potential foreign investors as well. It really does not do much how often we tell the world how worthy the Philippines is for investment, but it will really go a long way if other people like Paris Hilton invests and give the Philippines a vote of confidence — and maybe, just maybe then, when we build it … they will come.

Paris Hilton, distrusted as she may be by the world, is a good start :)