What’s not to love about the Philippines?

“Love the Philippines,” the new tourism branding campaign of the Department of Tourism (DOT), has sparked debates the moment it was launched recently in time for the department’s 50th anniversary.

While public officials and ordinary Filipinos aired their varying opinions on Twitter and other social media platforms, President Marcos remains optimistic that the new slogan, which replaces the 11-year-old “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” will inspire more international tourists to visit the country in the post-pandemic era.

I personally believe that “Love the Philippines” deserves to be given a shot instead of rejecting it outright. As an Italian who fell in love with this beautiful archipelago almost 15 years ago, I can say that there is a lot to love about the Philippines. I am speaking from experience since I was first a tourist who exclaimed “WOW Philippines!” (The existing tourism slogan then) before finally choosing this country as my second home, next to Italy.

I became at home with the Philippines because aside from the investment potentials that I and my Filipino business partner and friend Atty. Jojo Leviste saw at the time we founded ItalPinas Development Corp. (IDC) in 2012, there were simply too many things to love about this beautiful country that is rich with abundant biodiversity, stunning forests and beaches, and welcoming cheerful Filipinos.

Indeed, there are so many things to experience in the Philippines. So, every time I have the opportunity, I always tell my friends and acquaintances abroad to visit this amazing tropical paradise with a guarantee that they will surely #LoveThePhilippines.

Incidentally, we just celebrated the International Day of Tropics last June 29 as declared by the United Nations (UN) via a resolution adopted unanimously by its member countries in 2016. Its purpose is to “acknowledge the extraordinary variety of the tropics while shedding more light on the distinctive challenges and opportunities that are faced by tropical areas.” The Tropics, where the Philippines belong, account for 40 percent of the world’s total surface area and are host to approximately 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

Tropical countries face several challenges such as climate change, urbanization, biodiversity loss, and demographic changes. According to the UN, the tropics are now among the most pressing regions of the global conservation and development agenda.

That is why, it is especially important that all of us must contribute—no matter how small you think your part is—to save the environment. To those who read this column regularly, it is a known fact that building green communities aligned with nature has been my personal advocacy that also embodies the existence of ItalPinas as a business.

Sustainability has been the guiding light in every project and in every community that we develop. As the challenges to our environment continue to grow, sustainability will become increasingly important for developers to pursue in the future.

At IDC, we believe that sustainability must begin with the understanding that resources are not infinite. Therefore, we must find ways to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

I have also stated in the past that builders must also understand that everything they do has an impact on the environment. It is always good to be reminded of a Native American saying that goes: “We do not own the world, we borrow it from our children.”

With nature alignment and sustainability in mind, Italpinas assesses a project site’s characteristics before we start building. This includes elevation, latitude, wind data, topography, and other physical traits that the final building will harmonize with.

Our assessment also considers more subjective assets that the site may have. For example, the stunning view of Mt. Makiling from our Miramonti Residences in Santo Tomas in Batangas, or the sweeping vista from the high hills to Macajalar Bay from IDC’s Primavera City in Cagayan de Oro. Since every project is unique, we strive to optimize the site and its conditions. This is where development becomes an art and not just a process.

I am happy to be given the opportunity here to merge art and advocacy and contribute something unique and  substantial to make this country a beautiful, cleaner, and greener place. As an expat who has experienced what this country has to offer, I say: What’s not to love about the Philippines?

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